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Chinese scientists develop new chemical method for stem cell creation

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Tuesday, May 1st, 2018

Animation of stem cell

 

A team of Chinese scientists is currently developing a chemical method for stem cell creation that will help cure life-threatening illnesses sooner than most people think, at the Guangzhou Institute of Biomedicine and Health (GIBH) in south China.

Stem cells might be the most powerful cells in the human body. When harvested and reinjected into humans, they help regrow and regenerate cells that were damaged or lost due to illness and injury.

“We extract some cells from a patient, then convert them into stem cells which can grow a new organ,” said Li Dongwei, lead researcher at the GIHB.

Experts said they now have a way to create stem cells in a lab.

“The best way is to use chemicals. All you have to do is just culture the cells in different culture media, and hopefully, you can accomplish the same feat,” said Dr. Pei Duanqing, director of the GIHB.

That feat is converting somatic cells, virtually any cell in an adult body, into pluripotent stem cells, the type that can be used in a multitude of ways. The older, less functional cells are soaked in a cocktail of 10 different chemicals, which converts them into valuable stem cells.

According to Pei, past stem cell creation methods involved experiments using viruses, but the chemical method is much more practical. People should be consuming Vitamin C, one of the substances in the cocktail regularly, he added.

For years now, scientists in labs like the one in Guangzhou have been able to turn back the clock on somatic cells with the help of stem cell experiments.

“That’s a whole new science of human physiology that we have to work with. And I think that’s far more complicated, and that will require further investment and also careful planning,” said Pei.

The team said trying their current approach in humans could trigger serious side effects, like cancer, but by continuing the research, they will develop safer methods for stem cell treatments, which will become affordable for the average patient in the future. — Reuters

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Chinese scientists first discover spider species breastfeeding, nursing

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Monday, December 3rd, 2018

 

Spider babies eating milk on bellies of spider mothers | REUTERS

Chinese scientists discovered a spider species that feeds their babies with milk as mammals, marking the first time humans discovering invertebrates breastfeeding and nursing theirs offspring, said Chinese Academy of Sciences Friday.

Breastfeeding is a unique animal behavior to mammals, including humans. This type of spider, commonly known as big ant spider, discovered with “breastfeeding behavior”, belongs to Myrmarachne of Salticidae, which is a spider species widely distributed in the tropical and subtropical regions of East and Southeast Asia.

“Spider babies which just hatched out clime up on spider moms’ bellies, to eat a kind of liquid (secreted by spider moms), which was tested to be milk containing four times the protein of cow’s milk. We call it spider milk,” said Chen Zhanqi, a post doctor from Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Researchers found after long-term observation that the newly hatched spider babies feed themselves entirely with the milk in the first 20 days after birth, during which they grow as big as half of their mothers. From 20 to 40 days, spider babies go out looking for food by themselves, while also eating milk from their mothers. This period is a transition for weaning.

The study also found that spider babies don’t leave their mothers after weaning, and continue to stay with them in nests, even after they grow up. This kind of spider will take care of its grown-up offspring, which is seen as a long parental behavioral mode. This mode was once thought to only exist in the social vertebrates with long lifespan.

Experts believe that this breakthrough discovery has extremely important significance for the research on revolution of breastfeeding behavior for contemporary animals. — Reuters

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People worried as China’s capital blanket by pollution

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Monday, December 3rd, 2018

A building in smog in Beijing, China | REUTERS

A total of 79 Chinese cities have triggered air pollution alerts as severe winter smog covers wide swaths of the country, the official Xinhua news agency reported on Saturday (December 1).

China’s capital Beijing issued its first air pollution alert for the winter season on Nov. 23, and it has again issued a yellow alert, the third-highest in its pollution warning system from Saturday (December 1).

Beijing was visibly clouded in smog on Sunday (December 2), and residents were not happy, but many seem resigned to the constant recurrence.

As of Nov.30, five cities had issued red pollution warnings, the most severe in China’s pollution warning system, 73 had issued orange warnings, the second-most severe, and on issued yellow, triggering the implementation of emergency management and control measures, Xinhua reported.

China has taken steps to broaden its campaign against air pollution, including extending a monthly air quality ranking to 169 cities from 74 to pressure local authorities to clean up dirty skies. — Reuters

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China’s first private WiFi satellite meets public

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Thursday, November 29th, 2018

 

WiFi satellite | CCTV via REUTERS

China’s first private WiFi satellite met the public in Shanghai on Tuesday.

The satellite “LinkSure No.1,” independently developed by LinkSure Network, a Shanghai-based mobile internet unicorn company specializing in free internet access, will be launched into space together with the Long March rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China in 2019.

The company also launched its satellite network program — “LinkSure Swarm Constellation System,” which aims to provide free satellite network around the globe in 2026.

Compared with the already existing networks, the system will be more helpful for areas that are uncovered by Internet.

“There are still many places in the world still uncovered by the Internet. According to information released by the United Nations last year, 3.9 billion users had no access to the Internet by the end of 2017. The Earth has many different terrains like ocean or dessert, where Internet infrastructure cannot be constructed, so we got the idea of developing such satellites,” said Wang Jingying, CEO of LinkSure Networks.

The system plans to launch the first 10 WiFi satellites in 2020. The entire system, consisting of 272 satellites of different orbits at different heights, will finally cover the whole world.

Wang said it is costly to launch so many satellites, but what the LinkSure Networks eyes is the broad application prospect of the system in communication, navigation, environment monitoring and other areas.

“Such a satellite plan is actually very costly in the early stage. Our own budget is three billion yuan (about 431 million U.S. dollars). We believe it will pay off, with many scenes, many applications and different modes,” said Wang.

Wang’s view was echoed by Huang Zhicheng, an aerospace technology expert.

“Aerospace programs have high risks and need big investment. Programs that you can see return in three to five years are very few. So patience is very important,” said Huang. — Reuters

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