Monthly Archives: November 2015

Researchers Have Found a Vital Key to How Malaria Grows

close up portrait of young medical researcher looking through miGlobally, malaria is responsible for almost 500,000 deaths annually.

After years of research, scientists have finally found the key to malaria growth. According to researchers, the growth of the virus comes down to cyclins, protein molecules that make cells divide rapidly for the malaria parasite.

Previous efforts to fight malaria have proved effective. Since 2000, for example, the rate of malaria infections in Africa have been cut in half. But according to the BBC, the findings from the study, led by a group of researchers from the University of Nottingham, could lead to great strides in the treatment and prevention of malaria worldwide.

In general, a cyclin is considered one of the most vital protein molecules needed for the process of cell division — and this isn’t only for malaria parasites. In fact, cyclins have been studied in humans, plants, and yeasts, and for these organisms, their cell development was better understood than that of malaria parasites.

But now, the research, recently published in PLoS Pathogens, is able to not only classify the number of cyclins present in malaria parasites but the type, too.

Bill Wickstead is a researcher at the University of Nottingham’s School of Life Sciences, and was one of the individuals responsible for identifying the three distinct cyclin genes found within the malaria parasite.

Compared to humans, this is a significantly smaller number of cyclins present. According to Dr. Wickstead, they cause an “exciting type of cell division.”

In order to figure out exactly what happens to a cyclin in malaria parasites, Professor Rita Tewari conducted an in-depth analysis of the proteins. She ultimately found that cyclins found in malaria parasites cause the cells to divide at a faster rate and spread throughout the body at an alarmingly fast rate.

Lead author of the study Dr. Magali Roques, feels the research will help to “definitely further our understanding of parasite cell division, which I hope will lead to the elimination of this disease in the future.”

Facebook and Instagram Have a Plan To Make You Like Their Ads

Local Business - Marketing Concept for Small BusinessIn many ways, Apple, Google, and Facebook are the Big Three of Silicon Valley, although companies like Amazon and Twitter might disagree. Earlier this year, Apple drew a line in the digital sand when it announced that some ad blocking software would be allowed on its operating system and devices.

In response, Google announced a major initiative to speed up mobile web browsing. Many ad-blocking users report slow load times as their reason for using the service in the first place. Now, Instagram — acquired by Facebook in 2012 — is tackling ad blocking on a different front.

On Tuesday, November 10, Instagram reported that it would work with 41 separate marketing partners to improve the advertising experience on its app.

In some ways, commercials and advertisements are the green vegetables of the media world. Whether they’re on TV, radio, streaming services, or your smartphone, few consumers enjoy consuming advertisements. While some advertisers might like to treat ad blocking consumers like children who won’t eat their veggies — by shoving the ads down their throat — Instagram is taking the spoonful of sugar approach.

While some consumers do use ad blocking, digital advertising is increasing in both efficacy and total revenue in 2015. One study found that up to 65-70% of consumers have visited a store after seeing a local search ad online, and online political advertising is expected to play a bigger role than ever in the upcoming 2016 election. By making advertisements more palatable to its users, Instagram can charge more for access to its platform. In effect, Facebook and Instagram want users to eat their veggies (and like it).

“[The marketing partners] help solve a wide variety of business challenges — whether it’s driving more installs for a new mobile gaming app, or driving in-store foot-traffic during the holidays,” reads a new Instagram blog post. “We have partners available to help drive both brand and performance objectives across a wide range of businesses.”

And that’s just the beginning; Instagram plans to work with at least 100 different marketing partners to improve ad campaign management, user experience, ad engagement, and content marketing.

Riding a wave of increased digital advertising and higher mobile use in general, Instagram reached two major milestones this year as a company. The Instagram app now has more than 400 million active users, and according to Director of Marketing Operations Jim Squires, Facebook and Instagram combined account for one in every five minutes spent on a mobile device around the world.

Facebook has every reason to take a proactive approach to negating the effects of ad blockers. In Facebook’s most recent third-quarter earnings report, the company reported mobile revenue of $3.4 billion, or 78% of Facebook’s entire advertising operations.

Email Marketing Monolith ‘Constant Contact’ Bought for $1.1 Billion

business email marketing content on mobile backgroundEndurance International Group Holdings Inc. announced on Nov. 2 that it would be acquiring the email marketing company Constant Contact Inc. for $1.1 billion.

Endurance provides web-hosting services to small- and medium-sized businesses, according to the Wall Street Journal, and it agreed to pay Constant Contact $32 per share (which was 23% higher than its $26.10 per share closing price on Friday).

According to Venture Beat, Endurance explained that it been discussing the possible acquisition since late 2014. Although the $1.1 billion sale was slightly higher than the company’s value, Endurance stated that it expects the combined revenue to grow by 10-12% next year once Constant Contact is acquired.

Endurance is hoping that the email services provided by Constant Contact will help the company offer better hosting services to small, independent businesses.

Constant Contact was founded in 1995 and has been a driving force behind the industry of email marketing, Beta Bostonstated.

Considering that email marketing is still one of the most cost-effective online marketing strategies (it yields about $44.25 for every $1 spent, on average), and considering that email usage on mobile devices has increased by 80% in just six months, it’s no surprise that a marketing company like Endurance would be interested in this industry.

Endurance, based in Burlington, MA, already owns over 40 smaller hosting companies in the U.S. and abroad, including BigRock, HostGator, and FatCow.com. It was born in 1997 and serves around 4.5 million small- and medium-sized businesses, according to Beta Boston.

Both Endurance and Constant Contact claim that at least 70% of their clients are businesses with fewer than 10 employees.

The acquisition of Constant Contact is expected to take place during the first quarter of 2016, pending shareholder and regulatory approvals.

5,000 Flyers on Michigan Campus Accuse Football Star of Knowingly Passing on Chlamydia to Female Partner

caduceus isolated on white background

caduceus isolated on white background

University of Michigan football players typically get plenty of media coverage, especially when they’re considered “star players” like defensive back Jabrill Peppers is.

But Peppers got a rather unwelcome blast of attention recently after one woman posted 5,000 flyers around campus, stating that Peppers had given her chlamydia.

In fact, the female student stated that Peppers had given her the sexually transmitted infection not just once this year, but twice.

The student, who still remains unnamed, composed a scathing 660-word “open letter” to Peppers, whom she had previously dated. According to Elite Daily, thousands of copies of the letter were posted throughout Michigan’s Mason Hall on campus.

According to the New York Daily News, the 20-year-old freshman footballer had just made his debut on the Michigan Wolverines team two weeks earlier. Hailing from New Jersey, Peppers was named the Air Force National Sophomore of the Year in 2011 while he was in high school.

Peppers told his 48,000 Twitter followers that he thought the “slander” was “crazy,” although he hasn’t provided any other comments on the letter yet.

According to the author of the letter, Peppers had engaged in sexual acts with her and at least one other female partner, all while he knew that he had chlamydia and could infect his partners.

“I cannot stomach to see your face again knowing that you’re infecting other young women unbeknownst to them, which as you may know, is a felony,” the letter reads. “I know that you get checked every six months.”

“The sad part is, I don’t know exactly when you infected me again. The other sad part is I don’t know how because on my end, I was always monogamous. Being monogamous with your a** has gotten me the same STI in one year. ‘That’s how diseases get passed around,’ right?”

The most commonly-transmitted STI today is chlamydia, and even though it can be treated effectively with antibiotics, it rarely shows any symptoms in its earliest stages. In other words, many women are infected with chlamydia for weeks without even knowing it.

Only about 38% of young women are tested for chlamydia each year, even though the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that there were around 1.3 million cases of chlamydia in 2010.

Although chlamydia is treatable when caught early, it can still cause lasting damage to the female reproductive system. Along with substantial chronic pain and inflammation, chlamydia can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, fatal ectopic pregnancies, and infertility.

China Moves Ahead with Expanded Shale Gas Exploration Amidst Global Plunge in Energy Prices

oil pumpjack in operationUncertainty in the global oil market isn’t stopping China from expanding its shale gas exploration even further, and the country will be targeting private oil companies to purchase acreage in upcoming auctions.

According to Bloomberg, China’a Ministry of Land and Resources is set to announce details of future shale gas auctions within the next few months, despite falling oil prices and a general lack of demand for Asian shale development.

China plans to auction 40 parcels of land located across the country that they claim to have great potential in shale exploration. Experts view China’s decision as misguided, due to the dwindling interest and available funding for private oil companies.

“It may not be the best time for private companies to bid for shale parcels,” said He Sha, a professor at Southwest Petroleum University. “Falling oil prices, shrinking government subsidies and a lack of technology, among other things, will hurt private companies’ chances to succeed in shale gas exploration.”

Despite the hesitance of private companies to invest in Chinese shale parcels, the global demand for shale gas production is predicted to increase exponentially in the next several decades, making American parcels appealing to savvy investors.

The Energy Information Administration projects that shale gas production will rise to 13.6 trillion cubic feet by 2035, which would represent nearly 50% of all U.S. natural gas production.

Another reason that China’s decision has puzzled industry experts is its announcement to cut subsidies for shale gas developers from 2016 to 2020. Investors will have to pay a premium for shale exploration in the area, and private companies often don’t have the financial backing to cover these increased expenses.

According to Reuters, China is also delaying new crude oil contracts until next year, amid turmoil in the stock market. While originally planned for October of this year, experts now predict that China will wait until early 2016 to begin challenging global oil titans, including London’s Brent and the West Texas Intermediate.

As China begins to expand its shale gas exploration, one is forced to wonder if the country’s challenging geology combined with an uncertain energy market will have an effect on bids during the upcoming auction.