African human genomes decoded

first_imgThe genomes of members of Namiba’sJu/’hoansi tribe, as well as that of DesmondTutu, have been decoded by a groupof scientists from institutions aroundthe world.(Image: Stephan C. Schuster)MEDIA CONTACTS • Anne Buboltz+26 4 81 606 1101 or +1 814 863 6118Janine ErasmusAn international group of scientists have decoded the entire genome of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and an indigenous Namibian, and partially decoded three others, in the hope that it will pave the way for personalised medicine in developing nations.Until the ground-breaking study, genomic decoding focused mostly on the Western world.The 50-strong team, comprising researchers from Australia, Namibia and South Africa, was supported by Pennsylvania State University.The group was co-led by biochemistry and molecular biology professor Stephan Schuster of Penn State’s Eberly College of Science, and Vanessa Hayes of the University of New South Wales.Hayes also works at the Children’s Cancer Institute Australia. She expressed her pleasure at the addition of Tutu to the test line-up, saying that the distinguished Nobel laureate was an ideal representative for a large group of Southern Africans because of his Nguni and Tswana heritage.The findings were published in the 18 February issue of the scientific journal Nature.Controversial issuesThe project is not without its controversy, however. The availability of genetic information raises the question of who should be able to access it, and why?Only a small number of genomes have ever been published – one of them is that of James Watson who, together with his colleague Francis Crick, determined the double helix structure of DNA in 1953, earning themselves a Nobel prize in the process.Employees could find themselves the victims of genetic discrimination in the workplace, while insurance companies could structure an individual’s premium or limit the amount of cover, based on the client’s genetic information. There are even more sinister possibilities, such as the development of chemical weapons based on ethnicity.But genetic testing also has many positive implications. The more that is known about human genetics, the more likely it is that researchers will develop life-saving therapy for any number of hereditary diseases.Genetic testing will also increase the chances of detecting serious problems at an early age – or even before birth – to prevent the need for expensive treatment later on.The team hope that the participation of Tutu – known and admired throughout the world not only for his anti-apartheid activism but also for his battle against prostate cancer, polio and tuberculosis – will inspire others to do the same.Potential for better healthGenomic decoding potentially offers tremendous benefits for human health, and holds implications for the way doctors will treat their patients in the future. Now that the new information has been added to current databases, medical research will include Southern Africans, who have not featured prominently in studies to date.“Southern Africans will immediately be included in genome-wide disease association studies as a result of this project,” said Hayes, “increasing our ability to examine regionally significant diseases.”The genome is defined as all DNA carried within a living organism, of which genes are just one component. DNA determines everything about the organism – whether it is plant or animal, its species, and all its biological characteristics.DNA molecules are made of the same four chemicals, or nucleotides, in all living creatures – but the sequence of nucleotides is crucial. Nucleotides occur in pairs, and the human genome has about 3-billion pairs that occur in a sequence unique to each person.Because of this fundamental relationship between living organisms, the comparative study of non-human genomes provides valuable insights into human biology and complex biological systems.The US-based Human Genomic Project was launched in 1990 and ran for 13 years. The project’s goals were to identify all human genes, establish the sequence of all 3-billion DNA pairs, and make the information accessible to scientists for further research while addressing the legal and ethical implications.The full potential of this enormous scientific accomplishment has not been realised yet. Some of the data still to be revealed by researchers in the coming decades include a deeper study of proteins, whose function is regulated by the genes; and the use of genetic variation to predict susceptibility to disease.Ancient peopleThe new study involved three new DNA sequencing techniques, which are significantly faster and more economical than existing technologies. “Human genomics is becoming a realistic and powerful medical resource that will gain momentum in 2010,” said Schuster.The study of how the effectiveness of medicines is influenced by genetic makeup is known as pharmocogenomics, and it is a growing field of research. For example, anti-HIV drugs are known to be less effective in Africans than in Europeans – a problem that could be solved by tweaking the formulation appropriately.The test group consisted of Tutu and four members of the Ju/’hoansi tribe, who live along the border between Namibia and Botswana. !Gubi is the name of the other man whose genome was fully decoded.The indigenous people of Southern Africa, known as San Bushmen, belong to the oldest known lineage of humankind. The San have roamed the Kalahari Desert for many thousands of years in small, mobile groups.“We sequenced the personal genomes of four Bushmen participants who are tribal leaders from their communities and are at least 80 years of age,” said Schuster, “and from one Bantu participant who is in his late 70s,” referring to Tutu. The word “Bantu” is used to refer to the indigenous peoples of Central and Southern Africa who belong to the Niger-Congo language subfamily that includes kiSwahili, isiXhosa, and isiZuluThe study revealed that the people of Southern Africa are distinctly different genetically from those in Asia, Europe and even West Africa. About 1.3-million genetic variants were discovered which will help drug developers to more accurately tailor medications to a specific people, increasing their efficacy.The test group was found to be extremely diverse in genetic terms, with the number of genetic differences exceeding those found to exist between Asians and Europeans.“To know how genes affect health, we need to see the full range of human genetic variation,” said biology professor and study participant Webb Miller of Penn State, “and Southern Africa is the place to look.”A surprise outcome of the study showed that Tutu was genetically related to the Bushmen through his mother. “The fact that the test found that I am related to these wise people who paint rocks makes me feel very privileged and blessed,” said the Archbishop, talking to BBC News.The study also revealed genetic factors such as intolerance to a high-fat diet in the San Bushmen, who still practice their age-old hunter-gatherer lifestyle, making them poorly suited to an agricultural way of life. Other factors, such as their advanced senses and superior physical abilities, explain why their current lifestyle suits them so perfectly.Miller added that the data is freely available on Penn State’s internet servers.last_img read more

Steve Biko: a life too short

first_imgSteve Biko said of dying: “You are either alive and proud or you are dead, and when you are dead, you don’t care anyway.” Steve Biko’s book I write what I like, is a collection of his writings.(Images: Steve Biko Foundation)MEDIA CONTACTS• Steve Biko Foundation+27 11 403 0310RELATED ARTICLES• Biko’s legacy lives on• Alice Walker to explore Biko ties• New trail to honour struggle fallenLucille Davie & Janine ErasmusBantu Steven Biko would have been 67 years old today. But he died at the hands of the apartheid security police at the age of 31.He was born just outside King William’s Town in the Eastern Cape in 1948 and was a tall, handsome man with a charismatic personality. Biko was a founder member of the South African Students’ Organisation, from which the Black Consciousness Movement developed, with the slogan “Black is beautiful”.Biko said in his book I Write What I Like: “When you say ‘Black is beautiful’ you are saying, ‘Man you are okay as you are, begin to look upon yourself as a human being’.”From the students’ organisation, a number of umbrella organisations were formed, one of which was the Black People’s Convention, which played a role in the Soweto riots of 1976. In the uprising, school children took to the streets to protest against the imposition of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction. Hundreds died on the day, but it ultimately led to the unravelling of apartheid.In 1973 Biko was banned and confined to the Eastern Cape. After the 1976 riots he was repeatedly arrested and by his final arrest on 18 August 1977 he had been in and out of jail repeatedly, including spending 101 days in solitary confinement.He was held naked and manacled at the Walmer police station in Port Elizabeth. On the morning of 6 September he was taken to the security police offices in the Sanlam Building and interrogated until 6pm, when he was again handcuffed and shackled.He was examined and transferred to the prison hospital and given a lumbar puncture which revealed blood in his spinal fluid. It was decided to transfer him to Pretoria, a 1 200 km journey that took 11 hours, with Biko lying naked in the back of a Land Rover. He died on 12 September 1977 in the Pretoria prison hospital later that night.Worldwide outcryHis death caused a worldwide outcry which temporarily stopped the deaths in detention but they resumed a year to two later. In all 115 people died in prison between 1963 and 1990. Biko was the 41st South African to die in police custody. Only two decades later, during testimony before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, did members of the security police admit that they were responsible for his death.His wife, Ntsiki, said of his death in detention: “I think Steve expected to die in the hands of the security police. I think all of us expected it. But Steve was prepared to sacrifice his life for the black cause. He felt his work was so important that even if he died it would be worth it.”And Biko himself said of dying, in his book I Write What I Like: “You are either alive and proud or you are dead, and when you are dead, you don’t care anyway. And your method of death can be a politicising thing.”Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu wrote the foreword to the book: “How deeply indebted we are to Steve, acknowledged as the father of the Black Consciousness Movement. Reconciliation needed Black Consciousness to happen, because reconciliation is a deeply personal thing happening between those who acknowledge their unique personhood, and who have it acknowledged by others.”EducationHis parents believed in the value of an education, and made sure all their children received schooling.Although his school career was outstanding, Biko’s political ambitions were threatening to overtake it. He was expelled from the missionary school Lovedale House just three months after he started there. He completed his education at the liberal Catholic boarding school St Francis, near Durban, in KwaZulu-Natal and then enrolled for a medical degree at the University of Natal, now the University of KwaZulu-Natal.Here he began to devote more and more energy to his political career. He joined the multi-racial National Union of South African Students (Nusas), but was unable to progress through its leadership ranks because power was held by students attending white universities. Frustrated, Biko founded the South African Students’ Organisation (Saso) in 1968, which was only for black students.The main aim of this new organisation was to educate and convince black people that they were not inferior to white people, as they had been repeatedly told and had come to believe. This was the seed of the Black Consciousness Movement (BCM). According to Biko, it was only by breaking away from this negative mindset that black people could rise above their desperate situations and “break the chains of oppression”.The apartheid government had been monitoring Biko’s political activities, and eventually banned him in 1973. This meant that he could not talk to more than one person at a time, was not allowed to leave King William’s Town, had to report to the police station once a week and was prohibited from writing anything about the BCM.But Biko’s commitment to the cause was so strong that for the next few years he defied the banning order by speaking at meetings and covertly distributing his Frank Talk publication. Through the BCM he also held educational classes in health, dressmaking and general literacy.The BCM’s influence was felt in the Soweto riots of 1976. The event is now commemorated annually on 16 June, Youth Day.Steve Biko FoundationThe principles that he stood for live on today through a series of programmes run by the Steve Biko Foundation.Based in Johannesburg, with an office in King William’s Town, the foundation exists to carry on the late leader’s work and ideals, especially that of community development, which is a key element of the restoration of dignity and a sense of worth and identity to people.“We investigated other organisations that walked the path of preserving the legacies of people like Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, and Nelson Mandela,” said his son and chief executive officer, Nkosinathi Biko, “before we established our own organisation.”The foundation focuses on a three-part strategy. Firstly, it promotes dialogue and advocacy around issues of significance to the public. This mainly takes the form of two high-profile lectures: the Steve Biko Memorial Lecture and the Robert Sobukwe Memorial Lecture in honour of the late Pan Africanist Congress founder. The PAC was a breakaway political party, from the ruling African National Congress.The foundation’s second thrust is to promote leadership development in South Africa.The third focus is a research and policy unit that will investigate development aspects such as education, housing and poverty alleviation, as well as the intangible aspects of culture and history.The Steve Biko Centre, in a township near King William’s Town, aims to translate global interest in the legacy of Steve Biko into a developmental resource for the region.Biko is buried in the Steve Biko Garden of Remembrance, also in King William’s Town.last_img read more

Navigation App Waze Makes Crowdsourced Map-Building a Game

first_imgTags:#crowdsourcing#mobile#NYT#Product Reviews#web The latest edition of mobile navigation app Waze has just launched in the iTunes App Store and on the Android Market Place with the Symbian and Windows Mobile versions available on the Waze website. In this updated version, the company has added even more features to their already popular “munching” game which sends a Pac-Man like character loose on the roads to help build the company’s mapping database and validate the roads already in place. Unlike other mobile navigation apps, Waze “crowdsources” its map-making process, reliant on its users to switch the app on when driving around town. Then, using the phone’s built-in GPS capabilities, Waze uses the information sent back to create base maps and determine traffic patterns in order to warn other users of traffic jams ahead. Although Waze is an application dependent on critical mass to become successful, they’ve already had good results since their original launch in Israel. In less than a year’s time, Waze was able to map 91% of the country thanks to user involvement. The company believes they will have similar results here in the U.S. with highly populated urban areas being mapped first with the rest of the country following over the coming months. Making Maps is Just a Game To encourage users to contribute to the map-building process, the company came up with an idea to make it more of a game. Originally, the Waze character would appear and munch dots on the screen when you ventured onto a road that didn’t previously exist in the company’s database. Now, with Waze 2.0, the gaming elements have been enhanced even further. Users will now munch on other goodies like cherries, hammers, and small gift packages which generate bonus points. The extra goodies will be placed on locations where the map has issues with the higher-point items on maps with the most issues. To kick off this new release, the company is also hosting a contest dubbed the “Holiday High Points Challenge” which runs from November 25th through December 9th. During this time, which includes the busy traveling period of the Thanksgiving holidays, Waze hopes to tap into the high number of drivers who will be trekking around town and across the country to visit relatives. The top three users who earn the most points during this period will win Amazon gift cards in the amounts of $500, $300 and $200, for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd places respectively. Crowdsourcing: Better Maps, FasterThe Waze application was one of the more innovative companies to appear at the most recent DEMO conference where they launched their turn-by-turn directions feature. Because they’re not using map data from Tele Atlas or Navteq – the two big names that license map data to other companies for use in applications – Waze saves money while also being able to sell their own data to other companies at reduced rates. The company also claims that their crowdsourced method has dramatically shortened the months-long update cycle for maps. While Waze may not be ready to replace your in-dash GPS just yet, it gets closer every day as more roads are mapped and more users join the service. Early adopters who want to contribute to the project can download the mobile application from the company’s homepage here. Related Posts Why IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfaces Role of Mobile App Analytics In-App Engagementcenter_img sarah perez What it Takes to Build a Highly Secure FinTech … The Rise and Rise of Mobile Payment Technologylast_img read more

Augmentation or Automation

first_img Essential Reading! Get my 3rd book: Eat Their Lunch “The first ever playbook for B2B salespeople on how to win clients and customers who are already being serviced by your competition.” Buy Now People. Ideas. Technology. In that order. This is what the Air Force Col. John Boyd used to admonish the Defense Department with over and over again, as it pertained to jet fighters.Last week a number of us who think, speak, write, and improve sales were invited to CEB (now Gartner) to talk about what we see going on in the world of sales, and to view their new research. The first day we were together, we spent much of the time talking about artificial intelligence and automation as it pertains to sales. No matter how the conversation shifted, it somehow found its way back to these issues.My contribution to the conversation was an observation that the more we talked about technology, the more it was clear that what was most important was the human aspect. What was interesting is that the human aspect wasn’t absent from the conversation, it was underlying everything that we discussed, even when it wasn’t stated.The reason this was so prevalent in our conversation is because so many technology companies believe they can improve sales without building better sales people. Mistakenly, they put things in exactly the opposite order of what Colonel Boyd insisted on.There are more and more companies—and more and more people—who believe that automation is going to replace salespeople and all human interaction as it pertains to buying and selling. Some of the people who believe this to be true write about sales and put themselves forth as sales improvement experts, all the while berating salespeople for continuing to believe that they create value for their clients, and for continuing to prospect when all is already lost. Some of them believe that the Millennial generation is going to be so very different than their parents that selling is going take place exclusively over digital channels and that all prior forms of communication are dead.They are incorrect.Clearly, if a salesperson can add no value, that role will be disintermediated, and automation and artificial intelligence will easily replace them. That means if you are a walking brochure, or better stated, “a walking website,” you don’t create enough value so that you cannot be easily replaced by technology. The bottom half of the hourglass economy is going to be transactional.At the top of the hourglass economy, however, the place where decisions are complex, strategic, potentially risky, and expensive, artificial intelligence and technology are going to augment salespeople. As a trusted advisor, you’re going to leverage things like big data, machine learning, and artificial intelligence, to create even greater value. Your ability to leverage the tools is going to be part of what makes you a trusted advisor, just as the illiterate Kings of old surrounded themselves with people who could read, write, and think.If you want to play the long game here, it is people, ideas, technology, in that exact order.last_img read more

Govt to buy potatoes from farmers to stop suicides

first_imgA day after a potato farmer allegedly committed suicide after suffering heavy losses, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday said her government will purchase 28,000 tonnes of potatoes, required for Anganwadi centres and midday meal programme, directly from farmers. Her announcement comes at a time when potato farmers across the State are facing a severe crisis — at least two of them have committed suicide — due to the sharp drop in prices following this years’ bumper crop.Krishak Dibas“We have decided to buy 28,000 tonnes of potatoes directly from the farmers which we need every month for the Anganwadi centres and the midday meal programme. The government will buy potatoes at ₹4.60 per kg,” she said. Ms. Banerjee was speaking at a government programme on Krishak Dibas (Farmers’ Day) observed by the Trinamool Congress government on March 14 to pay tribute to those who died during the anti-land acquisition movements at Singur in Hooghly district and Nandigram in Purba Medinipur district. As per the projected estimates of the State government, the number of schools (up to Class VIII) to be covered under the midday meal scheme is 83,673 and the number of students is about 1 crore. According to potato merchants, this is the first time that the TMC government is directly purchasing potatoes from farmers.The development comes a day after a potato farmer allegedly committed suicide due to losses in farming in the Anandapur area of Paschim Medinipur district’s Keshpur block. According to his family, Swapan Hajra (45) committed suicide after sustaining “heavy losses” in potato farming. ‘Heavy debt’“He incurred a large debt for cultivating potatoes in four bighas (1.60 acres) of land,” Mr. Hajra’s son Indrajit told journalists.The Opposition, however, is sceptical whether the move will be beneficial for the potato farmers. “This is nothing but a face saving move. If the TMC government is really bothered about the farmers they would have purchased potato from them at a much higher rate,” said CPI-M district secretary of Paschim Medinipur Tarun Roy.last_img read more

Rose ceremony: Cavs finalize 1-year deal with Derrick Rose

first_imgChurch, environmentalists ask DENR to revoke ECC of Quezon province coal plant “We are very excited to be able to add a player of Derrick’s caliber and experience to the team,” newly named general manager Koby Altman said in a statement.“Derrick could have gone to a number of other teams, but his specific mindset, goals and total focus and commitment to winning are what resulted in him signing with the Cavaliers.”FEATURED STORIESSPORTSSEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completionSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSWin or don’t eat: the Philippines’ poverty-driven, world-beating pool starsRose met with Altman and other Cavs officials on Monday, just three days after meeting with the Los Angeles Lakers.The oft-injured guard passed medical exams with Cavs doctors, Cleveland.com reported. “I have a single focus and purpose of wanting to play to win,” Rose said in a statement. “Being part of a roster and organization that shares that type of commitment and being able to play with the Cavaliers and compete for a championship is the only thing that matters for me.“I am very happy to be in Cleveland and look forward to getting to work.”Rose, 28, averaged 18 points, 3.8 rebounds and 4.4 assists on 47 percent shooting from the field in 64 games for the New York Knicks last season.He was acquired in a trade with the Chicago Bulls, but the 2016-17 season ended in another season-ending knee injury as Rose hit free agency for the first time.Rose could be paired with LeBron James as a potential replacement for rising star Kyrie Irving, who asked the Cavaliers to trade him during a recent meeting with team owner Dan Gilbert.ADVERTISEMENT Lacson: SEA Games fund put in foundation like ‘Napoles case’ Ethel Booba on hotel’s clarification that ‘kikiam’ is ‘chicken sausage’: ‘Kung di pa pansinin, baka isipin nila ok lang’ LATEST STORIES Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss PLAY LIST 02:49Robredo: 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 City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games National Coffee Research Development and Extension Center brews the 2nd National Coffee Education Congress View comments Mike Tyson on McGregor’s chances against Mayweather: ‘He’s going to get killed’center_img FEU Auditorium’s 70th year celebrated with FEU Theater Guild’s ‘The Dreamweavers’ Photo from @cavs Twitter.The Cleveland Cavaliers confirmed Tuesday that free agent point guard Derrick Rose, the 2011 NBA Most Valuable Player, had signed a one-year contract with the team.The deal was widely reported on Monday, with multiple media outlets saying Rose had agreed to the veteran minimum salary of $2.1 million.ADVERTISEMENT MOST READ Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Trump strips away truth with hunky topless photo tweet Robredo should’ve resigned as drug czar after lack of trust issue – Panelo El Nido residents told to vacate beach homeslast_img read more

Inflamed shoulder tendons

first_imgTearing and inflammation of the tendons of the shoulder muscles can occur in sports which require the arm to be moved over the head repeatedly as in tennis, pitching, swimming, and lifting weights. Most often the shoulder will heal if a break is taken from the activities that caused the problem and pain. Intermittent ice packs applied to the shoulder and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can also help reduce inflammation and pain. Review Date:7/6/2011Reviewed By:C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Assistant Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.last_img read more

National Training Squads Announced

first_imgThe 2008 National Training Squads (NTS)  have been announced, and will participate in an upcoming Training Camp from 4-6th July, at Narrabeen NSW. The camp will be the first since the Australian Teams defended the 2007 World Cup in South Africa, and will see the NTS combine with the Australian Youth Squads as they prepare to reclaim the Youth World Cup in New Zealand 2009. For full squad listing visit the TFA High Perfomance website.last_img

Video: Colin Cowherd Criticizes Coach K For Dillon Brooks Incident

first_imgColin Cowherd criticizes Coach K.colin cowherd criticizes coach kOregon knocked Duke out of the NCAA Tournament Thursday night, and if you missed it, the end of the contest was a little dicey. Ducks star Dillon Brooks, on his team’s final possession, launched and hit a three-pointer that was inconsequential to the score – and then celebrated the shot. Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski reportedly told Brooks in the handshake line that he is “too good” of a player to be showing off.As you’d imagine, the hot takes regarding the incident are coming from all angles. Friday morning, FOX Sports radio host Colin Cowherd got involved, criticizing Coach K for the move. The gist? Cowherd doesn’t like how college basketball coaches try to control everything – including the players. He doesn’t think it was Krzyzewski’s place to talk to Brooks..@ColinCowherd on Coach K: You’re getting trounced. You don’t get an opinion on what another player is doing.https://t.co/mJPrsT08OK— Herd w/Colin Cowherd (@TheHerd) March 25, 2016What do you think? Was Coach K out of bounds or is this being blown out of proportion?last_img read more