More Latest Research

Review  |  22 Aug 2019

Traditional Chinese Medicine as a Treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis: From Empirical Practice to Evidence-Based Therapy

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a common autoimmune condition with an elusive etiology. Conventional and biological disease-modifying drugs sometimes fail or produce only partial responses. Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has long been used in China as a treatment for RA and is achieving everincreasing acceptance worldwide. TCM treatments are traditionally guided by the theory of treatment based on TCM syndrome differentiation; however, they remain a matter of empirical practice relying on TCM theories and doctors’ own experience, which places severe restrictions on worldwide TCM application. Nevertheless, TCM is a treasure trove for drug discovery, particularly as a treatment for complicated human conditions. The discoveries of artemisinin as a treatment for malaria and of TCM–arsenic trioxide (As2O3) combination therapy as a treatment for acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) are excellent examples of the great value of TCM. Regarding RA treatments, many Chinese medicinal herbs and their formulas, extracts, ingredients, and even single compounds have been used in clinical applications. Several Chinese proprietary medicines (CPMs) derived from TCM formulas or herbal bioactive components, such as the controlled-release tablets of ZhengQingFengTongNing (ZQFTN), tripterygium glycoside tablets, and capsules of total glucosides of peony (TGP), have been included in the National Health Insurance Directory of China, and show comparable therapeutic efficacies to those of western chemical drugs with fewer side effects. As TCM research has advanced, particularly in the use of multidisciplinary technologies, the scientific foundations and characteristics of the use of TCM to treat RA have been revealed, and the quality of TCM treatments have been increasingly enhanced. However, TCM generally lacks sufficient clinical and laboratory data to be consistent with international standards for quality, safety, and efficacy in order to support its application worldwide. Therefore, intensive basic and clinical studies on TCM are required. In particular, investigations that use cutting-edge technologies in analytical chemistry, biology, and biomedical sciences, and the development of randomized clinical trials (RCTs) and personalized pragmatic randomized controlled trials (PPRCTs) are necessary. Researchers should also collaborate to advance TCM from empirical practice to evidence-based therapy, thus consistently promoting TCM development and globalization in a vital, beneficial, and contributable manner.

Hu-Dan Pan

Perspective  |  21 Aug 2019

Complexity at Mesoscales: A Common Challenge in Developing Artificial Intelligence

Exploring the physical mechanisms of complex systems and making effective use of them are the keys to dealing with the complexity of the world. The emergence of big data and the enhancement of computing power, in conjunction with the improvement of optimization algorithms, are leading to the development of artificial intelligence (AI) driven by deep learning. However, deep learning fails to reveal the underlying logic and physical connotations of the problems being solved. Mesoscience provides a concept to understand the mechanism of the spatiotemporal multiscale structure of complex systems, and its capability for analyzing complex problems has been validated in different fields. This paper proposes a research paradigm for AI, which introduces the analytical principles of mesoscience into the design of deep learning models. This is done to address the fundamental problem of deep learning models detaching the physical prototype from the problem being solved; the purpose is to promote the sustainable development of AI.

Li Guo

Article  |  15 Nov 2019

Anaerobic biodegradation of trimethoprim with sulfate as an electron acceptor

Abstract • Anaerobic biodegradation of trimethoprim (TMP) coupled with sulfate reduction. • Demethylation of TMP is the first step in the acclimated microbial consortia. • The potential degraders and fermenters were enriched in the acclimated consortia. • Activated sludge and river sediment had similar core microbiomes. Trimethoprim (TMP) is an antibiotic frequently detected in various environments. Microorganisms are the main drivers of emerging antibiotic contaminant degradation in the environment. However, the feasibility and stability of the anaerobic biodegradation of TMP with sulfate as an electron acceptor remain poorly understood. Here, TMP-degrading microbial consortia were successfully enriched from municipal activated sludge (AS) and river sediment (RS) as the initial inoculums. The acclimated consortia were capable of transforming TMP through demethylation, and the hydroxyl-substituted demethylated product (4-desmethyl-TMP) was further degraded. The biodegradation of TMP followed a 3-parameter sigmoid kinetic model. The potential degraders (Acetobacterium, Desulfovibrio, Desulfobulbus, and unidentified Peptococcaceae) and fermenters (Lentimicrobium and Petrimonas) were significantly enriched in the acclimated consortia. The AS- and RS-acclimated TMP-degrading consortia had similar core microbiomes. The anaerobic biodegradation of TMP could be coupled with sulfate respiration, which gives new insights into the antibiotic fate in real environments and provides a new route for the bioremediation of antibiotic-contaminated environments.

Bin Liang

Article  |  15 Nov 2019

Bacterial inactivation, DNA damage, and faster ATP degradation induced by ultraviolet disinfection

Abstract • Long amplicon is more effective to test DNA damage induced by UV. • ATP in bacteria does not degrade instantly but does eventually after UV exposure. • After medium pressure UV exposure, ATP degraded faster. The efficacy of ultraviolet (UV) disinfection has been validated in numerous studies by using culture-based methods. However, the discovery of viable but non-culturable bacteria has necessitated the investigation of UV disinfection based on bacterial viability parameters. We used quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) to investigate DNA damage and evaluated adenosine triphosphate (ATP) to indicate bacterial viability. The results of qPCR effectively showed the DNA damage induced by UV when using longer gene amplicons, in that sufficiently long amplicons of both 16S and gadA indicated that the UV induced DNA damages. The copy concentrations of the long amplicons of 16S and gadA decreased by 2.38 log/mL and 1.88 log/mL, respectively, after exposure to 40 mJ/cm2 low-pressure UV. After UV exposure, the ATP level in the bacteria did not decrease instantly. Instead it decreased gradually at a rate that was positively related to the UV fluence. For low-pressure UV, this rate of decrease was slow, but for medium pressure UV, this rate of decrease was relatively high when the UV fluence reached 40 mJ/cm2. At the same UV fluence, the ATP level in the bacteria decreased at a faster rate after exposure to medium-pressure UV.

Chao Yang