Monthly Archives: January 2016

SA receives ALMA Award for curbing malaria

South Africa has been awarded the 2016 African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) Award for Achieving the Malaria Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target.

The award was presented on Saturday and received by President Jacob Zuma during the ALMA meeting for Heads of State and Government of the African Union.

In South Africa, malaria cases have decreased by 82% with deaths also decreased by 71%, since the year 2000 to date.

The decrease in malaria cases is attributed to a sound malaria vector control programme, where the country has used dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane or DDT odourless insecticide for Indoor Residual Spraying, coupled with other World Health Organisation recommended interventions.

“We are honoured to receive this 2016 ALMA Award, which recognises the efforts that our programme in South Africa has made, not only in the past decade, but also investments we have made to fight malaria since the 1940s,” said President Zuma.

President Zuma also noted that whilst SA was delighted at the country’s successes, government will not be complacent in tackling the disease.

“In this regard we have committed to eliminate the disease from within our borders. We are also working with our neighbouring countries to also fight the disease in our neighbourhood,” said President Zuma.

The President is leading a South African delegation to the 26th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU) in Ethiopia.

SOURCE: SOUTH AFRICAN GOVERNMENT NEWS AGENCY

SOUTH AFRICAN WOMEN’S FOOTBALL TEAM WORK ON FITNESS AHEAD OF OLYMPICS

JOHANNESBURG, Banyana Banyana, South Africa’s women’s football team, are hard at work in pursuit of improving their fitness levels at the Nike Football Training Centre in Soweto, Johannesburg, in preparation for the Rio Olympic Games in August.

“We have fallen behind in terms of fitness compared with when we played against Equatorial Guinea in October last year (in qualification for the Olympics),” said Banyana Banyana head coach Vera Pauw Wednesday.

“Our main priority is to keep the fitness levels up. I am glad we are back early in the year so we can get those levels to the highest intensity and to grow even further so we can be fitter and stronger and be able to compete.”

On Tuesday, the players underwent tests conducted by the University of Pretoria. “We are conducting these tests, which will be regular so we can ensure that we keep track and monitor the recovery rate of the players so that we know how much work load we need to put.

When you don’t recover well, it affects your performance. So it is crucial that we get it right,” added Pauw.

As for the playing personnel, goalkeeper Roxanne Barker has left her Iceland club to focus her attention on the preparations for the Olympics. The training programme is jam-packed and will require players to be available full-time.

“It’s nice to see such commitment and players willing to sacrifice so much to be part of the final squad. We have others who have taken leave from work and school and it gives one pleasure to see so much enthusiasm from the players. Many know that this is a once-in-a-life time opportunity,” said the coach.

Meanwhile, midfielder Amanda Dlamini has missed the two camps in the new year because of family commitments. “We would have loved her to be here with us but in this case, family comes first,” the coach said.

“We have given her a training programme that she is following so she can be active and is not left behind too much. But obviously, we would love her to be with us so that she is on par with the other players. She can only do that once she is ready, and we understand her situation.”

SOURCE: SABC

ALGERIAN FM MEETS SOUTH AFRICAN, NIGERIAN COUNTERPARTS

ALGIERS, Jan 27 (NNN-APS) — Algeria’s Minister of State and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, Ramtane Lamamra, has held talks with his South African and Nigerian counterparts in Mekele, Ethiopia, where they are attending the retreat of the Executive Council of the African Union (AU).

The Foreign Ministry said in a statement issued here Tuesday that Lamamra discussed with South African Minister of International Relations and Co-operation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane matters related to the agenda of the AU Executive Council meeting as well as regional and international issues of common interest.

The two ministers welcomed the quality of the political dialogue between Algeria and South Africa, and agreed to maintain the momentum characterizing it at all levels, said the statement.

Bilaterally, Lamamra reviewed with his South African counterpart the status of implementation of the conclusions of the last session of the Algerian-South African Bilateral Commission held in Algiers as part of the State visit by South African President Jacob Zuma at the invitation of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

The two ministers stressed the need to strengthen economic co-operation between the two countries in order to take advantage off the potentials offered by Algeria and South Africa.

LIn his meeting with the new Nigerian Foreign Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, Lamamra re-affirmed the commitment of Algeria to revive and strengthen bilateral relations and expand co-operation between the two countries.”

Ahead of this year’s meeting of the High Algerian-Nigerian Bilateral Commission, chaired by the two Heads of State, Abdelaziz Bouteflika and Muhammadu Buhari, Lamamra agreed with his Nigerian counterpart to give priority to the sectors driving gains of development for Algeria and Nigeria.

“Security co-operation was also on the agenda of discussions between the two ministers, including national, regional and international efforts in the fight against terrorism,” the statement said.

SOURCE: APS

New Malaria Test, illumigene® Malaria, Sets a New Gold Standard for Diagnosis

Meridian Bioscience Collaborates With the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Cheikh Anta Diop University of Dakar to Launch Diagnostic Test up to 80,000 Times More Sensitive Than Current Options

CINCINNATI, Jan. 26, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Meridian Bioscience, Inc. (NASDAQ:VIVO) today announced that it has received the CE Mark for illumigene® Malaria, a novel, highly accurate  test developed by Meridian with the technical assistance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Cheikh Anta Diop University of Dakar, Senegal. The test is up to 80,000 times more sensitive at detecting the malaria parasite than conventional tests, potentially revolutionizing malaria diagnosis and establishing a new gold standard. Using innovative molecular LAMP technology, illumigene results are available in under one hour, and the test is easy to use as it does not rely on high level technical expertise. This is a major step forward for people with malaria as faster, more accurate diagnoses should lead to prompt treatment and better outcomes.  illumigene Malaria will be distributed in the European, Middle Eastern and African regions by Meridian Bioscience Europe and in additional international markets by the Company’s global distribution network.

Despite a 60% decline in malaria deaths since 2000, because of better prevention and increased control measures, malaria is still one of the top three killers of children worldwide claiming one life every minute of every day.  Malaria is no longer only a disease of sub-Saharan Africa and southern Asia. Increasing numbers of people emigrating from countries where malaria is endemic have resulted in a higher incidence in Europe and the Middle East.  The proportion of imported malaria cases has increased during the last few years from 14% to 86% in more recent studies. On pooling the reports, nearly 43% of malaria cases registered in key European centers occurred in non-nationals. The rates of malaria are much higher in settled immigrants who travel to visit friends and relatives (VFRs) in their country of origin. They can account for up to 70% of the cases in several reports and this increase highlights the need for better diagnostic tools in both non-endemic and endemic countries.

illumigene Malaria has the potential to change current practices. Faster and more accurate diagnosis is vital in the fight against malaria. Earlier diagnosis enables the correct treatment to be prescribed which leads to better clinical outcomes for the person with malaria and keeps malaria treatments for the right people.  Because of submicroscopic parasitemia carriage among the populations, a robust, sensitive and field community-deployable screening tool is needed to track the malaria reservoir in pre-elimination regions.  illumigene Malaria shows this capacity,” said Professor Daouda NDIAYE, Department of Parasitology-Mycology, Cheikh Anta Diop University of Dakar, Senegal.

Meridian Bioscience has worked actively with leading experts at the CDC and the Cheikh Anta Diop University of Dakar during the development of illumigene Malaria and collaborated with these organizations to design clinical trials. Data from over 200 patients from Senegal validated the performance of illumigene Malaria. The test demonstrated 100% sensitivity, but more importantly, it also detected infected patients that were missed by conventional methods for the identification of Malaria.

“Patient care is central to Meridian’s work and we consider the needs of all those involved in diagnosis when developing our products. Malaria remains one of the most dangerous diseases in the world both in endemic and increasingly non-endemic countries. illumigene Malaria delivers a high level of sensitivity combined with a quick turnaround time and simple procedure, a combination of attributes that have been lacking in this disease area. Malaria is the tenth assay now available on our illumigene platform that is in use in nearly 1,500 institutions around the world.  We are proud to be able to join the fight against Malaria with our flagship illumigene molecular technology.” said Mike Shaughnessy, Executive Vice President and President of Meridian Global Diagnostics.

Notes to Editors:

About Professor Daouda Ndiaye, PharmD, MsC, PhD

  • Professor Ndiaye is Professor of Parasitology and Mycology and Director of the Senegal African Centre for Excellence on Genomic and Infectious Diseases, based at the University Cheikh Anta Diop, Senegal
  • Professor Ndiaye gained his PhD from Harvard University and is currently a visiting scientist at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases
  • Professor Daouda Ndiaye will be available for interview upon request.

About illumigene® Malaria & LAMP Technology

  • illumigene Malaria is a diagnostic test for malaria developed by Meridian Bioscience. It is a molecular test that uses Loop-Mediated Isothermal Amplification (LAMP) technology to amplify DNA and detect the presence of the Malaria parasite
  • LAMP technology is isothermal and so can be used at room temperature without the need to heat reagents or the material being tested, unlike the rapid diagnostic tests currently used in Malaria which use polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technology. illumigene Malaria does not require refrigeration.
  • Illumigene technology is simple, accurate and easy to use which means that no specialist technical expertise is needed to use the test. Results are available in under an hour.
  • LAMP based illumigene tests are already used to diagnose infectious diseases including C. difficile, whooping cough and Herpes Simplex Virus, where they have proved highly accurate.
  • Illumigene tests have been approved and used in other diseases for over 5 years.

About Meridian Bioscience, Inc

Meridian is a fully integrated life science company that develops, manufactures, markets and distributes a broad range of innovative diagnostic test kits, purified reagents and related products and offers biopharmaceutical enabling technologies. Utilizing a variety of methods, these products and diagnostic tests provide accuracy, simplicity and speed in the early diagnosis and treatment of common medical conditions, such as gastrointestinal, viral and respiratory infections. Meridian’s diagnostic products are used outside of the human body and require little or no special equipment. The Company’s products are designed to enhance patient well-being while reducing the total outcome costs of healthcare. Meridian has strong market positions in the areas of gastrointestinal and upper respiratory infections, serology, parasitology and fungal disease diagnosis. In addition, Meridian is a supplier of rare reagents, specialty biologicals and related technologies used by biopharmaceutical companies engaged in research for new drugs and vaccines. The Company markets its products and technologies to hospitals, reference laboratories, research centers, diagnostics manufacturers and biotech companies in more than 70 countries around the world. The Company’s shares are traded on NASDAQ’s Global Select Market, symbol VIVO. Meridian’s website address is www.meridianbioscience.com.

For news coverage on product information regarding illumigene® Malaria including interview requests and images (photography of Professor Ndiaye’s Senegal clinic is available) please contact:

Contact: 513.271.3700
John A. Kraeutler, Chief Executive Officer

Powerhive announces completion of $20M financing round to support development of off-grid energy access solutions in emerging markets

BERKELEY, California, Jan. 26, 2016 / PRNewswire / — ­Powerhive, an energy solutions provider for emerging markets announced today that the company has closed a $20M Series A financing round, which will support Powerhive’s expansion into new markets in Africa and the Asia-­Pacific, as well as continued growth in Kenya where the company has operated rural microgrids since 2012.

Prelude Ventures led the round, which also includes participation from Caterpillar Ventures, Total Energy Ventures, Tao Capital Partners, Pi Investments, and select other private investors.

Powerhive leverages its proprietary technology platform to develop and operate portfolios of renewable microgrids that supply affordable, reliable, and productive electricity to off-­grid communities in emerging markets. Powerhive’s long-­term and scalable energy access solution drives rural economic development, reduces energy poverty, and results in cleaner, more resilient energy infrastructure in some of the world’s most vulnerable communities.

“We’re thrilled to be working with such a diverse and well­-respected investor base,” said Powerhive CEO Christopher Hornor. “Each investor brings unique expertise and experience, which will prove invaluable as we advance our mission to provide clean energy access to millions of people around the globe.”

“Powerhive has developed a unique platform and business model to address one of the fastest growing electricity markets in the next decade ­ energy access in emerging markets. Bringing sustainable and scalable electricity to these communities will be life changing for millions of people,” said Prelude Ventures managing director Tim Woodward. “We’re very excited about partnering with the company, a global investor syndicate and partners like Enel to scale the Powerhive opportunity.”

The financing round comes on the heels of an announcement last month that Powerhive received an $11M equity investment in the company’s flagship project, which will serve approximately 90,000 people in western Kenya. As the company has demonstrated at its existing microgrids, Powerhive’s electricity service supports the use of productive equipment and vital community services such as health clinics and schools.

About Powerhive
Founded in 2011, Powerhive is a leading microgrid solutions provider and developer whose proprietary technology platform and business model enables the development, financing, and management of bankable solar microgrids in emerging markets. The California based company has offices in Nairobi and Manila, and received early backing from First Solar. To learn more, visit powerhive.com.

About Prelude Ventures
Prelude Ventures is a venture capital firm based in San Francisco that invests in highly innovative companies capitalizing on the significant market opportunities in the cleantech sector. Prelude focuses specifically on companies that can have a material impact on the carbon intensity of the global economy. Founded in 2009, the fund is flexible relative to the stage, size and structure of our investments. To learn more, visit preludeventures.com.