28th March 1999
Researchers have identified the first gene known to suppress obesity and regulate the burning of calories, a key step that may help in developing a drug that keeps people trim.
The gene, known as "Mahogany" or the MG gene, was discovered in mice. It is the sixth gene found to be implicated in obesity, but researchers said it is the first discovered to regulate metabolism and the expenditure of energy.
In one of two studies published in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature, scientists at Millennium Pharmaceuticals in Cambridge, Massachusetts, tested groups of mice with normal and mutated MG genes. They fed the mice diets with varying percentages of fat.
Mice with a mutated MG gene did not gain weight whether they ate a high-fat diet or a low-fat one. Mice with the normal gene gained weight on the high-fat diet.
Researchers said they were optimistic that the gene would play the same role in humans, but cautioned that it has been demonstrated only in mice (Mahogany refers to the animals' brown fur).
And though the findings suggest the gene plays an important role in diet-related obesity — which afflicts most of the 54 percent of American adults who are too hefty — obesity is thought to be more than a matter of genetics.
"Obesity is a complex problem for which diet, exercise and biology all are important," said geneticist Craig Warden of the University of California at Davis.
That's one reason why it could be several years before the researchers can transform their discovery into a fat-busting drug.
"I'm pessimistic that we'll ever get that pill that allows us to remain sedentary, eat high-fat diets and stay lean," said University of Colorado obesity researcher James Hill. "But that's what Americans want."
Molecular biologist Karen Moore, who directed the MG study for Millennium Pharmaceuticals, said the findings could show researchers how to develop a drug to control obesity by mimicking the activity of the mutated gene.
The process of how such a drug could enter a cell is described in the second study in Nature, by Stanford University researchers.
Other obesity researchers said the MG studies provide key information in understanding how the body warehouses fuel when people eat more than necessary. (AP)
4 Legs Good, 2 Legs Bad
Researchers at Harvard Medical School have genetically engineered chickens to grow legs instead of wings, according to a report Friday in the journal Science.
In an effort to better understand how embryos form, Dr. Malcolm Logan working in the laboratory of Dr. Cliff Tabin injected a specific gene found only in chicken legs into the forming wing of a chicken embryo. Logan said the embryonic wings then began taking on characteristics of legs.In appearance and musculature, the wings were showing signs of becoming legs.
But this isn't a project designed to make four-legged chickens destined for the fryer. Logan said there are no agricultural intentions to the project.
"Our interests are in understanding how the embryo normally develops," he said. "We use the chicken as a model system to better understand human developments."
Logan said he hopes the research will eventually lead to repairing congenital limb deformations in humans. The study is funded by the National Institutes of Health.
CD ROM Business Card
The latest thing in business cards is on a CD. It's rectangular like any other, but it's got a silvered back and a hole in the middle.
For once shape and size don't matter, CD's play from the inside out so the fact that the edges have been trimmed doesn't stop you playing it . The idea behind it is to have a business card that gives people lots of information about you, not just your contact details. All they have to do is put the card in the CD ROM drive of any computer and access not only contact details but a CV and even a portfolio of your work including video pictures and sound.
Fancy a pizza? Talk to Telepizza's new machine Spanish fast food firm Telepizza is hoping to revolutionise the world pizza market with a new vending machine that catches its own customers and can take their order in 10 languages, the company said.
The machine, whose patent belongs to Telepizza's newly formed subsidiary Vending Pizza SA, detects passers-by and calls out "Fancy a pizza?".
For$1.80 it will then defrost and cook a modest sized pizza in a minute and a half.Telepizza hopes to distribute between 3,000 and 9,000 of its "Pizza Magic" machines worldwide over the next three years and estimates they can sell up to 97 million little pizzas.(Reuters)
Brown & Co. Ltd., the sole agents for Sharp Corporation Japan, held their 2nd Sharp dealer convention attended by over 250 dealers recently, at which 3 new products were introduced to the local market, namely the Swing Door Refrigerator, the 2 Grill Microwave and the fully automatic Washing Machine with a double pulserater. In fact these products are a first from the Sharp Corporation Japan who are the only manufacturers to introduce these innovative products in the world.
Chairman Brown & Co. Ltd. J.C.R. Cooray as well as of the Hatton National Bank, M.V. Theagarajah, Deputy Chairman Browns, Suraj Fernando, Managing Director Browns, Rienzie Wijetilleke, Managing Director Hatton National Bank, were present on this occasion while Toshihiro Noguchi, General Manager Operations of Asia and Oceana Sharp Corporation Japan, and Kenji Okunaka, General Manager Sharp Roxy Singapore, flew down specially for the occasion.
These products are now available at Browns Showroom in Colombo. Pictured are: Suraj Fernando, L.C.R. Cooray welcoming Toshihiro Noguchi, and Rienzie Wijetilleke.
The Board of Directors of the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) unanimously reappointed Rienzie T Wijetilleke as Chairman of the CSE for the year 1999/2000 at its 93 board meeting.
A M de S Jayaratne retired from the Board of the CSE on March 23.
The following sub committees were appointed
Rules and By laws Committee:
A commercially produced device which could reduce the impact of a bomb blast, upto 90 percent, is now being marketed in Sri Lanka. Ceylinco Towers, Colombo 3 and Commercial Bank, Headquarters building are among the latest users of this bomb inhibitor.
The device, developed in England, is used extensively in the United Kingdom, by the Russian Ministry of Defence and worldwide.
Bartercard Lanka, Sri Lanka's only cashless trade exchange recorded Rs. 4.8 million in trade in just four hours at a recent Trade Night for members, says a news release.
Representatives of more than 250 businesses of the Bartercard network took part in the event, in which 40 Bartercard members displayed goods and services at trade stalls. At the conclusion of the Trade Night, the company had recorded 315 transactions between members.
Bartercard Lanka's Managing Director Johnny De Saram said that the company had completed a very successful second year of operation in which it had reached very significant milestones in terms of trading volume and members. He said the Trade Night was an opportunity for members to network with each other, structure new deals and to get to know each other on a personal basis." Established in October 1996, Bartercard Lanka is a BOI approved venture involving The Golden Key Credit Card Co.. a member of the Ceylinco Group, the People's Venture Investment Co.. (PVIC) , a Peoples Bank subsidiary, Equity Investments Lanka (Equill), an associate of the Commercial Bank of Ceylon, Bartercard International of Australia, Marased (Pvt) Ltd,. and R.A Associates.
Ceylinco Insurance recently moved into its Negombo branch at 115, Greens Road, its own premises.
The first to be built under property development project to house the company's branch offices outside Colombo in their own buildings it will augment the company's assets base and cut overheads.
The office complex was opened by Ceylinco Consolidated Chairman Deshamanya Lalith Kotelawala. The building will house the Life and General Insurance Branches of Negombo as well as some of the subsidiaries of the Ceylinco Group.
R Renganathan, Director/General Manager (Life) said when the company started operations in January 1988, it occupied just 4000 sq. feet and had only a handful of staff. "Now, the company has a network of 122 branches across the country, employing around 2300,sales personnel ."
Shell Gas Lanka Limited has strongly advised its customers not to use domestic LPG cylinders as a LPG fuel tank in their vehicles, a company release said.
"The domestic cylinder, as the the name implies, is designed and tested only for domestic use and not for automotive purposes,'' says Desmond Diaz, Safety Manager, Shell Gas Lanka Limited.
Domestic LPG cylinders are equipped with a relief valve to discharge LPG if the gas pressure within the cylinder rises above the maximum designed level. This feature is part of the safety mechanism of all LPG cylinders and storage tanks.
"Domestic cylinders are to be used in the upright position as when cooking and as such the valve, alone with other safety machanisms, is designed to function in the upright position,'' further clarifies Mr. Mylvaganam, Manager Engineering.
The LPG tank is about 80% full of LPG liquid, above it is LPG in gas form. LPG expands quite a lot as the temperature rises. If the tank is too full, gas escapes via the safety valves so the LPG tanks have a device to prevent filling over 80% full. This ensures that there is enough space for expansion of the tank contents.
Shell Gas Lanka Limited is now carrying out an upgrading process in fuelling stations to meet the autogas demand.
This process is being done according to the Australian safety standards. Australia is one of the world's leading markets for autogas.
Celltel Lanka Limited, recently felicitated three employees who have served the company for more than 10 years and 22 employees who have served for over 5 years by presenting them with special plaques that acknowledge their contribution to the company's growth.
The employees were also hosted to breakfast by Celltel's Chief Executive Officer Michel Schluter at a Colombo five star hotel at which they were presented with long service awards.
"We recognise the value of human resources and are committed to developing them. Every opportunity is being given to achieve their potential," he said. "I am sure you can be proud of the company as we are the leaders in almost every aspect of the business. I wish to pay tribute to all dedicated staff, both past and present for the untiring efforts to keep Celltel in leadership. Our strength has always been our people. It is going to be so in the future too."
Puttalam Cement Co Ltd., was bought by Holderbank Group of Companies in 1996 and took steps to rehabilitate the plant. US$38 million has already been budgeted for rehabilitating the plant to keep all the equipment in its original shape using new technologies. The work already completed in the rehabilitation and purchase of new equipment has cost over US12.5 million (SL Rs. 850 M).
These consist of replacement of the burners, overhead crane, gas analyzer system and shell scanner. For the first time the plant has installed a personal elevator which will facilitate the employees to reach all operational floors.PCCL has awarded the contract to DIMO's principals, Siemens (Pakistan) Engineering Co. Ltd.
ANZ Grindlays takes step into 21st century
ANZ Grindlays Bank is installing new computer software throughout its branch network known as the "Commercial Banking System" (CBS), which is aimed at taking the bank into the 21st century.
ANZ Grindlays Bank's General Manager, John Iossifidis said: "We have taken into account customer responses and feedback, and decided to take advantage of new technology to change the way we deliver our products to our customers. CBS will minimize the time customers need to spend in the bank by providing them with a fast and accurate service."
One of the key outcomes of this new technology will be increased efficiency, as there will be centralisation of various functions and work activities. As a result, account managers and customer service staff will have more time to concentrate on developing an understanding of their customer's needs and wants and providing them with fast and efficient service. In other words, staff with direct customer interaction will be sales and service focused while staff in the back-offices will focus on processing transactions accurately and efficiently. Overall, the new system will provide all customers with increased convenience.
Bank College renamed
The Central Bank has renamed the Rural Banking and Staff Training College as The Centre for Banking Studies to reflect more clearly its present role in the modern financial sector. The Centre aims to develop into one of excellence, by catering to the emerging training needs of financial institutions in Sri Lanka as well as in the Asian Region.
Discussion on Free Trade Agreement
A top-level panel discussion on the India-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement will be held on March 30, at the BMICH in Colombo, organised by Vanik Incorporation Ltd., and Pan Asia Bank Ltd., for 200 CEO's, directors and senior managers of major corporate institutions. The discussions will feature eminent economists from India and Sri Lanka and will be chaired by Dr. W.M. Tilakaratna, Chairman of Vanik and Pan Asia Bank. Speakers will include R. Swaminandan, Counsellor, Commercial of the Indian High Commission in Colombo, Dr. J.B. Kelegama, Chancellor of the Rajarata University, S..S. Jayawickrama, former Secretary General of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce and Dr. H.N. Thenuwara, Head of Trade Division, Economic Research Department of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka.
Office bearers elected
At the 19th annual general meeting of the Free Trade Zone Manufacturers' Association the following office bearers and committee members were elected:-
Chairman: N.A. Umagiliya, Vice Chairman: N. Ramaiah, Secretary: K. Fuchs, Treasurer: D.C. Nathaniel, Committee Members: M.L. Hirdaramani, A.N. Dias, Hemaranjana Fernando, M.M.M. Ibrahim, K. Kono, Dr. S.W. Law, Asker S. Moosajee, S.A.I. Jafferjee.
Financial Wizard on Rupavahini
The Financial Wizard of the Year, English Do You Know Contest is organised and sponsored by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
This programme will be telecast every Thursday at 9.30pm on Rupavahini 2
Every contestant will be given 2 minutes to answer 10 questions, and the winner of each semi-final will proceed to the grand final.In the program on April 1 the following contestants will participate:
Uchitha Kumarasiri Jayawardena, Prasanna Anton Liyanage,Manannalage Premadasa, Miss Ranjula Nilaweera and Prasanna Ileperuma.
All - New Asiana Airline
Asiana is a world-class airline which meets the demands of the 21st century.
Asiana offers a bridge to the vast business and travel resources of all destinations in the world's fastest growing region.
To underscore this objective Asiana has acknowledged three elements as the key to Asiana's success: Performance. Reliability. Service. To affirm this resolve, Asiana has acquired a fleet of the world's ne west and best airplanes.
This all new fleet is the youngest flying today. It includes Boeing's most advanced 737's, 767's and 747's. Asiana Airlines is represented by Walkers Tours Limited, a subsidiary of John Keells Holdings.
Mountain Hawk Express (Pvt.) Ltd, licensee of FedEx officially announced the expansion of the company's agent network in Sri Lanka. This occasion was celebrated with an Agent Conference held in Colombo. The agent network includes Trincomalee, Batticaloa, Polonnaruwa, Puttalam, Ratnapura, Badulla, Welimada, Bandarawela, Piliyandala, Wattala and the existing locations in Kandy, Kurunegala, Katunayake, Biyagama, Galle and Matara.
These new agent locations will make it easier and convenient for customers despatching shipments to anywhere in the world. Mountain Hawk Express sees this as an opportunity of getting closer to their customers and focusing on areas of value additional service.
Federal Express connects areas that generate 90% of the world's gross domestic product in 24-48 hours with door to door, custom cleared service and money back guarantee. The company's unmatched air route authorities and infrastructure make it the world's largest express transport company, providing fast, reliable and time definite transportation of more than three million packages to 211 countries each working day.
Emirates, intern–ational airline of the UAE, has announced the appointment of Devika Ellepola as the Airline's new Sales Manager in Colombo.
Ms. Ellepola who has extensive experience in the travel and aviation industry joined Emirates in 1990 and was Assiatant Sales Manager before her appointment. She has worked at the ticketing office of the national carrier, AirLanka for seven years.
Announcing the appointment, Emirates Area Manager Sri Lanka & Maldives Tissa Bibile commented: "We are confident that Ms. Ellepola will motivate our sales team to great efforts and help achieve our corporate goals".Emirates commenced services to Colombo in 1986. The Airline has won more than 170 international awards and is one of the global partners to the 1999 Cricket World Cup.
Scarcity leads to pollution and adverse impact on the poor
By Feizal Samath
Nearly 1.4 billion people or a quarter of the world's population live in regions that would face severe water shortages in the new millenium, international research studies show.
The same studies reveal that in Sri Lanka if the current rate of irrigation efficiency continues into the future, several local rice-growing districts would face water shortages.
"Some of these districts will be in serious water scarcity conditions that the available water resources may not even be adequate to meet their projected demand," a study done on the Sri Lankan water crisis by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), notes. Food imports or transporting water from wet-zone regions, were some of the options discussed in the report. It found that by doubling irrigation efficiency, the total demand in 2025 of most water scarce districts could be reduced by 50 percent and noted that under this scenario the saving of water is adequate to meet future additional demand. The other study, by the Colombo-based agency on water supply and demand of 118 countries in the period 1990 to 2025, said that of particular concern was the overlooked problem of declining water tables in the semi-arid regions of Asia and the Middle East. These regions contained some of the major breadbaskets of the world such as Punjab in India and North China.
"These regions do not have sufficient water resources to maintain 1990 levels of per capita food production from irrigated agriculture, even at high levels of irrigation efficiency and also meet reasonable water needs for domestic, industrial and environmental purposes by 2025," the IWMI research study completed by end-1998, said
"There is an urgent need to focus the attention of both professionals and policy makers on the problems of groundwater depletion which must be seen as the major threat to food security in the coming century," it noted.
Douglas J. Merrey, IWMI's Deputy Director-General, told The Sunday Times Business in a recent interview that in Sri Lanka most of the river basins in the dry zone were facing a serious water scarcity and in future irrigated agriculture would have to be a lot more efficient. In many cases agriculture would have to be reduced in order to meet other demands for water. The Sri Lanka study found that water availability in some districts would be a significant constraint for future social and economic development. "Also contrary to the common belief, some districts in the wet-zone with ample per capita water supply will be severely water-scarce in the economic sense that they will have to develop substantial amount of withdrawals over the present level to meet their 2025 needs," it said.
IWMI, established in1984, has been conducting worldwide programmes to improve food security and the lives of poor people through fostering sustainable increases in the productivity of water used in agriculture through better management of irrigation and water basis systems.
Headquartered in Colombo, the institute - formerly known as the International Irrigation Management Institute - has country programmes in Burkino Faso, Pakistan and Sri Lanka and project offices in Mexico and Turkey. IWMI is supported by over 20 governments and donor agencies including the Asian Development Bank and the Food and Agriculture Organisation.
Merrey said the IWMI's international study found that a lot of countries would have to make serious decisions regarding water management and supply. "In some cases, this would mean making irrigated agriculture more efficient and more productive with limited water use. In some countries, where there isn't enough water, agriculture may have to be curtailed, thus raising problems of food security and food production," he added.
The IWMI study said 348 million people faced severe economic water scarcities in regions where the potential water resources were sufficient to meet reasonable water needs by 2025. "But these regions would have to embark on massive water development projects, at enormous cost and possibly severe environmental damage, to achieve this objective," it said.
Irrigation consumes or depletes over 70 percent of the total developed water supply in the world. Most people, the study found, believed that existing irrigation systems were so inefficient that most future water needs could be met by increasing the efficiency of irrigation and transferring the saved water to domestic, industrial and environmental sectors.
But the report stressed that "it was exceptionally difficult even to know what irrigation efficiency means, much less to measure it."
Water scarcity leads to declining water quality and pollution and has an adverse impact on poor people. Many of the poor in developing countries are forced to drink or use polluted water resulting in skin and other forms of sanitary disease. However experts, the study showed, agreed that the quantity of water was more important than the quality of water in terms of its effects on public health. Poor people in Asia spend 60 percent of their income on cereals, the bulk of which are produced on irrigated land since the 1960s. Real cereal prices have fallen, and the direct and indirect effects of the green revolution of irrigated land, the study said, has been by far the greatest source of poverty reduction in Asia.
"But there are reasons to fear that water scarcity may halt or even reverse these trends, as in the case of China," IWMI said. Some other studies show that because of impending water shortages in China's northern region, China would have to import as much as 210-370 million tonnes of grain per year to feed its population in 2025. This in turn would trigger steeply rising cereal prices and a disruption of the world market, the report said.
With regard to groundwater, IWMI said that many of the populous countries in the world - China, India, Pakistan, Mexico and nearly all the countries of the Middle East and North Africa - have "literally been having a free ride over the past two or three decades by depleting their groundwater resources."
It warned that "the penalty of mismanagement of this valuable resource is now coming due, and it is no exaggeration to say that the results could be catastrophic for these countries and, given their importance, for the world as a whole." Merrey said IWMI programmes were aimed to develop techniques and methods by which water could be used efficiently for irrigation purposes. Recently IWMI undertook a remote sensing survey to assess the performance of one million hectares of irrigation systems in northern India and by this, it was able to measure the amount of water consumed, the distribution and the yields.
Delmege Forsyth & Co Ltd. has once again won an award for the trade stall presentation at the Achitect '99 Exhibition held at the B.M.I.C.H. The stall was designed and constructed as in the previous years by Delgraphics (Pvt.) Ltd. whose creative designers proved yet again their capabilities and creativity by securing this award, says a company release.
The Interior Decor Division established in the early 80's widely diversified into a range of interior decor products, covering, carpet, carpet tiles, vinyl tiles and sheet flooring, ceiling systems, chairs, open office systems, partitions, vertical blinds, wall coverings and hot water pipes and fittings, supplied by prestigious world-renowned agencies.
The department has a highly dedicated and motivated sales team and technical staff to tackle any decor related problems. This is one of the strengths of Delmege Forsyth & Co. Ltd.
Brintons, United Kingdom's largest manufacturer/exporter of quality carpets has been manufacturing its wool rich woven carpets for over 200 years. Brintons were recently awarded one of the largest and most prestigious carpet installations in recent times, to supply and instal carpets at the new Chek Lap Kok Airport - Hong Kong, covering an area of over one million sq.ft. In addition to the Hong Kong Airport, Brintons have installed carpets at Changi Airport, international hotels - including the world's largest hotel. M.G.M GrandHotel in Las Vegas, having 5000 guest rooms.
In Sri Lanka Brintons have supplied carpets to most of the five star hotels, the airport and up-market condominiums. Delmege have done all the installations with the advantage of having experienced installers using the latest carpet installation equipment.
Interface/Heuga inventors of carpet tiles: Heuga and Delmege have been the pioneers in introducing carpet tiles to Sri Lanka. Interface is rated to be the world's largest carpet tile manufacturer in U.S.A. These tiles have successfully been laid in many leading banks, offices, embassies and airlines.
Rikett are the investors of vinyl quartz tiles which are resistant to abrasion. An extensive colour range make them the perfect choice for applications demanding a combination of durability and design. Delmege have installed Rikett tiles at BOI factories, offices and banks and have even covered an area of 25,000 sq.m. in a leading Bank.
Another first for Delmege, polyblente hot water pipes were introduced to Sri Lanka by Delmege. Manufactured by Dux -New Zealand, Qicktite pipes are designed for an economical, professional hot water plumbing system. Over 20 years of use in Sri Lankan hotels, apartments and homes has proved the efficiency and high quality of this product. The interior decor department having further diversified now offers many other products like aluminium ceiling systems, Dux loline cisterns for bathrooms, wall coverings,furniture, partitions for open office systems, vinyl sheet flooring and vertical blinds.
Ruhuna 2001 Multivision Pvt. Ltd., signed an agreement with Crescat Developments Ltd., for the provision of commercial television services to Crescat Boulevard. This includes major entertainment, sport and news services, such as Home Box Office movies (HBO), AXN Action TV, Cartoon Network, ESPN and Star Sports.
Multivision has also reached agreements with several other high profile apartment and hotel complexes. This is the fifth such agreement signed by Multivision. The cable television company earlier signed commercial agreements with the mangements of Royal Rark, Kings' Court, Queens' Court and Rosmead Towers.
In the Picture at right Posing after the signing agreement are Daniel Roche, Managing Director, Crescat Development Ltd., Chris De Saram, Operations Manager, Crescat Developments Ltd., Ken Ross, Vice President, Engineering, Multivision (Pvt) Ltd., and Ms. Manjula Palipane, Commercial Sales Specialist, Multivision (Pvt) Ltd.
International "Merchandise Identification" Complex opens its latest production facility at FTZ, Katunayake.
The STS House of Labels - Shore To Shore (Pvt) Ltd., "Merchandise Identification" Integrated Labelling and Packaging Makers for the Apparel Industry, which is a joint venture with Expo Industrial Products (Pvt) Ltd., of Colombo 13, Sri Lanka and Shore To Shore, Inc., of Miamisburg, Ohio, USA, will open their latest production facility at the Katunayake Free Trade Zone on March 19.
Expo Industrial Products was established in 1992 as a BOI approved venture for printing and manufacture of packaging products. It specializes in designing and printing barcode and graphic tags, labels, price tickets and stickers.
Recently a strategic alliance was formed with Shore To Shore, Inc., of USA, who are worldwide specialists in "Merchandise Identification" to further strengthen the Expo's international operations.
Pan Asia Bank won two awards at the Best Corporate Report and Accounts competition 1999 organised by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka. One was as the winner of a "certificate of compliance" and the other as the runner up in the category "New Companies".
A Lanka Bell telephone connection can now be obtained from any Singer outlet located throughout Lanka Bell coverage areas . " This added convenience now makes Lanka Bell even more convenient and accessible to the public", said a Lanka Bell spokesman.
A Lanka Bell connection can now be obtained through Singer's formidable network of outlets in Lanka Bell coverage areas.
The Singer staff in these outlets will be trained by Lanka Bell with regards to the processing of telephone applications, and all payment procedures. In fact you could even obtain an attractive easy payment facility through Singer for a Lanka Bell telephone.
Please send your comments and suggestions on this web site to