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The Polish Science Voice
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From the Publisher
August 29, 2013   
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This issue of The Polish Science Voice reports on a medical breakthrough: in a world first, a group of Polish neurologists from the central city of £ód¼ have used special skin patches to treat patients with multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune disease that affects the brain and spinal cord.

The Polish neurologists, led by Prof. Krzysztof Selmaj and hailing from the Department of Neurology at the Medical University of £ód¼, have conducted a pilot clinical trial on 30 patients and have reported promising results. Their experimental method has been recognized by international healthcare authorities as a smart, efficient and safe weapon in the fight against multiple sclerosis.

In this issue we also explore the topic of land mines, focusing on an innovative project by a team from the Institute of Applied Computer Science at the £ód¼ University of Technology. Researchers there have built a smart mobile robot that can detect and dispose of land mines and other dangerous objects.

Producing a land mine and placing it on a minefield costs about $1; finding and disarming it costs more than $1,000, says the team leader, Prof. Dominik Sankowski. Disposing of mines is a highly dangerous activity. For this reason, devices capable of autonomously searching areas for these dangerous explosives are in great demand, Sankowski points out.

While most mobile robots designed for use by the military and police around the world are produced in the United States and Japan, Poland also has research centers working on such projects. The £ód¼ team has built a device that is largely autonomous and does not need to be constantly controlled by a human operator. This makes the Polish robot one of a few designs of its kind in the world. It could prove invaluable for the military, firefighters, police and border guards. Why did the researchers build the device? Because the number of minefields around the world continues to grow and such devices are simply needed, Sankowski says.

The robot cost zl.5.5 million to build and was developed as part of a project financed by Poland’s National Center for Research and Development (NCBiR).

The NCBiR has also allocated zl.1.5 million for research to find new uses for geothermal water, in a project headed by Wies³aw Bujakowski, Ph.D., from the Polish Academy of Sciences’ Mineral and Energy Economy Research Institute in Cracow.

Geothermal water is normally used for heating, or in spas and for therapeutic purposes. “We wanted to check if geothermal waters could be treated in order to obtain drinkable water fit for consumption,” Bujakowski tells The Polish Science Voice. “The idea was not to waste the extracted water and to make sure that at least a part of it is fit for other uses, for example for drinking.”

The project started in 2008 and ended in 2012. The research team was composed of 12 researchers from Bujakowski’s institute and several outside experts from institutions including the AGH University of Science and Technology in Cracow, the Silesian University of Technology in the southern city of Katowice and the Veolia Environnement company.

Andrzej Jonas
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