A pig’s skin cells may hold the key to new treatments and cures for devastating human neurological diseases. Researchers from the University of Georgia’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences working in the UGA Regenerative Bioscience Center have discovered a process of turning pig induced pluripotent stem cells into induced neural stem cells. Stice, a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar and D.W. Brooks Distinguished Professor in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, has published extensively on the use of human neural progenitors, for which he holds an issued patent and more than 25 publications, specific to this cell type. “After all, the ultimate goal is, of course, to develop treatments for human patients and to conduct further safety and efficacy studies,” Stice said. The results, published in Stem Cells and Development and based on the same process that neural stem cells use to develop in humans, allows the team to better understand degenerative neural diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s and ALS. The study, “Pig Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell Derived Neural Rosettes Developmentally Mimic Human Pluripotent Stem Cell Neural Differentiation” is available at www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25826126. With this new technology, Stice plans to continue seeking grants from the National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Disorders and private funding for ALS and Alzheimer’s. Researchers initially thought that the adult brain, through the use of stem cell therapy, was largely untouchable and unable to make new neurons and regenerate. Stice pointed out that past articles published in Nature Biotechnology lay claim to the fact that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration strongly encourages the overall design of regenerative toxicology studies should mimic the proposed clinical trial design as closely as possible. “The current publication lays out characteristics that the stem cells must have in order for them to differentiate toward a neural fate,” Stice said. “Certain markers on these cells suggest that they will have a greater propensity to develop into neural cells.” “For the first time, we really do have an animal blueprint, which mimics that of a human, and could potentially allow us to watch neuro diseases as they develop,” said Steven Stice, RBC director and the project’s principal investigator. “The problem is once you take that (induced pluripotent stem) cell and place it in the brain, it will turn into every cell type possible, and then cause a tumor to form,” said Franklin West, an assistant professor of animal and dairy science in the college and one of the investigators on the project. “So instead, you take that cell and turn it into a neural stem cell first—then the only thing it will ever form are the neural stem cell type.” The beauty behind this technology is the team can now generate millions—literally bucket loads—of cultured neurons. Advancing this technology from bench to clinical investigation has become a reality. “In the past, the problem was not having a good way of testing these cells to see how they would function or work,” Stice said. “Now, because we were able to mimic the same development path in pigs as in humans, it’s no longer a concern.” What the team did was not a simple process. First, they extracted cells from a pig’s skin and reprogrammed them to become induced pluripotent stem cells. Then, with the aid of protein marked technology used for cell identity and characterization, the cells were trained to become neurons. In previous studies, the initial cell groups stopped and started with pig embryonic stem cells, which are harder to source and sometimes differentiate into unwanted cell types, including neurons, liver and even muscle cells.
Hudson United Bancorp and TD Banknorth Inc. Shareholders Approve MergerOver 98% of Votes Cast In Favor of Transaction by Hudson United ShareholdersPORTLAND, Maine (January 11, 2006) TD Banknorth Inc. (NYSE: BNK) shareholders voted at a special meeting today to approve the acquisition of Hudson United Bancorp (NYSE: HU). More than 99% of the votes cast were voted in favor of the transaction. In a separate meeting held in Mahwah, New Jersey, the shareholders of Hudson United Bancorp also voted heavily in favor of sale to TD Banknorth. Over 98% of the votes cast by Hudson United shareholders were in favor of the transaction.Pending approval by the Federal Reserve, the transaction is expected to close later in the first quarter of 2006.This acquisition is in keeping with our growth strategy into the mid-Atlantic region. Were excited about expanding our franchise in both Connecticut and eastern New York, and gaining a new presence in the fast-growing New Jersey and Philadelphia markets, said William J. Ryan, TD Banknorths Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer. We look forward to welcoming Hudson United into the TD Banknorth family and to offering our new customers a broader array of products and services.We are excited about joining TD Banknorth, said Kenneth Neilson, Hudson Uniteds Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer. This transaction rewards our shareholders while maintaining our focus on local community banking.On a pro forma basis, the transaction creates a regional financial services company with approximately 590 branches, 751 ATMs and over $26 billion in deposits across eight northeastern states.About TD Banknorth Inc.TD Banknorth Inc. is a leading banking and financial services company headquartered in Portland, Maine and a majority-owned subsidiary of TD Bank Financial Group. At September 30, 2005, TD Banknorth had $31.8 billion of total consolidated assets and provided financial services to over 1.3 million households in the Northeast. TD Banknorth’s banking subsidiary, TD Banknorth, N.A., operates banking divisions in Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont and upstate New York. TD Banknorth and TD Banknorth, N.A. also operate subsidiaries and divisions in insurance, wealth management, merchant services, mortgage banking, government banking and other financial services and offer investment products in association with PrimeVest Financial Services, Inc. The TD Banknorth common stock trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “BNK”. For more information, visit http://www.tdbanknorth.com(link is external).About Hudson United BancorpHudson United Bancorp is the multi-state bank holding company for Hudson United Bank, which has 204 offices in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and Pennsylvania. Hudson United Bancorp’s subsidiaries offer a full array of innovative products and services to commercial and retail accounts, including imaged checking accounts, 24-hour telephone and internet banking, loans by phone, alternative investment products, insurance products, private label credit programs and a wide variety of commercial loans and services including asset based loans, SBA loans, international services, merchant services and cash management services. Wealth management services are also provided to individuals and businesses. Public sector products and services are provided to local and state governments, municipalities, educational institutions, civic and not-for-profit organizations. Visit our website at www.hudsonunitedbank.com(link is external)
By Samuel SukhnandanAs part of the new agreement signed with U.S. oil giant ExxonMobil, the Natural Resources Minister will have to file the company’s tax returns with the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), something outspoken political analyst and economist Ramon Gaskin has described as “foolish!”According to Gaskin, this agreement which the Government signed on to makes the Government look silly in the eyes of many, and only puts the Minister (Raphael Trotman) in a bad situation, where he has now become the oil company’s “waterPolitical commentator and economist, Ramon Gaskinboy”, who has to provide a receipt of payment to the company at the end.“The tax return to the GRA must be filed by the Minister because he is the ‘water boy’ and ‘messenger boy.’ And he has to show a receipt from the Commissioner General that the taxes have been paid in full…he takes to Exxon and says, ‘boss, here is the receipt; I paid it’,” the political analyst said.The new contract states that ExxonMobil and its partners shall provide the Minister with its income tax returns, to be submitted by the Minister to the Commissioner General of the GRA, so the Minister can pay income tax on behalf of ExxonMobil and its partners, as provided for under Article 15.4.Another contention raised by Gaskin is that Government has not named the individuals who negotiated both the 1999 and 2016 oil contracts on behalf of the Government. While they have said that a team from the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission was responsible, no one has been named.But, more importantly, Gaskin, a trained lawyer, told Guyana Times on Sunday that both ExxonMobil and the Government are in breach of the laws governing this sector. He noted that the Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Act sets out theNatural Resources Minister Raphael Trotmanprovisions for companies operating in this sector.He has said that while it is noted that a prospecting licence for exploration in Guyana allows the oil company to get more than 60 blocks, in the case of ExxonMobil, that company has more than 600 blocks.“This is ten times the amount allowed by the laws of Guyana. ExxonMobil has 60,000 square kilometres of territory — 12 times the size of Trinidad and 40 times the size of Barbados,” Gaskin claimed.And he pointed out that while this same law stipulates that each company is allowed only 10 years maximum to explore for oil before they have to leave, Exxon has been here for close to 17 years now.Gaskin maintained that Exxon’s “prospecting licence was up since 2009, and according to the Petroleum Act, they should have left already. Both the old 1999 and new agreement signed with ExxonMobil violates the laws of Guyana in many areas, and that should be noted.” He contends.Having read the entire agreement, Gaskin says he is now of the opinion that Guyana received a bad deal, one even worse than some African countries, including Angola, had received.“When you read the agreement…Who is going to pay compensation for damage to the environment in cases of a spill?” he questioned.“There is nothing in the oil contract about insurance, expect that ExxonMobil is self-insured. “So if they destroy the (fishes, marine life) out there, you will have to go to him and make your claim (the same guy who just did it). However, in the African agreements, the oil company is required to hire an independent international company to do the assessment, and not to self-insure.“While it should be a legal requirement to provide a performance bond and guarantees, we allow them to provide themselves (Exxon), rather than from an independent financial institution or bank,” Gaskin pointed out.Another issue raised by Gaskin is the provision for site visits. “The Minister has to give a seven-day notice, and also pay for his own expense and transportation. We should have people out there on the rig every day, seeing what’s taking place to guarantee that what we are getting is fair.”The Commonwealth Secretariat has been advising the Ministry of Natural Resources since 2013 on the legislative and institutional reforms required to regulate Guyana’s emerging oil and gas industry.On Thursday, ExxonMobil announced it made a fifth new oil discovery after drilling the Turbot-1 well offshore Guyana. Turbot is ExxonMobil’s latest discovery to date in the country, adding to previous finds at Liza, Payara, Snoek and Liza Deep, a release from the company has said.