Alternative proteins research published

Beef and Lamb New Zealand commissioned the study to better understand the shifts in food, food production technology and consumer trends and distinguish the hype from reality.

The report shows alternative proteins are likely to become a major competitor to some of New Zealand’s red meat products and the sector must respond with a clear strategy.

It found that although alternative proteins are currently manufactured in small volumes, large scale production of burger patties and mince is likely to be a reality within five years.

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How A Bank Of All The World’s Genetic Codes Hopes To Save Nature

The Earth Bank of Codes wants to collect the genetic sequence of the natural world–and let countries make money from the scientific breakthroughs that would result, rather than selling their natural resources.

Traditionally, economic development and conservation have been at odds in the Amazon Basin. Businesses and governments have insisted on the need for jobs and valuable commodities like beef, timber, and hydropower. Environmentalists warn that logging, cattle ranching, and soy plantations threaten the region’s biodiversity and produce “savannization” in the world’s largest remaining tropical forest. Already 20% of the Amazon Rainforest has been cut down, reducing its ability to absorb CO2 and curb climate change.

But entrepreneur Juan Carlos Castilla-Rubio believes there’s “a third way” out of the zero-sum dilemma. By registering the region’s biological assets on a public blockchain, he thinks he can spur a new, more environmentally benign economy. The Amazon’s plants and animals contain bounties of genetic code and potential biomimetic blueprints that could one day be used to create new drugs and textiles, artificial intelligence, and energy systems, he says. In the future, there may be less need to cut down so many trees and build so many harmful hydro-dams.

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Cow stomach microbes could hold key for increased food and biofuel production

In the United Kingdom, researchers from The University of Edinburgh, The Roslin Institute and Scotland’s Rural College found that the types of microbes and enzymes in cow stomachs that help them digest plant-based diets into energy could prove useful for developing new biofuels as well as help meat and dairy production.

Researchers focused on microbes found in a cow’s rumen – the first of its four stomachs. The team used an advanced technique called metagenomics, which involves analyzing the genetic composition all of the microbes that exist within an organism, in this case a cow. They studied samples of rumen gut contents from 43 cows and identified 913 diverse strains of microbes living in the rumen.

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2017 Prime Minister’s MacDiarmid Emerging Scientist Prize winner Dr Carla Meledandri

A University of Otago scientist who is at the forefront of developing applications from tiny science to power a new technology sector has won the 2017 Prime Minister’s MacDiarmid Emerging Scientist Prize.

American-born Dr Carla Meledandri, who credits some of her success to the collaborative environment that flourishes in New Zealand’s science sector, is exploring ways to solve problems using ultra-small materials that look, act and react differently when they are reduced to the nano-scale.

Early applications of her award-winning science include silver nanoparticles to treat and prevent dental disease and finding ways to store and use clean energy technologies that have the potential to replace fossil fuels.

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Australia’s growing support for women in Life Sciences

In Life Sciences, there is, regrettably, a glass ceiling. If you are involved in the Life Sciences in any country where the sector is strong, you’ll have noticed a push in recent years to increase the number of leadership positions that are held by women. Usually there’s regular networking events for women in all the biotech hubs around the country, and if you attend a conference there’ll likely be a booth for the national ‘Women in Biotech’ organisation. And no wonder. Emma Walmsley may have become the CEO of GlaxoSmithKline in 2017, putting a woman in charge of the world’s eighth-largest pharmaceutical company, but only three other pharma companies in the Top 50 globally have a female in the top job. Meanwhile, a mere 5.7% of companies currently represented in the Nasdaq Biotechnology Index – the generally accepted benchmark for the leading biotech and medical device companies globally – have a female CEO. That’s right, 5.7%, which is amazing when you consider that close to 40% of those companies are headquartered in two ostensibly liberal places – the San Francisco Bay Area in California and the Boston-Cambridge axis in Massachusetts. Indeed, the current picture could be said to be even bleaker for women who aspire to global leadership in our sector. Of the three other women beside Emma Walmsley in peak leadership positions at Big Pharma, two of them – Menarini’s Lucia Aleotti and Lupin’s Vinita Gupta – are in their jobs in part because they are daughters of the respective founders. That doesn’t diminish the achievements or qualifications of these women in any way, but it makes you wonder if a female non-family member would have a chance. As for the 149 Nasdaq Biotechnology Index companies that are not one of the Top 50 Pharma companies (ie excluding Mylan, run by Heather Bresch, and other established companies like Amgen, Gilead and Celgene), the eight companies with female CEOs only represent 3.5% of the total combined market capitalisation of the 149. Why is it so? Well, science has always been something of a boy’s club, as evidenced by the fact that, of the 130 living Nobel laureates who have won the Prize for either Medicine or Chemistry (click here), 122 are men and only 8 are women*. Combine that with male dominance of venture capital when the biotech industry was getting started in the 1970s and 1980s and it’s not particularly surprising that women remain under-represented even in the much more mature 2010s.

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Going for the Gold! Mint Innovation’s microbes and technology recover gold

With the XXIII Olympic Winter Games starting and a record-breaking 102 gold medals up for grabs this year, it got us thinking about medals…and metals in general. With so many uses from giving them as awards for super athletes, to using them in currency, trade markets, and more recently, electronics, it seems like the demand for precious metals isn’t going anywhere, but the supply is limited, even if the U.S. Geological Survey estimates there are 52,000 tons of minable gold still in the ground.

Especially as more and more gold is moving from the traditional jewelry and currency markets to the technology and electronics industries, less of it is being recycled and reused due to the tiny amounts often found in electronics that make it very difficult to extract and recycle.

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Blood test could spot Alzheimer’s years before symptoms appear

A new diagnostic test using a few drops of blood could be used detect Alzheimer’s disease years before symptoms begin to show.

By 2050 more than 170,000 New Zealanders are forecast to have dementia – the majority of which will be Alzheimer’s.

Early intervention is the best way to treat the disease, but this is almost impossible as it cannot be diagnosed until symptoms such as memory loss appear.

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The New Zealander of the Year Awards Office is pleased to announce the three finalists being considered for the title of 2018 Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year.

They are…..

Kristine Bartlett: Pay equity campaigner (Lower Hutt)
Mike King: Mental health advocate (Auckland)
Dr Siouxsie Wiles: Microbiologist and researcher (Auckland)

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The booming market of bovine-based pharmaceuticals

A pericardium looks more like a cheese slice than high-value biomaterial suitable for repairing human hearts.

This thin, light, white sheet of collagen – sourced from New Zealand cattle – is fast becoming one of the most sought-after products in the increasingly lucrative biomedical industry.

This thin sac sits around the beating heart of every one of New Zealand’s 10.4 million beef and dairy cattle.

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