GM cow milk ‘could provide treatment for blood disease’

Paulo Rebêlo 15 July 2004 Source: SciDev.Net [RECIFE] Researchers in Brazil are attempting to create genetically modified cows whose milk could be used to produce drugs to treat blood disorders such as haemophilia, an inherited disease which results in blood not clotting properly. If successful, these would be the first transgenic animals with medical applications to have been created in Brazil. The scientists expect their first transgenic cow to be born within three years. It will carry a human gene for a protein that encourages blood clotting. This protein will then be extracted from the cow’s milk for use in drug development, a process that could take five years. “It’s much easier to extract this type of material from milk,” says project coordinator Rodolfo Rumpf. The entire process consists of three stages: embryo production, genetic modification of embryo cells, and transfer of modified embryos into cows that will act as ‘surrogate mothers’. Rumpf says he expects to obtain the transgenic embryos this year and transfer them to cows some time next year. According to José Manuel Cabral Dias, head of biotechnology and genetic resources at Embrapa, the ministry of agriculture’s research institution, the programme began eight months ago and is

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Brazil eases rules on scientific imports

Paulo Rebêlo 25 June 2004 Source: SciDev.Net Brazil has announced a programme that is intended to make it easier to import scientific equipment and materials into the country. Called ‘easy science import’ (importa fácil ciência), the programme will attempt to meet demands from researchers to reduce the amount of bureaucracy that is involved in bringing scientific equipment into the country (see Red tape on imports ‘is stifling Brazilian research’). Under the programme, scientists who register with the Council of Scientific and Technological Development will be able to take advantage of financial and administrative benefits — such as exemption from import fees and taxes — that are currently enjoyed by non-profit institutions. According to the council, any scientist attached to a research institution or centre will be eligible, and about 10,000 students holding scholarships from the council have been automatically registered. The maximum value of scientific equipment that can be imported has been raised from US$3,000 to US$10,000. And the process will be further streamlined by the fact that the postal authorities will handle the customs paperwork for imported goods, subsequently delivering equipment to the scientists who have ordered it. Brazil’s minister of science and technology, Eduardo Campos, believes that, as

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Brazil launches DNA bank for endangered plants

Paulo Rebêlo 16 June 2004 Source: SciDev.Net Brazil has opened a DNA bank to preserve genetic material of its endangered plant life. Its goal is to help protect rare plants threatened by extinction in a country that has the world’s greatest variety of plant species. The DNA bank, which is based at the Jardim Botânico (Botanical Garden) in Rio de Janeiro, employs five researchers. They plan to collect at least 1,000 plant species each year to ‘deposit’ in the bank. Samples of specimens will be dried out and have DNA samples extracted, after which they will be frozen and stored. Plants in several areas of Brazil are currently under threat. Perhaps the most dramatic decline in plant diversity has occurred along Brazil’s coast, especially in the southeast, where a large area of botanically-distinct forest — termed ‘Atlantic forest’ — once existed. After decades of mining and urban growth, only one per cent of the original forest remains. But the Amazon forest, in northern Brazil, which holds the greatest number of plant species in the country, is also threatened by deforestation. A report published last year by Brazil’s National Institute of Space Research (INPA) says that 25,000 sq km of forest

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Chile seeks to cross digital divide

Paulo Rebêlo 5 May 2004 Source: SciDev.Net Chile’s government has launched a wide-ranging programme to increase the use of computers and boost the role of information technology (IT) in the country’s economy. As part of the initiative, the government aims to establish fast Internet connections in all universities, and at least 80 per cent of schools, by 2006. The Digital Agenda initiative, which aims to transform Chile into a digital country by the year 2010, will seek to attract foreign investment into the country’s technology sector in order to promote IT development. It also includes projects to increase Internet access, improve computer training, and develop e-commerce activities. As part of the initiative, the country’s laws and regulations on new technologies will be revised to make each of these goals easier to achieve. In addition, at least one million people will be trained in digital technologies in the next two years. And to increase the number of homes with Internet access, the initiative will reduce the price of computers and broadband services. At the official launch of the initiative, Chilean President Ricardo Lagos said that increasing the use of computers and boosting Chile’s IT sector would help to enrich the country’s

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Red tape on imports ‘is stifling Brazilian research’

Paulo Rebêlo 20 February 2004 Source: SciDev.Net [RECIFE] Brazilian scientists are campaigning to reduce the bureaucracy involved in bringing scientific equipment into the country. In a declaration to be presented shortly to the ministry of science and technology, more than 300 Brazilian researchers state that “countless scientists have been waiting for years to receive equipment. Customs policies produce a lot of bureaucracy just to obtain a few microlitres or a simple reagent”. The scientists call for new customs procedures that simplify and reduce the cost of bringing equipment and reagents into the country. Import taxes on scientific equipment should be abolished, and systems should be put in place to ensure that all equipment takes no more than 24 hours to pass through customs, they say. According to Stevens Kastrup Rehen of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and the US-based Scripps Research Institute, delays are so severe that by the time scientists receive reagents the chemicals have often expired. “And when we get our hands on equipment, it’s already outdated,” he says. “Fees to import and store equipment aren’t cheap and, what’s worse, they are being paid with government money as part of research grants,” adds Rehen, who currently

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Brazil secures cheaper access to scientific journals

Paulo Rebêlo and Katie Mantell 30 January 2004 Source: SciDev.Net [RECIFE] The Brazilian government has negotiated a US$5 million reduction in the fees it pays to allow many of the country’s researchers to gain free access to electronic versions of a large number of scientific journals. The government’s ‘journal website’ (Portal de Periódicos), allows researchers across the country to access the full text of thousands of international journals, magazines and databases covering a broad range of subjects. Last year, the government funding agency responsible for the website, known as CAPES (Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Staff), paid a total of US$20 million in individual agreements with international publishers in order to provide access to their publications through its website. But as a result of recent negotiations, CAPES will this year pay one quarter less. In addition, CAPES has also secured an increase of almost a third in the amount of content available through the website, meaning that now 4,800 journals can be read through the system. “Science is a part of our natural human heritage,” says Roberto Bartholo from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, who led negotiations with publishers. “Every country or institution that wishes to

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Brazil’s young scientists face job shortages

Paulo Rebêlo 14 January 2004 Source: SciDev.Net [RECIFE] A failure by the Brazilian government to provide much-needed new teaching and research posts in universities is preventing many researchers with doctoral degrees from finding suitable employment. This is the conclusion of a report published last month by the Brazilian Society for the Advancement of Science (SBPC), based on statements from universities, public institutions and thousands of unemployed new PhD holders. The report, which was written by the SBPC’s regional division in Rio de Janeiro, recommends a number of moves to improve the situation. In particular it says that new efforts should be made to encourage private companies and universities to hire new PhDs. “Brazil needs a strategy to educate business people on the importance of high-skilled researchers in their companies,” says Luiz Carlos Scavarda do Carmo, coordinator of development projects at Pontifícia Catholic University in Rio de Janeiro. Maria Eulália Vares, SBPC’s secretary in Rio de Janeiro, says that a particular challenge is the regional variation in the number of jobs available for those holding doctoral degrees. “Some regions tend to face more difficulties than others when it comes to providing work for new PhD holders,” she says. “This has to

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UMap 1.8

Paulo Rebêlo | agosto.1999 Quantos sistemas de busca você conhece? Com certeza, muitos. Altavista, Yahoo, Infoseek, Hotbot, WebCrawler… e mais algumas dezenas que você nunca nem ouviu falar. Todos parecem usar um sistema parecido e armazenar milhares de páginas inexistentes. Fazer uma pesquisa na Web é pra lá de frustrante. Procurar um texto, notícia, ou documento sobre determinado assunto, pode tornar-se uma árdua tarefa, principalmente quando o sistema de busca exibe 20.000 registros de páginas cadastradas. Passadas horas de cliques e cliques, você não acha o que estava procurando. Pelo contrário, termina esquecendo o que tinha em mente e vai navegando por páginas sem nenhuma ligação com o assunto anterior.

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