Connect with us

Buterin donates $4M to Uni of NSW for pandemic detection tool

“Imagine if someone had detected COVID-19 before it spread around the world — that is our vision,” said professor Raina MacIntyre.

Published

on

“Imagine if someone had detected COVID-19 before it spread around the world — that is our vision,” said professor Raina MacIntyre.

Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin has donated $4 million worth of USD Coin (USDC) to the University of New South Wales (UNSW) to support the development of a pandemic detection tool.

The capital, which equates to roughly 5.3 million Australian dollars, is part of Buterin’s self-described “moonshot anti-COVID effort” dubbed Balvi Filantropic Fund in partnership with the Shiba Inu (SHIBmemecoin project and Crypto Relief.

The funds will further support the development of the Shiba Inu Open-Source Intelligence- (OISNT)-based EPIWATCH tool, which utilizes artificial intelligence (AI) and open-source data to create early pandemic warning signs.

Created by Kirby Institute professor and biosecurity research head Raina MacIntyre, the tool scans millions of items of publicly available online data, including social media and news reports to detect any changes that could suggest increasing health concerns.

Buterin emphasized the importance of sharing data in a decentralized and open manner to speed up pandemic detection:

“Open analysis of public data is an excellent alternative to more intrusive forms of monitoring, which are also often only available to governments and other high bidders but closed to the public.”

“By contrast, an open-source and open-access approach that allows researchers, including members of the public, to work collaboratively across the world can be more easily improved and scaled to detect new pandemics wherever they begin,” he added.

The funding will be allocated to the freshly named OSINT Initiative led by UNSW’s Kirby Institute.

MacIntyre said the idea was to make the tool accessible at a “grassroots” level and make sure it covers enough languages to reach “villages and small towns around the world.”

“Imagine if someone had detected COVID-19 before it spread around the world — that is our vision. Using AI and real-time open-source data, EPIWATCH does not depend on people making reports. It is a great equalizer and can overcome weak health systems and censorship.”

Earlier this month, the Balvi Filantropic Fund announced its first round of financial support for various projects and organizations that are building COVID-19 and pandemic prevention technology.

Related: Buterin: L2 transaction fees need to be under $0.05 to be ‘truly acceptable’

There were four recipients in total for the first round, including the open-source vaccine development RADVACproject, the Upper Room UVGI Project working on UV lamps that “zap viruses to death,” Active IAQ’s air filter initiative and Patient-Led’s long COVID symptom research.

Read More

Continue Reading

International

Modified mRNA Demonstrates 10-Fold Protein Production

Scientists at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology came up with a technique to increase the efficiency and potentially the efficacy of mRNA therapeutics….

Published

on

Scientists at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology came up with a technique to increase the efficiency and potentially the efficacy of mRNA therapeutics. mRNA molecules have what is called a poly-A tail, which is basically a string of adenine nucleotides at one end. These researchers discovered that by replacing some of these nucleotides in the mRNA tail with cytidine, a cytosine base with a ribose sugar attached, that they could enhance the resulting protein production of the mRNA and increase its stability and life-span. The technique could lead to more effective mRNA therapies and vaccines, potentially enabling clinicians to achieve similar or better effects with smaller doses.

mRNA therapies have come a long way in just the last few years. The COVID-19 pandemic has propelled this approach from an emerging technology to a mainstay of our vaccine response. The concept is elegant – deliver mRNA strands to the patient, and allow their own cellular machinery to produce the relevant protein that the strands code for. So far, so good – the approach, once considered unrealistic because of the fragility of mRNA, has proven to work very well, at least for COVID-19 vaccines.  

However, there is always room for improvement. One of the issues with current mRNA therapies is that they can require multiple rounds of dosing to create enough of the therapeutic protein to achieve the desired effect. Think of the multiple injections required for the COVID-19 vaccines. Creating mRNA therapies that can induce our cells to produce more protein would certainly be beneficial.

To address this limitation, these researchers have found a way to modify the poly-A tail of synthetic mRNA strands. They found that by replacing some of the adenosine in the mRNA tail with cytidine, they could drastically increase the amount of protein the resulting strands ended up producing when applied to human cells and in mice. This translated to 3-10 times as much protein when compared with unmodified mRNA.

The researchers hope that the approach can enhance the effectiveness and required dosing schedules for mRNA therapies.

“Increasing the protein production of synthetic mRNA is generally beneficial to all mRNA drugs and vaccines,” said Becki Kuang, a researcher involved in the study. “In collaboration with Sun Yat-Sen University, our team is now exploring the use of optimized tails for mRNA cancer vaccines on animal. We are also looking forward to collaborating with pharmaceutical companies to transfer this invention onto mRNA therapeutics and vaccines’ development pipelines to benefit society.”

See a short animation about the technology below.

Study in journal Molecular Therapy – Nucleic Acids: Cytidine-containing tails robustly enhance and prolong protein production of synthetic mRNA in cell and in vivo

Via: Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

Read More

Continue Reading

Uncategorized

Mercantile Appoints New Members to Bank Board of Directors

Mercantile Appoints New Members to Bank Board of Directors
PR Newswire
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., Dec. 1, 2022

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., Dec. 1, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Mercantile Bank Corporation (NASDAQ: MBWM) (“Mercantile”), announced today the appointments o…

Published

on

Mercantile Appoints New Members to Bank Board of Directors

PR Newswire

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., Dec. 1, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Mercantile Bank Corporation (NASDAQ: MBWM) ("Mercantile"), announced today the appointments of Amy L. Sparks, CPA and Nelson F. Sanchez, CPA to the Bank's Board of Directors in the second half of 2022.

"We are thrilled to welcome two new Directors who bring a wealth of experience in business, finance and manufacturing as we expand the diversification of perspectives across our Board. Amy's executive leadership of solidifying financial performance, organizational development, diversifying into new markets and increased employee engagement, coupled with Nelson's deep experience in a variety of business sectors encompassing domestic, international, private, public, and family-owned organizations across start-ups, turnarounds, mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures, and strategic planning will help support our growth as a leading community bank," said Robert B. Kaminski Jr., President and Chief Executive Officer of Mercantile.

Ms. Sparks has nearly three decades of demonstrated expertise and success. She is the Owner, President, and Chief Executive Officer of Nuvar, Inc., a Michigan-based manufacturing company specializing in finished product contract manufacturing for the office furniture, health care, education, appliance and transportation industries. Ms. Sparks is also a Certified Public Accountant and currently serves on the Grand Valley State University Seidman School of Business Dean's Advisory Board and is the West Michigan Chair of the Great Lakes Women's Business Council.

Mr. Sanchez is a strong finance executive with broad strategic leadership experience in all aspects of finance, operations, marketing and general management. He is the Chief Operating Officer of RoMan Manufacturing, Inc., where he has also served as the Chief Financial Officer. Nelson is a Certified Public Accountant, is fluent in Spanish and has an extensive background in leadership and diversity training. He serves on various boards and committees in the West Michigan community, including the Grand Rapids Community Foundation, Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce and Holland Home.

About Mercantile Bank Corporation

Based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Mercantile Bank Corporation is the bank holding company for Mercantile Bank. Mercantile provides banking services to businesses, individuals, and governmental units, and differentiates itself on the basis of service quality and the expertise of its banking staff. Mercantile has assets of approximately $5.0 billion and operates 46 banking offices. Mercantile Bank Corporation's common stock is listed on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the symbol "MBWM." For more information about Mercantile, visit www.mercbank.com, and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @MercBank and on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/company/merc-bank

Forward-Looking Statements

This news release contains statements or information that may constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements can be identified by words such as: "anticipate," "intend," "plan," "goal," "seek," "believe," "project," "estimate," "expect," "strategy," "future," "likely," "may," "should," "will," and similar references to future periods. Any such statements are based on current expectations that involve a number of risks and uncertainties. Actual results may differ materially from the results expressed in forward-looking statements. Factors that might cause such a difference include changes in interest rates and interest rate relationships; increasing rates of inflation and slower growth rates; significant declines in the value of commercial real estate; market volatility; demand for products and services; the degree of competition by traditional and nontraditional financial services companies; changes in banking regulation or actions by bank regulators; changes in tax laws; changes in prices, levies, and assessments; the impact of technological advances; potential cyber-attacks, information security breaches and other criminal activities; litigation liabilities; governmental and regulatory policy changes; the outcomes of existing or future contingencies; trends in customer behavior as well as their ability to repay loans; changes in local real estate values; damage to our reputation resulting from adverse publicity, regulatory actions, litigation, operational failures, and the failure to meet client expectations and other facts; changes in the method of determining Libor and the phase-out of Libor; changes in the national and local economies, including the ongoing disruption to financial markets and other economic activity caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and unstable political and economic environments; and other factors, including those expressed as risk factors, disclosed from time to time in filings made by Mercantile with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Mercantile undertakes no obligation to update or clarify forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. Investors are cautioned not to place undue reliance on any forward-looking statements contained herein.

For Further Information:


Robert B. Kaminski, Jr.

Charles Christmas

President & CEO

Executive Vice President & CFO

616-726-1502

616-726-1202

rkaminski@mercbank.com 

cchristmas@mercbank.com

 

View original content to download multimedia:https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/mercantile-appoints-new-members-to-bank-board-of-directors-301692145.html

SOURCE Mercantile Bank Corporation

Read More

Continue Reading

Uncategorized

November Employment Preview

On Friday at 8:30 AM ET, the BLS will release the employment report for November. The consensus is for 200,000 jobs added, and for the unemployment rate to be unchanged at 3.7%.There were 261,000 jobs added in October, and the unemployment rate was at…

Published

on

On Friday at 8:30 AM ET, the BLS will release the employment report for November. The consensus is for 200,000 jobs added, and for the unemployment rate to be unchanged at 3.7%.

There were 261,000 jobs added in October, and the unemployment rate was at 3.7%.

Click on graph for larger image.

• First, as of October there are 804 thousand more jobs than in February 2020 (the month before the pandemic).

This graph shows the job losses from the start of the employment recession, in percentage terms.  As of August 2022, the total number of jobs had returned.

This doesn't include the preliminary benchmark revision that showed there were 462 thousand more jobs than originally reported in March 2022.

• A few brief excerpts from a note by Goldman Sachs economist Spencer Hill:
We estimate nonfarm payrolls rose by 175k in November (mom sa), below consensus of +200k and a slowdown from the +261k pace in October. ... We estimate the unemployment rate was unchanged at 3.7%
emphasis added
ADP Report: The ADP employment report showed 127,000 private sector jobs were added in November.  This is the fourth release of ADP's new methodology, and this suggests job gains below consensus expectations.

ISM Surveys: Note that the ISM services are diffusion indexes based on the number of firms hiring (not the number of hires).  The ISM® manufacturing employment index decreased in November to 48.4%, down from 50.0% last month.   This would suggest 30,000 jobs lost in manufacturing.

The ISM® services employment index for November has not been released yet.

Unemployment Claims: The weekly claims report showed an increase in the number of initial unemployment claims during the reference week (includes the 12th of the month) from 214,000 in October to 223,000 in November. This would usually suggest above the same number of layoffs in October as in September. In general, weekly claims were slightly higher than expectations in November.

•  COVID: As far as the pandemic, the number of weekly cases during the reference week in November was around 282,000, up slightly from 265,000 in October.  

Conclusion: The consensus is for job growth to slow to 200,000 jobs added in November.  The ADP report was below expectations, and weekly claims were slightly negative.  My guess is the report will be below consensus.

Read More

Continue Reading

Trending