Teixobactin – the first new class of antibiotic in decades

Scientists have discovered a potentially powerful antibiotic that can kill some of the most dangerous “superbugs” — serious infections that are resistant to blackjack tables standard medications.

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Superbugs, which can’t be killed by antibiotics, are a growing threat to public health, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sickening 2 million Americans a year and killing 23,000. Researchers have warned that the world is at risk of entering a “post-antibiotic” era in which patients could die from formerly treatable infections and even routine surgeries could become dangerous.

Developing new antibiotics has been a challenge, partly for financial reasons. Finding and testing antibiotics can take a decade and more than $1 billion. Many pharmaceutical companies have shied away from this research because of the huge cost and financial risk.

Finding new antibiotics has also been scientifically difficult.

Bacteria found in things like bread mold make their own antibiotics, which they use as chemical weapons to kill rival germs. For 70 years, researchers have used this microscopic arms race to fight infections in humans.

Although dirt is filled with germs, scientists until now haven’t been able to grow these bacteria in a laboratory – a key requirement for studying and testing them. Scientists were able to coax only about 1% of soil bacteria to grow in a lab dish.

Now, scientists led by Northeastern University in Boston have invented a “contraption” to grow germs that could allow them to study about half of soil bacteria, vastly increasing the pool of drug candidates, according to researcher Kim Lewis, coauthor of a study published in Nature.

Lewis and colleagues used a device they call the iChip, which sorts individual bacterial cells harvested from soil into tiny chambers. Scientists then bury the iChip back in the ground, where molecules from the soil seep into the chamber, giving the bacteria the sort of environment in which it naturally likes to reproduce.

The transplanted bacteria “are essentially tricked. They don’t know anything has happened to them,” says Lewis, a professor at Northeastern. Once the bacteria have begun growing in the iChip, they seem to have no trouble continuing to reproduce in a lab dish, he says.

Researchers tested 10,000 compounds and found 25 new antibiotics, although only one – which they call teixobactin – stands out, says Lewis, who is working with a biotech company called NovaBiotic Pharmaceuticals, located in Cambridge, Mass.

That’s because teixobactin killed a dangerous bug called MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, in mice. Teixobactin also killed a type of drug-resistant tuberculosis. But teixobactin was unable to kill one of the worst of all superbugs — a deadly infection called Klebsiella pneumoniae, which has evolved to resist all known antibiotics.

In mouse studies, Teixobactin showed 100% efficacy against MRSA sepsis and in thigh infections, and was very active against S. pneumoniae in lungs. No toxicity was seen against the mammal cells tested, no hemolytic activity, and it did not bind DNA, so the researchers are optimistic about its likely toxicity.

The Immigration Accountability Executive Action (IAEA) Summary

application process will probably start in the spring

no requirement to pay back taxes for deferred action parents

1. Parents of US citizens and lawful permanent residents will now be eligible for deferred action is they have been present since 1/1/2010 and have five years of total presence in the US.

Applicants will be subject to background checks

Estimated population benefit will be 4.4 million.

2. DACA expansion

Upper age cap will be eliminated and people of any age can apply if they meet the other requirements.

Physical presence date advanced to 1/1/2010 (same as above).

Applications likely going to be accepted in spring 2015.

Enforcement

The Morton memo is being replaced with an interagency memorandum that sets out new enforcement priorities.

Three groups

A. Serious threats – suspected terrorists, felons and gang members as well as recent entrants (people who came after 1/1/2014).

B. Significant misdemeanors and multiple misdemeanors – basically, mirroring current DACA guidelines.

C. People who ignored removal orders and reenter the US after 1/1/2014

Individuals who don’t fit in to these groups, but also don’t qualify for IAEA will be eligible for prosecutorial discretion.

The victims of crime memorandum is not being rescinded.

Secure Communities being replaced by Priority Enforcement Program. Under PEP, ICE can put a request in for a local law enforcement agency to detain an individual. It will no longer be automatic.

Legal Immigration Reforms

1. Pre-registration will be available to allow people adjustment of status benefits when an I-140 is approved but no priority date is available. (estimated to benefit 400,000)

2. Using advance parole will not trigger inadmissibility.

3. Parole in place being expanded to

a. certain entrepreneurs
b. enlistees in the military

4. National interest waiver category being broadened via guidance to include foreign entrepreneurs

5. Adjustment “same or similar” portability language being made more user friendly.

6. Optional Practical Training – authorized period of work authorization being lengthened and broadened beyond STEM.

7. PERM – will be modified to make cases move “more easily”

8. 601(a) waivers will be expanded to lawful permanent resident spouses (limited to unlawful presence).

9. “extreme hardship” standard being modified.

There will be a presidential memo and a task force created. More changes may be coming when actual memoranda and regulations are issued.

Timing – some items will be immediate and others will be phased in.

What didn’t make it in tonight’s list –

– parents of DACA

– spouses of USCs and LPRs (though 601(a) waiver changes may take care of many

– changing the way derivatives are counted for green cards

– changes to the H-1B program including easing affiliation rules, cap gap relief for doctors, Neufeld memo easing

Why should anyone develop Tizen app for smart TV?

down_tizenSamsung is hoping to make it easier for developers to build apps for its smart TV devices. As part of that effort, the consumer electronics giant has decided to enable developers to leverage the Tizen operating system to do so.

http://www.samsungdforum.com/TizenDevtools/Sdkdownload

The SDK is aimed at courting web developers to build apps for smart TVs, but also to enable more cross-platform apps within its ecosystem of devices.

Samsung has been trying to increase developer interest in Tizen for years, placing the Linux-based operating system in a number of its devices. That includes mobile phones like the Samsung Z and its Galaxy Gear watches.

The company touts cross-platform HTML5 and JavaScript support as the main reason for adopting Tizen, which could enable developers to bring web apps quickly onto its devices. But by putting Tizen into everything from phones to smartwatches to TVs, Samsung also stands to benefit from a bit of cross-platform, cross-device applications.

The Colorado Super Shale

In September 1860, a prospector named Gabriel Bowen was on a hunting/trapping expedition when he encountered the strong odor of petroleum.

He followed the scent until he stumbled on a spring, where he later told the local newspaper, “Oil flowed at a rate of 5 gallons per hour.” Bowen quickly staked a claim on the location, and the site became known as “Oil Spring” because of its numerous naturally occurring oil seeps that stretched for miles. The field would later become legendary in America, supplying a large part of the U.S. with oil for decades.

Florence_web

Mind you, the discovery wasn’t in the oil-rich states of California, Texas, or even in Pennsylvania, where America’s first-ever oil well was drilled in Titusville just a year prior. No, this oilfield was discovered in the northeastern part of Colorado, where the Ute Indians had been using oil from the seeps for centuries to make medicine and seal baskets. The oilfield was named Florence. And truth be told, it’s the second oldest field in the U.S., making it one of the oldest in the entire world. And at its height in 1892, it was America’s most prolific oilfield, producing in excess of 3,000 barrels per day.

But check this out: Florence is still producing to this day. In fact, it has helped Colorado’s oil production reach a 51-year high.

And it shows no signs of slowing down.

So how can a 154-year-old oilfield still be producing?

Two reasons:

Drillers are going back into the formation, using state-of-the-art fracturing technology. He didn’t know it at the time, but when Gabriel Bowen discovered the oilfield in 1860, he discovered the largest oil-producing formation on the planet. I’m dead serious. The oil region I’m about to tell you about is bigger than the Bakken, the Eagle Ford, the Permian, and even Saudi Arabia’s Ghawar… combined. That’s why the $10 billion global research and consulting firm IHS recently called the field the “King Kong” of the oil industry. Late last year, Whiting Petroleum — one of the basin’s largest operators — told the Denver Post, “There’s a tremendous amount of oil in place.” And Noble Energy, another operator in the basin, said, “We are still finding out how big this is going to be.”

But ABC News summed it up best when it reported, Read that last part again… we’re talking about an oil play bigger than all of OPEC. And it’s right here in the good ole US of A.

I’m not exaggerating when I tell you it’s the mother of all shale plays. That’s why I’ve dubbed it “Super Shale.”

And it’s the sole reason the U.S. is about to become an oil and gas empire, bar none.

US is set to surpass Saudi Arabia on oil production

The United States became the world’s largest natural gas producer in 2010 and is streaking past Saudi Arabia to become the world’s largest producer of petroleum liquids, according to the International Energy Agency. Despite scare tactics by the Left that a “peak oil” event took place in the 1990s and global production was in terminal decline, the U.S. in the last three years has experienced the fastest growth in oil and gas production in the history of the planet.

The United States surpassed all other countries this year with daily crude oil and other petroleum liquids reaching 11 million barrels per day (mbd). Since the beginning of 2011, U.S. liquid fuels grew by more than 4 mbd, including 3 mbd of crude oil. The growth of U.S. production has been the “main factor counterbalancing the supply disruptions on the global oil market” and “has contributed to a decrease in crude oil price volatility since 2011”, according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA). Most analysts assumed July 2008’s production of 81.73 mbd as the world oil production peak, including crude oil, lease condensate, oil sands, and natural gas plant liquids. If natural gas plant liquids and oil sands were excluded, analysts would have deemed 2005 to be the peak at 72.75 mbd.

Peak oil became the rallying cry for the United Nations at their 2010 Cancun climate change meeting. Many influential academics from the British Royal Academy called for “Second World War-style rationing in rich countries to bring down carbon emissions” and to maintain emerging market growth. The U.N. demanded developed nations’ subsidized “investments” in renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind, rise to $1 trillion a year by 2030. However, despite the supposed crisis, world oil production continued to rise to a record 92.6 mbd in June of 2014 and demand now exceeds supply by over 1 mbd. Half of that increase in oil production came from the United States and Canadian development of “tight oil” from hydraulic fracturing of shale deposits and mining of oil sands deposits. U.S. production of oil could have been another 1.5 mbd higher, but booming U.S. oil and natural gas production overwhelmed the nation’s pipeline and rail-tanker infrastructure. Over-supply has caused a decline in gas drilling and has led to a supply glut of oil. The spot prices for West Texas Intermediate crude at the Midland, Texas hub now sells for an $8 discount to the price at the Cushing, Oklahoma hub, which is selling at a $9 discount to the “Brent crude” international price.

Cheap energy is beginning to drive a boom in metals-based manufacturers. The EIA’s Annual Energy Outlook 2014 projects that “shipments for metals-based industries will increase substantially from 2012 to 2040 due to the increased availability and lower cost of natural gas.” EIA expects growing international competitiveness of the U.S. based metal industries will spur innovations that will “contribute to growth, particularly in the computers and electronic products and transportation equipment industries.”

Oil drilling was pioneered in the United States in 1859 when “Colonel” Edwin Drake drilled down 57 feet at Oil Creek Pennsylvania to find “rock oil” in commercial quantities. America remained the world’s largest oil producer from 1870 to 1970, before being passed by the Middle East in the 1970s and Saudi Arabia in 1991. During that period, American domestic oil at a third of world costs drove U.S. manufacturing dominance.

Oil production was also the deciding factors in America’s victories in both World Wars in the 20th Century, where oil was 50% of all European shipments. According to U.S. Commanding General Omar Bradley, “Amateurs study tactics, professionals study logistics.” Once the U.S. lost its “comparative advantage” in energy costs, about half of American manufacturing jobs were lost as U.S. companies went off-shore to stay competitive with cheap labor. But by regaining its position as the world’s dominant oil and gas producer, America seems destined to again be that economic “Shining City on a Hill.”

Apple’s innovation

For years, Samsung & LG have been teasing the public with bending display.

Well, Apple has beat Samgung & LG to the punch by introducing the world’s first bending smartphone.

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This is not all.

By upgrading to iPhone’s operating system, IOS 8.0.1, you will lose your ability to make voice calls or even access the phone.

This is a revolutionary idea!! Instead of using your iphone 6 as a smartphone, you can use it as a mp3 player & listen to music.

iOS_update

Startup Secrets Every Entrepreneur Should Know

startup-secrets

Startup Secret #1: Don’t be afraid to say “no” more than “yes.”

As a startup, you will be defined as much (or more) by what you say “No” to as what you say “Yes” to. Perhaps the single most important Startup Secret is to find your focal point. As an entrepreneur, you are naturally inclined to be ambitious, and to want to tackle any and all challenges. However, as you build your company, focus in on domains, segments, problems and other areas where you can specifically and uniquely differentiate yourself from the competition and gain repeatable traction. Don’t fall into the trap of being all things to all people: doing so can delay, distract or even lead to failure for your enterprise.

Startup Secret #2: Recognize what is right “4U”

As you work to position your startup and develop your Value Proposition, focus on addressing what I like to call the 4Us:

  • Is the problem Unworkable? Does your solution fix a broken business process where there are real, measureable consequences to inaction? Will someone get fired if the issue is not addressed? 
  • Is fixing the problem Unavoidable? For example, is it driven by a mandate with implications associated with governance or regulatory control?
  • Is the problem Urgent? Is it one of the top three priorities for spend? 
  • Is the problem Underserved? Is there a conspicuous absence of valid solutions to the problem you’re looking to solve?

To bring this to life, in a recent Startup Secrets workshop on value proposition, we featured a storage company whose ability to address the 4Us has propelled them to the top of their industry. The company explained how they uniquely addressed each of the 4Us:

  • Unworkable – There was no way to solve the problem with conventional storage architectures;
  • Unavoidable – Every enterprise with data to be accessed and protected creates the problem;
  • Urgent – Consuming the majority of storage budgets in an environment of constrained IT resources;
  • Underserved – Big players have a concrete dis-incentive to tackle in a way that serves the customer.

Startup Secret #3: Think in 3D

Once you have determined the problem your venture is solving, define your solution. The most immediate question to ask is: What is your compelling breakthrough? A useful approach is to think of 3Ds: What unique combination of Discontinuous innovation, Defensible technology and Disruptive business model are you bringing to bear, and what makes it truly compelling?

  • Discontinuous innovations offer transformative benefits over the status quo by looking at a problem differently.
  • Defensible technology offers intellectual property, for example, that can be protected to create a barrier to entry and an unfair competitive advantage.
  • Disruptive business models cause an “innovators’ dilemma” and/or yield value and cost rewards that help catalyze the growth of a business.

A fascinating example of 3D impact is around Google and how it changed the game for Microsoft. Years ago, Microsoft was dominant. However, through a disruptive business model, simple (defensible) technology and innovative applications, Google has (and continues to) significantly cut into Microsoft’s business. Examples of Google’s 3D impact in action include Google Docs versus Microsoft Office and the disruptions of the phone business from Blackberry to iPhone to Android.

“Faster, cheaper and better” is likely a temporary advantage that is easily overcome by a competitor with deep pockets, but building an innovative business model can be a game changer.

Startup Secret #4: Look for non-disruptive disruptions

Evaluate the potential for success using the Gain/Pain ratio, which involves measuring the gain you deliver a customer versus the pain and cost for a customer to adopt, as illustrated in the diagram below. As an investor, I look for non-disruptive disruptions: technologies that offer game-changing benefits without requiring major modifications to existing processes or environments.  Simply put: disruptive innovation should not be disruptive to adopt.

Non-disruptive is critical because whatever gain you deliver will be discounted by the pain of adopting your solution PLUS the inertia of vendor risk that every startup levies by the virtue of being small and unknown. A successful venture delivers an order of magnitude improvement over the status quo. If you can’t deliver a 10x promise, customers will typically default to “do nothing” rather than risk working with a startup or risk changing their current configurations.

I’ve created many case examples for startups that have experienced great success employing the Gain/Pain ratio methodology. From mobile app management leaders’ offerings  to the largest web discussion platform, the Gain/Pain ratio can prove useful across a broad spectrum of industries.

Startup Secret #5: Focus on a blatant, critical need. Ask: “Is it BLAC and White?”

Ideally, you want to be in the position of addressing problems that are blatant and critical (especially for B2B), as those problems are far more acute than ones that are latent and aspirational. Blatant and critical problems stand in the way of business. They put careers and reputations at risk. Latent problems are unacknowledged, which means they often require costly missionary selling. Aspirational problems are optional, which is often the hardest place for a startup to sell.

Companies that view their value proposition through a “BLAC and White” lens are able to accelerate growth considerably. In fact, the same storage startup I referenced in Secret #2 did just that. They addressed blatant and critical storage issues tied to geometric data growth, unmet recovery times and the unwieldiness of petabyte-scale “Big Data.” The company addressed a white space that called for a solution that would address the “root cause” of the copy data problem. The result? Customers have embraced the new concept and the company has been on an upward trajectory ever since.

Startup Secret #6: If you are going to pick a fight, pick a BIG fight

Big problems can lead to big opportunities. It often requires just as much work to go after a small market. Significantly painful problems are the source of great opportunity for entrepreneurs and have the potential to turn into really valuable solutions. They may not be easy to solve but often lead to true innovation.

The key is to look around, get in front of a mega-trend and then look to solve a related major problem or issue in order to fully leverage that trend.

 Startup Secret #7: Focus on your Minimum Viable Segment (MVS)

I find too many entrepreneurs who follow the lean methodology stuck in a product spin and become consumed with their Minimum Viable Product. While I often hear about the importance of product/market fit, I don’t believe enough consideration is given to the market side of this equation.  While the MVP is critical, it’s missing its dance partner, what I call the Minimum Viable Segment(MVS).

Supporting Startup Secret #1, don’t be afraid to say no, MVS is about focusing on a market segment of potential customers that have the same needs into which you can repeatedly sell. Defining and focusing on your MVS is vital because without it, potential users who have divergent needs will quickly pull your MVP in many different directions. In addition, since securing strong reference customers is critical in the early days of your Go to Market activities, you want them to reference each other, and they can’t if they don’t have the same needs.

In fact, one of the companies in my portfolio, Demandware, placed a significant emphasis on segmentation to find its initial customers. They remained true to the guiding principal of starting small within a niche before getting big within that market. With a goal of delivering with distinction, they focused on segments within segments, including high-growth retailers and brands within the segments luxury, home and lifestyle. Aligning the efforts of their sales and marketing teams behind that focus, they started with one brand; then that brand ambassador would talk to friends. Endorsements grew within retail segments and then beyond.  Focusing on their MVS has today enabled them to break through the two billion dollar valuation mark.

Startup Secret #8: Hire for CQ (Cultural Quality)… do QC (Quality Control) 

Ideas are worth very little without people to execute them, a culture to guide the selection of talent and a big, bold vision to attract and unify the team. Human capital is what separates good companies from great ones – which is why establishing a strong culture to attract and retain the right people, while unifying them behind an inspiring vision, is essential to any significant venture.

When evaluating a potential new hire for CQ, you need to ask yourself: does this person naturally align with your cultural values, work ethic and style of working? As part of this process, you should feel comfortable with (or better yet, inspired by) their passions, beliefs and aspirations.

There are specific interview questions designed to help you assess CQ, which you can find here. The result of being mindful of CQ? A hire who will be additive to the culture you’ve worked hard to establish and who will have a positive impact on company morale and success.

A great example of culture fueling success is that of Amazon: the company’s physical manifestation of thrift underscores its approach to business.  In fact, Jeff Bezos and the “door desk” came to symbolize Amazon’s frugal culture, which has been at the core of the company’s success.

Startup Secret #9: Hire 3 As (attitude, aptitude, and ability) and 3+s (+aware, +authentic, +athlete)

We all want to hire ‘A’ players – and this can be accomplished by looking at three important ‘A’s:

  • Ability – Does the person have the right balance of IQ and Experience, Knowledge and Skills (EKS) required for the job?
  • Aptitude – Being able to rapidly adapt and learn new skills and knowledge.
  • Attitude – Pursuing breakout opportunities requires the right attitude toward things like problem solving, persistence, and participation in a team.

Taking things a step further, most want to extend the notion of A players to look for A+ players. These attributes can vary based on role, but the three A+ traits I look for are: Athletes who are Self-Aware and truly Authentic:

  • Athletes often triumph over experience and possess the agility to adopt to change.
  • Self-Aware people are easy to work with, are open about their self-professed strengths and weaknesses, work well with others and are amenable to mentoring and coaching.
  • Authentic people are genuine in all they do and demonstrate a sincere passion for their roles.

Startup Secret #10: Incomplete stand outs are better than complete stand ups!

Many entrepreneurs think they need to have all answers, when, in fact, they don’t – especially when they seek funding. The nature of venture capital is high-risk. Part of that risk is not knowing the answers before you start. As VCs, we’re fine with the unknown, as long as people have the self-awareness and conviction to work through challenges as they arise. In fact, we expect there to be many gaps in thinking, in a variety of areas ranging from team strategy to business model during a company’s early stages.

Overall, it’s easy to start a company, but hard to start a business. From capital constraints to sales challenges, one needs to be able to accept that not having all of the pieces at the onset is okay, and these elements can be built out as you grow, as long as you have a clear roadmap and unifying culture.

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