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DNA and RNA Isolation — The Dipstick Technology Does It In 30 Seconds!

DNA and RNA isolation for studies are used for long and tedious processes done in the laboratory. A new technology from the University of Queensland in Australia now allows extraction and isolation of DNA and RNA in less than 30 seconds. The technology works in the field without the need for any of the traditional cumbersome equipment.

DNA and RNA Isolation During Field Research

According to Professor Jimmy Botella and Dr. Michael Mason, the dipstick technology will benefit people in the study of agricultural, health, medical and environmental problems. It has already been used in plantations in Papua New Guinea in the diagnoses of trees. It has also been applied to diseases in livestock and in human samples, as well as in pathogens in food and E. Coli-contaminated waters.

Even though it was designed for use in plant samples, the research team found it could also successfully purify DNA from other plant samples, as well as from human blood, and pathogens from infected plants and animal samples. Compared to the older system, the dipstick technology for DNA and RNA isolation is portable, faster, simpler and cheaper. Anyone can use it with minimal training. Being portable, it also works in the field, a hotel room or any clinic.

a cartoon of an open field with eight cows grazing and a small image of a hand holding a dipstick amid the discussion of the Dipstick technology for quick DNA and RNA isolation

Simplicity of the Dipstick Technology

The dipstick itself is made of a cellulose-based paper and is roughly the size and shape of a cotton bud. It separates the RNA and DNA—hence, DNA and RNA isolation —from any sample tissue. This technology thus enables the separated RNA or DNA testing for common diseases or pathogens, including HIV, hepatitis as well as cancer cells.

In other words, the dipstick enables the separation of RNA and DNA and allows the study of samples for specific characteristics. Notably, human disease detection is one area where this technology is useful.

On DNA Purification

RNA and DNA purification requires RNA and DNA separation—or DNA and RNA isolation. DNA separation minimizes the possibility of cross-contamination from other DNA or non-DNA contaminants and also increases the stability of the sample during long-term storage. Traditionally, the first step in purification is to break open the cells to expose the DNA. A detergent removes the cell’s membrane lipids, followed by the use of alcohol to precipitate the DNA. The introduction of protease removes the protein while RNase removes the RNA.

On RNA Purification

RNA purification involves different steps from those for DNA. The cells are first disrupted, followed by the addition of a reducing agent. Then it is shaken vigorously. This step breaks the disulphide bonds and also represses any contaminant protein in the sample. The addition of phenol and chloroform-isoamyl alcohol separates RNA from the sample solution. This case yields an aqueous phase, which goes to a separate tube and isopropanol, followed by the addition of a centrifugate solution—thus, causing a precipitate to form. Notably, using 75 percent ethanol to wash the sample removes any impurities. Since RNA is less stable than DNA, it is separated only prior to immediate use. The laboratory staff follows quality assurance procedures ensuring purified RNA with no contamination, as the presence of RNase compromises quality.

The Bottom Line

Formerly, the above procedures were only done in a lab to ensure that contamination does not occur. Indeed, with its ability for quick DNA and RNA isolation, the dipstick technology ensures that the samples are properly separated even in the field.

Niido Powered by Airbnb is Branching out to Apartment Home Sharing

Airbnb is one of the few online marketplaces that has raised the bar high in the world of e-commerce. In spite of all its significant contributions, such as providing fair prices and outstanding listings, the California-based company is evolving and is set on making more innovations.

The trusted community marketplace is currently adapting practices from the industry of real estate, leading to the establishment of Niido Powered by Airbnb project in October. It is a co-branded apartment project by Airbnb and Newgard Development Group. The latter is a real estate company that offers real estate investments, construction, development, marketing, and sales. The collaboration is geared towards supporting home sharing and flexible living in communities across the Southeastern United States.

 

According to Jaja Jackson, Airbnb’s Director of Global Multifamily Partnerships, “This partnership shows how landlords, developers, and Airbnb can work together to create value for everyone and better serve tenants. The team at Newgard is leading the way, and we’re thrilled to work with them. Together, we’re making it easier for more hosts to share their space, and giving guests access to more affordable options when they travel.”

Plans to reach the goal of having at least four apartment complexes under Niido powered by Airbnb project by the end of the year are underway. Authorities mentioned that they would start construction for the first apartment building in the first quarter of 2018.

The first building will have 324 units and will be located in Kissimmee, Florida. The groups will range from 750 to 1200 square feet in design. Though it is not yet confirmed, reports have suggested that other locations for the Niido powered by Airbnb project would be in Tampa, Fort Lauderdale, and Miami.

SilverPeak Real Estate, a multi-strategy investment platform, and Brookfield Property Partners, an alternative asset manager that owns, invests, and operates in real estate properties, have recently invested up to $200 million into the Niido Powered by Airbnb project.

The upcoming apartment building in Florida will receive the first $20 million from the investment.

What to Expect from the Niido powered by Airbnb Project?

The new units under the project will have quality features for tenants like the following:

  • Doors will have keyless entry systems.
  • There are shared common spaces.
  • The tenants of Niido will sign annual leases.
  • Tenants will have the rights to home-share individual rooms or even their whole unit through Airbnb for up to 180 nights per year.
  • There will be an application that is fully incorporated with Airbnb.

The Niido powered by Airbnb project application can let tenants remotely manage the guest stays using asking services from a ‘MasterHost.’ A master host will help out with items such as linen services and guest check-ins.

Tenants who choose to share their rooms or units, will be part of the Friendly Building Program of Airbnb, which was launched in September 2016. The program lets landlords and hosts share revenues that are made from home-sharing.

Newgard will be the one to own the buildings, and Airbnb is just going to help out with the overall design concept and the services.

It Should Not Be an Issue

Harvey Hernandez, the CEO of Newgard Development Group, is aware that a lot of people are misinterpreting the bold idea behind the Niido powered by Airbnb project. It is something that he wants to address closely.

Hernandez and Jackson both stipulated that the Niido Powered by Airbnb project is not based on a hotel format because the experience is different. The hosts or tenants can provide customized experiences for each of their guests.

Another issue that centers around the establishment of Niido powered by Airbnb project is the effect it brings to the apartment industry. Niido could probably alter the apartment business model, and it will have an impact on corporate housing unit reserves.

But according to Rick Haughey, the Vice President of Industry Technology Initiatives for the National Multifamily Housing Council, there is nothing negative about it. He added that “It has the potential to disrupt the apartment industry and potentially the apartment lease, which traditionally has been long term. This may bring about more flexibility with the lease.”

Airbnb is obviously up for a great start with its new real estate venture. Companies like the Association of Independent Hospitality Professionals and ThinkReservations, a firm that helps businesses increase their revenue and saves time, are on their way to back the trusted community marketplace.

Chris Lehane, Airbnb’s Vice President of Global Policy, was pleased to announce that the two companies will team up with them to make it easier for businesses offering bed and breakfasts to include their rooms on the platform of Airbnb. In this way, users will have plenty of choices for staying.

The establishment of Niido Powered by Airbnb project is just the beginning for the trusted community marketplace. With the help of different investors, sooner or later, Airbnb will reach its prime in the apartment industry.

 

Egg-Free Scrambled Eggs

Hampton Creek, a San Francisco-based food company selling plant-based food, recently revealed their egg free scrambled eggs. The product, a bold idea already years in the making, cost the company a lot of time and plenty of challenges before the new “scrambled eggs” were ready for public consumption.Hampton Creek's Egg Free Scrambled Eggs

After a somewhat chaotic year filled with various financial losses and even a few executives leaving the company, Hampton Creek is finally getting back on track with a new influx of investment funds. Famous for its brand of cookie dough, eggless mayonnaise, and other vegan food and condiments, the company revealed Just Scramble as their newest plant-based product.

Not the First, But the Best

The company strongly believes that while its vegan egg free scrambled eggs are not the first of its kind, they are the best. Just Scramble is a yellow liquid that when cooked in a frying pan, fluffs just like actual eggs do. However, majority of the composition is from mung bean.

Hampton Creek has plans of rolling out their Just Scramble products to restaurants, beginning with a few local ones in San Francisco. Eventually, they plan to distribute to groceries and food service distributors. Flore, a café in San Francisco’s Castro district, is the first restaurant to use Just Scramble in their menu.

Hampton Creek is betting customers will be on board as well, mainly due to the product’s sustainability, and its health-giving properties. First, it is free of cholesterol and antibiotics; because it is vegan, there is no risk of avian contamination such as salmonella and avian flu. Lastly, it is eco-friendly because it requires less water and has fewer carbon emissions compared to regular eggs.

The main question people might be asking is, “how do these ‘eggs’ taste like?” Hampton Creek is proud to say their product tastes, looks, and scrambles just like a normal egg – there is ideally nothing to sacrifice when it comes to texture and flavor. The only possible challenge would be its pricing, as normal eggs cost around $1.05 per dozen, on average. Just Scramble, while not expensive, costs between $4 and $6 – at par with the price of a dozen free-range eggs, according to Hampton Creek co-founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Joshua Tetrick.

“It’s not a product just for conscious consumers,” the CEO mentioned. “It’s not a product just for people who care about the environment or animal welfare. It’s something for everyone.”

While the mung bean-based scrambled egg substitute is not revolutionary in the sense of being the first of its kind, Just Scramble is the first that mimics the taste and feel of real eggs. There have been other egg replacements before from other companies, such as those created from potato and tapioca starch, and even chia seeds and garbanzo beans. Other vegan egg substitutes that came before it reportedly lacked in taste and texture, something Hampton Creek made sure would not happen to their product.

The Sustainability and Health Benefits of Egg Free Scrambled Eggs

There has always been a debate as to whether eggs were healthy or not, at least, for human consumption. Some experts correlate it to heart disease especially for people with high cholesterol and other heart health issues, while others believe eating it is healthy as long as the egg has been hard boiled so the yolk is well done.

However, eggs are bad for the health of the planet – something that tugs on Hampton Creek’s philosophy that global egg production is unsustainable. It was found that it requires around 39 calories of energy to farm just one calorie’s worth of egg protein, a stark contrast not many people are aware of since eggs are relatively cheap.

It turns out, chicken manure excretes an excess amount of phosphorous and nitrogen that ends up polluting rivers, as well as ammonia from the henhouses that pollutes the soil. With 59 million tons of eggs produced in 2007, a number expected to increase dramatically by 2030 according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, this is definitely not good for the planet.

Going vegan, at least partially, helps. Eating too much meat in general is bad for the health; experts found that most Americans eat red meat almost every day but not in moderation. Producing meat takes its toll on the environment, just like egg production. While the company’s efforts on creating clean meat is still in the backburner and the eggless eggs take center stage, Tetrick says they are “really close”, and they feel their version of meat substitutes will be out this 2018.

For now, their focus is on their egg-free scrambled egg substitutes. “Wherever an egg is cracked or wherever an egg is scrambled, we want to be there,” Tetrick mentioned. He is expecting the cost of production to go lower as time passes, and is optimistic about the success of their venture. “As long as we’re focused on doing the right thing, we’ll deal with it and continue to grow,” he said.

E-Bikes: Transforming the Future of Transportation

Electric powered bicycles, known to most people as e-bikes, are motorized versions of bicycles that today are shifting the future to a more wallet-friendly and eco-friendly means of transportation. With the ongoing problem of traffic jams affecting not only peoples’ budgets but also their overall well-being, it comes as no surprise that the e-bike is a prospective option for more and more people today. In addition to serious bicycle riders, even casual riders and commuters are looking into the idea, thus creating a bold impact not just for the transportation industry, but also for society in general.

China is unsurprisingly the largest e-bike market, and has been since the year 2000. Due to their traffic and pollution problems, people there have switched to regular and electric bikes for nearly two decades. Sales of e-bikes have skyrocketed from a measly 300,000 units in the year 2000 to nearly 33 million last year. In addition to solving ecologic and health-related problems, their e-bikes are generally more affordable than those available to the rest of the world, costing only around $250 to $450 each.

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e-bikes infographic

The price range of e-bikes in China is relatively cheap compared to that in the US and Europe, which is one of the reasons it has gotten extremely popular there, helping the country lead the worldwide e-bike revolution. China’s e-bikes cost less than $500 a piece, but unfortunately the quality is often substandard. The latter two, however, offer more durable e-bike options, albeit more expensive as they go anywhere between $1,300 to $5,200, and with several brands and models even reaching the 5-digit dollar cost. Regardless, e-bikes in both Western regions are still expected to grow rapidly.

Some of the more popular e-bike brands dominating the industry include: Pedego Electric Bikes, X-Treme, iZip, Specialized, Rad Power Bikes, and Gi Fly.

Compared to conventional bikes, e-bikes allow riders to travel longer distances with minimal effort and faster speed. As such, the e-bike is a practical replacement for cars, due to less space and zero emissions, leading to less traffic and pollution especially in big countries. Compared to cars, and even motorcycles and mopeds, an e-bike can provide green transportation that is energy-efficient. Cars use about 15,000 watts of electrical energy, while e-bikes only use less than 100 to 150 watts. It is projected that e-bikes will consume only 36.45 billion watts by 2020, compared to cars which will use up 3.65 trillion watts – that is a 9,900% difference that will have an impact on the environment, and people’s budgets as well.

In the US, e-bikes doubled its growth in value compared to last year, reaching 31.8 million dollars in just the first six months of 2017. In Europe, they expect the e-bike market to exceed 13 billion dollars by 2024.

Creating a Transportation Revolution

Experts and commuters everywhere have been looking into various solutions to worsening traffic problems for years. These include various bold ideas such as the various Hyperloop projects, as well as looking into carpooling. In fact, carpooling and ride sharing has been growing exponentially for the past few years, especially in large cities such as Boston and New York City, creating a billion-dollar industry from practically zero back in 2012. Nevertheless, the dark horse in the situation is the e-bike, in tandem with the use of bikes in general for transportation and not just exercise or recreation, thus revolutionizing transportation in an unexpected way.

What started as a bold idea of adding a small motor to aid a rider in pedaling, is now fast becoming a phenomenon not just in the US but all over the world. It has become such a successful industry, that the 32 million worldwide e-bike sales back in 2014 has blown up to 133 million in 2017. It is projected that there will be over 243 million more e-bike units sold by 2020 all over the world.

Research shows that 46% of regular bikes are used around once or twice a week, while 81% of e-bikes are used in that same frequency. In addition, 33% of e-bikes are used every day. This massive increase in bike usage, especially in e-bikes, may reduce emissions and save a significant amount of money. A study by the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy suggest e-bikes could reduce emissions by 47% thus allowing up to $128 trillion saved by 2050.