Daily Archives: May 5, 2017

Taconic Biosciences Expands Microbiome Portfolio

Germ Free BALB/c Mice Facilitate Discovery of New Therapeutics

HUDSON, N.Y., May 04, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Taconic Biosciences, global leader in genetically engineered mouse models and associated services and the only commercial provider of germ-free mice, announced it has added Germ Free BALB/c mice to its microbiome portfolio.  The new product expands Taconic’s existing collection of germ-free animal models, which includes C57BL/6 (Black 6) and Swiss Webster mice.

The BALB/c inbred strain is commonly used for antibody production and vaccine efficacy studies.  It is also widely used in adoptive transfer studies such as adoptive transfer colitis models and syngeneic tumor studies for immuno-oncology research. Taconic offers Germ Free BALB/c mice as an off-the-shelf product, with study cohorts available for immediate worldwide delivery.

“BALB/c have been an unmet need in terms of germ-free strain availability,” said Dr. Alexander Maue, Taconic’s portfolio director for microbiome products and services. “The BALB/c inbred strain displays Th2-biased immune responses, as opposed to the Th1 bias in C57BL/6 mice, opening a whole new range of studies. Availability of germ-free mice in quantities relevant for drug discovery accelerates development of microbiome-focused therapeutics.”

Germ-free mice, also referred to as axenic mice, contain no microflora. These mice can be associated with specific human or mouse flora, or mono-associated with particular bacteria. Germ-free mice are the ideal substrate for performing fecal microbiota transplants (FMT), a service provided by Taconic. Following FMT, Taconic also offers husbandry services to accommodate studies of all sizes and lengths including options for isolators and state-of-the-art individually ventilated cages (IVCs).

Study of the microbiome has become a prime focus of drug discovery, as evidence mounts demonstrating the connection between a person’s flora and their health. Science magazine named the microbiome their breakthrough of the year in both 2011 and 2013 and the microbiome topped Cleveland Clinic’s medical innovations list for 2016. Taconic’s microbiome platform provides key products and services to study this connection.

To learn more about Taconic’s microbiome solutions, visit Taconic.com/microbiome or contact us at 1-888-TACONIC (888-822-6642) in the US, +45 70 23 04 05 in Europe, or at [email protected].

About Taconic Biosciences, Inc.

Taconic Biosciences is a fully-licensed, global leader in genetically engineered rodent models and services. Founded in 1952, Taconic helps biotechnology companies and institutions acquire, custom generate, breed, precondition, test, and distribute valuable research models worldwide.  Specialists in genetically engineered mouse and rat models, precision research mouse models, and integrated model design and breeding services, Taconic operates three service laboratories and six breeding facilities in the U.S. and Europe, maintains distributor relationships in Asia and has global shipping capabilities to provide animal models almost anywhere in the world.

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Kelly Owen Grover
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(518) 697-3824
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Myanmar’s Magwe Government Confirms Return of Funds in Embezzlement Scandal

The chief minister of central Myanmar’s Magwe region on Friday confirmed the receipt of 8 billion kyats (U.S.$ 5.8 billion) in missing money by the region’s previous leader in an alleged embezzlement of regional development funds.

Magwe Chief Minister Aung Moe Nyo told a press conference that former Chief Minister Phone Maw Shwe and Kyi Tun, chairman of the Shwe Thukha Microcredit Association and chairman of the Magwe Division Development Foundation, returned 3 billion kyats (U.S. $2.2 million) on Thursday and another 5 billion kyats (U.S. $3.6 million) on Friday.

They transferred this money to the Magwe regional government’s bank account, he said.

We are keeping the returned money in an account, and we will use it according to the rules and regulations of the region if it’s needed, he said.

Questions about the money arose a year ago when a lawmaker from Magwe’s Pwintbyu township asked parliament about the alleged embezzlement of regional development funds collected as taxation from small-scale oil producers in Magwe region by the previous regional government.

An investigation by the Bureau of Special Investigations under the Ministry of Home Affairs found that 7.5 billion kyats (U.S. $5.5 million) was missing, more than 3 billion of which had been spent on the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), which was then in power.

Regional government investigators are still reviewing a claim of 4 billion kyats (U.S. $2.9 million) that was supposedly used for regional development in Magwe.

The Magwe regional government has asked the Magwe Region Special Investigation Department to work on where and how the 4 billion kyats were used, because the public wants to know about it, Aung Moe Nyo said.

The ruling government under the National League of Democracy (NLD) party sent letters dated April 18 to Phone Maw Shwe and Nyi Tun asking them to return 3.2 billion kyats (U.S. $2.3 million) that had been transferred to the Shwe Thukha Microcredit Association during the previous government’s term along with four motor vehicles, a backhoe, and two boats that had been donated to the USDP through the Magwe Division Development Foundation.

Meanwhile, the online journal The Irrawaddy reported that the USDP will not take action against Phone Maw Shwe because he has returned the funds.

Ayeyarwady region funds

The scandal has prompted lawmakers in other regions to raise questions about government funds.

Meanwhile, Zeya Min Thein, a lawmaker from Pyapon township in Ayeyarwady region, told RFA’s Myanmar Service on Friday that that the former USDP government did not transfer any development funds to its successor.

Such funds are earmarked for providing power to the region and for the building and maintenance of clinics and roads in villages, he said.

When a regional parliament committee asked about the funds, Ayeyarwady’s social minister responded that the Office of the Auditor had been notified about the matter, and in turn informed the relevant authority to clarify the issue.

I asked a question about this development fund, and the Ayeyarwady region’s social minister answered, saying that the regional government hasn’t received any yet and will investigate the matter, Zeya Min Thein said.

Copyright (copyright) 1998-2016, RFA. Used with the permission of Radio Free Asia, 2025 M St. NW, Suite 300, Washington DC 20036

Amid Speculation of China Tilt, US Reaffirms Ties with Myanmar

YANGON � A senior State Department official said the United States continues to enjoy a very good relationship with Myanmar, amid speculation that the country is tilting toward China and even though de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi skipped a chance to meet Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Washington this week.

Tillerson hosted foreign ministers from the region Thursday, a gathering meant to reinforce the strategic partnership between the United States and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), according to the State Department.

In a call with reporters in the region, W. Patrick Murphy, the deputy assistant secretary for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, dismissed suggestions that Suu Kyi’s absence was anything other than a scheduling conflict.

I want to emphasize that the United States and Myanmar, Burma, enjoy a very good relationship, Murphy said. The U.S. still calls the country Burma, which the military government changed to Myanmar in 1989.

Letter to Tillerson

Murphy said Suu Kyi’s national security adviser represented Myanmar and that he delivered a letter to Tillerson from Suu Kyi, though he did not elaborate on what the letter said.

He came with an explanation that State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi unfortunately had a previous commitment to international travel. She’s been in Europe this week. And that commitment was made before the meeting with the foreign ministers in Washington was arranged.

Barred from the presidency by a military-drafted constitution, Suu Kyi assumed the role of foreign minister and state counselor when her party came to power last year following democratic elections that ended more than two decades of military rule.

She had a close relationship with the Obama administration, which lavished attention upon Southeast Asia in general and Burma specifically, dropping remaining sanctions against the country.

President Donald Trump’s administration has made efforts of late to reach out to ASEAN leaders. In addition to the Tillerson meeting, Trump issued separate invitations to Thai leader Prayuth Chan-ocha and Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte to the White House, raising protests from human rights advocates.

Prayuth has presided over an increasingly draconian Thailand, while Duterte unleashed a war on drugs that has killed thousands.

Beyond human rights abuse?

Those invitations, combined with the lack of attention paid toward Myanmar and Trump’s withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact, have created the impression that the administration is willing to look past human rights abuses while also suggesting a lack of vision for the region.

The meeting Thursday was dominated by talk about disputed parts of the South China Sea and North Korea. Tillerson reportedly urged member states to distance themselves from Pyongyang.

Contrary to the clarity and pro-activity of the Obama administration policies toward Southeast Asia (TPP, human rights, etc.), Trump’s policies toward ASEAN, and indeed toward Myanmar, have been bogged down in ambiguity, slow transfer of presidential power, State Department budget cuts and Trump’s publicly spouted prioritization of ‘America First,’ Paul Chambers, a lecturer at the College of ASEAN Community Studies in Thailand, said in an email.

It is small wonder that Myanmar seems to currently be tilting toward China. Why not? Beijing is eagerly offering huge amounts of investment and ODA [Official Development Assistance] while the Trump administration appears lost in interpreting its own foreign policy.

Myanmar and China

Myanmar recently inked an agreement to send oil to China via a pipeline, while China has been a factor in peace talks with ethnic armed groups.

Last month, a Chinese official told the news agency the government could help mediate a dispute between Myanmar and Bangladesh. Tens of thousands of Rohingya Muslims have crossed into Bangladesh fleeing a deadly crackdown by Myanmar’s military as it seeks to rout a militant group responsible for attacks on border guard posts in October that killed nine police officers.

Earlier this week, however, a senior official with Myanmar’s ministry of foreign affairs told that we don’t promote relations with any country at the expense of another.

Source: Voice of America

Amid Speculation of China Tilt, US Reaffirms Ties with Myanmar

YANGON � A senior State Department official said the United States continues to enjoy a very good relationship with Myanmar, amid speculation that the country is tilting toward China and even though de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi skipped a chance to meet Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Washington this week.

Tillerson hosted foreign ministers from the region Thursday, a gathering meant to reinforce the strategic partnership between the United States and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), according to the State Department.

In a call with reporters in the region, W. Patrick Murphy, the deputy assistant secretary for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, dismissed suggestions that Suu Kyi’s absence was anything other than a scheduling conflict.

I want to emphasize that the United States and Myanmar, Burma, enjoy a very good relationship, Murphy said. The U.S. still calls the country Burma, which the military government changed to Myanmar in 1989.

Letter to Tillerson

Murphy said Suu Kyi’s national security adviser represented Myanmar and that he delivered a letter to Tillerson from Suu Kyi, though he did not elaborate on what the letter said.

He came with an explanation that State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi unfortunately had a previous commitment to international travel. She’s been in Europe this week. And that commitment was made before the meeting with the foreign ministers in Washington was arranged.

Barred from the presidency by a military-drafted constitution, Suu Kyi assumed the role of foreign minister and state counselor when her party came to power last year following democratic elections that ended more than two decades of military rule.

She had a close relationship with the Obama administration, which lavished attention upon Southeast Asia in general and Burma specifically, dropping remaining sanctions against the country.

President Donald Trump’s administration has made efforts of late to reach out to ASEAN leaders. In addition to the Tillerson meeting, Trump issued separate invitations to Thai leader Prayuth Chan-ocha and Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte to the White House, raising protests from human rights advocates.

Prayuth has presided over an increasingly draconian Thailand, while Duterte unleashed a war on drugs that has killed thousands.

Beyond human rights abuse?

Those invitations, combined with the lack of attention paid toward Myanmar and Trump’s withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact, have created the impression that the administration is willing to look past human rights abuses while also suggesting a lack of vision for the region.

The meeting Thursday was dominated by talk about disputed parts of the South China Sea and North Korea. Tillerson reportedly urged member states to distance themselves from Pyongyang.

Contrary to the clarity and pro-activity of the Obama administration policies toward Southeast Asia (TPP, human rights, etc.), Trump’s policies toward ASEAN, and indeed toward Myanmar, have been bogged down in ambiguity, slow transfer of presidential power, State Department budget cuts and Trump’s publicly spouted prioritization of ‘America First,’ Paul Chambers, a lecturer at the College of ASEAN Community Studies in Thailand, said in an email.

It is small wonder that Myanmar seems to currently be tilting toward China. Why not? Beijing is eagerly offering huge amounts of investment and ODA [Official Development Assistance] while the Trump administration appears lost in interpreting its own foreign policy.

Myanmar and China

Myanmar recently inked an agreement to send oil to China via a pipeline, while China has been a factor in peace talks with ethnic armed groups.

Last month, a Chinese official told the news agency the government could help mediate a dispute between Myanmar and Bangladesh. Tens of thousands of Rohingya Muslims have crossed into Bangladesh fleeing a deadly crackdown by Myanmar’s military as it seeks to rout a militant group responsible for attacks on border guard posts in October that killed nine police officers.

Earlier this week, however, a senior official with Myanmar’s ministry of foreign affairs told that we don’t promote relations with any country at the expense of another.

Source: Voice of America