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  • Meet Kristina Shahbazian

    Posted on December 17, 2014 by Sterlitech Corporation

    One Sterlitech’s most veteran employees, Kristina Shahbazian has spent nine years proving herself to be an invaluable resource to clients and co-workers alike.  As Sterlitech's Sales Manager, she leads and trains the members of the sales team, ensuring that our clients have the best customer service experience possible.

    Kristina joined Sterlitech almost immediately after graduating from the University of Washington with a Bachelor’s Degree in Molecular Cellular Biology and German.  She uses her science background to interface with customers and enjoys learning about how they intend to push the boundaries of their field with the help of Sterlitech’s equipment.  With her science expertise and sales savvy, Kristina has helped give Sterlitech a worldwide presence and made sure that our products are helping make scientific advancements globally.

    Like Sterlitech itself, Kristina is a native of the Pacific Northwest, born and raised with a love its varied landscape, equally varied weather, local chocolates and warm summers.  You can take advantage of her expertise by contacting her at kshahbazian@sterlitech.com.


    This post was posted in Did you know, News

  • Young Scientist Wins Big in California Science Fairs

    Posted on June 26, 2014 by Sterlitech Corporation

    We’d like to extend our congratulations to a young scientist, Alec Isaacman, who’s been making waves at California’s science fairs with his experiments with osmotic power.  Alec’s experiment, which was conducted in a fish tank his friend was no longer using, examined the effect salinity had on the production of osmotic power to determine the best locations in the world to place an osmotic power plant.

    The tank was divided into two chambers separated by a ACM5 RO membrane and were filled with equal amounts of water. One side was filled with fresh water and the other side was filled with salt water. Alec then determined the absorption rate of the salt water as it pulled fresh water through the membrane.

    The salt water was mixed to represent the three most common salinity levels found in the ocean: Polyhaline (18-29 parts per thousand), Mixoeuhaline (30-39 parts per thousand), and Metahaline (40-49 parts per thousand).   Alec predicted that the metahaline water would absorb the most fresh water, and would have the most potential to produce osmotic power.

    The fresh water side of the tank was pressurized to 50 PSI with a bicycle pump and, after 20 minutes, the water levels on both sides of the tank were measured to determine how much fresh water was drawn through the membrane.  The tank would then be emptied and cleaned for the next test.  Five tests were run for each salinity level.

    Alec's results ultimately proved his hypothesis.  He found, on average, the polyhaline water absorbed 32.1 cubic inches of fresh water, the mixoeuhaline water absorbed 34.4 cubic inches of fresh water and the metahaline water absorbed 37.4 cubic inches of fresh water during the 20 minute intervals.

    For determining that steeper salinity gradients have more potential energy, Alec won 1st prize at the Irvine District Science Fair, 2nd place at the Orange County Science Fair and was nominated for the Broadcom MASTERS program.  In addition, he won $200 dollars from the Irvine Ranch Water District.  Congratulations from Sterlitech, Alec!


    This post was posted in News, Flat sheet membrane, brakish water, renewable energy, Customer Highlight

  • Building a better egg-trap: how a simple filtration device is aiding the fight against Schistosomiasis

    Posted on April 1, 2014 by Sterlitech Corporation

    To view this white paper in PDF form, click here.  Also see Sterlitech's Schistosome Test Kit here.

    Schistosomiasis is a parasitic disease caused by Schistosome flatworms and is considered one of the Neglected Tropical Diseases, which are a group of tropical diseases endemic to low-income populations of Africa, Asia, and the Americas.  However, Schistosomiasis affects more than 200 million people worldwide, and the CDC has placed it second only to malaria as the most devastating parasitic disease.

    Efforts to combat this infection are ramping up dramatically.  As an example, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation granted The Imperial College of London $30 million dollars in 2002 to establish the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative (SCI), which initially partnered the college and the foundation with the World Health Organization and the Harvard School of Public Health.  Their goal was to identify hot spots for infection, provide health education within those regions, treat victims, and monitor impact of the treatment program.

    Schistosomiasis is relatively easy and inexpensive to treat.  The major efforts to control this disease hinge, in part, upon the availability of simple, affordable methods of disease detection in at-risk populations.  These methods include simple filtration devices that can be used in the field to easily detect the presence of schistosome eggs in the urine of infected individuals.

    What is Schistosomiasis?

    Schistosomiasis is a parasitic infection by flat worms of the genus Schistosoma.  In humans, Schistosomiasis is primarily caused by 3 species of Schistosomes:  Schistosoma haematobium and Schistosoma mansoni, which are generally found throughout Africa, and Schistosoma japonicum, which is found in Indonesia and parts of China and Southeast Asia.

    Schistosome worms have a 4-stage life cycle:

    Stage 1:  Juvenile Schistosomes infect fresh water snails.

    Stage 2:  In snails, Schistosomes mature to semi-adult forms that are released into the water where they must infect vertebrate hosts, such as humans, within 48 hours.

    Stage 3:  In their vertebrate hosts, Schistosomes complete maturation to sexually competent adults that inhabit specific host blood vessels.  These mature adults then lay eggs that are released to the environment through feces and urine.

    Stage 4:  Once the eggs hit fresh water, juvenile worms hatch to begin the next life cycle.

    What are the symptoms of Schistosomiasis?

    The symptoms of Schistosomiasis are not caused by the worms themselves but by the body’s reactions to eggs laid by mating pairs.  Thus most people have no symptoms upon initial infection.  However, left untreated, chronic Schistosomiasis can have devastating consequences.  Furthermore, the different species of worms reside within two main niches within their hosts. S. manosoni and S. japonicum generally inhabit veins of the intestines, and their eggs are released through the walls of the intestines to be expelled from the body with the feces.  On the other hand, S. haemaobium generally inhabits veins of the bladder, ureters, and kidneys to release its eggs into the urine.  Habitation of these two niches results in distinct symptoms that stratify cases of Schistosomiasis as either intestinal or urogenital (listed below).

    Intestinal Schistosomiasis

    • Abdominal pain
    • Diarrhea
    • Blood in the stool
    • Liver enlargement

    Urogenital Schistosomiasis

    • Haematuria (blood in urine)
    • Bladder and ureteral fibrosis
    • Potential kidney damage
    • Potential bladder cancer
    • Potential infertility
    • Lesions of the cervix and vagina
    • Vaginal bleeding
    • Vaginal pain during intercourse
    • Nodules on the vulva
    • Pathologies of the seminal vesicles and prostate

    Due to constant bleeding, both forms of Schistosomiasis can result in anemia and malnutrition.  In children, chronic forms of Schistosomiasis can stunt growth and reduce the ability to learn; in adults, it can reduce work efficiency.  While many of the symptoms of Schistosomiasis can be reversed with treatment, chronic Schistosomiasis can also lead to death.  In fact, in sub-Saharan Africa alone, Schistosomiasis causes more than 200,000 deaths per year.

    Who is at risk of infection?

    Because of Schistosome’s dependence on specific species of freshwater snails, Schistosomiasis is restricted to the regions in which their hosts live.  However, it is notable that within these regions, over 600 million people are at risk of infection2.  Also, because of the dependence on fresh water snails, infection and reinfection occurs through contact with contaminated water.  As such, the most at-risk populations are:  (1) children who bath and swim in contaminated waters, (2) women who use contaminated water sources for domestic tasks, such as laundry, and (3) agriculture workers.

    How is Schistosomiasis detected in patients?

    Urine and stool analysis

    The most broadly accepted method for diagnosing Schistosomiasis is by a microscopic evaluation of feces or urine for the presence of schistosome eggs.  Fecal samples are evaluated by a method called the Kato-Katz smear method, which can detect the presence of intestinal schistosomes.  In contrast, urine filtration is the only method that can detect schistosomes in the urine5.

    An advantage of urine filtration is that it is easily used in the field at remote locations.  With this method, urine is manually filtered through a polycarbonate, nylon, or paper filter using a syringe.  Any eggs present in the urine are caught by the filter, which is then mounted on a microscope slide and stained to allow clear visualization of the eggs by microscopy.  Using a standard volume of 10mL, the severity of infection can also be determined by quantifying the number of eggs present5.  Similarly, methods have been established to evaluate egg reduction over time to determine drug treatment effectiveness4.

    Despite the potential ease of urine filtration as a field application for detecting schistosomes, urine filtration kits can be cost prohibitive; for example, the Millipore schistosome filtration devises cost over $2 per filter.  However, less expensive filtration kits are becoming available on the market and are being evaluated for accuracy compared to the established, but costly Millipore filtration device1.  Reduction in the cost of these devices will allow increased testing and monitoring of schistosomiasis in resource-poor settings.

    Other indicators of disease

    Blood in the urine can also be an indicator of Schistosomiasis.  The parasite S. haematobium almost always causes at least microscopic levels of blood in urine, and chemical reagent test strips can be be used to detect this in infected patients.  Finally, in the case of travelers or immigrants from areas where schistosomiasis is endemic, doctors can diagnose schistosomiasis by determining if specific schistosomiasis antibodies are present in a patient’s blood.

    How is Schistosomiasis treated?

    The standard treatment for Schistosomiasis is simple and inexpensive- a single oral tablet of Praziquantel, costing 18 cents per treatment, effectively combats all species of schistosomes known to cause schistosomiasis6.  Upon exposure to the drug, schistosomes contract and break their attachment from the blood vessels, and eventually disintegrate.

    While treatment is straightforward, the ability to combat Schistosmiasis is limited by drug accessibility.  In 2011, only 10% of Schistomiasis patients needing treatment were able to obtain the drug6.  Treatment of schistosome-infected children is particularly important, as prompt treatment reduces the risk of developing severe disease, even upon reinfection.

    Can Schistosomiasis be controlled and/or prevented?

    Schistosomiasis can be prevented by (1) a single, annual dose of Praziquantel, (2) access to clean water, (3) improved sanitation, and (4) reduction and elimination of the snail schistosome hosts.  The WHO has developed guidelines for community treatment of Schistosomiasis which involves periodic, targeted treatment of at-risk groups with Praziquantel.  The at-risk groups target by WHO reside within areas with endemic disease and include school-aged children, adults who have contact with infested water (i.e., fisherman, farmers, irrigation workers, women who have domestic tasks that use infested water), and communities living within highly endemic areas.  Monitoring infection frequencies by detecting the presence of eggs in urine and stool is a key component of these prevention control strategies, as the frequency of preventative treatment is dictated by prevalence of the disease in school-age children.

    In the past 20 years, several countries, including Brazil, Cambodia, China, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and possibly Morocco have successfully implemented Schistosomiasis control programs. Other countries such as Burkina Faso, Niger, and Uganda have increased Schistosomiasis treatment campaigns.  Indeed, the number of people treated for Schistosomiasis doubled from 12.4 million in 2006 to 28.1 million in 2011.  However, the implementation of treatment programs can be severely impacted by unreliable funding, as seen in the severe fluctuations in treatment numbers in the intervening years between 2006 and 2011.

    More consistent progress in controlling Schistosomiasis globally is anticipated in the near future as more than 70 governments, NGOs, and pharmaceutical companies pledged to implement a WHO roadmap to guide policies and political strategies3.  Central to this goal will be monitoring disease severity within populations as well as monitoring treatment effectiveness, both of which rely on urine filtration devices.  Thus, reliable, cost-effective filtration devices are paramount to treating, controlling, and preventing Schistosomiasis on a global level.

    References

    1. Gyorkos, T. W., Ramsan, M., Foum, A., & Khamis, I. S. (2001). Efficacy of New Low-Cost Filtration Device for Recovering Schistosoma haematobium Eggs from Urine. Journal of Clinical Microbiology. doi:10.1128/JCM.39.7.2681-2682.2001
    2. Imperial College London (n.d.). Schistosomiasis Control Initiative. Retrieved April 1, 2014, from http://www1.imperial.ac.uk/publichealth/departments/ide/research_groups/thesci/
    3. World Health Organization (n.d.). Accelerating work to overcome the global impact of neglected tropical diseases: a roadmap for implementation. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/neglected_diseases/NTD_RoadMap_2012_Fullversion.pdf
    4. World Health Organization (n.d.). Assessing the efficacy of anthelminthic drugs against schistosomiasis and soil-transmitted helminthiases. Retrieved from http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/79019/1/9789241564557_eng.pdf
    5. World Health Organization (n.d.). Basic laboratory methods in medical parasitology (archived). (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.who.int/malaria/publications/atoz/9241544104_part1/en/
    6. World Health Organization (n.d.). Schistosomiasis. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs115/en/index.html

     


    This post was posted in Did you know, News, environmental lab, general science, Microbiology and Life Sciences

  • New Water and Wastewater Analysis Page

    Posted on June 26, 2013 by Sterlitech Corporation

    We are unveiling a new Water and Wastewater Analysis page on our website. This new page neatly gathers products especially useful in water analysis such as MCE membranes, microbiological filter funnels, and petri dishes into one spot.  The products we currently feature are:

    • Microbiological filter funnels
    • Sterile MCE membrane filters
    • Glass fiber filters
    • Petri Dishes

    With the ever increasing value of clean water, this section is certain to grow.  Keep an eye on our site as we add the latest water and wastewater analysis lab equipment.


    This post was posted in Filtration, News, environmental lab, EPA, water and wastewater treatment, Company News, Oceanography

  • 50 Years of Filtration Technology History

    Posted on May 30, 2013 by Sterlitech Corporation

    The world can change a lot in fifty years. Fifty years ago, there was no Zimbabwe, Hershey still sold chocolate bars for a nickel, and the Beatles were new on the scene.  Filtration technology has also been touched by the hand of time, improving with each new innovation brought about by a new application, driven by tightening standards and commercial demand.  Today’s industrial and scientific filters are capable of durability, specificity, and affordability that were only dreamt of 50 years ago.

    During the first half of the twentieth century, the filtration industry relied on natural materials such as wool, cotton, and wood fiber, which were usually supported by metallic screens, to make filters for a wide variety of applications.  But as the century wore on, the industrial processes that relied on filtration to either extract suspended solids or clarify a fluid began to demand ever increasing performance from the filters they used.

    Luckily, the filtration industry was able to take advantage of new polymeric materials that were being introduced at that time such as polyethersulfone (PES), as well as inorganic materials like ceramics to meet the challenges of increasing filter efficiency.  The new media could offer better flow rates, better selectivity, better strength or a combination of those traits.  New techniques such as cross-flow filtration also emerged to help deal with the problem of fouling.  Taken together, new filtration techniques and new filtration media developed in the later half of the twentieth century allowed for the proliferation of new processes, such as reverse osmosis, that fed back into the demand for new and better filters.

    The last half-century of the filtration industry has also been accompanied by Filtration+Separation magazine which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.  Their series of special articles that highlight the high points of the last 50 years of filtration formed the basis of this article.  The first and second parts of what will be a three-part series of articles can be found on their website.


    This post was posted in Did you know, Membrane Filtration, News, general science

  • Robert J. Lefkowitz and Brian K. Kobilka win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry

    Posted on October 10, 2012 by Sterlitech Corporation

    As you sit in front of your computer reading this, a myriad of thoughts are probably running through your mind. "Where is this story going?" "What am I going to have for lunch today?" "This blog is awesome!" But what you probably aren't thinking about is how you are actually able to read this. How often have you spared a thought about how the light from the screen is passing through the cornea and lens of your eye to trigger the light-sensitive photo-receptors in your retina and send the visual information to your brain?

    While you consider that, also consider sending a message of congratulations to Robert J. Lefkowitz and Brian K. Kobilka for winning the Nobel Prize in Chemistry today. Their work over the past few decades has revealed the inner workings of G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCR), a family of cell receptors which includes the photo-receptors in your eyes, and receptors for adrenaline, taste and smell.

    GPCRs are a crucial signal pathway for cells, allowing them to detect changes in their environment and react accordingly. For example, when your body releases adrenaline, the adrenaline molecule attaches to a GPCR on the outside of the cell wall. The receptor changes shape, allowing a G-protein inside the cell to bind to the receptor and activate. The activated protein breaks apart, which sets off a chain of reactions inside of the cell to change its metabolism.

    The story of the discovery of GPCRs begins in the late 1960s, when Robert Lefkowitz was tasked with finding the mechanism that cells used to detect changes in their environment. By adding a radioactive isotope to adrenaline and noradrenaline, he was able to identify adrenergic receptors and observe how they worked.

    Later, Lefkowitz recruited Brian Kobilka to identify the genes that code the adrenergic receptors. Kobilka’s findings showed that the adrenergic receptors were structurally similar to other receptors in the body that had completely different functions. They suddenly realized that those receptors comprised an entire family of receptors that function in the same way, but to different stimuli: the G-protein-coupled receptors.

    The work done by Robert Lefkowitz and Brian Kobilka has answered a long standing question about how cells receive and process chemical signals. This knowledge is already being put to use to create drugs and therapies that manipulate cells more precisely, encouraging malfunctioning cells to work properly. Whether you spare a thought for them or not, the GPCRs in your body are always at work for you, regulating your body and letting you experience life.

    The original press release announcing the winners of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry as well as additional information about their work can be found here.


    This post was posted in Did you know, News, Chemistry, Microbiology and Life Sciences

  • Serge Haroche and David J. Wineland Win the Nobel Prize in Physics

    Posted on October 9, 2012 by Sterlitech Corporation

    In 1935, Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger came up with one of the most famous thought experiments in history, Schrödinger's cat. The premise of the experiment has a cat in a box, with a capsule of poison gas connected to a Geiger counter. If a radioactive atom decays and triggers the counter the capsule opens and the cat will die. Quantum mechanics, which govern radioactive decay, state that the atom is in a superposition state of both not yet decayed and having decayed. The cat, by extension, is both dead and alive in the box, a seemingly paradoxical outcome. Quantum superposition is so sensitive to interaction with the environment that any attempt at observation ends the superposition and the cat becomes either dead or alive.

    Today, we are happy to offer our congratulations to Serge Haroche and David J. Wineland, who were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for independently devising ways to directly observe individual quantum particles in a superposition state without destroying them. Their methods have paved the way for other scientists to scientists to peak into the box and see the cat dead and alive. Thanks to their work, the bizarre world of quantum mechanics is no longer constrained within thought experiments.

    While the methods used by Haroche and Wineland were developed independently, they do share many similarities. Serge Haroche trapped a single photon between a pair of superconducting mirror and fired specially prepared atoms, called Rydberg atoms, at it to measure the change that occurred to the atom due to the photon. David Wineland, on the other hand, trapped a single ion in group of electric fields and fired a laser at the ion to suppress the ion’s movement in the trap, allowing him to observe the ion’s superposition state.

    The work of Haroche and Wineland has the potential to revolutionize the way we handle information by opening the door to practical quantum computing. The manipulation of quantum particles is already being used to create optical clocks that are over 100 times more accurate than the atomic clocks that are currently used as national time standards.

    The original press release announcing the award as well additional information about the Nobel Laureates can be found here.

    Be sure to visit us again tomorrow as we cover the winner(s) of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.


    This post was posted in Did you know, News, general science

  • Sterlitech Customer Highlight: Saltworks Technologies

    Posted on August 16, 2012 by Sterlitech Corporation

    In space, no one can hear you pee…

    NASA's Water Recovery System

    NASA's Water Recovery System

    But you’ll be able to safely drink it down again after it’s gone through the International Space Station’s Water Recovery System. According to NASA, the Water Recovery System, carried to the ISS by the space shuttle Endeavour, can recycle up to 93% of the water fed into it and reduce overall water consumption aboard the space station by 65%. However, the Water Recovery System has been experiencing problems with calcium fouling, which led NASA to contact Saltworks Technologies of Vancouver, CA.

    Saltworks was contracted by NASA to build and deliver a pilot device that would test water recovery systems and may potentially be used aboard the ISS itself. If successful, the system will be the latest of Saltworks’ unique water treatment solutions.

    One such solution is the proprietary Thermo-Ionic process for desalination. This process can reduce energy costs by up to 80% in comparison to more traditional methods such as reverse osmosis. The Thermo-Ionic process uses diffusion across a series of ion bridges to manipulate salt out of a stream of water. External power is only necessary to run the low-pressure pump that keeps the system circulating. A low-energy, high efficiency solution like this would be perfect for an isolated station where astronauts need to conserve both water and electricity.

    Since being founded by Ben Sparrow and Joshua Zoshi in 2008, Saltworks Technologies has made global headlines with their innovative approach to water treatment. They have answered the challenges of desalination and industrial waste water treatment with efficient, sustainable solutions that may yet revolutionize the way we use water. They have been using Sterlitech’s Bench Scale Test Equipment to test and develop new technologies.

    Contributing Sources:

    Bennett, Nelson. "Vancouver’s Saltworks Technologies Lands NASA Contract." Business In Vancouver. N.p., 2 Apr. 2012. Web. 13 Aug. 2012. <http://www.biv.com/article/20120402/BIV0112/120409992/-1/BIV/vancouver-8217-s-saltworks-technologies-lands-nasa-contract>.

    Cohen, Yoni. "O Canada! Land of Water Innovation!"  Greentech Media. N.p., 06 Apr. 2010. Web. 06 Aug. 2012. <http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/oh-canada-land-of-water-innovation/>.

    Mann, Malcolm. "Saltworks Awarded NASA Contract." Saltworks Technologies. N.p., 16 Mar. 2012. Web. 13 Aug. 2012 <http://www.saltworkstech.com/news_20120316>.

    Siceloff, Steven. "Recycling Water Is Not Just for Earth Anymore.National Aeronautics and Space Administration. N.p., 17 Nov. 2008. Web. 13 Aug. 2012 <http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/behindscenes/waterrecycler.html>.

     


    This post was posted in News, government, water and wastewater treatment, separation, Sterlitech Customer Highlight

  • Sterlitech Customer Highlight: Aquaporin

    Posted on July 31, 2012 by Sterlitech Corporation

    Aquaporin A/S of Denmark, one of Sterlitech Corporation’s customers, has recently tested their Aquaporin Inside™ technology at the NASA Ames facility at Palo Alto, CA. Aquaporin and their new technology take their names from a type of protein found in the cell membranes of every living thing on the planet: aquaporins. Aquaporin (the company) hopes to use the selectivity of aquaporins (the protein) to create cost-effective and ecologically sustainable new membrane filters to revolutionize water purification and desalination.

    Aquaporin Demonstrator Module

    Aquaporin Demonstrator Module

    The secret to the promise of Aquaporin Inside™ technology is the selectivity of the aquaporins themselves. Embedded throughout any cell membrane, aquaporins are a gateway through which water can pass into and out of a cell but ions and solutes cannot. Aquaporins will even exclude naturally occurring hydronium and hydroxide ions in water.  If successful, Aquaporin’s new technology could set new standards in water purity.

    As our planet’s population booms, the demand for safe, clean water will boom along with it. Aquaporin and their Aquaporin Inside™ technology has the potential to go a long way towards meeting that demand.

    Contributing Sources:

    “Membrane Product News.” Membrane Quarterly. January 2012: pg. 9
    Jensen, Peter Holme, and Danielle Keller. "Membrane for Filtering of Water." US Patent & Trademark Office. Web. 18 July 2012.
    "A Miracle that can Change the World." Aquaporin - Aquaporins. Web. 18 July 2012.


    This post was posted in Membrane Filtration, News, water treatment, Biotechnology, Forward Osmosis, Customer Highlight, Aquaporin

  • Images Now on Product Level

    Posted on March 1, 2012 by Sterlitech Corporation

    We made a small design change to our product category pages today – A thumbnail of each SKU is now displayed at the category level (You can see an example of the upgraded look here). For many of our bench scale and laboratory equipment categories this will make it much easier and quicker to compare all of the different models and parts. While adding the SKU images may not mean as much for the membrane disc filter, syringe filter, and capsule filter categories since there isn’t a dramatic difference between a 0.1 and 0.2 micron Nylon membrane, it does still make for a cleaner looking display overall.

    Do you like this new change? Have any other design fixes or upgrades you’d like us to make? Sound off in the comments!


    This post was posted in News, Website Features

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