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A system developed at the University of Warsaw will improve the efficiency of sports training

The new system is based on ongoing analysis of biological and biochemical parameters, and will allow you to adapt the level of physical activity and training to the body's current abilities. The solution will automatically modify planned training loads, thanks to which the athlete will remain within a range of training intensity optimal for them, and their efforts will bring the best possible effects.

The idea of the solution developed at UW is to ensure the maximum progress that can be achieved without overtraining. The solution will eventually be offered not only to professional athletes, but also to amateurs and anyone who would like to safely achieve their sporting dreams – e.g. running a marathon.

 

“The training parameters are set by the coach based on their knowledge, experience and intuition. However, the coach doesn’t use modern tools that put out objective data to enable training to be personalised in terms of characteristics and the current status of the athlete. The result can be overtraining and decreased performance, and the main thing is that athletes can achieve their maximum capacity only by accident,” said the inventor of the Activiti system, dr hab. Robert Małecki from the Institute of German Studies at the Faculty of Modern Languages of the University of Warsaw, also an active triathlete and several-time participant of the European and World Ironman championships.

 

The algorithm analyses data about the athlete’s key biological and biochemical indicators, and makes – depending on the current situation and needs – minor or major corrections to the training plan. To ascertain the current state of the athlete’s body, the system uses basic biological parameters, such as heart rate, blood sugar and body temperature, as well as biochemical parameters, including adrenaline and lactic acid levels. You don’t need to visit a laboratory to measure all of these. It can be done at home. The final goal is for each athlete to be in their ideal range – not overtraining, but also not undertraining.

 

Tests of the solution carried out in cooperation with a group of sportspersons will allow us to prove the effectiveness of the algorithm.

What's the advantage of this solution?

There are many systems on the market that monitor physical activity. They show basic parameters of the activity, such as distance, calories burned, and heart rate. Such data allow users to refer to guides, download free training tips, or see a trainer who will develop a plan to let them prepare to achieve a specific goal within a set time. However, these types of systems don’t use information about training goals. They don’t take into consideration any data about the athlete’s physical preparation, current state of health, or fitness. This means that training is based on averaged values. It’s not personalised and doesn’t guarantee the optimal results that can be achieved by the given individual. The athlete doesn’t know if their training programme, irrespective of whether they received it from a trainer, got it from a book, or downloaded it, is progressing optimally. The athlete is constantly asking themselves whether they’re running too fast or too slow, how long their recovery should be, and what the next training session should look like.

Two medications administered together are more effective at destroying cancer cells and less harmful for healthy cells

Two medications administered together are more effective at destroying cancer cells and less harmful for healthy cells

Scientists from the National Medicines Institute and the University of Warsaw have discovered that the simultaneous administration of two organic substances used in cancer therapies results in the tumour shrinking faster with fewer negative effects of the drugs on healthy cells. A different synergistic effect was also observed – the tissues of the malignant tumour had a higher concentration of the substance that destroys the cell, and that these substances take longer to degrade by cell enzymes.

Two scientists discovered this: dr hab. Katarzyna Wiktorska, Professor of the National Medicines Institute, and dr hab. Maciej Mazur, Professor at the Faculty of Chemistry of the University of Warsaw. This is the result of extensive research and experimentation that the National Medicines Institute and UW have been jointly conducting for 10 years.

Promising synergism – an almost-two-fold better response of the malignant tumour

The discovery is related to the synergy of actions of doxorubicin and sulforaphane. Doxorubicin is an antibiotic widely used in anti-cancer therapies. Sulforaphane is a plant-derived substance found mainly in cruciferous plants (brassicas) and their sprouts, including Brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, kale, turnips and radishes. The scientists discovered that the simultaneous administration of both of these substances results in an almost two-fold better reduction in the size of the tumour compared with each substance being administered in isolation.

The studies were carried out under in vitro conditions – using tumour tissues and healthy tissue, and under in vivo conditions – in mice implanted with one of the most malignant breast cancers – triple-negative breast cancer – for which there is currently no fully effective treatment.

Helpful nanotechnology

The key factor in the research was the use of nanotechnologies – doxorubicin and sulforaphane were administered in an aqueous solution in liposomes, i.e. two-layer phospholipid vesicles. “As we know, tumour tissues have a slightly different blood vessel structure compared with healthy tissues. Rapidly multiplying cancer cells need a lot of nutrients – the blood vessels surrounding them tend to be porous, and their walls are more permeable. Therefore, by using the right liposome size, we can selectively target cancer cells with higher amounts of medication while limiting the medications reaching healthy cells, where the blood vessels find it difficult to let through liposomes of this size. In our studies, we wanted to evaluate the extent to which the therapy we are working on can be targeted and act specifically on cancer cells. Our results to date look extremely promising,” explained Katarzyna Wiktorska, Professor of the National Medicines Institute.

 

Administering both substances using liposomes results in greater accumulation of doxorubicin in the cells. Sulforaphane makes the cell-killing antibiotic remain in cellular structures for longer – studies conducted previously by the team show that sulforaphane inhibits enzymes that degrade doxorubicin particles in the tumour’s cells. Thanks to this, these cells die quicker. “What’s most interesting, however, is that the use of liposomes results in doxorubicin not being as toxic in healthy cells as it is in cancer cells. This is a very important discovery that shows that in the future, chemotherapy based on doxorubicin doesn’t have to be as toxic and destructive to the entire body, and that it can be much more effective at killing cancer cells,” said Professor Maciej Mazur of the Faculty of Chemistry.

 

“This project is sufficiently advanced that it requires significant funding from an external entity that in the future will have an impact on the use of the research results in actual therapies. The acquisition of such a partner will allow us to go through all further stages required, from testing toxicity and confirming optimal concentrations of both medications to obtain the best results, to clinical trial phases. We are aware that although current studies look promising, the road ahead to implement this novel therapy may take several years,” said dr Robert Dwiliński, director of the Technology Transfer Centre of the University of Warsaw.

A sewage treatment plant can look like a garden

RDLS – a spin-off of the University of Warsaw – in consortium with Czech Dekonta has completed the construction of one of the largest passive sewage treatment plants (constructed wetland) in Europe. Once started up, the system can service 1,800 residents.

The same consortium (RDLS and Dekonta) has also commenced work on a “design and build” project in Udrzynek in the Brańszczyk commune. At the end of 2021, there’ll be a constructed wetland sewage treatment plant servicing 1,750 residents.

 

“The first large passive sewage treatment systems are being built in Poland. More and more local governments are asking about how they can implement this eco-friendly wastewater management alternative. In September, we completed construction of one of the largest European installations of this type in the Dębowa Kłoda commune, and at the same time, we commenced work on building a constructed wetland sewage treatment plant in the Brańszczyk commune,” said Łukasz Rodek, CEO of RDLS (Research & Development for Life Sciences), a spin-off of UW specialising in environmental technologies.

Poles also want eco-friendly treatment options

Last week, the tourist town of Białka in the Dębowa Kłoda commune in the Lubelskie voivodship held an opening of one of the largest passive sewage treatment plants in Europe. The facility has a capacity of 180m³ per day and is able to service both 250 permanent residents and thousands of tourists who visit every year – in the summer period, the total number of people in the area reaches 2,500. The treatment plant in Białka was designed by scientists of the University of Life Sciences in Lublin and the Gdańsk University of Technology, and was built by RDLS in consortium with the Czech Dekonta. Dekonta has almost 30 years of practical experience in designing and building these types of systems. It has implemented over 50 such projects. The value of the contract for the construction of the treatment plant in Białka was PLN 3.7 million.

 

“The treatment plant is a solution to the problems of Białka residents related to sewage and purity of water in the lake, which is one of the main tourist attractions of the town. Thanks to its natural look, the passive technology will blend in with the landscape, and as a result of the treatment, the system puts out clean water into the local ecosystem. The facility meets all environmental standards, the structure is sealed, and runs year-round, which is crucial, because the surrounding areas are covered by the Natura 2000 programme,” said Grażyna Lamczyk, Dębowa Kłoda Commune Head, during the official opening of the treatment plant.

 

In September this year, RDLS and Dekonta began the design stage, and by the end of next year, they’ll build the constructed wetland treatment plant in the Brańszczyk commune. The undertaking will cost PLN 6 million and will successfully solve the problem of overloading an outdated classic treatment plant.

How does a passive treatment plant work?

A constructed wetland treatment plant mimics the hydraulic and habitat conditions of natural wetland ecosystems. In such a soil-plant system, in which the soil is saturated with water, the biological treatment process occurs using appropriate filters (with the participation of various microorganisms that inhabit the developed root and rhizome system of aquatic and water-loving plants). Microorganisms have a huge role to play in passive systems: they degrade and assimilate carbon compounds, retain phosphorus compounds and heavy metals, and are responsible for the assimilation and volatilisation of nitrogen compounds, as well as for the precipitation of sulphur compounds. It’s a natural and eco-friendly solution that doesn’t use chemicals. Compared with traditional treatment plants, they use much less energy.

A new spin-off of UW – a search engine on steroids for businesses and investors

Quant_kit is a new tech company created at the University of Warsaw. Its objective is to launch a proprietary technology using alternative data, artificial intelligence and machine learning. The technologies developed by Quant_kit are meant to provide the possibility of quick searching for data and analyses needed to make the right business and investment decisions.

From the perspective of the user, the Quant_kit solution will be similar to popular online search engines. The difference is the level of complexity of the analytical systems and the way in which the results are presented – the Quant_kit technology not only searches structured and unstructured information sets, but also performs automated data analysis. What’s more, the search results are presented in interactive graphic form. This aims to improve the inference and decision-making process.

 

As the creators highlight, the approach, which involves a flexible search of information by automating the processing process and data analysis, is in demand in international markets. Quant_kit stands out from the competition thanks to its freedom in the formulation of queries by the user, and the use of many unrelated sources of alternative data.

 

At present, the gathering and processing of large amounts of unstructured data that are helpful in the investment decision-making process is a serious problem for 65% of investors. On the other hand, 74% of market participants find it challenging to interpret and inference based on gathered information (the above data are from a study conducted among several dozen investment fund and venture capital fund associations in Poland at the request of the Technology Transfer Centre of the University of Warsaw in June 2020). The Quant_kit product will provide solutions to the above problems.

First pilot implementations

Quant_kit is currently starting up two independent pilot versions of its solution. One of them is at a leading capital market infrastructure institution in Poland, and the other at a company from the energy sector. The implementation projects will be run until the end of the year. As a result of these implementations, the founders of the company expect interest from a wide market of recipients, and plan to build a domestic and foreign client portfolio in as early as 2021. “As a company, we’ve had a great start. We’ve noticed that our product will also be useful to strategic, business and company security departments that are not focused on investment – this greatly broadens the target group and growth outlook. The next six months will allow us to on the one hand quickly finetune the technology, and on the other further develop our offer for more clients,” added Wojciech Zdunkiewicz.

 

The company wants to provide the tool as online subscription services (SaaS model). The offer will also likely include supporting services that are necessary for the realisation of dedicated implementations. Quant_kit’s target groups are mainly investment and venture capital funds, banks, insurers, and entities operating within capital markets. The technology may be of interest to companies that use large data sets and analytics to make business decisions – for example, companies from the heavy industry, energy, fuel and construction sectors.

 

 

“We want to shorten the duration of the analytical process. At the same time, we will provide an opportunity to broaden the analytical scope by many data sources using advanced ML and search methods. Each user will have at their disposal a flexible search engine for structured data and market analyses, and the results will be presented on an interactive dashboard. The main external sources of information will cover, among others, online content, sentiment expressed on social media, online trends, entity and market networks, advertising data, patent and innovation data, and online traffic. Therefore, our goal is not to replace proven analytical solutions that have been used by companies for years, but to supplement these tools using alternative sources of information that support inferencing and business decisions,” explained Michał Jaworski, cofounder and CEO of Quant_kit.

 

Lecturus – a spin-off of the University of Warsaw has provided access to a free platform for running lectures online

Lecturus – a University of Warsaw spin-off – has launched a free platform that enables lecturers to run lectures remotely.

The new tool allows us to restore continuity in teaching after UW cancelled classes due to the coronavirus epidemic. The platform’s administrators aren’t excluding the possibility of making it available to other universities and interested schools throughout Poland.

Lecturus uses the Cisco Webex technology, which among other things, supports remote teaching. Even 1,000 participants can take part in a class at the same time. The lecturer and participants can use audiovisual or chat messaging, share documents and multimedia, share screens, write on a joint board, take notes, and participate in various types of tests.

Quick testing before launch

To fast-track the launch of the platform due to the pandemic, in recent days, a dozen or so people from the Faculty of Polish Studies of the University of Warsaw got voluntarily involved in testing the solution. According to the platform’s administrators, any limitations may be due to configuration of the user’s equipment and the quality of the internet connection. However, the service works even with a poor internet connection thanks to advanced Cisco communication algorithms, which in such situations automatically adjust the quality and availability of images.

Let others use it!

The founders of the University’s company Lecturus see no obstacles to other universities and even schools using the free platform during the epidemic and social quarantine. “We really want to help all interested parties in implementing their teaching activities. We hope that even with high traffic on the platform, the lecturers will be able to run classes and students can actively participate in them without a problem. Of course, if any issues arise, we’ll do everything in our power to resolve them as quickly as possible,” said Przemysław Zieliński, deputy CEO of Lecturus. He also added that perhaps the best form of sharing the platform with a wider group of users would be cooperation under the Agreement of Academic Technology Transfer Centres (PACTT.pl).

Artificial intelligence will diagnose Achilles tendon injuries

A new spin-off will be created at the University of Warsaw; it'll specialise in diagnosing Achilles tendon injuries using artificial intelligence.

Combining magnetic imaging and artificial intelligence techniques will allow us to improve diagnosis of Achilles tendon injuries, which are the most common orthopaedic injuries.

Thanks to this, the time taken to perform magnetic imaging of the tendon is decreased to several minutes, while the report is generated in mere seconds.

This achievement was presented at the “INNO THINKING” press conference at the Institute of Physics of the Polish Academy of Sciences by Bartosz Borucki – director of the R&D laboratory at the University of Warsaw. As he highlighted, imaging equipment has decreased in price and is widespread, imaging limits no longer apply, and doctors are referring more and more patients for such testing. The problem is, however, reporting on the images obtained. There aren’t enough radiologists, and so the waiting time increases.

 

While unusual and complicated pathologies do and will continue to require assessment by an experienced radiologist, reducing the load of specialists in evaluating the results of simple, routine tests is necessary. Scientists from the University of Warsaw have focused on the Achilles tendon. It’s the largest tendon and a weak point not only for athletes. Approximately 200 Achilles tendon ruptures alone are recorded in the USA and Europe annually per one million population. Each case must be diagnosed – in Poland, around 14,000 Achilles tendons are scanned every year.

“We’ve created a solution to assess the Achilles tendon that introduces automation, which enables the creation of objective radiological evaluations based on the use of artificial intelligence. It’s the first such solution in the world. We’re convinced that our project will set new directions for the development of imaging diagnostics in orthopaedics and sports medicine, and will improve the time taken to receive a diagnosis, as well as its effectiveness,” said Bartosz Borucki, one of the founders of the Smarter Diagnostics of the University of Warsaw.

 

Thanks to the use of artificial intelligence (deep networks), the time taken to perform magnetic imaging of the Achilles tendon is decreased from approximately 30 to several minutes, while the report is generated in just seconds.

 

The company isn’t ruling out future development of services integrated with existing programs for radiologists for diagnosing other orthopaedic injuries, for example, knee ligaments.  New technology can help radiologists in their everyday work.

 

A new spin-off of the University of Warsaw – Harmful chrome can be eliminated without compromising visual effects

A spin-off – Inelco – has been founded at the University of Warsaw; it specialises in the production of innovative protective coatings from metal alloys.

One of its solutions is technology that makes it possible to eliminate harmful chrome from the production process.

The company is also working on alloys and composites that will eventually be used, among other things, in fuel cells.

The company created by UW brings together decades of scientific experiments in the field of searching for and producing protective coatings that are safe for the environment and relatively inexpensive to manufacture. Electrochemical methods are used to produce such coatings. The company’s portfolio includes materials, products and technologies developed over the last 30 years. The scientists have new materials and alloys with decorative and anti-corrosion properties that are suitable for manufacturing structural elements. They also have their own proprietary technology that enables harmful chrome to be replaced. At the same time, Inelco is running advanced research on alloys that can potentially be used in fuel cells.

Innovation and ecology

The scientists who founded Inelco want to introduce into industry alternative materials compared with those that are widely used, so that they’re less harmful to the environment, cheaper, and the method used to obtain them isn’t detrimental to the natural environment.  An example of this is a material that replaces precious metals in fuel cells being designed. Another example is the possibility of achieving the effect of a chrome-plated surface without using chrome.

 

“One of the materials we have developed has enormous potential to be used in fuel cells. Although it doesn’t provide the same efficiency of hydrogen evolution as in the case of cells using precious metals, it is many times cheaper and more environmentally friendly to manufacture. Precious metal resources are limited, while tungsten compounds are widely available and inexpensive. We want to introduce into industry innovative and environmentally friendly solutions, and that’s why we’re focusing on breakthrough technologies that allow us to greatly exceed the current indicators and parameters that define production processes. We’d all like to own a car whose only emission is water. However, we’d also like for there to be no need to use expensive materials to produce the propulsion of such a vehicle,” said one of the scientist founders of Inelco.

 

Currently, all the methods developed by the University’s scientists are relatively inexpensive, effective and eco-friendly, which results in a huge potential for implementation on a large scale in various industry sectors. The company doesn’t use toxic reagents or generate toxic waste, and the technology developed reduces the number of stages of production, which means fewer activities related to washing and cleaning manufacturing equipment.

A profitable alternative to harmful chrome

Chrome is used in many industries, but has been deemed by the European Union as a dangerous substance. Even small amounts of some of its compounds may be harmful to human health, and employees of electroplating plants are at particular risk. The EU has found that although chrome is harmful, it’s difficult to replace. Manufacturers may still use it, but they need to obtain a special permit, or it must be made outside of the EU. A solution to this problem has been created at the University of Warsaw. “We have materials that are similar to chrome, are just as hard, have a similar colour, can give gloss like a mirror, and their manufacturing is much more eco-friendly – not only because no harmful reagents or chrome are used, but also because less water and electricity is required for manufacturing,” said one of the scientists.

Another technology available from Inelco involves nickel. It’s estimated that up to 20% of the population is allergic to it. The new alloy was created by combining nickel with copper and tungsten, and items made from it don’t cause an allergic reaction.


Inelco’s founders highlight that the possibility of creating new materials are practically limitless, and materials that are similar to each other can have very different properties. Sometimes, their composition or manufacturing method differ slightly, but the properties differ massively. For example, one of two materials with an identical composition may have magnetic properties because it was obtained under slightly different conditions. Very similar materials can also differ in appearance, such as gloss or colour.

 

“We know how to produce self-undercoating materials. This means that the material independently produces a coating that, in a way, sticks it to another material. We were able to develop a technology to achieve this in one solution. And here again we have savings – water, detergents and labour, because the entire process is automated,” added the scientist.

A new company founded at the University of Warsaw – data science for companies

Project 42 is a new spin-off founded at the University of Warsaw. Its objective is to support companies through tools and solutions that use data science techniques, artificial intelligence and machine learning.

It was founded by doctoral students from the Faculty of Physics and the Faculty of Management of UW. They want to use experience in management and field-specific skills while giving the business world better access to university scientific potential in terms of analysing large data sets. All of this is to support various types of business goals the achievement of which requires the use of advanced mathematical methods and data processing technologies.

 

“The scientific potential of Polish universities in the field of data science is enormous. At the same time, the business world is aware that it’s not easy to harness. The relationships between the world of scientists and companies were never easy, and we are operating at this very junction. We come from a scientific world, and we have the appropriate substantive competences, as well as business training and experience,” said one of the founders of Project 42.

 

The Project 42 portfolio features an exploratory analysis, modelling and prediction, computer simulations, creation of algorithms and tools, as well as scientific consulting. “We know how to search for and find solutions to real, complicated business problems using the latest mathematical science achievements. The company’s second key field of operation is creating solutions and scientific teams to implement R&D projects run by Polish and foreign enterprises,” he added.

 

Better collaboration between UW and the business world in the field of data science

The potential of data gathered by companies and the need to process these data mean that the demand of data science specialists and services has for several years exceeded the available labour market supply and skills. On the one hand, it’s increasingly difficult to find specialists, and on the other, there are more and more companies providing these sorts of services. What makes Project 42 stand out and gain a competitive advantage? The main factor is access to UW’s scientific potential. Project 42’s activities are meant to be an alternative to the model in which companies independently recruit data science specialists.

A device to detect cancer based on exhaled air has been created at the University of Warsaw

Lung and breast cancer are the most frequently occurring cancers in men and women respectively. Early detection is crucial for effective treatment.

What if you could check in just a few minutes whether a patient has a medical condition and make decisions about further diagnostics with the help of easy-to-use equipment?

A device made at the Institute of Experimental Physics at the Faculty of Physics of the University of Warsaw allows exactly this.

The apparatus being developed quickly analyses exhaled air, can significantly increase the chances of survival of tens of thousands of patients, as this is the number that die annually due to malignant tumours that were diagnosed too late. However, funding must be obtained for the project to be successful, and the scientists are now seeking it.

 

For many years, the team of Professor dr hab. Tadeusz Stacewicz from the Division of Optics of the Institute of Experimental Physics at the Faculty of Physics of UW has been conducting research involving the use of lasers to detect biomarkers (biological indicators of medical conditions) in exhaled air. Methods and devices for detecting, among other things, ammonia, have been developed. The presence of ammonia indicates the presence of Helicobacter pylori bacteria, carbon monoxide (in lung diseases), and methane (in digestive problems).

 

In 2017, the latest research project began. It is focusing on identifying formaldehyde, ethane and other volatile organic compounds excessive amounts of which in exhaled air are associated with cancer, primarily lung and breast cancer. The formal completion of the project is planned for mid-2021.

 

“A non-invasive, simple, effective and inexpensive device for screening tests could reverse the negative trends related to the incidence of malignant cancer. That’s why for several years, work has been intensified on using laser spectroscopy and other techniques for the detection of biomarkers of serious diseases (including cancer) in exhaled air. Our device would enable the detection of formaldehyde in several minutes. At the same time, its cost shouldn’t exceed the cost of purchasing a dental chair. That’s why it could stand in an internal medicine doctor’s office and be used to conduct screening on a mass scale,” said Professor dr hab. Tadeusz Stacewicz.

 

Research on detecting formaldehyde and ethane, similarly to earlier studies on detection of biomarkers in exhaled air, is being carried out by the team of Professor dr hab. Tadeusz Stacewicz in collaboration with scientists from the Optical Signal Detection Team at the Institute of Optoelectronics of the Military University of Technology. A sample collection system that meets medical standards is one of the things that have been developed at the Military University of Technology.

 

“An effective detector of formaldehyde can have applications not only in medicine. A potential area of use is also industry and environmental protection. Formaldehyde is used in, among other things, furniture manufacturing, and since it’s a substance that’s harmful to health, the European Union has announced that it will introduce norms for this compound. If this ends up happening, meters will be needed that will ensure reproducible results and sufficient sensitivity not guaranteed by currently available simple electronic meters,” said dr Robert Dwiliński, director of the Technology Transfer Centre of the University of Warsaw.

Laser: quicker, cheaper and equally effective

Testing exhaled air has enormous potential – substances produced in biochemical processes get into the blood and are then eliminated by the lungs.

 

“To date, the detection of formaldehyde was only possible using gas chromatography. However, this isn’t the optimal method of detection of this volatile organic compound. The results aren’t always unambiguous. In addition, although gas chromatography is very sensitive, it’s difficult to use in screening tests. Individual tests take approximately 90 minutes and are more expensive, because they require expensive apparatus and a qualified lab technician. Our proposal will be much quicker and cheaper, and able to be used in almost every doctor’s clinic,” said mgr inż. Mateusz Winkowski, a doctoral student at the Division of Optics of the Institute of Experimental Physics of UW, a member of the team of Professor dr hab. Tadeusz Stacewicz.

 

The test involves collecting a sample of exhaled air from the patient. The device makes measurements based on the weakening of the light intensity of a certain wavelength. The ultra-sensitive measurement methods using lasers allow us to detect volatile organic compounds and to measure their concentrations. The solution decreases the duration of the test to several minutes, thus cutting the costs compared with gas chromatography. The test is, of course, painless and non-invasive.