In 2016, the Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to a team who developed a high-resolution technique to view the inside of cells. But their technique works best on cells in petri dishes, Scott Howard, professor of electrical engineering, said, and the challenge of looking inside the cells of a living organism remained.Over the next few years, Howard and his team searched for a convenient – and cheap – method to get a high-resolution view of the chemical processes that happen inside of cells.“All good science kind of starts with some need or challenge that you’re thinking about,” Howard said. “And so we started with kind of the fundamental science and physics and derivations and theory and developed, this little missing picture about how it is supposed to work if we were to use these techniques.”Howard started by looking at ways to create 3-D super resolution images using normal microscopes people have in their labs, he said. Then he started applying physics, he said.“We kept looking at how you can use this simple approach, one that anyone can use with just a microscope,” Howard said. “And if you tweak it a little bit, you can actually extract out some really quantitative chemical information in addition to just the pictures.”They ended up developing a technique called DeSOS, which is a combination of two techniques called blind deconvolution and stepwise optical saturation.DeSOS can produce high-resolution images of cellular processes inside the cells of living organisms – not just cells in petri dishes. It can even be used to create videos of those processes, also called 4-D images.“We found that there was a whole direction of experiments and things that people really haven’t been exploring yet,” he said. “And the consequences of these ideas were that you can get really high-resolution images, without requiring a lot of expensive components other people were using – and it was compatible with a lot of existing microscopes.”Before DeSOS, most people were using a technique called fluorescent lifetime imaging microscopy (FLIM), graduate student Xiaotong Yuan said.But FLIM cannot effectively capture images of cells inside a living organism. DeSOS, on the other hand, can, so it has the potential to greatly impact biology research, Yuan said.Since developing this technique, Howard has collaborated with the Harper Cancer Research Institute and the Indiana University Medical School to use DeSOS in various research projects, including biochemistry and kidney research.“A nice technology isn’t as important or impactful if you don’t had collaborators,” she said.Yuan said she was drawn to Howard’s research because of its potential to help disease research, which she is considering pursuing once she graduates.“For example, I just read yesterday that zebrafish have an extremely unique heart regeneration ability. If we can capture 3-D and 4-D images of that, it could be a great way to figure out how to treat cardiovascular disease in humans,” she said.People have never been able to make 4-D images quite like the ones DeSOS can produce, Howard said. He gave credit to his team, especially Yide Zhang, currently a postdoc fellow at California Institute of Technology.“We’re combining all of this understanding of devices and light, what goes on in the nanoscale and the quantum world to these medically relevant questions,” Howard said. “We can do a lot of things people haven’t done.”Tags: biology, cell imaging, Physics
Passive funds and concentration risk pose threats to the development of actively managed green bond funds, according to Fitch Ratings.The credit rating agency highlighted the challenges ahead of what it said could be a pivotal year for the green bond sector in 2018. Next year will see a number of funds launched in 2015 reach a three-year track record, an important milestone for many fund selectors.Although green bond issuance increased “dramatically” last year, the market was still small and there were a limited number of issuers, Fitch said.It estimated there were around 100 issuers of green bonds, compared with 3,000 issuers in broader market indices. “Many of these [green bond] issuers are in a handful of sectors, such as supranationals, utilities and local authorities, while sectors like banking and energy, which represent a large part of the broader bond market, are currently under-represented,” Fitch said.The investable universe could end up being even smaller if funds applied additional exclusion criteria, thereby increasing concentration risks, the rating agency added.It cited the example of a green bond issued by Repsol, a Spanish oil and gas company, in May, which was shunned by some investors due to concerns about the compatibility between the company’s business and environmental goals.Fitch said some funds mitigated concentration risk by buying a certain proportion of non-green bonds from issuers that meet broader green criteria.Fitch also raised the prospect of passive funds “cannibalising” active products, as has happened in broader markets. It highlighted Lyxor’s launch of a green bond exchange-traded fund earlier this year as potentially “hamper[ing] the prospects for managed funds”.“In the green bond sector limited diversification makes it harder for managed funds to differentiate themselves from the index, and the small size of the sector creates the risk of active funds being crowded out,” it said.Chris Wrigley, senior fixed income portfolio manager at Mirova, said that although the green bond market was young and still growing, the asset manager had not encountered any particular diversification restraints.“Green bonds are now diversified by currency, country, sub class, credit rating, maturity, sector, etc.,” he said. “We believe there are more than 165 issues in the Bloomberg Barclays Green Index and so there is a significant universe for portfolio managers to select from.”Active managers can engage with issuers while passive managers will tend to wait for an index provider to remove a bond issue from an index if there are concerns from an ESG perspective, he noted. Fitch counted 17 dedicated green bond funds to date in Europe and estimated sector-wide assets under management of around €1.4bn as at the end of June, up more than 400% since 2015.Continued growth in assets could also prove crucial to the sector’s success, Fitch added, as many institutional investors set minimum levels before they can invest in a fund and also typically cap their maximum percentage holding of any given fund. Five of the 17 green bond funds had assets in excess of €100m as at the end of June, with €100m being a common minimum hurdle for larger fund investors.Although strong investor appetite for green bonds – combined with technical factors – could support the growth of the green bond fund sector, its prospects were “far from certain”, the credit rating agency said.For example, green bond funds could simply be subsumed into ESG-integration bond funds, while limited issuance could also curtail sector growth.However, Fitch also emphasised that “all fund sectors have to start somewhere and there are plenty of examples of specialist fund sectors developing over time”.“In this case, broad institutional investor support is an important factor both within green bond funds and in direct green bond mandate-based investment,” said Fitch.
1 Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink Guus Hiddink has admitted he has been approached to manage in the Chinese Super League.The 69-year-old Dutchman was installed as Chelsea caretaker boss in December after Jose Mourinho’s departure, but says he had chances to manage in China.“I had some possibilities to go there in the recent past,” said Hiddink, who did not expand on the comment.Ramires was sold to Jiangsu Suning by Chelsea last month for a reported £25million as part of a wider investment in football, with other players also heading to the Chinese Super League.Jiangsu Suning are managed by former Chelsea defender Dan Petrescu, while Sven Goran Eriksson and Luis Felipe Scolari are also bosses in China.Hiddink reckons China is an attractive option for many, but so too is the Premier League, which has a global appeal and will soon have a further influx of cash from the new broadcast coverage deal, which is worth £5billion domestically.“Of course when you travel around the world, the Premier League is so attractive, attracting a lot of people,” added Hiddink, whose side play Manchester United on Sunday.“In the biggest cities to the smallest villages, wherever in the world there is a satellite showing Premier League.“(And) clubs in England cannot complain about having no income in the near future.”