Research news

Phytochemicals from the plant Ipomea sepiaria may be useful in the fight against cancer according to a pharmacoinformatics study published in the International Journal of Computational Biology and Drug Design. The research undertook "in silico", computer-based, studies of the various chemicals found in this species against a range of enzymes known as metallopeptidases. Inhibiting the activity of these enzymes found in cancer cells could impede the replication of those cancer cells and potentially halt tumour growth in its tracks.

Thousands of plants contain natural products, chemicals that have physiological activity. Indeed, around 40 percent of modern pharmaceuticals had their roots in botanical natural products. The convolvulus plant species, I. sepiaria, is well known as a component of Ayurvedic medicine in the form of Lakshmana used as a laxative. It is purported to act as an antidote to arsenic poisoning and also be an aphrodisiac, although solid randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials are not yet forthcoming for many of the claims around this plant's medicinal properties.

S.S. Ariya and Baby Joseph of the Hindustan Institute of Technology and Science, in Chennai, India, and Jemmy Christy of the Sathyabama Institute of Technology and Science, also in Chennai, point out that cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide. As such, the development of anticancer and antineoplastic drugs is high on the pharmaceutical industry's agenda. The team has now screened 247 phytochemicals identified in I. sepiaria against their enzyme computer model.

The screen showed that eight chemicals, tetradecanoic acid, nerolidol, ipomeanine, dibutyl phthalate, cis-caffeic acid, caffeic acid, moupinamide, and N-cis-feruloyltyramine were active against the target enzymes and so might be further explored as potential anticancer drugs. Moreover, these compounds performed better in the tests than four different drugs currently available in the cancer therapy arsenal. Of course, the next step is to take the "in silico" results to the laboratory testing, in vitro, stage and then to animal testing and finally human trials. The compounds are promising, but as ever with drug development, the path from discovery to market is long and tortuous.

It should be noted that while there may be physiological activity in the folklore remedy of Lakshmana, its use is no substitute for a medical consultation with an oncologist when cancer arises and the adherence to proven therapies for the best prognosis for the patient.

Ariya, S.S., Joseph, B. and Christy, J. (2020) 'Exploring the antineoplastic effect of phytochemicals from Ipomea sepiaria against matrix metallopeptidases: a pharmacoinformatics approach', Int. J. Computational Biology and Drug Design, Vol. 13, No. 3, pp.255–271.
DOI: 10.1504/IJCBDD.2020.107889

A computer program, an optimisation algorithm, that mimics in software the social interactions of the humpback whale has been used by researchers in Egypt to build a system for the identification of Arabian horses.

Identification of Arabian racehorses is critical to owner provenance, vaccination handling, disease control, animal traceability, food management, and animal safety. Traditionally, the horses are hot or freeze branded. Today, the branding might be by electronic tag or implant, or even biometric. Classical approaches are invasive and vulnerable to fraud.

Writing in the International Journal of Computer Applications in Technology, Ayat Taha and Ahmed ElKholy of Al-Azhar University in Cairo and colleagues Ashraf Darwish of Helwan University, and Aboul Ella Hassanien Cairo University, explain how the whale optimization algorithm helps avoid fraud. The WOA is inspired by the hunting behaviour of humpback whales. These marine mammals use a special strategy for hunting fish called bubble-net hunting. The whales produce bubbles in a spiral or a ring around a target school of fish and then swim to shrink this ephemeral boundary, pushing the fish into a smaller volume of water. They then pinpoint fish to capture within this boundary, which not only confuses the fish and confines them but gives the whales an almost fixed area to focus on. The WOA mathematically models this in two phases: creating a bubble boundary and then allowing "prey" features to be identified.

The team has now built their algorithm on an optimised Multi-Class Support Vector Machine. The system analyses muzzle imprints from the horses, it having been trained on known horses. It is possible to identify a horse quickly using this system to an accuracy of more than 97%, which surpasses previous machine learning systems that do not rely on biomimetic models such as the whale optimization algorithm.

Taha, A., Darwish, A., Hassanien, A.E. and ElKholy, A. (2020) 'Arabian horse identification based on whale optimised multi-class support vector machine', Int. J. Computer Applications in Technology, Vol. 63, Nos. 1/2, pp.83–92.
DOI: 10.1504/IJCAT.2020.107910

Lubricating oils deteriorate and oxidize with use as well as accumulating particles from the engines and other machinery in which they are used. Ultimately, their effectiveness worsens and they begin to damage the components they were designed to protect they have to be replaced. Disposing of waste engine oil thus becomes a significant environmental concern. Waste lubricant cannot be simply disposed of as it is highly toxic to ecosystems and harmful to the environment and human health.

Writing in the International Journal of Global Warming, a team from China has turned to a nineteenth century discovery – supercritical fluids – to help them clean up waste oil and remove contaminants efficiently and effectively.

Supercritical fluids are essentially substances held at a temperature above their boiling point but under sufficiently high pressure that they do not enter the gas phase. Under these conditions water, carbon dioxide, and other substances are in a hybrid state between liquid and gas and have many properties that are very different from the substance in its commonly observed state at ambient temperature and pressure.

For instance, supercritical fluids (SCFs) can dissolve many diverse substances that are not normally considered soluble in the "normal" gas or liquid. They also have the advantage of very rapidly reverting to their normal state once the pressure and temperature are reduced. This phenomenon allows a substance such as supercritical carbon dioxide to be used to dissolve a range of compounds so that a dissolved compound might then be separated from a complex mixture. Once the pressure is released the carbon dioxide boils off leaving behind the separated substance.

Xin Yang, Shuo Xiang, Peng Su, Yan He, and Ping Liu of the Department of Oil, at the Army Logistics University of PLA and Ligong Chen of the Engineering Research Centre for Waste Oil Recovery Technology and Equipment, at Chongqing Technology and Business University, both in Chongqing, China, have now modeled the behaviour of dodecylcyclohexane in supercritical carbon dioxide. This compound is one of the major components of lubricating oils. It is soluble in supercritical carbon dioxide at a specific temperature and pressure.

The team found the optimal temperature and pressure to be 313.2 Kelvin and 14.68 Megapascals, respectively. None of the contaminants of degraded components have as high a solubility under these conditions and so the technology might then be used to separate the dodecylcyclohexane from the waste materials, the team suggests.

Yang, X., Xiang, S., Su, P., He, Y., Liu, P. and Chen, L. (2020) 'Measurement and modelling of the solubility of dodecylcyclohexane in supercritical carbon dioxide', Int. J. Global Warming, Vol. 21, No. 1, pp.35–49.
DOI: 10.1504/IJGW.2020.107866

Writing in the International Journal of Ad Hoc and Ubiquitous Computing, Yu-Chi Chen of the Department Computer Science and Engineering, at Yuan Ze University, in Tauyuan, Taiwan , has revisited the concept of plaintext checkable encryption with check delegation that could be utilized in the context of security and privacy in the realm of big data and cloud computing.

Achieving a specific computing over ciphertext, plaintext checkable encryption (PCE) is a relatively new concept explains Chen. It supports the specific functionality between ciphertext and plaintext. "Given a target plaintext, a ciphertext and a public key, anyone can perform a check algorithm (called Check) to test whether the ciphertext encrypts the target plaintext with the public key," he explains.

It allows the user to send search instructions to a database, for instance, that are encrypted so that a third party, such as the service provider themselves, cannot see the search terms, but the server has to know that the search is encrypted in a valid way so that it can send back encrypted results; this is where the check function plays its role.

The new work builds on these concepts and offers a new way to approach them with secure public keys and generic constructions.

Chen, Y-C. (2020) 'Plaintext checkable encryption with check delegation revisited', Int. J. Ad Hoc and Ubiquitous Computing, Vol. 34, No. 2, pp.102–110.
DOI: 10.1504/IJAHUC.2020.107822

Writing in the International Journal of Services, Economics and Management, a team from Malaysia provides details of the main factors affecting mobile shopping there. The researchers, Chi-Yang Hng and Pik-Yin Foo of Jalan Universiti in Perak, and Ai-Fen Lim and Radha Krishnan Nair of the UCSI University Kuala Lumpur Campus, Malaysia, analysed 300 questionnaires offered to people in shopping malls in the city of Ipoh. Fundamentally, ease of use and mobile-friendliness, rather than "playfulness" of the mobile shopping experience are what might drive shoppers to use these services.

Around the world, the advent of the internet, the emergence of the world wide web, and the opening up of the digital realm to commercial applications operators continues to see more and more people spend more and more of their time online. The shopping experience, regardless of the Covid-19 pandemic in which we are in the midst at the time of writing of this Inderscience Research Pick, has increasingly moved from commerce to e-commerce. Indeed, smartphones are an essential item for those in the developed and developing world today rather than a luxury. Mobile shopping has become reliable and secure.

The team concedes that this preliminary research has limitations in that those surveyed were generally in the younger age group, adults under 30, and mostly Chinese. Nevertheless, if the results might apply to other demographic groups, which may well be demonstrated in follow-up work, it is likely the most mobile shoppers would prefer uncomplicated applications through which to do their online browsing and shopping. There is also a need to ensure that users are kept informed of transactions and account updates and such like.

Hng, C-Y., Foo, P-Y., Lim, A-F. and Nair, R.K. (2020) 'The forefront of mobile shopping: an emerging economy's perspective', Int. J. Services, Economics and Management, Vol. 11, No. 1, pp.21–47.
DOI: 10.1504/IJSEM.2020.107793

We think of Vincent van Gogh as an artist, famed for his starry nights, his floral tributes, and his raffia-work seating. But, he was also an innovator and an entrepreneur, suggests a paper published in the International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business and modern business people might learn a thing or two from his style.

Jos Pieterse of Fontys University of Applied Sciences, in Eindhoven, The Netherlands, and colleagues have analysed letters from the 19th century and expert observations of Van Gogh's activities and work experts as well as guides to the Vincentre Van Gogh museum. They also asked 25 students specialising in innovation and entrepreneurship to give their opinions of Van Gogh's entrepreneurial skills.

We know that Van Gogh was a hard worker based on his prodigious artistic output. The new findings show the innovative and entrepreneurial potential of Van Gogh to reflect his imagination, creativity, and analytical skills. However, based on his apparent lack of financial acumen we can say only with hindsight that he was artistically far ahead but not recognized by his audience.

"The whole field of artistic innovation and entrepreneurship deserves to be better researched for a mutual learning effect for organisational science to learn from this field and vice versa," the team writes. "The work of Vincent van Gogh both in his drawings, paintings and letters are just one [tragic] example."

Ulijn, J., Veldhoen, A., Bekkers-Vermeulen, J., Hendrikse, S., Pieterse, J. and Saych, N. (2020) 'Vincent van Gogh (1853–1890), innovator and entrepreneur: an experiential report of Van Gogh guides in Nuenen', Int. J. Entrepreneurship and Small Business, Vol. 40, No. 3, pp.337–372.
DOI: 10.1504/IJESB.2020.107802

A porous polymeric scaffold might be the answer to a sight problem that afflicts millions of older people every year, age-related macular degeneration. Researchers writing in the International Journal of Biomedical Engineering and Technology, discuss in detail their modelling and simulation analysis of these materials, which might be used as a prosthetic for the eye's Bruch's membrane.

Age-related macular degeneration is a medical condition that occurs when the macula of the retina is damaged through oxidative processes usually associated with age but also in tobacco smokers. The macula is an oval-shaped, pigmented area at the centre of the retina so deterioration of this region leads to blurred or no vision in the centre of the visual field. Initially, there are no symptoms but vision in the afflicted person will suffer and loss of central vision occurs making it hard to recognize faces, drive, read, or perform other activities of daily life. At present, there is no treatment for macular degeneration and while not smoking is a good preventative measure, avoidance of the other main risk factors – ageing and genetics – cannot be avoided.

Bruch's membrane is the innermost layer of the choroid, the layer between the retina and the outer layer of the eye, the sclera. It is sometimes referred to as the vitreous lamina because it is a glass-like layer, some two to four micrometres thick. Changes in this membrane are often the underlying cause of the blindness seen in AMD as errant blood vessel growth occurs in this membrane in the condition. More specifically, AMD is characterized by extracellular deposits that accumulate between the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) and the inner collagenous layer of Bruch's membrane, causing the death of RPE cells and subsequent loss of photoreceptor cells.

As such, materials to engineer the structure of the membrane and preclude abnormal blood vessel growth might offer a way to slow or even halt progression of the disease once diagnosed.

Susan Immanuel, Aswin Bob Ignatius, and Alagappan Muthuppalaniappan of the PSG College of Technology, in Coimbatore, Tamilnadu, India, have designed a prosthetic Bruch's membrane, which is based on porous polycaprolactone (PCL). The artificial membrane was designed using the COMSOL Multiphysics tool. Its properties, including structural integrity and fluid flow, were analysed using Brinkman's equation.

"The results show that the scaffold with higher porosity has a lower pressure gradient which is necessary for retinal pigment epithelial adherence and is mechanically stable," the team writes. "This proves that a PCL scaffold with higher porosity is a potential replacement for Bruch's membrane."

Immanuel, S., Ignatius, A.B. and Muthuppalaniappan, A. (2020) 'Modelling and simulation analysis of porous polymeric scaffold for the replacement of Bruch's membrane as a therapy for age-related macular degeneration', Int. J. Biomedical Engineering and Technology, Vol. 33, No. 3, pp.290–304.
DOI: 10.1504/IJBET.2020.107762

The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic caused by the recently emerged virus SARS-CoV-2 is affecting everyone's lives in many significant and disparate ways. New research published in the International Journal of Integrated Supply Management has looked at how companies are attempting to sustain their supply chains in the face of this disease.

Dmitry Ivanov of the Berlin School of Economics and Law, Germany and Ajay Das of CUNY-Baruch, New York, USA, point out how the impact of the pandemic is unlike any prior natural disaster. They explain that low-frequency-high-impact events can pose a considerable risk to supply chains and the normal functioning of society. The effects of such events ripple through economies and society. The team has now modelled this ripple effect on global supply chains in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Fundamentally, epidemics and pandemics are a special instance of low-frequency-high-impact events, the team suggests. After all, they add, in contrast to geographically centred, singular occurrence – such as a natural or industrial disaster – a pandemic is not limited to a particular region nor confined to a particular time period.

In their analysis, they consider the velocity with which the pandemic propagated, the duration of production, distribution, and market disruption, and the decline in consumer demand. They have also analysed how risk to supply chains might be mitigated in the face of this pandemic and have mapped out potential recovery paths. The creation of flexible and dynamic virtual local supply and demand structures are perhaps key to resilience. However, the team also points out that they believe this is not the end of global supply chains.

"Every crisis ends, and once the situation normalises, global supply chains would continue to offer a degree of efficiency and effectiveness that cannot be matched by domestic or regionally limited supply chains," they write.

Ivanov, D. and Das, A. (2020) 'Coronavirus (COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2) and supply chain resilience: a research note', Int. J. Integrated Supply Management, Vol. 13, No. 1, pp.90-102.
DOI: 10.1504/IJISM.2020.107780

A new paradigm in business and entrepreneurial activity is emerging according to a new study. The new paradigm within cultural entrepreneurship differs considerably from the accepted model showing that there is an increased appreciation of "the arts" in business and commerce. The emergence of the so-called "artpreneur" could provide conventional business ventures with new insights.

Marilena Vecco of the Department of Accounting, Finance and Law in the Burgundy School of Business in Dijon, France, provides details of the work in the International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business. Vecco hopes to answer the question as to whether we can talk about cross-fertilisation between art and entrepreneurship.

Historically, one might say that the business world has perceived artists as merely "dreamers", only "useful" and "productive" when generating profitable artistic and aesthetic output. However, the work of painters, musicians, and many others, indeed all artists, has much greater currency in the business world and business education, especially given the advent of the digital era. There is also an increasing recognition among the educated that to recognise one's own artistic and creative spirit as well as those characteristics in others is increasingly important in terms of a rounded, well-balanced, and diverse approach to business, society, culture, and life in general.

The current paper identifies several lessons focusing on the process, skills and behaviour of artpreneurs that might be adopted by traditional entrepreneurs with a particular emphasis on sustainability. It is obvious from this work that the aesthetic dimension represents a competitive advantage for the artpreneur over the conventional business-trained entrepreneur.

Vecco, M. (2020) 'Artpreneurs' lessons to traditional business', Int. J. Entrepreneurship and Small Business, Vol. 40, No. 2, pp.154-170.
DOI: 10.1504/IJESB.2020.107754

The ability of some molecules, such as fatty or oily molecules, to repel water is known as hydrophobicity. The opposite, water attracting, is hydrophilicity. The hydrophobic force that keeps water molecules at bay is one of the most fundamental of chemical interactions, but it is not only about why oil and water do not mix, it lies at the heart of how the proteins, the molecular machinery of our cells fold into their active form and indeed how they work to keep us and every other living thing alive.

Research published in the International Journal of Computational Biology and Drug Design, has investigated the properties of two types of hydrophobic groups in six specific kinds of proteins, the biological catalysts known as enzymes. Anindita Roy Chowdhury (Chakravarty) of the GD Goenka University, in Haryana and her colleagues H.G. Nagendra of the Sir M Visvesvaraya Institute of Technology, in Bengaluru, and Alpana Seal of the University of Kalyani, in West Bengal, India, explain how the hydrophobic properties of aliphatic and aromatic groups on the amino acids that build up a protein chain then allow the chain to twist and turn and fold in on itself to form its active structure. Aliphatic groups, or residues, are essentially chains of carbon and hydrogen atoms while aromatic groups are commonly rings of carbon and hydrogen atoms joined to the amino acid structure.

The researchers had previously identified those aromatic and aliphatic residues that contribute the most and the least to hydrophobic character in six enzyme classes. In the current work, they have examined the relative contributions towards hydrophobicity of the different hydrophobic amino acids in both aromatic and aliphatic categories.

They have found that there is an inverse relationship between residues of similar hydrophobic strength both in aromatic and aliphatic categories. So, for instance, the presence of an amino acid such as tryptophan which contains an aromatic group has the inverse effect to one like phenylalanine . A similar relationship is found in pairs of amino acids with aliphatic side chains, such as isoleucine and leucine. Leucine, isoleucine, and phenylalanine are essential for creating a hydrophobic, non-polar, environment at the core of an enzyme that has to bind non-polar molecules.

"This analysis is likely to provide insight for finer analysis of the enzyme molecule," the team writes.

Roy Chowdhury, A., Nagendra, H.G. and Seal, A. (2020) 'Correlation among hydrophobic aromatic and aliphatic residues in the six enzyme classes', Int. J. Computational Biology and Drug Design, Vol. 13, No. 2, pp.209–223.
DOI: 10.1504/IJCBDD.2020.107318

Journal news

Prof. M. Ángeles López-Cabarcos from Santiago de Compostela University in Spain has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Governance and Financial Intermediation.

Prof. Ali Sher from Yorkville University in Canada has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of International Journal of Organisational Design and Engineering.

International Journal of Environmental Technology and Management will publish a special issue on "Mitigating Climate Change". The special issue will be based on a selection of expanded papers presented at the combined event for the Sustaining Tomorrow 2020 Symposium and Industry Summit (which was sadly cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic) and Mitigating Climate Change 2021 Symposium and Industry Summit, which is still set to go ahead at the University of Windsor, Canada, on 24-25 June, 2021.

International Journal of Global Energy Issues will publish a special issue on "Sustaining Tomorrow Globally". The special issue will be based on a selection of expanded papers that were to be presented at the Sustaining Tomorrow 2020 Symposium and Industry Summit. (The event was sadly cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic). The cancelled conference will be combined with the Mitigating Climate Change 2021 Symposium and Industry Summit, which is still set to go ahead at the University of Windsor, Canada, on 24-25 June, 2021.

Associate Prof. Fabio Cassia from the University of Verona in Italy has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Management Development. He will be joined by its new Executive Editor, Assistant Prof. Francesca Magno of the Università degli Studi di Bergamo.

Dr. Yan Luo, Editor in Chief of the International Journal of Computer Aided Engineering and Technology, has released a call for special issue proposals for the journal. Details are available here.

Newly announced title: International Journal of Student Project Reporting in Engineering and Computing Science

Newly published title: International Journal of Big Data Management

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