Universidad del Azuay (UDA)
Recent publications
Thymoquinone (TQ) is a secondary metabolite found in abundance in very few plant species including Nigella sativa L., Monarda fistulosa L., Thymus vulgaris L. and Satureja montana L. Preclinical pharmacological studies have shown that TQ has many biological activities, such as anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anticancer. Both in vivo and in vitro experiments have shown that TQ acts as an antitumor agent by altering cell cycle progression, inhibiting cell proliferation, stimulating apoptosis, inhibiting angiogenesis, reducing metastasis and affecting autophagy. In this comprehensive study, the evidence on the pharmacological potential of TQ on pancreatic cancer is reviewed. The positive results of preclinical studies support the view that TQ can be considered as an additional therapeutic agent against pancreatic cancer. The possibilities of success for this compound in human medicine should be further explored through clinical trials.
MAPK (mitogen-activated protein kinase) or ERK (extracellular-signal-regulated kinase) pathway is an important link in the transition from extracellular signals to intracellular responses. Because of genetic and epigenetic changes, signal-ing cascades are altered in a variety of diseases, including cancer. Extant studies on the homeostatic and pathologic behavior of MAPK signaling have been conducted; however, much remains to be explored in preclinical and clinical research in terms of regulation and action models. MAPK has implications for cancer therapy response, more specifically in response to experimental MAPK suppression, compensatory mechanisms are activated. The current study investigates MAPK as a very complex cell signaling pathway that plays roles in cancer treatment response, cellular normal conduit maintenance, and compensatory pathway activation. Most MAPK inhibitors, unfortunately, cause resistance by activating compensatory feedback loops in tumor cells and tumor microenvironment components. As a result, innovative combinatorial treatments for cancer management must be applied to limit the likelihood of alternate pathway initiation as a possibility for generating novel therapeutics based on incorporation in translational research. We summarize current knowledge about the implications of ERK (MAPK) in cancer, as well as bioactive products from plants, microbial organisms or marine organisms, as well as the correlation with their chemical structures, which modulate this pathway for the treatment of different types of cancer.
The changes in higher education due to the COVID-19 pandemic have forced the maintenance of a virtual education system, transforming face-to-face classes into online classes through different platforms available for this purpose. However, these classes, which can be synchronous or asynchronous, are new to many students, many universities, and several professors, so there is little information about their adaptation and which variables can affect students’ better acceptance of this system. This study seeks to determine how the students’ perception of the new educational system is altered by the access to technological tools to attend classes and, at the same time, how the adaptation of the university and professors to the new system influences said student perception. This study investigated the effects of these variables on students’ perception by utilizing a questionnaire that obtained 617 complete responses, and the obtained data were analyzed using the linear regression model. The results found show that the student’s perception of the new system improves as the capacity of the university and professors to adapt to the recent education model increases, and it also improves when students have access to technological tools. Furthermore, the variable of adaptation of the university and professors shows a greater incidence in improving student perception. These results lead to the search to implement strategies that will allow the capacity of these two variables to increase and achieve a better acceptance of the new system.
Background Medicinal plants have been the mainstay for the treatment of various diseases since antiquity. The importance of ethnomedicinal plants in drug discovery and development can never be overemphasized. Breonadia salicina (Vahl) Hepper and J.R.I.Wood (Rubiaceae) is a medium to a large plant that is widely distributed in the tropical and subtropical regions; the leaf, stem bark, and the root have been used in folk medicine for the treatment of cancer, arthritis, inflammation, wound infections, fever, diarrhoea, and vomiting. Studies showed that the plant contains several phytochemical compounds, some of which were isolated in their pure form from various parts of the plant. The compounds isolated include ursolic acid, α-amyrin, stigmasterol, and sitosterol. Other essential compounds isolated were 7-(β- d -apiofuranosyl-(1 → 6)-β- d -glucopyranosyl) umbelliferone (Adicardin), 7-hydroxycoumarin, and 6-hydroxy-7-methoxycoumarin. Literature works on B. salicina are limited, and information regarding its nutritional value is lacking. However, the leaf of the plant is used as food preservative. Main body This review is a compilation of information obtained from scholarly databases including ScienceDirect, ResearchGate, Sci-Hub, Wiley Online Library, and Google Scholar using search keywords related to the topic of the review. The articles were selected based on the year of publication, which was from 2010 to 2021, but some older references were still be included in this review because some data in recent articles were cited from older sources. This review focuses on the ethnomedicinal uses of this plant as well as the underpinning experimental evidence of its pharmacological activities such as antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-trypanasomal activities. Conclusion There is a need to explore the potentials of this plant by initially isolating and characterizing the bioactive compounds and then subsequently evaluating its various pharmacological activities and be considered for further development to a novel therapeutic compound.
The gaps between the complex nature of cancer and therapeutics have been narrowed down due to extensive research in molecular oncology. Despite gathering massive insight into the mysteries of tumor heterogeneity and the molecular framework of tumor cells, therapy resistance and adverse side effects of current therapeutic remain the major challenge. This has shifted the attention towards therapeutics with less toxicity and high efficacy. Myricetin a natural flavonoid has been under the spotlight for its anti-cancer, anti-oxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties. The cutting-edge molecular techniques have shed light on the interplay between myricetin and dysregulated signaling cascades in cancer progression, invasion, and metastasis. However, there are limited data available regarding the nano-delivery platforms composed of myricetin in cancer. In this review, we have provided a comprehensive detail of myricetin-mediated regulation of different cellular pathways, its implications in cancer prevention, preclinical and clinical trials, and its current available nano-formulations for the treatment of various cancers.
Green silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) and crude ethanolic, methanolic, aqueous, and acetonic extracts from leaves of Agave americana, Mentha spicata, and Mangifera indica were scrutinized for possible antineoplastic and cytotoxic efficacy. In this study, all the synthesized AgNPs were characterized using UV-Vis spectroscopy, X-ray diffraction, SEM (scanning electron microscopy), TEM (transmission electron microscopy), EDX-spectroscopy, and simultaneous thermogravimetric and differential thermal analysis (TG-DTA). Results of various characterization analyses performed in this study revealed that synthesized AgNPs had the highest absorption at 410-430 nm, polycrystalline structure with sizes ranging from 23 to 38 nm, and were thermally stable up to 350° C. Furthermore, it was manifested that phytoproduced AgNPs from A. americana revealed good antineoplastic activity (69%). M. indica- and M. spicata-based AgNPs displayed moderate activity against PC-3 (prostate cancer cell line). Similarly, good cytotoxic aptitude was demonstrated by A. americana- and M. indica-based AgNPs at the highest sample concentration (1000 μL). Excellent cytotoxicity was revealed by ethanol (100%), methanol (100%), and aqueous extracts (100%) of A. americana and methanol extract (83%) of M. spicata at 1000 μL.
Natural hazards generate disasters and huge losses in several aspects, with landslides being one of the natural risks that have caused great impacts worldwide. The aim of this research was to explore a method based on machine learning to evaluate susceptibility to rotational landslides in an area near Cuenca city, Ecuador, which has a high incidence of these phenomena, mainly due to its environmental conditions, and in which, however, such studies are scarce. The implemented method consisted of an artificial neural network multilayer perceptron (ANN MLP), generated with the neuralnet R package, with which, by means of different backpropagation algorithms (RPROP+, RPROP−, SLR, SAG, and Backprop), five landslide susceptibility maps (LSMs) were generated for the study area. A landslide inventory updated to 2019 and 10 conditioning factors, mainly topographical, geological, land cover, and hydrological, were considered. The results obtained, which were validated through the AUC-ROC value and statistical parameters of precision, recall, accuracy, and F-Score, showed a good degree of adjustment and an acceptable predictive capacity. The resulting maps showed that the area has mostly sectors of moderate, high, and very high susceptibility, whose landslide occurrence percentages vary between approximately 63% and 80%. In this research, different variants of the backpropagation algorithm were implemented to verify which one gave the best results. With the implementation of additional methodologies and correct zoning, future analyses could be developed, contributing to adequate territorial planning and better disaster risk management in the area.
Prunus armeniaca L. (Rosaceae)-syn. Amygdalus armeniaca (L.) Dumort., Armeniaca armeniaca (L.) Huth, Armeniaca vulgaris Lam is commonly known as the apricot tree. The plant is thought to originate from the northern, north-western, and north-eastern provinces of China, although some data show that it may also come from Korea or Japan. The apricot fruit is used medicinally to treat a variety of ailments, including use as an antipyretic, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, emetic, and ophthalmic remedy. The Chinese and Korean pharmacopeias describe the apricot seed as an herbal medicinal product. Various parts of the apricot plant are used worldwide for their anticancer properties, either as a primary remedy in traditional medicine or as a complementary or alternative medicine. The purpose of this review was to provide comprehensive and up-to-date information on ethnobotanical data, bioactive phytochemicals, anticancer potential, pharmacological applications, and toxicology of the genus Prunus armeniaca, thus providing new perspectives on future research directions. Included data were obtained from online databases such as PubMed/Medline, Google Scholar, Science direct, and Wiley Online Library. Multiple anticancer mechanisms have been identified in in vitro and in vivo studies, the most important mechanisms being apoptosis, antiproliferation, and cytotoxicity. The anticancer properties are probably mediated by the contained bioactive compounds, which can activate various anticancer mechanisms and signaling pathways such as tumor suppressor proteins that reduce the proliferation of tumor cells. Other pharmacological properties resulting from the analysis of experimental studies include neuroprotective, cardioprotective, antioxidant, immunostimulatory, antihyperlipidemic, antibacterial, and antifungal effects. In addition, data were provided on the toxicity of amygdalin, a compound found in apricot kernel seeds, which limits the long-term use of complementary/alternative products derived from P. armeniaca. This updated review showed that bioactive compounds derived from P. armeniaca are promising compounds for future research due to their important pharmacological properties, especially anticancer. A detailed analysis of the chemical structure of these compounds and their cytotoxicity should be carried out in future research. In addition, translational pharmacological studies are required for the correct determination of pharmacologically active doses in humans.
Background: Breast cancer is one of the most common types of cancer diagnosed and the second leading cause of death among women. Breast cancer susceptibility proteins of type 1 and 2 are human tumor suppressor genes. Genetic variations/mutations in these two genes lead to overexpression of human breast tumor suppressor genes (e.g., BRCA1, BRCA2), which triggers uncontrolled duplication of cells in humans. In addition, multidrug resistance protein 1 (MDR1), an important cell membrane protein that pumps many foreign substances from cells, is also responsible for developing resistance to cancer chemotherapy. Aim of the Study. The aim of this study was to analyze some natural compounds or their derivatives as part of the development of strong inhibitors for breast cancer. Methodology. Molecular docking studies were performed using compounds known in the literature to be effective against BRCA1 and BRCA2 and MDR1, with positive control being 5-fluorouracil, an antineoplastic drug as a positive control. Results: The binding affinity of the compounds was analyzed, and it was observed that they had a better binding affinity for the target proteins than the standard drug 5-fluorouracil. Among the compounds analyzed, α-hederin, andrographolide, apigenin, asiatic acid, auricular acid, sinularin, curcumin, citrinin, hispolon, nerol, phytol, retinol palmitate, and sclareol showed the best binding affinity energy to the BRCA1, BRCA2, and MDR1 proteins, respectively. Conclusions: α-Hederin, andrographolide, apigenin, asiatic acid, auricular acid, hispolon, sclareol, curcumin, citrinin, and sinularin or their derivatives can be a good source of anticancer agents in breast cancer.
This study analyzes the impact of certain cognitive processes on word and pseudoword reading in languages with different orthographic consistency (Spanish and Arabic) in the first year of Primary Education. The study was conducted with a group of 113 pupils from Algeria and another group of 128 pupils from Ecuador, from a middle-class background and without any special education needs. The participants were assessed in terms of their reading ability of words and pseudowords, knowledge of letters, phonological awareness, rapid automatized naming, and phonological memory. Using a correlational design, descriptive-exploratory, bivariate, and hierarchical multivariate regressions were applied to the different measures of reading in each language. The findings show that knowledge of letters, phonological awareness, rapid automatized naming, and phonological memory contribute differently to the explanation of reading ability in each group at the start of compulsory schooling. These results have important implications for the teaching of reading skills and the prevention of specific learning disabilities, as well as the theory of reading acquisition.
In many developed economies, the struggle to survive finds many small farms disappearing. Diversification is recognized as an important strategy for sustaining farms of this scale, addressing food security issues and creating a more resilient food system. This study aims to analyze farmers’ intentions to diversify into new business opportunities and how opportunity alertness and risk-taking propensity affect their intentions. These relationships are examined using data collected from 166 small and medium-sized farmers in five regions within Florida. The results indicate that for small and medium-sized farmers, opportunity alertness and risk-taking propensity have a positive effect on diversification intentions across seven different types of activities. Implications are drawn for theory and practice.
The pandemic context presents remarkable psychological challenges for adolescents and young adults. The aim of the present work was to construct and study the psychometric properties of a scale in Spanish language (W-COV) to measure their worries related to the pandemic. Participants were 5559 people aged between 14 and 25 years old (M = 19.05; SD = 3.28). Self-report data were collected using a cross-sectional and cross-cultural design. Participants were from 5 Spanish-speaking countries. Instruments were W-COV to assess worries about COVID-19 and its consequences; DASS-21 for anxiety, depression and stress; and SWLS for life satisfaction. Exploratory, confirmatory and multi-group factor analyses were conducted to determine the factorial structure of the W-COV and its measurement invariance (configural, metric, scalar and error variance). Correlational and regression analyses were also performed to study convergent and predictive validity. The results suggest that W-COV presents a bifactorial structure: (1) a general factor of worries about COVID-19; and (2) three different factors: worries about health, economic and psychosocial consequences from COVID-19. The internal reliability indices Cronbach's α and Omega were adequate. With respect to the invariance results, the instrument can be used interchangeably in the five countries considered, in both genders and in two different age groups (12–17 and 18–25). Regarding validity, W-COV factors were positively associated with anxiety, depression and stress, and negatively predicted life satisfaction. In conclusion, W-COV is a reliable and valid instrument for researchers and health care professionals to assess the psychological impact of the pandemic on mental health of young Ibero-Americans.
Desmodium adscendens (Sw.) DC. is a plant of the Fabaceae family especially rich in flavonoids but also in alkaloids, terpenoids, steroids, phenols, phenylpropanoids, glycosides, and volatiles. This herb has been traditionally used in numerous countries all over the world for its pharmacological and biological properties (i.e., it has been used for the treatment of diarrheas, fever, epilepsy, asthma, leishmaniasis, gastroduodenal ulcer, diabetes, hepatic diseases, etc.). Given the wide uses of D. adscendens, this review summarizes all recent data on D. adscendens evaluating its phytochemistry as well as its ethno‐traditional and pharmacological properties. In addition, an association between the phytocompounds of this plant and its potential mechanism of action in cell and animal models has been investigated, focusing with a special emphasis on human experiments. Main biological and pharmacological properties of Desmodium adscendens
El análisis de fracaso empresarial es importante, considerando que las empresas son el motor de la economía de un país. En el presente trabajo de investigación se estudia el riesgo de fracaso de las empresas del sector de fabricación de otros productos minerales no metálicos del Ecuador (CIIU C23). La data consta en promedio de 183 empresas en el periodo 2009-2019. Partiendo del modelo de Ohlson, se proponen los modelos econométricos logit y probit para calcular la probabilidad de fracaso de las empresas del sector. En el modelo logit la probabilidad de fracaso se encuentra entre 3,67% y 8,42%, mientras que en el probit se encuentra entre 3,79% y 7,75%. Se destaca que a medida que se incrementa el tamaño empresarial, se reduce el riesgo de fracaso y que el año 2017 presenta menor riesgo; además, el modelo logit tiene mayor capacidad predictiva.
Cancer is characterized by an abnormal growth of the cells in an uncontrolled manner. These cells have the potential to invade and can eventually turn into malignancy, leading to highly fatal forms of tumor. Small subpopulations of cancer cells that are long-lived with the potential of excessive self-renewal and tumor formation are called cancer stem cells (CSCs) or cancer initiating cells or tumor stem cells. CSCs can be found in tissues, such as breast, brain, lung, liver, ovary, and testis; however, their origin is still a matter of debate. These cells can differentiate and possess self-renewal capacity maintained by numerous intracellular signal transduction pathways, such as the Wnt/β-catenin signaling, Notch signaling, transforming growth factor-β signaling, and Hedgehog signaling. They can also contribute to numerous malignancies and are an important reason for tumor recurrence and metastasis because they are resistant to the known therapeutic strategies that mainly target the bulk of the tumor cells. This review contains collected and compiled information after analyzing published works of the last three decades. The goal was to gather information of recent breakthroughs related to CSCs, strategies to target CSCs’ niche (e.g., nanotechnology with tumor biology), and their signaling pathways for cancer therapy. Moreover, the role of metformin, an antidiabetic drug, acting as a chemotherapeutic agent on CSCs by inhibiting cellular transformation and its selective killing is also addressed.
Warning signals are well known in the visual system, but rare in other modalities. Some moths produce ultrasonic sounds to warn bats of noxious taste or to mimic unpalatable models. Here, we report results from a long-term study across the globe, assaying moth response to playback of bat echolocation. We tested 252 genera, spanning most families of large-bodied moths, and document anti-bat ultrasound production in 52 genera, with eight subfamily origins described. Based on acoustic analysis of ultrasonic emissions and palatability experiments with bats, it seems that acoustic warning and mimicry are the raison d'être for sound production in most moths. However, some moths use high-duty-cycle ultrasound capable of jamming bat sonar. In fact, we find preliminary evidence of independent origins of sonar jamming in at least six subfamilies. Palatability data indicate that jamming and warning are not mutually exclusive strategies. To explore the possible organization of anti-bat warning sounds into acoustic mimicry rings, we intensively studied a community of moths in Ecuador and, using machine-learning approaches, found five distinct acoustic clusters. While these data represent an early understanding of acoustic aposematism and mimicry across this megadiverse insect order, it is likely that ultrasonically signaling moths comprise one of the largest mimicry complexes on earth.
Evaluating ridesharing potential is a trend in current research efforts because ridesharing provides additional mobility alternatives without extra putting vehicles on the road. Nevertheless, in most studied scenarios, the demand revealed by surveys and demographic information does not include multi-day characteristics of a trip such as frequencies on weekdays. Yet this is important for estimating the supply of rides, as the recurrence or regularity of a trip may affect the likelihood of a driver making the effort of registering the trip as being available for sharing. Likewise, if automated apps are used to recognize patterns in one’s trips and pro-actively offer them for sharing, the successful anticipation of such apps may again depend on the regularity of the trip. However, since multi-day data are complex to produce, in this paper, a data fusion procedure is proposed to generate an enriched synthetic demand for more realistic assessments. This can be achieved by combining standard single-day data sets with travel behavior patterns, which can be extracted from lifelogging data collected by most existing mobile apps. The resulting data sets after transferring information from the travel patterns to a recipient data set via statistical matching, will constrain matching trips by multi-day characteristics allowing complex scenarios. This approach enhances the evaluation of ridesharing and other shared-mobility systems and thus their ability to plan better strategies.
Background. The mixing of cereals and legumes with nuts and seeds can produce various products that can be optimal for consumption with respect to their nutritional density. The use of legumes in gluten-free foods is becoming very prominent with increase in advancement in food engineering and technology. This study was aimed to develop a gluten-free product (cupcake) enriched with chick pea flour, almonds, and flaxseeds for celiac disease patients. Materials and Methods. The procured raw material including almonds, chickpea flour, and flaxseeds was mixed in appropriate amounts, and cupcakes were formulated following a specified recipe. The cupcakes were divided in five groups based on their recipe. First one was wheat based; 2nd one was corn and rice based; and next 3 were chickpea, almond, and flaxseed based, respectively. The cupcakes were checked for their proximate analysis parameters (carbohydrate, protein, and nitrogen-free extract), gluten and heavy metals (lead, chromium, and arsenic), bacterial load (E. coli, total coliforms, salmonella, yeast, and molds), fatty acid, texture parameters (firmness, cohesiveness, gumminess, and chewiness), and physical parameters (weight, height, volume, and specific volume). All these parameters were compared with wheat-based cupcakes to assess the product’s quality. Results. The volume of intervention cupcakes was a bit low compared to wheat/rice-based cupcakes but the specific volume was comparable. In texture analysis, firmness, gumminess, and chewiness were enhanced in intervention cupcakes compared to control but cohesiveness was comparable also. The carbohydrate contents were significantly lower in intervention cupcakes 22–30% compared to control cupcakes. Protein, fiber, and fat contents were significantly higher 11–14, 8–10, and 40%, respectively, with improvement (2-3 folds) in calcium, zinc, and iron contents in intervention cupcakes. All the safety parameters including heavy metals and bacterial and fungal load were found normal. The sensory attributes like size and color were found to be less acceptable but odor and taste were comparatively high in formulated products. Conclusion. The use of chickpeas, almonds, and flaxseeds in high concentration was first-time used to formulate a recipe of gluten-free cupcake. These cupcakes were more nutritious compared to available conventional recipes. Apparently, no health hazard was found in these cupcakes. Some sensory characteristics of cupcakes were slightly lower and comparable to wheat/rice-based cupcakes.
Cancer, one of the leading illnesses, accounts for about 10 million deaths worldwide. The treatment of cancer includes surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and drug therapy, along with others, which not only put a tremendous economic effect on patients but also develop drug resistance in patients with time. A significant number of cancer cases can be prevented/treated by implementing evidence-based preventive strategies. Plant-based drugs have evolved as promising preventive chemo options both in developing and developed nations. The secondary plant metabolites such as alkaloids have proven efficacy and acceptability for cancer treatment. Apropos, this review deals with a spectrum of promising alkaloids such as colchicine, vinblastine, vincristine, vindesine, vinorelbine, and vincamine within different domains of comprehensive information on these molecules such as their medical applications (contemporary/traditional), mechanism of antitumor action, and potential scale-up biotechnological studies on an in-vitro scale. The comprehensive information provided in the review will be a valuable resource to develop an effective, affordable, and cost effective cancer management program using these alkaloids.
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Juan Pablo Carvallo
  • School of Systems Engineering
Daniela Ballari
  • Faculty of Science and Technology
Boris Tinoco
  • Biología