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Scientists seek to use weather radar to monitor insect diversity

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A team of researchers are developing a new tool through which they can monitor the health of insect population using weather radars, according to a study released on Thursday by the British University of Leeds.

Dr Christopher Hassall, a member of the BioDAR team from the University of Leeds’ School of Biology said this in London.

Insect populations, which play a vital part in the ecosystems, have been falling sharply, but it is a difficult task to effectively tracking their abundance and diversity over large areas.

The project, called BioDAR, is carried out by researchers from the University of Leeds, University of Exeter and the National Centre for Atmospheric Science.

It aims to exploit weather radar networks from around the world to create detailed maps of insect abundance and diversity.

The team will also develop a way to use machine learning to automatically recognise and quantify the diversity of insects using weather radar data.

“Humans are causing alarming declines in wildlife populations across the world, and it is vitally important to our own survival that we protect those that are left,’’ Hassall said.

“This collaboration between biologists and atmospheric physicists aims to create a powerful new tool through which we can keep a watchful eye on insect populations, allowing us to make conservation decisions that encourage their survival,” he said.

By regularly collecting information about the variety and number of different insects over wide areas.

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Israeli scientists find way to overcome melanoma cells’ drug resistance

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Israeli researchers have discovered a new way for overcoming anti-cancer drug resistance in melanoma, the Israel Institute of Technology (Technion) said Thursday.

According to world statistics, melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, killing one person every hour, while presenting a rapid resistance to molecular anti-cancer therapies.

A research led by the Technion have found that two proteins, RNF4 and eIF2-alpha, together play a major role in drug resistant melanoma.

The researchers examined melanoma tumors taken from patients that exhibit treatment resistance and found that the cancer-causing proteins (oncoproteins) in them were abnormally stabilized due to high levels of RNF4 that protect them from degradation.

Thus, the team observed that high levels of RNF4 in melanoma tumors correlate with poor prognosis and treatment resistance.

Furthermore, they found that RNF4‘s tumorigenic properties in melanoma, such as growth, formation, and therapy resistance, require the eIF2-alpha protein.

The team found that RNF4 binds to eIF2-alpha and stabilizes it, and in turn, eIF2-alpha helps RNF4 to develop resistance, creating a devastating positive feedback loop.

According to the scientists, the elucidation of the RNF4 protein pathway in melanoma and its dependency on eIF2-alpha protein may enable doctors to predict how a patients’ melanoma will respond to targeted therapies, allowing better personalized treatments.

The findings may also lead to new pharmacological treatment to selectively block this pathway, effectively destroying such treatment resistant melanoma tumors.

(XINHUA)

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Israeli scientists directly observe light flow using unique quantum microscope

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Israeli researchers have recorded flow of light using a unique quantum microscope, the Israel Institute of Technology (Technion) said on Wednesday.

According to the Technion, this is a dramatic breakthrough in the field of quantum science, as a Technion research team directly observed the light trapped inside a photonic crystal.

In this research, published in the journal Nature, all the experiments were performed using a unique ultrafast transmission electron microscope, developed by the Technion.

Using the microscope, the scientists were able to change the color and angle of light that illuminates samples of nano materials and map their interactions with electrons.

“This is the first time we can actually see the dynamics of light while it is trapped in nano materials, rather than relying on computer simulations”, the researchers said.

This breakthrough may have an impact on numerous potential applications, including the design of new quantum materials for storing quantum basic units (bits) with greater stability.

Similarly, it can help improve the sharpness of colors on cell phones, televisions and other kinds of screens.

(XINHUA)

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 Gambari’s wealth of experience will  move Nigeria to next level-Political scientists

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Nigeria Political Science Association (NPSA), an umbrella body for all Political Science lecturers in the country, has applauded President Muhammadu Buhari for appointing Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, a career diplomat, as his new Chief of Staff (CoS).

 

NPSA in a statement signed by its National President, Prof. Aloysius Okolie of University of Nigeria, Nsukka and made available to the News Agency of Nigeria , commended Buhari for the appointment.

 

Okolie said the association received the  news of the appointment of  Gambari, a distinguished scholar, career diplomat and eminent member of NPSA with great joy and expectations because of his wealth of experience.

 

Buhari’s new CoS is a member of NPSA, an illustrious son of Africa,   a global citizen, an international scholar as well as a career diplomat who have served humanity creditably in all positions held.

 

The CoS with his wealth of experience locally and internationally will help to move the country to the next level, “he said.

 

He noted that Gambari as a lecturer broadened the field of Political Science at Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria by  establishing International Relations programme.

 

“Based on his pioneering efforts, International Relations today has become a very attractive discipline to prospective candidates seeking admission  in  the country.

 

“His  numerous academic contributions, including his vast enriching publications,  as head of department and community services earned him promotion to the rank of professor by management of ABU,” he said.

 

Okolie said it was in view of Gambari’s numerous contributions to NPSA in particular and humanity in general that the association resolved  in January to confer on him the award of Fellow of the Academy of Politics.

 

NPSA in January, 2020 even before  his appointment as CoS resolved to confer on Gambari,  Fellow of the Academy of Politics during the annual conference of the association scheduled for August.

 

“This is in recognition and  appreciation of his numerous positive contributions to our great discipline in particular and humanity in general, “he said.

 

The don urged Nigerians to give Gambari maximum support and cooperation as political scientists were hopeful that, this intellectual icon and career diplomat  would be a viable  asset in engineering and  deepening  good governance framework in Nigeria.

 

NPSA is happy with Gambari’s achievements so far, because he has done the association proud in all positions held locally and internationally, “Okolie said.

 

NAN recalls that President Muhammadu Buhari on May 13, appointed Gambari as  his  new Chief of Staff  after the death  of the former CoS  Mallam Abba Kyari.


Edited By: Emmanuel Nwoye/Obike Ukoh (NAN)

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Scientists use DNA to unravel Dead Sea Scrolls puzzle mystery

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Scientists have begun using DNA testing to piece together the Dead Sea Scrolls, which are made up of thousands of fragments of ancient manuscripts, discovering in the process that some parts have been ordered or paired improperly.

A Bedouin shepherd discovered the first by chance in 1947. More were recovered in the following years from 11 caves near Qumran, a ruined settlement at the north-west corner of the Dead Sea.

They then passed through many hands. On top of that, most were not found intact. Thanks to those two facts, piecing the more than 25,000 fragments together has been an excruciating puzzle.

But sorting them out has long been considered an important task, for reasons scientific, cultural, historical and religious.

Oded Rechavi of Israel’s Tel Aviv University called the discovery of the two-millennia-old scrolls one of the most important archaeological ones ever made.

For example, the scrolls contain several of the oldest versions of books of the Bible ever found, making them of vital interest to Jews, Christians and Muslims.

Rechavi and his colleagues, including Noam Mizrahi, also of Tel Aviv University, and Mattias Jakobsson, of Uppsala University in Sweden, reported their findings in the US science journal Cell on Tuesday.

Rechavi said that their DNA analysis of samples of about 35 fragments confirmed that certain pieces indeed belonged together.

However, in one case, it proved almost beyond doubt that fragments long thought to belong together were in fact from two different animals – sheep and cow – suggesting they do not belong together at all.

IAA

Edited By: Isaac Aregbesola (NAN)

 

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Scientists use tree-rings to discover unknown secrets of famous Scottish bell tower

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New research into the building of the bell tower of one of Scotland’s most important and oldest churches has uncovered on Monday previously unknown details about its construction as it approaches its 900th anniversary.

Historic Environment Scotland (HES) provided funding to investigate the remarkable five-storey timber frame within the bell tower of St Giles’ High Kirk on the Royal Mile, which is part of the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh’s UNESCO World Heritage site.

The funding enabled expert Dr. Coralie Mills to lead the South East Scotland Oak Dendrochronology (SESOD) project, to find the date of the timbers by scientifically counting the tree rings to the exact year they were formed.

The aim of the research was to recover valuable tree-ring data and determine the date of its construction.

Founded in 1124, the church has undergone many additions and alterations over time, particularly in the 19th century.

Dendrochronology, the scientific method of dating tree rings to the exact year they were formed, involved using samples taken from a selection of oak timbers in the bell-frame, which has refined the probable date for completion of the St Giles’ bell tower to between 1460 and 1467.

The testing was able to establish timber in the frame came from trees felled in the winters of 1453/54 and 1459/60.

The research also revealed the timber was sourced from one of the last remaining reserves of old-growth oak timber in Scotland, the Royal Forest of Darnaway, in Morayshire, and that many of the trees would have been over 300 years old when chopped down.

Mills, who carried out the work, said: “Discovering the date and provenance of the timbers in the tower at St Giles’, and allowing new insight into the medieval history of our native woods, has been a highlight of my career as a dendrochronologist in Scotland.

“The mid-15th century was a pivotal time when Scotland turned to Scandinavia for most of its timber supply, but this research shows that Darnaway still had reserves of old-growth oak, by then a very scarce and valuable resource in Scotland. Furthermore, the St Giles‘ timbers match closely with other material from reused timber in the Chapel Royal at Stirling Castle, which is also thought to have come from Darnaway.

“These results enhance our understanding of St Giles’ construction history and provide valuable insights into the medieval timber supply in Scotland.”

Dr. Kirsty Owen, deputy head of archaeology at HES said: “This discovery at St Giles’s demonstrates that dendrochronological research has the potential to significantly enhance our understanding of our historic buildings, which in turn will assist in their conservation.”

(XINHUA)

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COVID-19: Nigerian scientists working on preventive vaccines , call for assistance

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A group of scientists from different institutions in Nigeria coordinated by the Vice Chancellor, Precious Cornerstone University (PCU), Ibadan, Prof. Kola Oloke, has developed two potential vaccines that could prevent the Coronavirus disease currently ravaging the world.

This is contained  in a statement jointly signed on Monday by Oloke, the VC PCU and leaders of the team, Dr Oladipo  Kolawole, a Microbiologist, who specialises  in Medical Virology (Immunology and Bioinformatics) from Adeleke University, Ede.

Dr Ajayi Folorunsho, a Medical Physiologist with specialization in Pathophysiology from Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso, also signed the statement. 

The statement said that they were  spurred into action by the need to rise to the challenges posed by the Coronavirus pandemic.

According to them, the research work has reached an advanced stage of animal trial experiment, which would help to establish the veracity and efficacy of the vaccines for the prevention of the dreaded disease. 

“We have worked extensively by exploring the SARS-CoV-2 genome from African countries to select the best possible potential vaccine candidates. 

“After trying out some selected processes of vaccine development, we have been able to choose the best potential vaccine candidates for the SARS-CoV -2 and they have made the possible latent vaccine constructs,”  the scientists revealed.  

The team pointed out that the research was a collaborative effort of a number of scientists from different institutions/disciplines.

“It was however carried out at the Genomics Research Hub of Helix Biogen Consult in Ogbomoso  and jointly funded by Trinity Immunoefficient Laboratory and Helix Biogen Consult owned by Dr Kolawole Oladipo,” the statement read. 

It stated that consequently, they have urged other researchers in Africa to rise up to the challenge offered by the period by coming up with more solutions.

It stressed that “The understanding of genetic diversity/variability of the SARS-CoV-2 in Africa, is a very urgent assignment.

“There is a need for African scientists to wake up and provide more solutions to the pandemic specific for Africans. 

“Therefore, this study was initiated to make significant scientific contributions to the development of the SARS-CoV-2 vaccines”.

It further said as the team prepared for the animal trial experiment of the vaccine billed to commence any moment from now, the researchers expressed joy for the feat achieved.

“The findings from this research have shown the importance of multidisciplinary research efforts in healthcare. We are at the verge of something truly transformational in Nigeria and Africa and by extension, the world at large”

“We are  calling for financial assistance from the government and relevant stakeholders, so as to see the efforts through.

“In summary, the team has been able to construct two potential vaccines for SARS-CoV-2 , which should work in a much pretty way to protect the general populace against the novel COVID-19 , if it becomes successful in the animal trial experiments. 

“The animal experiment will help us to validate the constructed vaccine, evaluate its effectiveness and safety. 

“Therefore, we hereby call for support in various ways from non-governmental and governmental institutions to assist in the next steps of these novel vaccines development,” it stated.

Meanwhile, other key members of the team include Dr Onile Olugbenga, who specialises in Molecular Epidemiology and Immunology from Elizade University, Ondo State, Dr Ariyo Olumuyiwa Elijah, who specialises in Infectious and Tropical Diseases from Federal Medical Centre, Ido, Ekiti State.

Dr  Folusho Ajayi, who specialises in Microbial and Molecular Biotechnology from the Massasoit Community College, Brockton, United States, is also part of the research team as well as others not mentioned.


Edited By: Ifeyinwa Omowole (NAN)

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Iran says U.S. blacklisting of 2 nuclear scientists “desperate” attempt

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The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) said Thursday that the recent blacklisting of two Iranian nuclear scientists is a “desperate” attempt by the United States to counter Iran’s progress, according to official IRNA news agency.

“Desperate attempt and unwise measure of the U.S. policymakers to sanction two Iranian nuclear scientists is an indication of unceasing hostile approach of Washington against the Iranians,” the AEOI said in a statement.

“Such measures cannot quiver the resolve of the Iranian youth” for the supreme goal of the country, according to the statement carried by IRNA.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday that Washington was imposing sanctions on two Iranian scientists, Majid Agha‘i and Amjad Sazgar, who he claimed were leaders of Iran’s nuclear enrichment program.

(XINHUA)

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Rwandan scientists conducting research on immunity of recovered COVID-19 patients

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Scientists in Rwanda are carrying out research aimed at finding out whether people who recovered from the COVID-19 in the country got specific antibodies to the virus, an official said Monday.

“There is ongoing research to find out whether recovered patients got immunity to the virus, which can help in developing treatment,” Sabin Nsanzimana, Director General of Rwanda Biomedical Center, said in a news program.

Initial tests revealed that some antibodies appear immediately and some are delayed, while other people do not have the antibodies but remain healthy without the virus, he said, adding that health personnel will continue to follow up on recovered patients.

Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Rwanda reached 336 as of Monday, with zero death and 238 recoveries.

(XINHUA)

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South Africa scientists say up to 50,000 COVID-19 deaths possible

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South Africa could see up to 50,000 coronavirus deaths and as many as 3 million infections by the end of the year as the southern hemisphere winter leads to a higher rate of infection, scientific models showed on Thursday.

The country already has the highest number of infections and deaths on the continent, with more than 18,000 identified cases and 339 deaths, but a national lockdown entering its sixth week had slowed infections.

However, scientists and statisticians hired by the health ministry to model the spread of the disease said the country could see between 35,000 and 50,000 coronavirus deaths by November.

“We haven’t really crushed the curve,” said one of the experts, Harry Moultrie, in a presentation shown on television.

“We also have some significant concerns that because of the focus on COVID-19, this may compromise other areas like HIV and TB.”

The models, which consider best and worst scenarios, see as many 3 million possible coronavirus cases by November, while demand for hospital beds is seen peaking at 45,000, around ten times the current intensive care bed availability.

One of models showed the lockdown had reduced the rate of infection by 60 per cent, and that since the beginning of May, when lockdown restrictions were eased, that had fallen to 30 per cent.

“With the lockdown we were creating a physical barrier that prevents the virus from moving.

“The lockdown had a particular value. Now we are trying to move to a slightly different strategy which is the risk-adjusted approach,” said Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize.

Edited By: Emmanuel Okara/Felix Ajide (NAN)

 

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Contact US: editor @nnn.com.ng, nnnnews247 @gmail.com

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