In its second edition, the Prémio de Mérito AP2SI was awarded ex aequo to João Domingos (IST) and André Baptista (Faculty of Sciences from the University of Porto). The Prémio de Mérito AP2SI is attributed by the Associação Portuguesa para a Promoção da Segurança da Informação to reward MsC thesis that address the theme of Informatic Security and that stand out for their academic quality, practical applicability, originality and pertinence of the theme and dissertation work.
João Domingos, who finished his MsC in Informatics and Telecommunications Engineering was distinguished for his thesis “Characterization and monitoring of critical systems in the national Internet”, which he developed at IT in Lisbon, under the supervison of Rui Valadas (IT) and co-supervision of José Brázio (IT) and Paulo Pereira (ICP-ANACOM). The thesis consisted in developing the capacity for evaluating and monitoring the resilience of sites that support critical public services used by Portuguese citizens, based on available public information. To do so, the following questions were addressed: (i) Identifying the most important sites and algorithms; (ii) Characterization of the IP resources associated to each one of these sites; (iii) Interconnection system that supports the connections between those sites and the internet, namely the characterization of ASes that support their connectivity. The techniques and algorithms described above were integrated in the developed monitoring system - Crisys, which allows obtaining information and resilience indicators of the considered systems in a dynamic way.
Photo: The award that amounted to 1000€ was split between the two winners, João Domingos (the third from the left) and André Baptista, here both holding their winning certificates while surrounded by the panel of judges.
Sanaz Asgarifar, a PhD student from IT and the University of Algarve (UAlg), was the winner of the Fraunhofer Portugal Challenge 2018, winning the first prize in the PhD theses category with the work "Novel Treatment of Glioblastoma Brain Tumor using Bioelectronic Devices".
Created in 2010, the Fraunhofer Portugal Challenge is a contest sponsored by the Fraunhofer Portugal Research Association, a non-profit organization, funded by the German Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, a research company with 58 institutes spread all over Germany. The ideas competing in the contest must be based on MsC´s or PhD thesis, whose research is of practical utility, market oriented and focused on the areas of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), Multimedia and other related sciences.
As the title announces, in her thesis, under the supervision of Henrique Leonel Gomes (IT/UAlg) and Maria da Graça Ruano (UAlg), Sanaz Asgarifar proposes using bioelectronics devices in the treatment of Glioblastoma Brain Tumor, the most common cancer of the central nervous system. The method uses electronic components capable of interacting with the cell signaling mechanism to regulate biological functions, that is, the device uses electrical signals to instruct cancer cells to enter into a quiescent state or die.
The work developed by Sanaz Asgarifar shows that the cancer cells communicate with each other, using electrical oscillations. However, the amplitude of these oscillations is of only a few microvolts, which is 1000x weaker than the action potential of a neuron, which reaches amplitudes of millivolts. Therefore, measuring and understanding these signs is a priority for the treatment of cancer.
This thesis proposes using electronic devices to decode a "dictionary" of signals used by cancer cells and determine their impact on cell activity and migration. Once these signals are decoded, the devices can stimulate the tumor with electrical signal patterns to inhibit cell growth and even evoke apoptotic signals.
The hope is that this research can be applied to develop a prototype of a biomedical device adhering to the skin. The device can be implemented in flexible, soft and biocompatible substrates to act locally, with minimal effects on nearby healthy tissues. The results of this study will lead to the development of new locoregional therapies to inhibit and suppress brain tumors.