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Xjenza Online Vol. 5 Iss. 2 - December 2017
Xjenza Online Vol. 5 Iss. 2 - December 2017 ISSUE: Xjenza Online Vol. 5 Iss. 2 - December 2017



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Editorial
The Last Editorial
Giuseppe Di Giovanni
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Article
Molecular Mechanisms of the Sleep Wake Cycle: Therapeutic Applications to Insomnia
Melanie Grima, Thérèse Hunter, Yimeng Zhang
Pages: 87 - 97
Abstract | View full article | PDF
Abstract:
The aim of this review is to explore the molecular mechanism and genetic components of the sleepwake cycle and insomnia. Moreover, we wanted to review the correlation between primary insomnia and its comorbidities. With this aim, a systematic review of recent evidence of the molecular and genetic mechanisms involved in the causation of primary insomnia, along with associations between primary insomnia and other diseases were conducted. Primary insomnia is a complex disorder which accounts for 25% of total chronic insomnia and has several effects other than on sleep. It is manifested by a variety of genetic, cultural, social, psychological and environmental factors. Chronic insomnia has been shown to be 24-hour hyperarousal with reduced relative metabolism in the prefrontal cortex while awake. Insomnia can cause various physiological effects and memory capacity alterations; with chronic activation of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis also leading to the development of depression and anxiety. Orexins and melatonin are important regulators of sleep and wakefulness. Detailed mechanisms of alterations to the neuroendocrine components highlight the therapeutic potential of orexin antagonists, as well as exogenous melatonin and melatonin receptor agonists. Genetics plays an important role in the development of insomnia, with several single nucleotide polymorphisms implicated in sleep regulation. Further research is crucial to aid understanding of this common disorder and enhance treatment options.

Doi: 10.7423/XJENZA.2017.2.01
Article
Erosive Tooth Wear in Children and Adolescents
Gabriella Gatt, Miriam Schembri, Paula Vassallo, Maria Luisa Gainza-Cirauqui, Ethel Vento Zahra, Nikolai Attard
Pages: 98 - 109
Abstract | View full article | PDF
Abstract:
To determine the local prevalence of erosive tooth wear in the child population and to identify the degree to which local demographic and socioeconomic factors influence prevalence, a multi-stage cluster sample of three, five, eight, twelve and fifteenyear old Maltese school children were identified. The children were clinically examined under standardised conditions and provided a questionnaire to be filled directly (twelve and fifteen-year-olds) or by the parents/ legal guardians (three, five and eight-year-olds). A total of 2508 children were examined. Of these, 232 three-year-old, 338 five-year-old children, 337 eightyear- old children, 642 twelve-year-old children and 560 fifteen-year-old children returned a questionnaire and were analysed. The prevalence of erosive tooth wear was > 70% in all age cohorts. Erosion experience also increased in both extent and severity with age in each dentition. Significant higher incidences were observed in eight-year old males, eight-year old overweight children, eight and fifteen-year-olds attending public schools, locality (Gozo > Malta), history of vomiting in fifteen-year olds, and children from lower socioeconomic parental status in five, eight and fifteen-year-olds. The prevalence of erosive tooth wear is high in school aged Maltese children. This easily preventable tooth condition deserves targeted public health programmes to improve the oral health of future generations.

Doi: 10.7423/XJENZA.2017.2.02
Article
Measuring Human Capital: A Comparative Study with Emphasis on Malta
Philip von Brockdorff, Bernice Amaira
Pages: 110 - 124
Abstract | View full article | PDF
Abstract:
The main aim of this paper was to produce an estimate for human capital stock for Malta over the period 2005 to 2013 and to compare Malta’s performance with that of other countries, wherever possible. The paper attempts to answer two main questions, the first, is how can one give a value to the amount of capital embodied in humans, and the second is what was the human capital dynamics in Malta over the years, particularly when compared with other countries. This research is primarily motivated by the fact that human resources are Malta’s only resource, in the absence of any natural endowments. The conclusions of this paper are as follows: First, the lifetime income approach was found to be a more reliable monetary metric. Second, the human capital stock of Malta grew by 70% in nominal terms from 2005 to 2013 whereas the nominal average annual growth rate was approximately equal to 7%. The real human capital stock grew by 32% over the same period. The real change in human capital was attributed to a 2% increase in the labour force population and a 1% increase in real lifetime income per capita. Third, human capital stock were estimated to be on average twice the value of physical capital stock and four times the value of Malta’s GDP. Fourth, the level of human capital stock estimates was found to be sensitive to the choice of the expected future income growth and the rate used to discount the future income.

Doi: 10.7423/XJENZA.2017.2.03
Article
Investigating the Use of UAV Systems for Photogrammetric Applications: A Case Study of Ramla Bay (Gozo, Malta)
Emanuele Colica, Anton Micallef, Sebastiano D’Amico, Louis F. Cassar, Charles Galdies
Pages: 125 - 131
Abstract | View full article | PDF
Abstract:
In this study, we present the 3D digital model of Ramla Bay (Gozo) obtained by using photograms taken from drones. The high-resolution 3D model of Ramla Bay allowed the construction of a detailed Digital Elevation Model (DEM). Comparison of an earlier LIDAR data derived DEM (ERDF 156 Data, 2013) and the photogrammetric DEM developed in this study allowed to make preliminary observations regarding the potential evolution of the coastal area over the last 5 years. This study serves as a proof of concept to demonstrate that coastal evolution can be quantitatively analysed in terms of changes of the sand dune systems. Furthermore, the technique used in this paper represents a good compromise in terms of cost effectiveness and a valid substitute for laser scanner survey. It is also useful for monitoring the dynamics of the beach-dune system and the characterization of the coast for the mitigation of coastal erosion.

Doi: 10.7423/XJENZA.2017.2.04
Article
Alcohol, Cannabinoids and Nicotine in Liver Pathophysiology
Manuela Radic, Francesca Rappa, Rosario Barone, Francesco Cappello, Giuseppe Crescimanno, Maurizio Casarrubea, Massimo Perucci, Antonella Marino Gammazza, Giuseppe Di Giovanni
Pages: 132 - 136
Abstract | View full article | PDF
Abstract:
The liver can be affected by a wide range of therapeutic and environmental chemicals and here we want to provide a summary of the complex effects of alcohol, cannabinoids and nicotine on liver function. Alcohol is the most important agent that produces liver injury, manifesting as alcoholic fatty liver disease. In addition, it is one of the main etiologic agents for hepatocellular carcinoma development. Studies reviewed in this article regarding cannabinoids, show that 9-THC does not produce any harmful effects on the liver, while cannabidiol has hepatoprotective effects in ischemia/reperfusion and alcohol-induced liver injuries. The liver is negatively affected by nicotine exposure, but surprisingly nicotine was shown to have a positive effect on the liver in the diet-induced obese animal model, which should be confirmed by future research.

Doi: 10.7423/XJENZA.2017.2.05
Article
A Revised Appraisal of Scientific Names Used in the 1915 List of Lichens of the Maltese Islands by S. Sommier and A. Caruana Gatto
Jennifer Fiorentino
Pages: 137 - 147
Abstract | View full article | PDF
Abstract:
In 1915, Stefano Sommier and Alfredo Caruano Gatto published a list of lichens from the Maltese Islands. This author published an appraisal of the scientific names used in their list in 2002. The present work aims to replace the previous work given the important changes which have occurred in lichen nomenclature.

Doi: 10.7423/XJENZA.2017.2.06
Article
The Social Impact of the American University of Malta on the Cottonera Region
Yanica Ellul, Katya De Giovanni
Pages: 148 - 150
Abstract | View full article | PDF
Abstract:
The American University of Malta (AUM) is a private university in the South Eastern Region of Malta. This article aims to look at the social impact of the American University of Malta’s Cospicua site on the Cottonera and the surrounding localities.

Doi: 10.7423/XJENZA.2017.2.07
Article
Parkinson’s Disease Motor Disorganization and Temporal Processing
Tiziana M. Florio
Pages: 151 - 153
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Article
Electrical Impedance Mammography: the key to low-cost, portable and non-invasive breast cancer screening?
Cristiana Sebu
Pages: 154 - 157
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Article
6th Annual Science in the House Exhibition
David C. Magri
Pages: 158 - 160
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