Saturday, 10 August 2013

Early promise for malaria vaccine that mimics bites

A new kind of malaria vaccine that mimics the effect of mosquito bites has shown early promise by offering 100 percent protection to a dozen human volunteers, researchers said Thursday.
The experimental vaccine, called PfSPZ and produced by the Maryland-based company Sanaria, contains live malaria parasites collected through a painstaking process of dissecting the salivary glands of mosquitoes.
These immature parasites, known as sporozoites, are then weakened so they cannot cause illness and incorporated into a vaccine, which must be injected into a person's veins several times, with each shot about a month apart.
"When we started doing this, everybody knew that sporozoites were the gold standard but everyone thought it was impossible to make a vaccine out of sporozoites and we were crazy. And we have proven them wrong," Sanaria chief scientific officer Stephen Hoffman told AFP.
A test two years ago that administered the same vaccine into the skin of patients, the way most vaccines are given, protected only two of 44 volunteers.
But the latest trial showed that injecting the vaccine into the bloodstream protected against malaria in all six volunteers who received a five-shot regimen at the highest dosage, according to the results published in the US journal Science.
Six of nine volunteers in a separate group that received four shots of the highest dose -- 135,000 sporozoites per injection -- were also fully protected against malaria, it said.
The phase I study included 57 people -- including 40 who received the vaccine in varying doses and 17 controls.
The study was co-authored by Hoffman and Robert Seder of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
"The good news is that the proof of concept is quite impressive," said Anthony Fauci, director of NIAID.
"The sobering news is that we that we still have a lot of work to do in order to prove that this is something that has very broad applications."
There is no vaccine on the market for malaria, which infected some 220 million people in 2010 and killed 660,000 according to the World Health Organization. Most of the deaths were among children in Africa.
Another vaccine effort under way is the RTS,S trial. Its phase III results, reported in Science in 2012, showed 31 percent effectiveness in young infants and 56 percent in older babies and toddlers.
Hoffman told Science he realized years ago that a single protein vaccine like RTS,S would "never do the job" of warding off malaria, which is caused by a 5,000-gene parasite.
He was inspired instead by studies in the 1970s that showed 90 percent of volunteers were protected against malaria after getting more than 1,000 bites from infected mosquitoes that had undergone radiation to weaken the Plasmodium falciparum parasite.
Hoffman said his product is believed to protect against malaria for a period of six to 10 months. It also needs to be shown to work against all different kinds of malaria parasites.
Next, several small clinical trials are planned for Tanzania, Germany and the United States.
Hoffman estimated it would be four years before a vaccine may reach the marketplace. He said about $110 million has been invested so far.
"The major challenge has been overcome -- that is to prove the principle that we actually have a product that can protect all the people whom we immunize."
Sanaria is also teaming with Harvard University engineers to automate the process of dissecting the mosquitoes.
The company currently employs 16 "dissectors" who can each tease apart about 150 mosquitoes an hour, Hoffman told AFP.
According to Regina Rabinovich, a malaria expert and scholar in residence at Harvard University, the results are "encouraging."
However, she said the researchers "need to figure out how to replicate with a scalable technology."


Argentina begins doling out free 'Viagra'

Argentina has begun distributing a free state-produced version of the erection-boosting drug Viagra for the first time, in a move intended to curb its misuse, health authorities announced Thursday.
They said 200,000 doses of sildenafil, better known under the Viagra brand name, is to be distributed free of charge through the public health network of the province of Santa Fe.
The drug is being produced in Santa Fe by the state-owned pharmaceutical firm LIFSE, which plans to eventually distributed it nationally.
Sildenafil is a hugely popular vasodilator that is used to treat erectile dysfunction in men.
"The most famous medication in the world for improving the quality of life -- even though no-one is going to lose their life over it -- is the first to be made by the state in Argentina," said Guillermo Cleti, a LIFSE director.
"It's not only to attend to erectile dysfunction in men who need it, but also to avoid the abuse or bad use of the drug and to warn the population about its correct use," he said.
-AFP, Friday, Aug 9, 2013

Luahan Hati Rita Rudaini Selepas Diceraikan Aidil

Sepanjang berkahwin dengan Aidil, Murai Batu lihat pelbagai dugaan yang perlu diterima Rita sehingga perlu naik turun mahkamah. Murai Batu ingat, Aidil benar-benar sayangkannya dan mahu menjaga Rita untuk selamanya setelah bersusah payah membawa lari wanita itu untuk bernikah di Songkhla, Thailand. Tetapi begini akhirnya kisah rumahtangga mereka. Namun, Murai Batu tahu Rita adalah seorang wanita yang kuat semangat. Jika tidak, manakan dia boleh teruskan hidup dengan menyara dua orang cahaya matanya hasil perkahwinannya dengan Aidil itu.

Apa-apa pun, hati wanita memang sangat lembut berbanding lelaki, sehinggakan Murai Batu lihat Rita tidak dapat tahan lagi untuk meluahkan isi hatinya di laman sosial Instragram.

Sejak 2 hari lalu sehingga lewat malam semalam, Rita sudah meluahkan rasa hatinya ang agak kecewa dengan tindakan orang-orang yang dianggap menjadi dalang terhadap hubungannya dengan Aidil melalui 4 gambar nota.

Malah Rita memberitahu, dia tidak kisah dengan apa yang berlaku, yang penting dia bahagia dan bangga menjadi seorang ibu yang dapat membesarkandua orang anak yang menjadi amanat Allah.

Di akhir gambar nota itu, Rita sempat mengucapkan terima kasih kepada semua rakan dan peminatnya yang mendoakan kebahagiaan untuk dirinya dan anak-anak.

Berikut merupakan luahan hati Rita:

"Allah maha kaya, Allah maha Adil, Allah maja Kuasa, Doaku moga Allah beri balasan yang setimpal pada mereka itu. Terkejut aku dengan manusia-manusia jahil agama itu. Mereka itu lebih jahat dan dahsyat dari Syaitan. Doa aku dan anak-anak tidak akan putus...amin.

"Allah Lebih mengetahui, apa yang kita ada ni semua hak Allah termasuk diri kita sendiri. Bergembiralah atas derita orang lain, InsyaAllah masa anda akan tiba kerana Allah tidak pernah lupa , kerana apa yang anda apa yang anda ada sekarang ini Allah beri ada sebab.

"Itu satu ujian Allah bagi untuk melihat setakat mana adan lupa, yang pasti 1 hari nanti Allah akan tarik balik sama ada sikit-sikit atau semuanya. Bergembiralah dulu, InsyaAllah Allah pasti mendengar doa orang-orang yang dianaiya, Amin.

"Yang penting, aku bahagia dan bangga menjadi seorang ibu yang membesarkan 2 orang amanat yang Allah kurnia kini kepada aku. Pedulikan cakap-cakap buruk dan caci nista orang padaku. Yang pasti, aku bangga menjadi wanita yang berjaya menjaga maruah dan harga diri.

"Syukur Ya Allah, kerana memelihara diriku dan menjauhkan aku dari perbuatan hina. Terima kasih Ya Allah kerana menjadikan aku seorang ibu.

"Ya Allah, berkatilah mereka ini yang tak putus mendokan yang baik-baik untuk aku dan anak-anak, yang tak putus menasihati dan memberi kata-kata semangat. Sungguh mulia hati mereka ini ya Allah. Berikanlah kebahgaiaan pada mereka ini, Amin," luahnya di laman Instagram.

Apa-apa pun, Murai Bat harap semoga Rita tabah menempuhi dugaan ini bersama anak-anak tersayang.

- MyLaunchpad

Naked yoga? Oh no, Lady Gaga!

SINGAPORE, (Bernama) -- Hindus are not going ga-ga over Lady Gaga's nude yoga postures in new video! Rather, they are fuming over the international pop icon's trivialisation of the revered system of yoga in the video. 
Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said yoga was a revered age-old tradition and deserved more seriousness and respect. 
Such depiction by Lady Gaga was a kind of distortion of the esteemed practice for her self-serving agenda, and could be upsetting for the serious and genuine seekers and devotees, he noted. 
Zed, who is Universal Society of Hinduism president, further said that yoga, referred as “a living fossil”, was one of the six systems of orthodox Hindu philosophy and was highly venerated in Hinduism. 
It was actually a serious mental and physical discipline by means of which the human-soul (jivatman) united with universal-soul (parmatman). 
Zed pointed out that some sages had described yoga as the silencing of all mental transformations, which led to the total realisation of the Supreme Self. 

Pembantu rumah dakwa didera majikan di Shah Alam

KUALA LUMPUR, (Bernama) -- Seorang pembantu rumah warga Indonesia melarikan diri dari rumah majikannya di Subang Bestari di Shah Alam semalam dengan mendakwa dia menjadi mangsa dera sejak lapan bulan lalu. 
Ketua Polis Daerah Sungai Buloh Supt Junaidi Bujang berkata Maria Roberta Sain, 30, yang mendakwa sering dipukul majikannya, bertindak melarikan diri sebelum membuat laporan di Balai Polis Subang Jaya pada kira-kira 7 malam semalam dengan bantuan orang awam. 
"Mangsa mengalami luka, lebam dan kesan parut di seluruh badan. Wanita itu mendakwa majikan memukulnya dengan menggunakan tangan, kaki dan objek seperti berus lantai.  Menurut mangsa, majikan pukul dia kerana tidak berpuas hati dengan cara dia menjalankan kerja rumah," katanya kepada pemberita hari ini. 
Junaidi berkata pembantu rumah itu dihantar ke Hospital Sungai Buloh untuk pemeriksaan lanjut. Susulan itu, seorang wanita berusia 40 tahun telah menyerah diri di Ibu Pejabat Polis Daerah Sungai Buloh pada 3 petang tadi untuk membantu siasatan. 
Junaidi berkata kes disiasat mengikut Seksyen 324 Kanun Keseksaan kerana mendatangkan cedera.  - BERNAMA 

"Hola, saya Neymar!" : Barcelona's star spends time with lucky VI boys

KUALA LUMPUR:  A SELECT group of lucky Victoria Institution (VI) boys got the football lesson of their lives today (Friday Aug 9) when none other than Neymar – Barcelona’s latest superstar dropped by for a kickabout with them. The visit was organised by Nike Malaysia - Nike being the kit supplier to the Barcelona team.

The 21-year-old Brazilian forward who will lead the Barcelona foward line together with Argentinan Lionel Messi in their match against the Malaysian national football team in Stadium Bukit Jalil on Saturday (10 Aug) took some time off from the visitor’s busy schedule to drop by the school field.

He dazzled the star-struck kids with his trademark step-over moves, close ball control and juggling with both feet and head.

One lucky student was Muhammad Syafiq Salmi who, in a moment of fan worship, got a hug from his football idol. The 15-year-old's day was complete when Neymar rewarded him further with an envelope containing a ticket for the game on Satuarday (Aug 10).

Unfortunately, it is unlikely that any of the boys spoke Brazilian Portuguese so the opportunity to pick up advice from Neymar was confined strictly to his ability to mesmerise them with his ball skills.

The quick visit over, Neymar left to rejoin the rest of the Barca team for their close-door training session – indication no doubt that they think Malaysia will offer stiffer resistance unlike the Thais who they thrashed recently with a hatful of goals.

News of Nyemar’s visit spread like wildfire on social media amongst KL schoolboys who expressed envy at the luck of the VI boys.

One from Haziq in Sri Gombak said he may not be a VI student but was proud nonetheless, sharing in the joy that Neymar came to a Malaysia School.--Astro Awani 

Fiesta Lebaran Gala TV

Sekitar majlis Fiesta Lebaran yang telah dianjurkan oleh meja hiburan Gala TV.
- Astro Awani 

Use your urine to charge your mobile phone!

Put your phone on the ground and pee on it!

Maybe not literally, but soon you will be able to charge your phone with urine. Not only that, the researchers aim to eventually use the technology to power household electrical appliances, too.

You may not have to waste your urine anymore.Image credit: Discovery news

Alternative power source: Urine powers mobile phone

British scientists said they have harnessed the power of urine and are able to charge a mobile phone with enough electricity to send texts and surf the Internet.

Researchers from the University of Bristol and Bristol Robotics Laboratory in south west England said they had created a fuel cell that uses bacteria to break down urine to generate electricity, in a study published in the Royal Society of Chemistry journal Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics.

"The beauty of this fuel source is that we are not relying on the erratic nature of the wind or the sun; we are actually reusing waste to create energy. One product that we can be sure of an unending supply is our own urine." -Ioannis Ieropoulos, engineer/researcher at University of Bristol

According to them, the cell is currently big - the size of a car battery - but hope to shrink it to become portable soon.

How it works

The team grew bacteria on carbon fiber anodes and placed them inside ceramic cylinders. The bacteria broke down chemicals in urine passed through the cylinders, building up a small amount of electrical charge which was stored on a capacitor (battery).

The microbial fuel power stack (MFC) that they have developed generates enough power to enable SMS messaging, web browsing and to make a brief phone call.

Source: The Green Mechanics

Philippine oil spill turns Manila Bay red

Philippine oil spill turns Manila Bay red

MANILA:  A diesel oil spill spread a large reddish stain over Manila Bay in the Philippines' capital on Friday, posing potential health and environmental hazards, authorities said.

A fuel tanker is suspected of having dumped half a million litres of diesel into the country's busiest waterway on Thursday, said coast guard environmental protection chief Commodore Joel Garcia.

"I cannot say that we have contained it because it has affected so wide an area," he told reporters.

"There have been reports of cases of people going to hospital from difficulty of breathing due to the fumes coming from this oil."

Oil containment booms were deployed while government experts are checking the impact on marine life, Garcia said.

The 300-square-kilometre (120-square-mile) slick was drifting toward the mouth of the bay Friday, Garcia said.

About 20 kilometres (12 miles) of coastline near the capital Manila has been affected, he added.

Asis Perez, head of the fisheries and aquatic resources bureau, said he has banned the harvesting and sale of shellfish from these areas until further notice.

"Fuel should not be ingested by people," Perez said in an interview over radio station DZBB.

Garcia said the coast guard decided not to use chemical dispersants as they would poison the water, opting to let the fuel evaporate. He could not say how long this would take.

The 34,000-barrel-capacity M/T Makisig and its crew have been detained and its owners will be made to pay for the clean-up if it were proven that it indeed had caused the spill, he added.

Additionally, the crew could face criminal charges unless there were "mitigating circumstances" that led to the release of the fuel into the water.

"Fuel samples taken from the shoreline and from the ship are quite identical," he said.

The tanker's owners, Herma Shipping and Transport Corp, could not be reached for comment on Friday.

The tanker had earlier unloaded fuel at a Petron terminal in the town of Rosario near Manila, the oil refiner said in a statement.

"According to initial information, the leak may have come from the vessel but this will have to be investigated further," it said in a statement, adding its pipeline was intact.

"Diesel is not a persistent oil and will easily disperse, so there is no danger to the environment and the local community," it added.- AFP

'Man and Tech' to combat shooting spree in Penang

'Man and tech' to combat shooting spree in Penang - Lim Guan Eng

The Penang Government responded today to the recent multiple shooting cases by saying that it was willing to lend resources-- including manpower and technology-- to the police to jointly combat escalating crime.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said that he has ordered the Penang Municipal Council (MPPP) and Seberang Perai Municpal Council(MPSP) to install an additional 70 CCTVs and 55 CCTVs, respectively, by the end of the year.

This increase of 125 CCTVs would cost an additional RM3 million, on top of maintaining the existing 60 CCTVs in MPPP and 44 CCTVs in MPSP.

Admitting that there are insufficient number of police personnel to monitor the increased CCTVs round-the-clock, Lim said the state government has offered to employ-- at its own expense-- staff to do the monitoring.

“This will allow uniformed personnel to perform their core duties of patrolling the streets to keep the public safe from crime,” he said.

However, Lim also said that  the most effective crime prevention is through community policing and co-operation.

“Not only must the public offer information to the police, but they must also be willing to lodge police reports despite the inconvenience of doing so. This is necessary to ensure accurate records of crime incidents.”

He said that state is also establishing the Voluntary Patrol Teams(VTP) to conduct community policing on their own housing estates, flats and kampongs.

Lim said he has contacted the Penang police this morning over the matter and was told the police is doing all it can to be on top of the situation.

The Penang government's concerns follows three separate incidents in the state over the past two days of Hari Raya Aidilfitri:

Aug 8 - Six shots were fired at a bungalow of a businessman in Pulau Tikus. No one was injured.

Aug 8: A man was shot more than 10 times by an unknown assailant when he stopped at a traffic light on Jalan Anson at 11.30am. K. Veerapan, 37, died at the scene.

Aug 9: A man wearing a crash helmet fired several shots at a bouncer outside an entertainment outlet at 12.50am in Jalan Datuk Keramat. The bouncer, Chong Peng Meng, 43 was injured in his thigh and is in hospital.
- Astro Awani