Move to open U.S. Atlantic coast to oil drilling meets increased opposition

first_imgArticle published by Mike Gaworecki Animals, Biodiversity, Conservation, Environment, Mammals, Marine Animals, Marine Biodiversity, Marine Conservation, Marine Ecosystems, Marine Mammals, Noise Pollution, Oceans, Offshore Drilling, Oil, Oil Drilling, Whales, Wildlife In April, Trump issued an executive order aimed at implementing his so-called “America-First Offshore Energy Strategy,” which called for a review of the 2017-2022 Five Year Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program finalized under the Obama Administration and proposed that all U.S. waters be considered for offshore drilling.The executive order also instructed federal agencies to “streamline” the permitting process for “seismic research and data collection” and “expedite all stages of consideration” of Incidental Harassment Authorizations required under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act.A species of particular concern is the North Atlantic right whale, which is listed as critically endangered under the US Endangered Species Act. There are only about 500 of the whales left, and their only known calving ground is off the coast of the southeast US, including the area where seismic surveying has been proposed. The Trump Administration has taken steps to open up the United States’ Atlantic waters to offshore oil exploration and drilling, sparking fierce resistance up and down the coast.For instance, Timothy O’Brien, a self-described “angler and sportsman” who is president of Tycoon Tackle, Inc. and serves on the Ecosystem and Ocean Planning Advisory Panel of the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, wrote in an op-ed in June that “My business and my customers’ businesses will be hit hard if the exploration and drilling for oil off the Atlantic Coast goes forward. But it is not just angling that is at risk, the entire coastal economy and way of life is under threat.”O’Brien’s most immediate concern is that, before any drilling can begin, surveys of the Atlantic coastal region would first be performed by seismic airgun blasting. Continually blasting intense bursts of noise into the water every 10 to 12 seconds in order to determine what resources might lie beneath the ocean floor, seismic airguns are so loud they can be heard underwater as far as 2,500 miles away — and the blasting can go on for weeks or even months straight.“Studies have shown that this type of disturbance can decrease catch rates of commercial fish species by an average of 50 percent over thousands of square miles,” O’Brien notes. “Further, these blasts are known to harm marine mammals and other species that are vital to a healthy ecosystem.”O’Brien is far from alone in his opposition to the Trump Administration’s plans to open the Atlantic coast to exploitation by oil and gas companies. According to the NGO Oceana, “an alliance representing over 41,000 businesses and 500,000 fishing families from Florida to Maine, also oppose oil exploration and/or development in the Atlantic,” while the fishery management councils for the Mid-Atlantic, New England, and the South Atlantic regions have all expressed concerns about the risks posed by seismic airgun blasting.Joining them are 131 East Coast municipalities and well over 1,000 elected officials at the federal, local, and state levels, including over 100 members of the US Congress and the governors of Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia.Graphic by Oceana.This is a fight that began long before Trump took office. The Atlantic coast has been off-limits to drilling for the past three decades, but Trump is not the first president whose administration considered opening the United States’ Atlantic waters up to oil and gas development.In the early 1980s, the US Congress enacted a prohibition on offshore drilling that effectively banned the practice in the eastern Gulf of Mexico and off the Atlantic and Pacific coastlines. A presidential moratorium was later put in place by George H.W. Bush in the aftermath of the Exxon Valdez spill. His son, George W. Bush, reversed the presidential ban on offshore drilling in 2008, however, at a time when “Drill, Baby, Drill” had become a popular presidential campaign slogan amongst Republicans. Congress would eventually follow Bush’s lead and allow its ban to expire, as well.The presidential moratorium was not reinstated under the Obama Administration, which appeared to be generally supportive of Atlantic oil exploration, even going so far as to propose opening portions of the Atlantic coast to offshore drilling in 2014, including the coasts of North and South Carolina, Georgia, and Virginia. That proposal was eventually shelved, however, and the Atlantic removed from consideration for offshore drilling following opposition from local communities and elected officials.Permits for seismic surveys were considered by the Obama Administration, but in January 2017, before the Trump Administration came to power, all pending permits were rejected by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM). But then, in April, Trump issued an executive order aimed at implementing his so-called “America-First Offshore Energy Strategy,” which called for a review of the 2017-2022 Five Year Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program finalized under the Obama Administration and proposed that all U.S. waters be considered for offshore drilling.The executive order also instructed federal agencies to “streamline” the permitting process for “seismic research and data collection” and “expedite all stages of consideration of Incidental Take Authorization requests, including Incidental Harassment Authorizations and Letters of Authorization, and Seismic Survey permit applications” required under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act. The executive order prompted Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to issue a secretarial order that instructed BOEM to reverse its previous decision to deny permits for seismic surveying activities off the East Coast.Before those permits can be officially released, however, companies that hope to put ships in the water towing the seismic airgun arrays used for surveying what’s beneath the ocean floor must secure an Incidental Harassment Authorization, or IHA, from the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), as any party that wants to do something that could potentially harm or injure marine mammals is required to do under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.Map by Oceana.Oceana was one of several groups that submitted comments to NMFS in opposition to the five IHAs that have been granted to companies seeking to do seismic surveys off the Atlantic coastline. “As soon as NMFS is done reviewing those comments, they can release those IHAs,” Ingrid Biedron, a marine scientist and campaign manager with Oceana, told Mongabay. As for how long the review process could take, and hence how soon companies could conceivably begin seismic airgun blasting in the Atlantic, Biedron said: “It could be tomorrow, it could be this fall, we really don’t know how long it’s going to take them and how much care they’re going to put into reviewing those comments. We hope they put a lot of attention into them and take our suggestions into account. But we don’t know.”Mongabay’s requests for comment were not returned by BOEM or Secretary Zinke’s office.Seismic surveys could threaten critically endangered marine mammalSeismic airgun surveys are the first step toward offshore drilling, of course, but under the current five-year Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) oil and gas leasing program adopted by the Obama Administration, the Atlantic can not be considered for drilling. That’s why the Trump Administration wants to rewrite the five-year plan: to open not just the Atlantic but also the entire Gulf of Mexico, the Pacific, and the Arctic Ocean for drilling.“That’s a longer-term process,” Biedron noted. “We still care about it and want to pay attention, but that’s a much longer timeline, on the order of probably a couple years.”Whether or not oil wells are ever drilled off the Atlantic coast, Biedron says that the seismic airgun surveying process that would be used to determine where best to locate any potential wells would have severe consequences. “The problem with seismic airgun surveys being proposed in the Atlantic are that peer-reviewed, published science shows that they can negatively impact marine life, including endangered whales and sea turtles, as well as commercially important fish, shellfish, even zooplankton,” she said. “Research shows that the feeding activities, mating, navigational activities can all be impacted by seismic airgun noise.”BOEM itself has estimated that as many as 138,000 marine mammals could be injured by seismic airgun blasting off the Atlantic coast, while millions more animals’ lives would be disrupted.A species of particular concern is the North Atlantic right whale, which is listed as critically endangered under the US Endangered Species Act. There are only about 500 of the whales left, and their only known calving ground is off the coast of the southeast US, including the area where seismic surveying has been proposed. Conservationists worry that the impacts of seismic airgun blasting could be the final nail in the North Atlantic right whale’s coffin.That is not a risk conservationists see as worth taking, especially given how little oil and gas is actually at stake. A 2011 assessment by BOEM of the undiscovered oil and gas resources in the US Outer Continental Shelf found that the Atlantic contains less than four percent of the nation’s total oil reserves and less than three percent of its gas reserves.But it’s the wellbeing and livelihoods of their constituents that appears to have led Reps. John Rutherford (R-FL) and Don Beyer (D-VA) to send a bipartisan letter co-signed by more than 100 of their fellow members of Congress to Secretary Zinke stating their opposition to the Trump Administration’s moves toward opening up the Atlantic for oil and gas exploration.“This decision to move forward with permits for seismic airgun surveys for subsea oil and gas deposits puts at risk the vibrant Atlantic Coast economies dependent on healthy ocean ecosystems, which generate $95 billion in gross domestic product and support nearly 1.4 million jobs each year,” the members of Congress wrote. “Opening the Atlantic to seismic testing and drilling jeopardizes our coastal businesses, fishing communities, tourism, and our national security. It harms our coastal economies in the near term and opens the door to even greater risks from offshore oil and gas production down the road.”The critically endangered North Atlantic right whale is a species of utmost concern should seismic airgun blasting be allowed off the Atlantic coast. Photo Credit: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.Follow Mike Gaworecki on Twitter: @mikeg2001center_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredlast_img read more

Orangutans process plants into medicine, study finds

first_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored Citations:Morrogh-Bernard, H. C., Foitová, I., Yeen, Z., Wilkin, P., Martin, R., Rárová, L., … & Olšanský, M. (2017). Self-medication by orang-utans (Pongo pygmaeus) using bioactive properties of Dracaena cantleyi. Scientific Reports, 7(1), 16653.Banner image by Rhett A. Butler / MongabayFEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the editor of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page. Article published by Morgan Erickson-Davis Scientists have observed Bornean orangutans chewing on the leaves of the Dracaena cantleyi plant, producing a soapy lather they then spread onto their skin.A new study finds D. cantleyi has anti-inflammatory properties, suggesting the orangutans are using it to self-medicate.Indigenous communities also use D. cantleyi as a pain reliever.The researchers say their study provides the first scientific evidence of deliberate, external self-medication in great apes. The natural world is full of medicines, many of which have been tapped by pharmaceutical companies to derive products that adorn our drugstore shelves and bathroom cabinets. But humans aren’t the only animals that can find and apply medicinal substances, and now new research adds orangutans to the growing list of species that self-medicate.Examples of self-medicating animals aren’t exactly uncommon. Some birds engage in “anting” by rubbing ants over their bodies; scientists think the formic acid produced by ants may be used by birds as a fungicide or bactericide. Capuchin monkeys have been observed rubbing their fur with plants that have anti-insect properties. And researchers believe chimpanzees often swallow whole the leaves of bitter plants they normally wouldn’t eat in order to rid their bodies of nematodes.But never before has this behavior been confirmed in Asia’s great apes, the orangutans. A study published last week in Nature upends this, showing that a plant used by Bornean orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus) does indeed have anti-inflammatory properties. Its authors say their results indicate that the apes likely use it for its medicinal benefits and provide the first scientific evidence of deliberate, external self-medication in great apes.The plant is Dracaena cantleyi, a nondescript species with big leaves found in Southeast Asia. Its leaves contain saponin, a chemical compound that generally makes them bitter and unattractive as a food source.Dracaena cantleyi. Photo by Mokkie via Wikimedia Commons (CC 2.0)Saponin foams when agitated and, despite its bitterness, scientists have observed Bornean orangutans chewing D. cantleyi leaves and making a soapy lather that they then spread on their skin.The orangutans spit out any leaves they didn’t apply to their skin, which made scientists believe they weren’t simply eating them. But they didn’t know for sure if D. cantleyi had any medicinal properties that would help explain the behavior. To answer this question, a team of researchers from various institutions around the work set to work to figure out if the plant contained anything that might explain why orangutans are braving its bitter taste to make it into a salve.Their pharmacological analysis indicated D. cantleyi has anti-inflammatory properties. Most orangutans observed using it were females who spread it onto their arms, and the researchers suggest they may have been using it to treat arms that became sore from carrying offspring.Residents of human communities in Borneo reportedly also use D. cantleyi to treat joint and muscle pain.“The fact that local people use the crushed leaves for sore muscles and joints further supports the concept that orang-utans would use it to treat similar problems,” the researchers write in their study. “Local indigenous people in Borneo, for example, use it to treat pain in their arms after a stroke, for muscular pain, and for sore bones and swellings.”The researchers say their results could also aid the study of indigenous medicine.“This finding is also important for studies of ethno-medicine, as it is known that indigenous communities obtain knowledge of medicinal plants through observing their use by sick animals.” Animal Behavior, Animals, Apes, Biodiversity And Medicine, Borneo Orangutan, Environment, Ethnobotany, Great Apes, Medicinal Plants, Medicine, Orangutans, Plants, Research, Wildlife last_img read more

Powerful HIV antibodies found

first_imgThis model represents the newly discovered antibodies (shown in red), above a viral spike of HIV (the blue mesh and elements within), which protrudes from the body of the virus. (Image: The Scripps Research Institute) MEDIA CONTACTS • IAVI Rachel Steinhardt [email protected] 212 847 1045 Megan Youmans [email protected] 212 328 7419 • The Scripps Research Institute Keith McKeown [email protected] 858 784 8134 • Theraclone Sciences David Fanning [email protected] sciences.com 206 805 1603 • Monogram Biosciences Chris Petropoulos [email protected] 650 201 0353 RELATED ARTICLES • HIV/Aids in South Africa • SA men: brothers, lovers, fathers • Dormant Aids Council awakens • HIV in South Africa stabilising • Anti-Aids gel offers hopeMediaClubSouthAfrica.com reporterResearch in seven sub-Saharan African countries has unearthed two powerful and broadly effective antibodies to the HI virus that promise to give new impetus to the development of an Aids vaccine.Published in this week’s edition of Science, the findings are the result of a worldwide effort launched by the US-based International Aids Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) in 2006 to find new antibodies that neutralize a wide variety of strains of HIV circulating in the world.HIV, the virus that causes Aids, is the most changeable pathogen encountered by modern science. It mutates at a furious rate, allowing it to evade the body’s immune system. Today, countless variations of the virus infect people around the world. To be effective, an Aids vaccine would have to work against many versions of HIV.The two new broadly neutralizing antibodies are the first to be discovered in more than a decade, and the first to be isolated from donors in developing countries where the pandemic is raging. Now researchers will try to exploit the newfound vulnerability on the virus to craft new approaches to designing an Aids vaccine.“The findings are an exciting advance because now we’ve got a new, potentially better target on HIV to focus our efforts for vaccine design,” said Wayne Koff, senior vice president of research and development at IAVI. “And having identified this one, we’re set up to find more.”The antibodies are naturally produced by a minority of HIV-positive people. They were discovered in blood specimens collected from over 1 800 volunteers from South Africa, Zambia, Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda and Uganda, as well as from Thailand, Australia, the US and UK.How it worksAntibodies are infection-fighting protein molecules that tag, neutralize and help destroy toxins and invading pathogens. They are secreted by immune cells known as B lymphocytes – a kind of white blood cell – in response to stimulation by antigens, which are molecules found on the invading pathogen.Each antibody binds only to the specific antigen that stimulated its production. HIV attacks and quickly overwhelms the body’s immune system, but a minority of people naturally produce broadly neutralizing antibodies – ones that target multiple strains of HIV and prevent the virus from infecting cells. Isolating these antibodies gives vaccine researchers valuable insight into fighting the virus.Antibodies from the developing worldBefore this discovery, researchers had found just four antibodies widely considered to be broadly neutralizing, but those four were associated with a strain of the virus circulating primarily in the Americas, Europe and Australia. The new antibodies came from a donor in the developing world, where 95% of new infections occur.They also reveal a new vulnerable spot on HIV, binding to a potentially easier-to-reach patch on the virus that no previously known antibodies targeted. This is extremely important as it provides a new target for vaccine designers to exploit.And the antibodies appear to be highly potent as well, which means they bind to the virus tightly.This potency means the body might not have to produce large amounts of the antibodies to gain protection from HIV.“These new antibodies, which are more potent than other antibodies described to date while maintaining great breadth, attach to a novel and potentially more accessible site on HIV to facilitate vaccine design,” said Dennis Burton, professor of immunology and microbial science and scientific director of the IAVI Neutralizing Antibody Centre at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California.“So now we may have a better chance of designing a vaccine that will elicit such broadly neutralizing antibodies, which we think are key to successful vaccine development.”The new antibodies will now be closely studied by researchers in IAVI’s Neutralizing Antibody Consortium, who will work out the molecular structure and the precise mechanism by which the antibodies bind to HIV. With this information they will begin designing novel immunogens – the active ingredient in vaccines – to elicit these antibodies in all people. If they succeed, the immunogens will be put through the preclinical process to produce an industrially viable vaccine candidate for further development.Global collaborationThe discovery is the result of a global collaboration between IAVI, the Scripps Research Institute, private biotech firms and more than a dozen clinical research centres around the world.It began with an IAVI-sponsored clinical study called Protocol G, a global hunt for new broadly neutralizing antibodies against HIV. The effort involved scientists from North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. The study was unprecedented in scope and ambition.The blood samples collected from more than 1 800 HIV-positive people across the world were processed at IAVI’s Human Immunology Laboratory in London.The samples then had to be tested for neutralizing activity against HIV. IAVI scientists suspected that traditional screening methods weren’t picking up the presence of every powerful antibody.They were right. IAVI researchers worked with a private biotech firm, Monogram Biosciences, and an independent biostatistician to create a new process that more accurately predicted whether a given sample contained broadly neutralizing antibodies. Researchers scored the samples in terms of how many types of HIV they neutralized, and separated the top 10% for further study.These most promising samples then went to four IAVI research partners – HuMabs in Bellinzona, Switzerland; Rockefeller University in New York; the IAVI Neutralizing Antibody Centre at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California; and Theraclone Sciences in Seattle, Washington. Each would employ a different technology in an effort to pluck out new antibodies.The Theraclone team was the first to succeed, finding the two powerful new antibodies against HIV.Isolating antibodies can be painstaking work. But Theraclone, a company that had been working outside the HIV field, had a unique process that it adapted to HIV work with financing from IAVI’s Innovation Fund, which is co-funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.The team used a system designed to expose the entire array of antibodies from a blood sample. Antibodies with broadly neutralizing potential were identified and traced to their corresponding antibody-forming cells. Using recombinant DNA technology, broadly neutralizing antibody genes were isolated from these cells to enable the production of unlimited quantities of the antibody clones for research.With a large pool of HIV-positive donors from Protocol G now identified whose serum contains broadly neutralizing antibodies to HIV, this global collaboration is likely to generate findings that will benefit the vital enterprise of accelerating Aida vaccine research and development.“The story of the discovery of these two new antibodies demonstrates the power of the collaboration that formed to produce this advance,” said Seth Berkley, president and CEO of IAVI.“This is what can happen when you have researchers from the global North and South, from academia and industry, from within and outside the HIV field, working together in a framework to speed innovation.”Queries or comments about this article? Email Mary Alexander at [email protected]last_img read more

The end of an era: Team-mates, rivals hail VVS Laxman

first_imgReacting to VVS Laxman’s stunning decision to retire immediately, tributes puroed in from all quarters: Virender Sehwag: “VVS is one of the finest human beings to have played cricket. One of the main pillars of the team and a true friend. Words are not enough.” Harbhajan Singh: “Everyone knows Laxman was an amazing cricketer, but he was surly the best human being I have ever met. A legend has walked into the cricketing sunset. What a player! So many good days spent with him. Gonna miss you VVS. God bless you with all the happiness in future.” Suresh Raina: “From carrying his innings to carrying himself, VVS has shown immense class. Will miss you Laxman bhai.” Michael Clarke, Australian captain: “Congrats to VVS Laxman on an amazing career.” BCCI: “Not many batsmen made batting look as easy as VVS Laxman. He was an exceptional cricketer, who excelled in pressure situations. The classic innings that he essayed in crisis situations shaped the history of Indian cricket, none more so than the 281 against Australia at Kolkata in March 2001. If a cricketer’s greatness is to be measured in terms of his performances against the best opposition of his time, then Laxman stands right at the top. His record against Australia, the world’s no. 1 team for the better part of his career, speaks for itself.”last_img read more