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The Warsaw Voice » Other » December 3, 2008
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In brief
December 3, 2008   
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14th-Century Settlement Unearthed on Biebrza River
Polish archeologists uncovered the remains of a 14th-century settlement on the banks of the Biebrza River during construction of a ring road around the town of Sztabina in the Podlasie region in eastern Poland. They have found thousands of objects belonging to people who once lived in the area.

The archeologists have uncovered human graves and pits used for storing food. One of the most interesting finds is the remains of palisades that enclosed the settlement.

"Preliminary analysis of the wood shows that it dates from the 14th century," says Jerzy Siemaszko, director of the Regional Museum in the northeastern city of Suwałki. According to Siemaszko, the settlement covered an area of some 3-4 hectares on the Biebrza River.

Antibacterial Clothing to Help Fight Transmittable Diseases
Hospital aprons that do not allow bacterial and fungal growth and antibacterial underwear could soon be available thanks to research being carried out by scientists at the Gdańsk University of Technology in northern Poland.

Researchers in the university's Chemical Technology Department are using nanoparticles of precious metals, particularly silver, to achieve this goal. "We are striving to bind nanoparticles of precious metals, silver in particular, to neutral molecules in a bid to produce anti-bacterial and anti-fungal material," says the department's Adriana Zaleska, Ph.D. "Such material could be used to make underwear to prevent the growth of microorganisms on the garments. I think the material should be for specific uses such as hospital uniforms or for garments most prone to bacterial infestation like underwear and uniforms." Clothes made from material with antibacterial properties would prevent microorganism growth in hot climates and also prevent the spread of infection in the event of an injury.

Meanwhile, chemists from the Nanoco company in the southern Polish city of Tarnowskie Góry have developed methods for the production of bactericides, fungicides, deodorizing agents and bactericidal polymers. All these methods rely on the use of nano-silver, or silver molecules that are the size of one-millionth of a millimeter. The molecules are suspended in water and can only be seen under an electron microscope. Applied to any surface, the biocide kills all microorganisms from bacteria to fungi.

Tests conducted by Nanoco in Polish health centers have shown that nano-silver effectively kills bacteria. Spraying it on the walls and floors in the rooms where patients stayed, as well in the bathrooms, kept the surfaces free from pathogenic microorganisms for as long as 14 days. Such a lasting effect results from the fact that microorganisms are unable to develop immunity to silver. This is particularly significant in fighting antibiotic-resistant bacteria strains that plague hospitals, such as Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella typhi, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Neisseria or streptococci. Silver is effective in the case of 99.9 percent of bacteria and fungi, the chemists say.

The development of nanotechnology has enabled scientists to make full use of silver's germicidal properties. With its molecules broken down to nano size, they have achieved a much larger active surface, and unprecedented bactericidal power. One gram of silver, fragmented down to nano scale, has an active surface of hundreds of square meters.

Nano-silver also opens up new vistas for the clothing industry. Garments impregnated or made with the use of nano-silver fibers can prevent the growth of bacteria and the resulting odors.

Improving Survival Chances After a Heart Attack
The death rate in Poland for patients who have suffered a heart attack can be reduced thanks to the use of intravascular ultrasonography and optical coherence tomography (OCT), says Dr. Dariusz Dudka from Cracow's University Hospital.

A team of researchers led by Dudka has carried out three operations that were broadcast live to the United States as part of the Transcatheter Cardiovascular Therapeutics (TCT) conference, the world's largest educational meeting specializing in interventional vascular medicine.

The death rate caused by heart attacks in Poland is 3-5 percent. This percentage can be reduced still further. According to Dudek, intravascular ultrasonography allows doctors to clearly see images one-tenth of a millimeter in size, but with the OCT method magnification is increased to one-hundredth of a millimeter. Thanks to this technology, an invasive cardiologist can see a heart-attack patient's coronary vessels almost as clearly as he would through a microscope. Thus the doctor can precisely prescribe treatment, the type of stent-a small spring that is placed within a blood vessel to unblock it-that should be used and identify the best technique to prevent thrombosis.

Compiled by Tadeusz Belerski
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