Comments Off on Forest fire turns deadly in Valparaiso, Brazil approves GM mosquitoes to fight dengue, and Colombia designs ‘climate intelligent’ crops

17 April 2014

Forest fire turns deadly in Valparaiso, Brazil approves GM mosquitoes to fight dengue, and Colombia designs ‘climate intelligent’ crops



A fire that began in a forest ravine and spread to the Chilean port city of Valparaíso claimed 15 lives and left thousands homeless. More than 10,000 have been evacuated.

Chilean astronomers were able to observe for the first time in real time the explosion of a supernovae. For this work they developed a new analysis software capable of filtering images of new stars and relied on statistical tools.


The National Biosafety Technical Commission of Brazil approved the first genetically modified insect in the country, a mosquito to combat dengue. The mosquito is made by the British company Oxitec and will be bred in laboratories in the northern city of Bahia.

The Slc11a1 gene of laboratory rats that regulates the activity of the immune system’s neutrophils and macrophages is involved in the development of rheumatoid arthritis, according to a study of the Butantan Institute in Sao Paulo.


The young Argentine mathematician Michael Walsh won a scholarship from the prestigious Clay Mathematical Institute. The researcher works in ergodic theory and number theory.

Argentine scientists analyzed the effect of testosterone on the development of a C. elegans nematode that had been altered as a model for autism. The researchers found that a gene, NHR69, acts as a testosterone receptor and they demonstrated that the hormone has epigenetic effects on the nematode.

Researchers at the UBA and CONICET showed that video games can stimulate certain cognitive processes and improve performance in schools. The study was conducted with first graders (six years old) in two schools in Argentine slums.


Colombia plans to adapt agriculture to the challenges presented by climate change. The country, along with the International Development Bank, held a forum entitled “Climate-Intelligent Agriculture: A model for global action.”


The Ministry of the Environment of Peru signed an agreement with the International Center for Tropical Agriculture to facilitate the generation of proposals and actions for the strategic development of natural resources and environmental management in the country over the next 5 years.


Using a model developed at UNAM, Mexican scientists studied the impact on the brain of insulin resistance. They found that diets rich in fats and sugars have effects on the hippocampus, specifically affecting short-term memory.

U.S. and Mexican surgeons have reconstructed vaginas with cells from patients along with artificial pieces. The vaginas were implanted in patients between 13 and 18 years old who had a congenital anomaly.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s congress passed the Act for Biomedical Research which will conduct clinical research in three main areas: Alzheimer’s disease, metabolic disease and cardiovascular disease.

Costa Rica’s Institute of Technology (TEC ) produced in vitro skin, bone and cartilage for transplantation.

Chile and Argentina

The huemul, a small deer inhabiting the Patagonian mountains, is in danger of becoming extinct due to hunting, habitat alteration and disease. To rescue it, the Argentine and Chilean governments have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to work together. To publicize the situation, a movie is being made called “Huemul, the shadow of a species.