Also In Global Health News: Retrovirus Enzyme; Audit Of USAID Program; Africa’s Agriculture

Key Retrovirus Enzyme Grown In Lab

A study published on Sunday in the journal Nature has shed light on the enzyme integrase, “which is found in retroviruses like HIV and is a target for some of the newest HIV medicines,” Reuters reports.  Scientists at the Imperial College London and Harvard University grew a crystal of integrase in the lab allowing them to see the enzyme’s structure.  According to the news service, the scientists “said that having the integrase structure means researchers can begin fully to understand how integrase inhibitor drugs work, how they might be improved, and how to stop HIV developing resistance to them,” according to the news service (Kelland, 2/1).

Audit Finds USAID Program In Pakistan Making ‘Little Progress’ Towards Goals

“A $45 million USAID program aimed at improving the ability of Pakistani tribal leaders to govern a politically sensitive stretch of territory along the Afghan border has failed to achieve its primary mission of improving the delivery of basic services, according to an audit by the agency’s inspector general,” the Washington Post reports, adding that so far, $15.5 million has been spent on the program.  The program funds the oversight of “nearly 30,000 employees, including teachers and health-care workers” (Lynch, 1/29). “The program, run by Development Alternatives Inc., a U.S.-based private contractor, was set up to improve the performance of local aid groups and the government agency that oversees the tribal areas,” which need to be strong so as to ensure aid money is spent effectively, the Canadian Press writes. Though no one working on the aid program was available for comment, a U.S. Embassy spokesman “said the American government’s aid arm was working to address the concerns raised in the audit,” according to the newspaper (Brummit, 1/29).

VOA News Examines ‘Land Grabs’ In Africa

VOA News examines the trend in recent years of foreign governments and corporations to purchase large areas of land in Africa, also known as a “land grab.” Though advocates worry the land grabs compromise food security, “foreign buyers and local leaders say such long-term land leases will create thousands of jobs and bring in much needed revenue,” the news service writes (Colombant, 1/28).

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