South Africa’s stem cell milestone

first_imgA microscopic view of brain cells generated from induced pluripotent stem cells in the laboratory of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. (Image: Su-Chun Zhang/Baoyang Hu, UW-Madison) MEDIA CONTACTS • Tendani Tsedu   CSIR Media Relations Manager  +27 12 841 3417 RELATED ARTICLES • Yes, it is rocket science • Digital drum boosts computer literacy • Hi-tech solution to fix roads • SA plant scientist reaps top award Wilma den HartighA group of researchers at South Africa’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) have become the first in Africa to make a breakthrough in biomedical stem cell technology, making it possible to find cures to some of the continent’s most significant diseases.The CSIR’s gene expression and biophysics group, headed by Dr Musa Mhlanga, have generated the first induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) in Africa.These cells are artificial, non-embryonic and iPSC technology makes it possible to transform adult cells, such as those found in the skin, into stem cells.As part of the research, Dr Janine Scholefield, one of the key researchers involved in generating iPSCs, recently demonstrated – using recorded video footage of rhythmically beating cells through a microscope in the laboratory – just how remarkable these cells are.In the video, the beating pattern is easily recognisable as heart muscle cells, but these cells did not come from a heart. They were transformed into heart cells from those taken from adult skin.This is the basis of iPSC technology: Early stem cells can be programmed to become any type of adult cell such as skin, heart, brain and blood cells.The CSIR simulated techniques devised by Japanese scientists in 2006 and 2007, that showed how an adult cell, such as a skin cell, could be induced it to become a stem cell.“This was a remarkable piece of scientific research,” says Scholefield.Part of the novelty of this technology lies in the fact that stem cells can be made from almost any individual with just about any disease, by simply taking a skin sample from that person.Benefits for AfricaThe capacity to grow such stem cells in South Africa is a major breakthrough for medical science as it is changing the way in which researchers are able to investigate, understand and find cures for diseases.“With iPSC technology established in South Africa, we can study diseases relevant to Africa,” says Scholefield.The development of iPSC technology also creates new possibilities for international investment in this particular research field.Says Scholefield: “South Africa and Africa have the most diverse and oldest genetic population, which means that we should study health, development and disease in our specific genetic backgrounds more vigorously.”The research team hopes that pharmaceutical companies would come on board to perform drug screening with African-derived samples, focused on diseases that affect people who live in Africa.According to Mhlanga, it is important to ensure that such medical advances are used in the developing world to find solutions to Africa’s high disease burden.Important for regenerative medicineThe medical possibilities of iPSCs are far reaching. Scientists can grow new tissue that can restore sight by replacing defective tissue in the eye; transplant new heart muscle cells into people with heart disease and give people with anaemia new healthy blood cells. It is also possible to treat disorders such as Parkinson’s disease.“Our genetics play a tremendous part in our susceptibility to disease, both in terms of inherited and acquired diseases,” Scholefield explains.Mutations in genes make some people more susceptible to Parkinson’s disease than others. Some people are also more vulnerable to infectious diseases such as Tuberculosis.“If we could study their cells, with a full complement of their genetic background in those cells in the laboratory, we’d potentially be able to uncover clues as to why they are able to hold off disease,” she says.Another way to utilise the technology is to create what is known as ‘disease in a dish’ models. This technique allows for testing of possible cures, or understanding a disease, without having to subject a patient to invasive surgery or untested trial medication.Complex technologySouth Africa is one of few countries that can use iPSC technology. The ability to grow stem cells is considered a complex skill that is only used by a handful of institutions in Japan, the United States, Europe and Australia.Scholefield explains that using the technology requires expertise in a number of different techniques that have to be performed perfectly.“To give you an idea of the difficulty, if you started with 100 000 skin cells, on average, only one of those will become a stem cell,” she says.“One needs to identify the shape change in skin cells, which requires weeks of patience and careful technique to identify the stem cells that arise.”In South Africa, only one other group headed by professors Susan Kidson and Jacquie Greenberg at the University of Cape Town is attempting to establish iPSC technology from human cells.Ethical issuesAnother benefit of using iPSCs is that they bypass the ethical controversy surrounding classical stem cells, which must be taken from embryos.As iPSCs are generated from adult skin, they bypass the ethical issues of embryonic stem cells (ESCs), while retaining most of ESCs abilities,” says Scholefield.“The only ethical consideration here is in the informed consent of the person donating the skin cells.”last_img read more

Turn Your Timelapse Videos into Moving Paintings

first_imgComputer Algorithm TimelapseVFX artist and art director Danil Krivoruchko took a different approach to create his Van Gogh-style moving painting of New York. Krivoruchko skipped the Prisma app in favor of a computer algorithm developed at Cornell. Using footage of New York, and with the assistance of artificial neural networks, the final video is beautiful.Krivoruchko used an open source code from Manuel Ruder, Alexey Dosovitskiy, and Thomas Brox. If you want to download the code to use it yourself, Ruder has put the open source utility online. You will need Ubuntu and a pretty serious computer to handle the workflow. After export, you’ll need to use After Effects for some compositing, color correction, motion blur, and to tweak any glitches.Here is a look at the timelapse before being altered.What are your favorite recent artistic timelapse videos? Please share them in the comments below! These stunning timelapse videos are true works of art. See how they were made — and learn how you can make your own.Top image via Drew Geraci/District 7 MediaCheck out these two different approaches to creating a moving painting. Whether using apps or the provided source code, you’ll be creating artistic timelapse videos in no time.Prisma TimelapseDrew Geraci and the crew at District 7 Media are behind plenty of well-known timelapse videos, like the intro to House of Cards.District 7’s latest video is a fantastic look at China through the artistic app Prisma, which is available now for Android and iPhone. Prisma uses artificial intelligence to transform still photos into works of art, done is the style of artists like Van Gogh, Picasso, and Levitan.Using footage of a recent trip to China, Geraci pulled individual frames from a sequence and then sent every image through the Prisma app for processing. In the end, 2500 individual frames were uploaded to the app.Each frame of the 1 minute and 20 second video had to be processed via the Prisma App which took almost 80 hours to complete. The processing/rendering was at the mercy of the servers. Most of the project had to be completed between 11pm and 4am EST because the app would freeze or shutdown due to overloaded serves or too many users on at the same time.The project required a tremendous amount of repetitive work — enough to drive Geraci mad.The easiest way for me to create the video was to physically take a picture of the video (on a 4k monitor) using an iPad and save each photo directly to the iPad. Once all of the photos were taken, I used my PC workstation to directly pull the images off the iPad and onto a local hard-drive to continue the processing.The worst part was the constant repetition of taking the photo, processing the photo, moving 1 frame forward, and then saving the image. Sometimes I would forget to do a step and have to start over completely. It was mind-numbing work to say the least!Here is a side-by-side comparison of the actual footage and the final Prisma output.last_img read more

37 J&K policemen killed in 2018

first_imgThe Jammu and Kashmir police witnessed the highest number of casualties among its men in two decades, with 37 policemen killed in 2018 in heightened militant attacks on them, according to police data. Of the 37 policemen, eight were special police officers (SPOs) and 29 were ‘regular’ policemen. The data also shows that J&K Police lost 31 men to militant attacks in 2017, with increased militancy in the wake of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani’s killing in 2016. “However, this year [2018] J&K police saw even more casualties than the last year [2017],” said a police officer.The highest number of 23 policemen were killed in the first half of the year. Even during the Ramzan ceasefire, when security forces followed a cessation of operations from May 16 up to June 17, militant attacks continued and left five policemen dead.The abduction and killing of three policemen by over two dozen militants on September 21 in Shopian triggered a wave of panic in the police ranks, especially among lower-rung SPOs in south Kashmir. According to police figures, 47 policemen, mainly lower-rung SPOs, uploaded videos online and made public announcements of their resignations. SPOs withdrawnA police advisory has asked all policemen to “avoid visiting their homes in south Kashmir without informing the respective police stations.” In a fresh order, under-trained SPOs, who have of late become the targets of militants in south Kashmir, have been withdrawn from serving as personal security officers to senior police officers and protected persons.“SPOs performing duties of personal security officers is not as per the norms and [they are] not trained to do so,” said an order issued by Additional Director General of Police (ADGP), Law and Order, Muneer Khan. The order also seeks a list of SPOs withdrawn by October 5. “In case any SPO does not report back, the honorarium may not be released and their disengagement orders will be issued,” reads the order. The fresh order comes in the wake of resignations made by the SPOs, and the latest case of a SPO stealing eight service rifles from a legislator in Srinagar.Rifles lootedIn another disturbing trend, militants made 25 attempts to snatch weapons this year, and succeeded in decamping with 24 service rifles from the policemen, mainly in the volatile districts of south Kashmir. There is a spike in such incidents, too, with only 15 cases of rifle snatching reported in central and south Kashmir in 2016. The gun snatching forced the police to set a new standard operating procedure, which included banning the use of mobile phones while on duty.last_img read more

Sonnen outlasts Rampage, advances in Bellator heavyweight tournament

first_imgMOST READ Sonnen (30-15-1), the loquacious former UFC middleweight title contender, was outweighed by 31 pounds on the scales Friday. He still used his superior wrestling skills and tenacity to grind out a decision over Jackson (37-13), the former UFC champion, before a lively crowd at the famed Forum.“I’ve got the biggest arms, I’ve got the greatest charm and I do all the harm,” Sonnen said.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSLillard, Anthony lead Blazers over ThunderSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutoutJackson tossed Sonnen dramatically onto the mat during the first round, but the veteran brawler struggled to create any more highlights. A frustrated Rampage tapped the mat in front of him in the third round, daring Sonnen to stand and bang.Instead, Sonnen took him down again and finished up a 29-28 decision on all three judges’ scorecards. The 39-year-old Jackson’s first career meeting with the 40-year-old Sonnen was the first bout in an eight-man tournament designed to crown Bellator’s first heavyweight champion since 2016. The field also includes MMA luminaries Fedor Emelianenko, Frank Mir, Roy Nelson and Matt Mitrione, along with undersized veteran fighters Ryan Bader and Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal.Sonnen will fight the winner of Emelianenko’s upcoming bout with Mir in the tournament semifinals in early summer.MacDonald (20-4) has been ticketed for Bellator stardom ever since he left the UFC and joined its biggest rival in 2016 following back-to-back losses to Robbie Lawler and Stephen Thompson. MacDonald, who beat current UFC welterweight champ Tyron Woodley in 2014, is likely the best pound-for-pound fighter on the Bellator roster, and he intends to hold the promotion’s titles in multiple weight divisions.“He’s the best fighter I ever fought,” MacDonald said. “I feel like we’re the best two welterweights in the sport.”The title bout was remarkably even, with MacDonald controlling much of the action on the ground when Lima (29-7) wasn’t peppering his oft-injured nose with jabs. MacDonald developed a huge welt on his shin midway through the fight, but it didn’t appear to limit his movement.ADVERTISEMENT Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC NEXT BLOCK ASIA 2.0 introduces GURUS AWARDS to recognize and reward industry influencers Arellano blasts Lyceum for 5th straight win Kammuri turning to super typhoon less likely but possible — Pagasa Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Slow and steady hope for near-extinct Bangladesh tortoises Read Next Trending Articles PLAY LIST 00:50Trending Articles00:50Trending Articles00:50Trending Articles01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City LATEST STORIES John Lloyd Cruz a dashing guest at Vhong Navarro’s wedding Lima knocked down MacDonald with a sweeping kick in the third round and appeared to be close to finishing early in the fourth, but MacDonald persevered. MacDonald dominated the fifth round on the ground and cut Lima near his eyes.MacDonald eventually had his hand raised to the displeasure of Lima, a Brazilian fighting out of Atlanta. MacDonald was carried out of the cage and transported to a hospital as a precaution.“I think I have a person growing inside me,” MacDonald said of his leg injury.Former Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler returned from his first loss since 2014 with a one-sided decision victory over Goiti Yamauchi, who was bloodied and nearly finished on the ground. Chandler is likely to get a rematch next with Brent Primus, who claimed the title last year when Chandler was forced to stop by an ankle injury.Aaron Pico, Bellator’s 21-year-old blue chip prospect from nearby Whittier, also wowed his home crowd with a vicious body-punch stoppage of Shane Kruchten in the first round of their featherweight fight.The lively Forum crowd included several fighters with UFC ties, including champion Cris “Cyborg” Justino, Nate Diaz and Dan Henderson. Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay and Pro Bowl left tackle Andrew Whitworth also attended. Typhoon Kammuri accelerates, gains strength en route to PH 2 ‘newbie’ drug pushers fall in Lucena sting View comments FILE – Chael Sonnen. APINGLEWOOD, Calif. — Chael Sonnen overcame a significant weight disadvantage for a unanimous-decision victory over Rampage Jackson in the opening fight of Bellator’s Heavyweight World Grand Prix on Saturday night.Rory MacDonald also took the mixed martial arts promotion’s welterweight title from Douglas Lima, overcoming grotesque injuries to his left leg and nose to claim a unanimous decision at Bellator 192.ADVERTISEMENT Globe Business launches leading cloud-enabled and hardware-agnostic conferencing platform in PHlast_img read more