Japanese researchers develop 30-minute Ebola test

TOKYO: Japanese researchers said Tuesday they had developed a new method to detect the presence of the Ebola virus in 30 minutes, with technology that could allow doctors to quickly diagnose infection.

Professor Jiro Yasuda and his team at Nagasaki University say their process is also cheaper than the system currently in use in west Africa where the virus has already killed more than 1,500 people.

“The new method is simpler than the current one and can be used in countries where expensive testing equipment is not available,” Yasuda told AFP by telephone.

“We have yet to receive any questions or requests, but we are pleased to offer the system, which is ready to go,” he said.

Yasuda said the team had developed what he called a “primer”, which amplifies only those genes specific to the Ebola virus found in a blood sample or other bodily fluid.

Using existing techniques, ribonucleic acid (RNA) – biological molecules used in the coding of genes – is extracted from any viruses present in a blood sample.

This is then used to synthesise the viral DNA, which can be mixed with the primers and then heated to 60-65 degrees Celsius (140-149 Fahrenheit).

If Ebola is present, DNA specific to the virus is amplified in 30 minutes due to the action of the primers. The by-products from the process cause the liquid to become cloudy, providing visual confirmation, Yasuda said.

Currently, a method called polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, is widely used to detect the Ebola virus, which requires doctors to heat and cool samples repeatedly and takes up to two hours.

“The new method only needs a small, battery-powered warmer and the entire system costs just tens of thousands of yen (hundreds of dollars), which developing countries should be able to afford,” he added.

The outbreak of the Ebola virus, transmitted through contact with infected bodily fluids, has sparked alarm throughout western Africa and further afield.


Parliament should be on trial, not Imran: Hashmi tells NA

KARACHI: In what ultimately was Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf president Javed Hashmi’s resignation speech, the leader pulled no punches as he roundly criticised Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for neglecting parliament, and PTI chairman Imran Khan for compromising it.

In the process, he reinforced his own stature as a dissident, loyal only to democracy, the Constitution, and the state, while reiterating that it isn’t Imran Khan that should be scrutinised, but Parliament.

In a fiery half hour speech that was at times long winded, Hashmi hardly reserved his ire for one party, or one person in particular. In fact, his speech was a harsh reminder to the entire Parliament of the danger it is currently in.

Hashmi began with historic precedent. He talked about the abuse that Parliament had sustained over the years by military coups and despotic leaders. He talked about how Ghulam Muhammad, after dismissing the Constituent Assembly in 1954 “buried” Pakistan’s first Constitution, “Pakistan’s best,” according to Hashmi.

He also displayed a fair degree of remorse over Pakistan’s actions that eventually led to the creation of Bangladesh by implying that a strong Parliament ought to have accommodated Sheikh Mujibur Rehma, the leader of East Pakistan’s Awami League.

But his anger was reserved for both, powers within Parliament and without. He issued a stern warning to the MNAs and Senators attending the joint session, including Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif himself.

“The system to make and break governments from the inside exists. It exists,” he said to applause. He wasn’t just referring to conspiracies, but the alleged neglect and frivolity with which parliamentarians, including the prime minister himself, have treated Parliament.

Banging on his desk in anger, he said, “In 14 months, why didn’t the prime minister go to the Senate? Why didn’t he go? [The senate] is not a joke.”

“When you ignore the Senate, when you ignore the National Assembly, you’re going to hear voices that say, ‘bring the walls down’” Hashmi said, alluding to the protests that have engulfed the capital for the past few weeks.

He took pains to establish his own credentials as a maverick, and as someone who spoke truth to power. He alluded to the seven years he spent in jail, and his history of dissent against party and national leaders, including Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, Ziaul Haq, Nawaz Sharif, and most recently, Imran Khan.

“I told him, Khan Sahib, you’ve got the entire country standing on its feet. In two or three years, elections will be the solution. But you, you’re suggesting we demolish first [forcing Nawaz to resign], and then come forward?”

“I believe in one struggle, and that is the people’s struggle,” he said. He framed the Model Town violence on June 17, in which 14 people were killed, as one of those struggles, and unleashed a torrent of anger over delay in its investigation.

“People ask me when I’ve spoken now and not before. I have been fighting against every fault that I have found in my party.” After coming out strongly against Imran on Sunday, Hashmi all but ended his association with the PTI.

“When the people gathered outside to destroy these walls, I asked Khan Sahib. I asked him, ‘how can you stand for this? Their demands are against what you stand for.”

“All my life, I will always be looking for the way to Parliament. The day I forget it, I’ll be lost,” he said.

Hashmi lamented a weak Parliament throughout his speech, and blamed his fellows MNAs for not doing enough to solve Pakistan’s problems.

“There are people leaving Fata right now without clothes on their backs. Who’s going to help them? This parliament is meant to help them,” Hashmi said, visibly incensed.

“But every time a prime minister is elected, the prime minister himself wants Parliament to just die.”

He charged MNAs themselves too. “What kind of people are these? What kind of MNAs?”

“Today’s Parliament is not a parliament to solve people’s problems. We just come here, take our seats and seize them,” he said.

Ending with a flourish, he said, “I hand in my resignation. I’m going back to the Pakistani people.”

At the end of his speech, a beaming Nawaz Sharif rose to greet Hashmi, before the speaker adjourned the session until Wednesday.

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