Exporting Mitochondria Helps Stem Cells Repair Cell Damage

A research team in Delhi, India, has identified a protein that increases the transfer of mitochondria from mesenchymal stem cells to lung cells.

The delivery of mitochondria to human lung cells can rejuvenate damaged cells, they found.

The migration of mitochondria from stem cells to epithelial cells also helps to repair tissue damage and inflammation linked to asthma-like symptoms in mice.

The results show that the movement of mitochondria from stem cells to recipient cells is regulated by the protein Miro1 and is part of a well-directed process.

The introduction of mitochondria into damaged cells has beneficial effects on the health of cells and, in the long term, mesenchymal stem cells could even be engineered to create more effective therapies for lung disease in humans.

Earlier work revealed that mitochondria can be transferred between cells through tunneling nanotubes, thread-like structures formed from the plasma membranes of cells that bridge between different types of cells. Stem cells can also use tunneling nanotubes to transfer mitochondria to neighboring cells and the number of these nanotubes increases under conditions of stress.

In the study, the protein Miro1 was shown to regulate the transfer of mitochondria from mesenchymal stem cells to epithelial cells. Stem cells that were engineered to have higher amounts of Miro1 were able to transfer mitochondria more efficiently and were therapeutically more effective when tested in mouse models of airway injury and asthma, compared to untreated cells.

The researchers hope to determine how this pathway might translate into better stem cell therapies for human disease.


Vault of Satoshi Gets Full Money Services License for Canada

Canadian bitcoin exchange Vault of Satoshi announced it has gained a full Money Services Business license in its native country, after spending “some time” in a probationary period. The license is national, allowing the company to operate in every province of Canada as it serves clients located in most countries around the world.

The company is also applying for a license with the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC), saying it wants to be a “legal, transparent and reliable exchange […] to be a positive part of the ever evolving cryptocurrency legal landscape here in Canada.”

It’s a dash of good news for Vault of Satoshi, which at the beginning of March announced “a temporary and voluntary withdrawal from the United States, due to the challenging legal/political landscape for a foreign entity operating in the cryptocurrency space.” It also added that it was working day to day with legal experts and striving towards re-entry into the US market in a secure, legal and reliable manner. Vault of Satoshi was critical of the US Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), which it claimed had been opaque about compliance requirements.

Vault of Satoshi exchanges USD and CAD for digital currencies in any country other than those on its blacklist, which contains the usual financial world suspects plus the US, Thailand and Iceland.


French tax minister accused of operating secret Isle of Man bank account

Former French Budget and Tax Enforcement Minister Jerome Cahuzac is accused of operating a secret bank account in the Isle of Man, as well as the Swiss account to which he has already confessed.

Cahuzac’s account with Swiss bank UBS was exposed by the French news website Mediapart in December 2012. He sued the magazine for defamation but was subsequently forced to confess its accuracy and resign. Prosecutors found that the undeclared account contained EUR600,000 when it was secretly moved to Singapore in 2009.

The French authorities are now conducting a formal criminal investigation of Swiss private bank Reyl & Cie, which is alleged to have helped Cahuzac. Charges have been brought against the company and two of its directors.

The new allegation, which emerged during the judicial investigation of Cahuzac, comes from his wife Patricia Menard, who is divorcing him. She has alleged that the account was opened between 1997 and 2004, in order to channel EUR2.5 million of investment into the London property market. The investigating magistrates have set up an enquiry in London to try and trace these investments.

The complexity of the evidential trail means that Cahuzac’s trial is not expected to take place until next year at the earliest.

• The Cahuzac scandal also inspired a new package of stringent anti-avoidance measures that came into force last June, along with new rules forcing government ministers to disclose their financial interests.

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U.S. tech companies use offshore cash to invest in gvt debt

U.S. tech giants are using cash from low-tax offshore subsidiaries to buy U.S. government debt, resulting in the United States making significant interest payments to those same subsidiaries, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ) reports.

Apple, Microsoft, Google and Cisco Systems collectively hold $254.9 billion in cash in foreign subsidiaries which, should it be repatriated back to the United States, would incur corporate income tax at 35 percent, the London-based not-for-profit organisation said.

Those same tech companies have used their offshore cash piles to invest $163.2 billion into U.S. sovereign and U.S. government agency debt, the IBIJ said, citing U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission disclosures.

“This is a ridiculous situation. The result is US taxpayers pay interest on this money as opposed to the government receiving taxes,” professor of law at University of Michigan, Reuven Avi-Yonah, said in statement released by the BIJ.

“Bringing this cash onshore and taxing it at 35 percent would significantly help reduce the annual deficit of the US government,” he added.

There is no suggestion that any of the companies’ activities are in any way unlawful.

Questioned by the BIJ about their use of offshore subsidiaries to invest in U.S. debt, Cisco Systems said that the company “pays all taxes that are due,” that “the cash held in Cisco’s non-US subsidiaries is generated from Cisco’s international operations,” and that “any interest income that Cisco receives on its U.S. government obligations is U.S. taxable income to Cisco.”

Tightening tax loopholes has gained urgency in the aftermath of the global financial crisis when developed nations’ efforts to avert economic meltdown left them with gaping budget holes and record debt.

Reports of profit shifting by companies away from high tax countries to more relaxed tax regimes have sparked public inquiries in the United States and Britain.

The Group of 20 (G20) last month endorsed a set of common standards for sharing bank account information across borders with automatic exchange of information among its members to take effect by the end of 2015.

The world’s top economies hope that a tightening of the tax rules will prevent so-called Base Erosion and Profit Shifting by multinationals that exploit gaps and mismatches in national tax rules to make profits “disappear” from high tax regimes and shift to low tax locations.

Divisions remain within the G20 on issues such as whether technology companies should be taxed at the source country, where the customer is and value is created, or at the residence country, where the product originated. However, Australian Finance Minister Joe Hockey told Reuters last month that there was consensus that companies had to pay.

—Adopted from Thomson Reuters Foundation—-


Reducing Debris Threat from Satellite Batteries

Across a satellite’s working life, batteries keep the craft’s heart beating whenever it leaves sunlight. But after its mission ends, those same batteries may threaten catastrophe.

Space debris mitigation rules require the complete deactivation of electrical power sources aboard a satellite on retirement, in order to guard against explosive accidents that might produce fresh debris dangerous to other satellites.

Now a new study by ESA’s Clean Space initiative – tasked with reducing the space industry’s environmental impacts on both Earth and space – aims to evaluate battery behaviour after a satellite shuts down, assessing the risk of breakup and ensuring full ‘passivation’.

Batteries are among a satellite’s bulkier items of equipment. Typically, they feed their host with power during launch. Once in orbit, it switches to power from its solar arrays, but the battery is an important backup to store power for eclipses and emergencies.

To reach the high reliability and performance a satellite demands, extending across many months or years, batteries are carefully designed and extensively tested in advance of launch.

By contrast, their behaviour after their parent mission has been shut down remains a relative blind spot.

As a satellite drifts freely, could batteries endure the harsh environment of orbit – including wild temperature swings, degradation of thermal control and components as well as radiation exposure – without leakage or bursting?

Some past satellite breakups have been triggered by battery malfunctions, although mostly before the 1990s and involving older non-lithium designs.

This multidisciplinary study aims to ensure a fully inert power system at the end of a mission, perhaps through physical disconnection, while also preventing accidental premature passivation.

Bidders are welcome on this contract. For more information check the invitation package, accessible via ESA’s tendering system.

—Adopted as is, from ESA—-


Dogecoin Foundation to Raise $50k for Kenya’s Water Crisis

The Dogecoin Foundation, the nonprofit entity created by dogecoin’s founders, has announced that its next fundraiser aims to collect 40m dogecoin ($50,000) as part of a month-long effort to fund the creation of two water wells. Held in support of World Water Day on 22nd March, the Dogecoin Foundation‘s latest project finds it teaming up with New York-based nonprofit charity: water to support a remote region in drought-stricken eastern Kenya. Though clean drinking water may at first seem like an odd goal given the foundation’s more eccentric fundraising pursuits, Nakagawa indicated the dogecoin community has strong ties to water themes. He noted that dogecoins have been spread through virtual fountains, faucets and water bowls that disseminate free coins to interested newcomers.