Breakthrough against Cotton Curl Leaf Virus


Breakthrough against Cotton Curl Leaf Virus

Cotton leaf curl virus (CLCV) can now be cured with the help of biotechnology as a major breakthrough has been made in transferring modified genes to local varieties, said official sources here on Friday.

A team of local scientists in collaboration with Canadian experts have developed a CLCV-resistant cotton plant through transgenic RNA interference (RNAi) technology. The new advancement would help neutralise the mutating strain of CLCV, which is also know as Burewala stain. It is a harsh reality that we do not have a remedy for the deadly strain of CLCV. This virus alone has become a potent threat to damaging cotton in several districts of Punjab.

The control of this disease can add billions of rupees to the national economy every year and help the local textile industries to attain abundant raw materials. CLCV has caused losses to almost two to three million cotton bales, which amounts to Rs200-300 billion.

RNAi is a method of blocking gene function by inserting short sequences of ribonucleic acid that match part of the target gene’s sequence. It has been hailed as ‘breakthrough of the year’ and ‘Biotech’s billion dollar breakthrough’ globally. Initially, a team of local scientists successfully used the RNAi system for curing virus-hit tobacco plants. After witnessing favorable results, they replicated this process in cotton plants and have been greatly encouraged to see virus-free cotton plants during trials.

Progress in developing CLCV plants has been verified by grafting the transgenic RNAi plants on severely CLCV infected plants. By using RNAi, the virus-affected cotton crops can be fully saved from this onslaught.

“RNAi technology has efficiently blocked viral multiplication when the virus was either agro-inoculated in transgenic plants or transmitted by whitefly, which is a vector of CLCV,” said an official.

Currently, work on this approach is being done jointly by the Institute of Agricultural Sciences and National Centre of Excellence in Molecular Biology, University of the Punjab, Lahore and University of Toronto, Canada, under the umbrella of Punjab Agriculture Research Board (PARB). It is hoped that new virus-resistant GM cotton seeds would be available in the market in three years.

Commenting on the progress achieved so far, Dr Mubarik Ali, chief executive of PARB, said: “PARB has always done result-oriented work by undertaking need-based research projects.”

He added that the use of RNAi technology would surely increase crop productivity and save billions of rupees.

He congratulated Dr Idrees Ahmad Nasir and Dr Saleem Haider, both from Punjab University, for developing what he called miracle CLCV-resistant cotton plant.

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Performance Ranking of Scientific Papers: University of Agriculture among top 300


UAF among top 300 universities

The University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, has made it to top 300 universities of the world on the basis of Performance Ranking of Scientific Papers for World Universities conducted by the National Taiwan University Ranking.

The world top 300 universities’ ranking published by Higher Education Evaluation and Accreditation Council of Taiwan (HEEACT) has rated UAF at 158th position with 14.96 quality points in the category of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences. Whereas well known universities of the world, including University of Oxford, got 14.88 points, Ataturk University (14.79), Columbia University (14.73), University of Michigan – Ann Arbor (14.72), University of Cambridge (14.57), University of California –Riverside (14.11), University of Zurich (14.09), Charles Sturt University (14.05), University of Colorado – Boulder (13.81), University of New England, Australia (13.44), Ankara University ( 13.42), University of Hong Kong (12.39), Technical University of Berlin (11.45), University of Amsterdam (10.22), The University of Manchester (10.07), and Punjab Agricultural University of India (9.97) points.

According to the NTU Ranking website, the quality points in ranking are based on research productivity (weighed 20 per cent) consisting of number of published articles of the last 11 years (10 per cent) and the number of research articles of the current year (10 per cent). The research impact (weighed 30 per cent) – number of citations of the last 11 years (10 per cent); the number of citations of the last two years (10 per cent) and the average number of citations of the last 11 years (10 per cent).

Similarly, research excellence weighed 50 per cent – the h-index of the last two years (20 per cent); the number of highly-cited papers (15 per cent) and the number of articles of the current year in high-impact journals (15 per cent).

In an email sent to UAF Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Iqrar Ahmad Khan, the NTU Ranking research team stated that the UAF had been ranked excellently in the 2012 Performance Ranking of Scientific Papers for World Universities.

“The Performance Ranking of Scientific Papers for World Universities is a stable and reliable ranking for universities devoted to scientific research. It is entirely based on statistics of scientific papers which reflect three major performance criteria – research productivity, research impact, and research excellence,” the team stated.

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Biomedical research centre at King Edward Medical Univeristy


 Approval for biomedical research centre by KEMU syndicate

Important decisions were made at the 18th meeting of The King Edward Medical University Syndicate . This includes approval for establishment of Advanced Research Centre for Biomedical Sciences (ARCBS).

Chaired by KEMU Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Asad Aslam Khan, the syndicate accorded approval to establishment of ARCBS with the aim of supervising and enhancing research for PhD and masters study programmes.

The approval for appointing eligible candidates against the newly created posts under the Tenure Track System was also accorded.

Health Special Secretary Babar Hayat Tarar, representatives of higher education and finance departments Zark Mirza and Shoaib Iqbal Syed, MPAs Dr Asad Ashraf, Saeed Akbar Khan, Prof (retired) Munirul Haq, HEC representative Prof Kamran Khalid Cheema, KEMU Registrar Prof Fareed Ahmad Khan, Professor of ENT Dr Azhar Hameed, Prof Atif Hasnain Kazmi, Prof S. M. Awais, and Mayo Hospital MS Dr Zahid Pervez, also attended the meeting besides other senior faculty members.

The objective of the ARCBS for which funding had been approved in KEMU Budget and Finance Meeting 2012-13 was to provide the requisite research infrastructure at KEMU to enhance, expand, and support institutional capacity to conduct state-of-the-art biomedical, clinical and bio-behavioural research for expanding research capacity and enhancing research productivity of ARCBS investigators and the King Edward Medical University as a whole.

“The project aims at augmenting the existing world-class research biotechnology and biomedical facilities at KEMU and enhancing the capacity to conduct health disparities at ARCBS through recruitment of a critical mass of investigators and technical personnel,” Asad Aslam told the meeting.

He said the centre would setup appropriate research facility to accommodate research projects being conducted by faculty and students and provide relevant administrative support to researchers allowing them to focus their efforts on teaching and research.

The syndicate also accorded approval to commencement of MD Nephrology at KEMU and constitution of a ‘vigilance committee’ comprising KEMU vice chancellor, chairman of hospital committee, dean of respective faculty, and two retired professors of KEMU — Prof Dr Muhammad Nawaz Chughtai and Prof Dr Ahmad Wasim Yousuf. The syndicate also approved appointments made in Advanced Diagnostic Lab and promotion of employees from BS-1 to BS-16.

-Adeel

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Three day International Conference of Botany


12th National and 3rd International Conference of Botany at Quaid e Azam University

by Maria Maqsood

The Pakistan Botanical Society, an eminent scientific society of Pakistan arranged the 3rd International Edition of Conference of Botany at the Quaid e Azam University, Islamabad from 1-3rd September. The conference was attended by multiple renowned scientists, researchers and students from all across the nation. The conference focused on five major themes including:

  1. Agriculture Agronomy, Horticulture, Plant Breeding and Genetics
  2. Biotechnology/Biochemistry/Bioinformatics
  3. Plant Physiology/Stress Physiology/Microbial Interaction
  4. Plant & Environment
  5. Taxonomy and Ethno-botany

Some 200 scientists and faculty members from across the country as well as Oman, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and France participated in the conference. The event was funded by HEC, Pakistan Council for Science and Technology, WWF, Pakistan Academy of Sciences, Qarshi Industries and Pakistan Science Foundation.

The current President of Pakistan Botanical Society, Dr. Zabta Khan Shinwari inaugurated the session along with Dean Faculty of Biological Sciences at Quaid-i-Azam University Prof. Dr. Asghari Bano. At the conference, three Life Time Achievement Awards were bestowed in recognition of their services rendered. The awards went to Dr. Kauser Abdulla Malik, Dr. Anwar Nasim and Dr. Muhammad Qaiser. Federal Minister for Science and Technology, Mir Changez Khan Jamali was also present for the occasion. The Vice Chancellor Quaid-i-Azam University, Prof. Dr. Masoom Yasinzai in his welcome address said, the representatives of various countries here in this conference together possess a credible S&T potential.

The conference also included poster and oral presentation in the five themes aforementioned. For best oral presentation, the gold medal was awarded to Nadia Haroon, a PhD scholar from Lahore College for Women University, while silver and bronze medals were secured by Dr. Rafiq Ahmed, Assistant Prof. COMSATS and Nazneen Bangash from Arid Agriculture University, Rawalpindi, respectively.

A special issue of five selected themes was also published for the occasion and included about 300 abstracts.

InVitro Vogue the Biotech Company was represented by two of its employees, Muhammad Adeel and Edwin John. They participated in the poster presentation and their abstracts were also published in the special issue. Muhammad Adeel published on “Study of Microbial Diversity in the rhizosphere of Cotton Plant” and Edwin John published on “Optimization of Agrobacterium mediated transformation in Populus deltoides”.

-Maria

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Polio Virus found in Gadap, Karachi


The World Health Organisation said on Sunday that polio virus had been found in sewage water samples collected from Gadap town, Karachi. As per a press release, The WHO said  that a lot of efforts had been made in Gadap town over the past six months to reach every child during every anti-polio campaign. A major problem that was experienced by them was that all children could not be reached in the town because of poor security situation and attacks on polio vaccination teams during the last campaign in July. Apart from that sewage samples from Baldia town of Karachi also confirmed presence of polio virus for the first time after 12 samples showed absence of virus earlier this year. In addition to this, sewage samples from Sukkur, Hyderabad, Peshawar, Rawalpindi and Lahore have also shown presence of polio virus.

This year alone, Pakistan has reported a total of 27 polio cases, including 13 from Fata, six from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, three each from Sindh and Punjab and two from Balochistan. The cases were reported from 15 districts in the country. Pakistan’s Augmented National Emergency Action Plan aims to interrupt polio virus circulation in the country by the end of this year, but it faces problems. Recently, campaigns were banned in North and South Waziristan, depriving more than 200,000 children of anti-polio drops.

Gadap Town presents a poor picture in terms of sanitation and that is allowing the virus to thrive.

Another problem is to Bara tehsil of Khyber Agency which has been inaccessible for vaccination teams since September 2009. Ten of the 13 polio cases in Fata this year have been reported from Bara. Better measures are needed to be taken in order to tackle this issue in an active manner.

-Adeel

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Outbreak of NewCastle Disease in Sindh


Peacocks suffering from NDV in Sindh- Zainab Ali

A warning regarding the spread of a viral disease among peacocks in Tharparkar was generated by the head of a team formed by the Sindh Agriculture University.

Dr. Allah Bux Kachiwal, assistant professor of the department of surgery and obstetrics, noticed that the department of Sindh Wildlife is not resilient enough to handle the situation which called for medicated feed to be provided to sick peacocks. Otherwise they would keep falling prey of Newcastle Disease Virus (NDV).

He rejected the proclamation of the department that deaths were a few. Instead, he mentioned “Deaths are taking place at a large scale and what is more alarming is that the villagers are throwing carcases of peacocks in wells which they use for drinking water, in some cases,” Dr. Allad Bux said talking to Dawn after a visit to the affected area with his team.

The team had visited the areas of Bhakuo, Natho, Bhatayan, Ji Veri and Bapuhar in Mithi taluka. Two sick peacocks were bought for research and treatment. Members of the team included Dr. Abdul Latif Bhutto, assistant professor, department of veterinary medicine, faculty of animal husbandry and veterinary sciences; Dr Jaman Dhas, research officer, Central Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory’s sub-centre, Mithi, and Taj Mohammad Sheikh, deputy conservative officer of wildlife department.

Kachiwai said “Vets do not have the access to areas where virus is taking its toll”. “The department officials do not have the aptitude to handle this situation. They do not have centers and camps to take care of things,” he said. He made clear that the symptoms of illness indicated the presence of NDV and said, “When peacocks get ill they could not survive because the virus paralyses them. The birds start coughing and gasping as the nervous system is affected. Their side turns to one side and they suffer from in-coordination. This is because peacock could not move properly as the coordination between its brain and movement is disrupted. Due to this paralytic condition peacock could not see feed. That’s why it is mandatory that feed is given by the Vets. ”

He added that “wild animals consumed them when they are weak that’s why their carcasses were not usually found. This is an unusual situation.”  He further added that if we want to save the ill birds they should be kept in isolation and should be given medicated feed. If this was not done death toll will keep on increasing and other birds like parrots, pigeons and wild birds will likely to be hit.

He said, “They feel depressed and this helps develop viral infection. Present atmospheric conditions suit the virus; if it rains NDV will vanish into the air.”

“Local people should be engaged because they can assist single out sick peacocks on the basis of their experience. Camps should be set up at the union council level. Villagers should be provided with medicated feed so that they may throw it outside their houses so the birds could eat it with their waste” he said.

He also mentioned that Enrofloxin a third generation antibiotic would prevent any secondary infection and Neurotonic vitamin supplemented would stimulate the nervous and immune system.

He said, “They are chiefly concerned with preclusion of illegal hunting. They are not able to control the disease. ” It seemed he said the department did not have their system in the area.

He proposed in his report that, “medicated feed and water should be made available to the affected areas in order to prevent further loss.”

The bodies of dead peacocks should be disposed of properly to prevent further spread of disease among birds. Peacock vaccination should be introduced to avoid attacks of viral diseases among peacocks. Interdisciplinary strategy may be created in order to control disease with technical help of the universities, livestock and wildlife departments. Emergency centers and camps might be established in the affected area to isolate and treat the sick peacocks/birds.

-Zainab

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InVitro Vogue sets up commercial diagnostics franchises on World Hepatitis Day


InVitro Vogue-The Biotech Company  www.invitrovogue.com observed the World Hepatitis Day by setting up a collection center for its molecular testing division (CAID: Center for Advanced InVitro Diagnostics). CAID specializes in PCR based molecular diagnostics and has been planed accordingly to the International Atomic Energy Agency-IAEA protocols for molecular diagnostics and upholds strict Bio Safety Level 2 protocols. The main objectives of this division are as follows:

  • Provide PCR based quantitative and genotyping for most prevalent disease such as TB, HCV, HBV, CMV, Typhoid etc.
  • To do molecular testing for cancer patients.
  • To provide carrier status screening for couples before marriage like Hemophilia, Thalasemia, Down Syndrome, and Duchene Muscular Dystrophy.
  • To do cytogenetic tests for cancer patients namely Bcr/Abl in Leukemia, Tel/Aml and inv 16. JAK2 for MDS (Mylodisplastic Syndrome).

Five Collection Points/Franchise agreements have been signed for Lahore, Faisalabad and Islamabad. InVitro Vogue offers its customers the best possible quality in diagnostic testing owing to its stringent internal quality control regulations. The company’s chief operating officer, Dr. Omar Malik was present at the occasion and hoped that this would mark a further stable expansion in InVitro Vogue’s work in Pakistan. More similar ventures are expected soon. Investors willing to be a part of InVitro franchise can email at info@invitrovogue.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-Adeel
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