Friday, 19 July 2019

Scientists discovered how a chemical compound found in red wine and dark chocolate could help to rejuvenate old cells in the laboratory, making them not only look younger, but start to behave more like young cells.

Scientists from the Universities of Exeter and Brighton have discovered how a chemical compound, found in red wine and dark chocolate, could help to rejuvenate inactive senescent cells, slowing down the ageing process.

The team successfully applied compounds based on chemicals naturally found in red wine, dark chocolate, red grapes and blueberries to cells in the laboratory.

Within hours of treatment with these so-called reversatrol analogues, the older cells started to divide, and had longer telomeres.

The study was based around the knowledge that when normal people age, the strands of DNA in cells gradually lose the protective telomeres that act a little like the plastic tips at the end of shoelaces. The result is that cells become progressively less able to repair themselves.

The team at Exeter University was led by Professor Lorna Harries, professor of molecular genetics, and supported by researchers at Brighton University.

The study builds on earlier findings which showed that a class of genes called splicing factors are progressively switched off as we age.

Professor Harries said: “This is a first step in trying to make people live normal lifespans, but with health for their entire life.

“Our data suggests that using chemicals to switch back on the major class of genes that are switched off as we age might provide a means to restore function to old cells.”

It was like magic

Dr Eva Latorre, research associate at the University of Exeter, who carried out the experiments, was surprised by the extent and rapidity of the changes in the cells.

She said: “When I saw some of the cells in the culture dish rejuvenating I couldn’t believe it. These old cells were looking like young cells. It was like magic. I repeated the experiments several times and in each case the cells rejuvenated.”

The discoveries have the potential to lead to therapies which could help people age better, without experiencing some of the degenerative effects of getting old.

Professor Richard Faragher from the University of Brighton said: “At a time when our capacity to translate new knowledge about the mechanisms of ageing into medicines and lifestyle advice is limited only by a chronic shortage of funds, older people are ill-served by self-indulgent science fiction.”


The research Small molecule modulation of splicing factor expression is associated with rescue from cellular senescence, was published in the journal BMC Cell Biology.

Published in Opinion & Analysis

In the 2018-19 agricultural campaign, Mozambique lost over 40,000 hectares of cultivated land because of the abuse of pesticides in the attempt to control insect pests.

Interviewed by the Portuguese news agency Lusa, Aderito Lazaro of the Plant Health Department in the Ministry of Agriculture, said “the use of chemicals should be a last resort. However, at the first sign of a pest, the producers grab their pesticides, and one of the mistakes is that they use the same substance repeatedly. They should rotate”.

Lazaro cited the case of Boane district, 30 kilometres west of Maputo, where farmers had doubled the amount of pesticides used per week – without getting rid of the pests damaging the maize crop. Insects are showing signs of resistance to pesticides throughout the country.

The Agriculture Ministry, in partnership with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), has publicised methods to handle pests through an integrated range of measures, including not only conventional insecticides, but also biological pesticides and improved seeds.

Meanwhile, a new pest is threatening banana growers in Chokwe district, in the Limpopo valley. This is the banana bunchy top virus (BBTV). To prevent the spread of the virus the authorities are destroying infected banana trees in several plantations.

“This virus is lethal, and regardless of whether we cut the trees down or not, they will die”, said Celso Rufasse, coordinator of the BBTV project, cited by the independent daily “O Pais”.

“If we don’t cut the trees down, there will be a greater dispersal of the disease”, he continued. “The goal is to avoid the spread of the virus, so that we can eradicate the disease”.

Destroying the infected plants began a month ago, and so far almost 30,000 banana trees have been cut down in Chokwe. There is ban in place on the movement of bananas from Chokwe to elsewhere in the country.

The elimination of infected plants is budgeted at 20 million meticais (about 323,000 US dollars), and this task is receiving assistance from South Africa and the United States.

The virus is transmitted to plant by banana aphids. The virus damages the cells of the host plant, and usually prevents it from producing fruit. Any fruit that is produced is likely to be deformed.

Since there are no varieties of banana that are resistant to the virus, the only ways to eliminate the disease are to control the aphids, or to remove and destroy infected plants before the virus spreads.


Source: AIM

Published in Agriculture

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has said that President Cyril Ramaphosa deliberately deceived Parliament with regard to a R500,000 donation from Bosasa to fund his African National Congress election campaign, Eyewitness News reports.

Mkhwebane said that Ramaphosa breached the Executive Ethics Code by failing to disclose financial interest accrued to him as a result of the donations received for the CR17 campaign, writes News24.

Mkhwebane also found that the means through which the R500,000 donation were funneled - transferred through several accounts before being paid into the president's campaign account - raised suspicion of money laundering, saying: "The allegation that there is an improper relationship between President Ramaphosa and his family on the one side, and the company African Global Operations (AGO/Bosasa) on the other side, due to the nature of the R500,000 payment passing through several intermediaries, instead of a straight donation towards the CR17 campaign, this raising suspicion of money laundering, has merit."

Mkhwebane referred the allegations of money laundering to authorities to investigate. Previously, Bejani Chauke, former CR17 Campaign Manager, said in a statement that there was "no basis whatsoever for even a suspicion of money laundering". Chauke's statement posted on The Mail & Guardian elaborated: "The CR17 campaign was funded by a broad range of individuals from across South Africa who supported the objectives of the campaign. These funds were paid into accounts established for this purpose and were used to cover the costs of the campaign such as stipends, travelling, communications and promotional material, meeting venues and accommodation. In the process, all legal and regulatory requirements were met."

Mkhwebane's statements come after Ramaphosa said that he was "willing and able" to appear before the Zondo Commission into state capture.



Published in Economy
After leading Nigeria to third place at African Cup of Nations in Egypt, Super Eagles’ captain Mikel John Obi has announced his retirement from international football.
“At the age of 32 it’s time for me to retire from the National team and let the youth take over, who’ve done an amazing job securing a bronze medal at AFCON 2019,” Mikel said on Thursday.
Mikel, in an Instagram post, made the much-awaited announcement.
Head coach of the Super Eagles, Gernot Rohr, had earlier hinted that John Obi Mikel’s time with the national team is over.
Speaking after the 1-0 win over Tunisia in the Africa Cup of Nations third-place playoff, Rohr admitted he was already looking for replacements for the midfielder.
“We have to salute Mikel’s great career, he didn’t play in the qualifiers but it was good for the team that he is here.
“Now we have to look at others, but we don’t have many midfielders in top clubs.
“We have Semi Ajayi, Iwobi, Etebo, Ndidi. But we have to work hard to find a replacement,” the German said.
Mikel Obi, who struggled with injuries all through the AFCON, only featured in two matches.
Mikel, who signed a two-year deal with a Turkish sports club, Trabzonspor, with the option of an additional 12 months this summer will earn over €150,000 a week, €1.5m (N607m) per season.
The former Chelsea and Middlesbrough will be the highest-earning Nigerian player in Turkey based on basic salary.
Published in World

The long arm of the law has caught up with former Peruvian president, Alejandro Toledo who was arrested in the United States on Tuesday and faces extradition back to Peru.

According to Peruvian Justice Minister Vicente Zeballos, Toledo’s arrest and possible extradition is part of a sweeping corruption probe that has snared several political leaders.

Zeballos said Toledo would face an initial hearing later this week, which will determine whether the former president will be detained during the lengthy process of seeking his extradition from the United States.

“In round numbers, (extradition) could take a year,” Zeballos said. “The government is engaged in a full-on fight against corruption.”

Toledo would likely have a further bail hearing before the extradition process and could potentially file a final legal appeal, Zeballos added.

Toledo, who served as president from 2001 to 2006, is a fugitive from Peruvian justice for allegedly receiving $20 million from the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht [ODBES.UL] in exchange for aid to win public works contracts.

Peru formally requested his extradition from the United States a year ago.

Toledo, 73, who was arrested in California, has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

Published in World
FIFA President Gianni Infantino has rejected comments that the global soccer body has taken a “colonialist” attitude towards African football and its governing organisation CAF (Confederation of African Football).
FIFA last month took the unprecedented move of announcing it would jointly administer African football with CAF and would send its Senegalese Secretary-General Fatma Samoura on a ninth-month secondment to overhaul the African body.
The move followed corruption allegations against CAF President Ahmad Ahmad which he has denied.
Some African officials have opposed the move while former FIFA President Sepp Blatter, in a recent interview with the BBC, described it as a “new aspect of colonialism”.
Blatter has been banned from football for six years for ethics violations during his presidency. He denies wrongdoing.
“I have heard about colonialism, that FIFA is colonising Africa again,” Infantino told CAF’s general assembly on Thursday, adding that he was “puzzled” by the remarks.
“What does it mean, colonialism? I don’t know. It’s not part of my vocabulary.
“I know what it means to work, to team up, to roll up your sleeves, to go on the pitch and help and that is what we are doing,” he added.
Samoura’s heart is beating for Africa and we all suffer when we see what is going on here.
Infantino said ” it was important that African football had competitions, “where people trust the organisation, the stadium is secure and it is safe, matches are not manipulated, people trust the referees and these are some of the issues that African football is facing,” he said.
Infantino added, “CAF needed to think about growing the sport in the region without depending on FIFA handouts.
“The point is to generate revenues for African football from Africa,” he said.
Ahmad was reported in March to FIFA’s ethics committee by CAF General-Secretary Amr Fahmy, who was then fired.
Further allegations of fraud have recently been made against Ahmad, who was detained and questioned by French authorities in June as part of a corruption investigation.
Ahmad has denied wrongdoing in several media interviews but has not responded to repeated requests by Reuters for comment on the specific allegations against him.
The CAF Champions League final, played in May, remains unresolved after one team walked off the pitch in protest at a refereeing decision while the Africa Cup of Nations has been played against a backdrop of empty stadiums in Egypt.
Ahmad, in a speech to the assembly, said it was his decision to ask for FIFA’s help.
“When I went to ask for help, I found a man (Infantino) well aware of the problems of Africa. I found a man who loves Africa and his behaviour proves it,” he said.
Published in World
Friday, 19 July 2019 06:52

CAF, FIFA sign partnership MoU

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) and FIFA have signed a memorandum of understanding to create what CAF chief Ahmad Ahmad called an unprecedented partnership that would allow the continuation of reforms aimed at modernising CAF.
The MoU was signed in Cairo today at the CAF General Assembly, by Ahmad Ahmad and FIFA chief Gianni Infantino.
The two organisations signed a protocol outlining a road map with the areas and objectives of the CAF-FIFA partnership through which FIFA will provide its expertise to assess the current situation in CAF and help accelerate the ongoing reform process.
This road map will be implemented with the close collaboration of FIFA General Delegate for Africa Fatma Samoura and CAF General Secretary Mouad Hajji, working closely with the CAF administration and a group of experts, selected according to their expertise.
The road map covers three main areas and consists of 11 points.
Published in World
There is respite coming the way of investors in Dantata Success and Profitable Company as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has announced the commencement of verification exercise ahead of the planned refund of their money.
The company was axed by the commission in February for engaging in illegal capital market activities,
The commission also alleged that the investment operations in the company fell within fund management without registration with the commission
According to SEC, the company was not registered, but was only using a strategy to solicit funds from unsuspecting members of the public by enticing them with returns of monthly interest on investment of between 25 to 50 per cent, depending on the nature and type of the investment.
SEC explained that the company sold forms to prospective investors according to their investment plans ranging from N1,000 to N3,000, with the minimum amount investable being N50,000 and a maximum amount of N5m.
But in a statement on in Abuja on Tuesday by SEC, verification exercise for 4,160 unpaid investors had commenced on Monday July 15th and was expected to last till Saturday July 20th, 2019.
The requirements for the verification included original receipts evidencing their payments or bank tellers for deposit into the company’s account, valid means of identification and bank account details.
SEC said, “The verification exercise will hold in Kano from 9:00am to 4:00pm daily. All unpaid investors are necessarily advised to attend in person as attendance by proxy is not acceptable.”
Published in Bank & Finance
  1. Opinions and Analysis


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