Madison Realty Capital Completes Record 2021 with $6.4 Billion in Transaction Volume Across 72 Deals and Raises Largest Debt Fund Ever at $2.08 Billion

Additional Highlights Include Launch of New $500 Million Hospitality Lending Platform

New York, Jan. 20, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Madison Realty Capital, a vertically integrated real estate private equity firm focused on debt and equity investment strategies, today announced the completion of one of the most active years in the firm’s 17-year history.  2021’s notable highlights include:

  • Closing a record $6.4 billion in total deal volume in 2021 across 72 transactions. The firm executed deals ranging from $10 million to $485 million in all major U.S. metropolitan markets.  Throughout 2021, Madison originated and acquired loans across asset classes including multifamily, mixed use, retail, office, industrial, land and hotel and invested in transitional and special situation loans as well as provided financing for ground-up development and construction.  In the last two months of 2021 alone, the firm closed 26 new deals representing nearly $2.7 billion.
  • Raising $2.08 billion in equity commitments for Madison Realty Capital Debt Fund V LP (“Fund V”), exceeding the fund’s $1.75 billion target. Fund V, the firm’s largest debt fund ever, received significant support from existing investors as approximately 70% of the institutional LPs in Madison’s prior fund re-upped into Fund V.  Additionally, 52% of the capital committed for Fund V came from new limited partners, both domestically and abroad.
  • Originating over $1 billion in loan-on-loan financing for twelve alternative lenders as part of its lender financing strategy. The firm provided financing solutions to alternative real estate lenders for projects in California, Florida, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, and Oregon through its income-oriented debt investment vehicle, which targets lighter value-add and core-plus real estate transactions with a greater focus on income generation with rates of approximately 4% to 6%.
  • Launching an institutional hospitality lending platform, Madison Newbond, with $500 million of initial lending capacity in partnership with Newbond Holdings.  Madison Newbond offers unique financing programs to new and existing borrowers across the hospitality spectrum from limited-service hotels and developers to ultra-luxury resorts and targets opportunities including transitional lending and ground up developments, as well as first mortgages, mezzanine loans and preferred equity, across major metropolitan markets.
  • Attracting and retaining executive talent.  In April 2021, Madison announced seasoned executive Urian Yap joined the firm as Chief Financial Officer from The Blackstone Group, where he led the global loan operations team for Blackstone Real Estate Debt Strategies and the financial reporting team for Blackstone Mortgage Trust Inc.  Madison expanded its team with 12 new professionals, further building-out multiple real estate investment disciplines and capabilities. Additionally, Madison, which first opened its Los Angeles offices in 2018, continued to grow its presence on the west coast with the opening of its new Los Angeles office in Century City.

Josh Zegen, Managing Principal and Co-Founder of Madison Realty Capital, said, “Madison Realty Capital further distinguished itself in 2021 by providing single-source, customized financing solutions for borrowers’ unique needs and delivered speed, certainty of execution, and strong underwriting, despite a highly dynamic market environment.  I am proud of what we were able to accomplish, which is a testament to our team as well as the culture and expertise we have developed over the past 17 years. We look forward to continuing to execute on behalf of our borrowers, investors, and communities we serve in 2022 and beyond.”

Noteworthy transactions for the firm in 2021 include:

  • Breaking ground for a mixed use residential and public school development in Woodside, Queens in a public-private partnership with the NYC School Construction Authority and Department of Education;
  • A $34 million loan-on-loan financing for the redevelopment of a multifamily property in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles;
  • A $106 million construction loan to Arch Companies and AB Capstone for the ground-up development of Myrtle Point, a mixed-use residence in New York City;
  • A $450 million construction loan to The Rabsky Group for a 1,098-unit mixed-use development in Downtown Brooklyn;
  • A $278.5 million construction loan to Reger Holdings, LLC for a portfolio of 734 multifamily apartments, 1,264 multifamily units, and 117 luxury condominium residences across three projects in Austin, Texas;
  • A $30 million first mortgage loan to Metropica Development for a luxury condominium tower and ten acre development site in Sunrise, Florida;
  • A $79 million loan to Vella Group for a portfolio of five industrial and flexible office properties in Los Angeles, California;
  • A $395 million loan for a portfolio of 1,161 units across three multifamily projects in Bayonne, Raritan and Linden, New Jersey as well as a land site at the former Bears Stadium with plans for 4,200 residential units;
  • A $110 million loan to Harridge Development, Silverpeak Real Estate Partners, and an affiliate of Cerberus Capital Management for single-family homes in a master-planned housing development in Historic San Pedro, Los Angeles.

About Madison Realty Capital 

Madison Realty Capital is a vertically integrated real estate private equity firm that, as of December 31, 2021, manages approximately $8 billion in total assets on behalf of a global institutional investor base. Since 2004, Madison Realty Capital has completed approximately $20 billion in transactions providing borrowers with flexible and highly customized financing solutions, strong underwriting capabilities, and certainty of execution. Headquartered in New York City, with an office in Los Angeles, the firm has approximately 70 employees across all real estate investment, development, and property management disciplines. Madison Realty Capital has been frequently named to the Commercial Observer’s prestigious “Power 100” list of New York City real estate players and is consistently cited as a top construction lender, among other industry recognitions. To learn more, follow us on LinkedIn and visit

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+1 (212) 257 4170

UAB announces first clinical-grade transplant of gene-edited pig kidneys into brain-dead human

UAB announces the first clinical-grade transplant of gene-edited pig kidneys into brain-dead human

A doppler probe is used to assess blood flow inside the right porcine (pig) kidney after transplantation into the brain-dead recipient.Hands left to right: Katie Stegner, Dr. Babak Orandi, M.D., Ph.D. (holding the probe), Jayme Locke, M.D. (holding the kidney)Photo taken by Jeff Myers, UAB


UAB researchers have achieved several world’s firsts with pig-to-human kidney transplant:

  • First peer-reviewed/published study of a genetically modified pig kidney transplanted into the body of a brain-dead human recipient
  • First such study on a pig-to-human kidney transplant using genetically modified kidneys with 10 key gene edits that may make the kidneys suitable for direct clinical-grade therapeutic use in humans
  • First validation of a UAB-developed test for compatibility before xenotransplant
  • First peer-reviewed/published study to establish brain death as a viable preclinical human model

Notably, the study was designed and conducted to meet standards directly comparable to those that would apply to a Phase I clinical trial and mirrored — as much as possible — every step of a conventional transplant between humans. Importantly, this study included removing the human brain-dead recipient’s native kidneys before replacing them with genetically modified pig kidneys.

UAB announces first clinical-grade transplant of gene-edited pig kidneys into brain-dead human

BIRMINGHAM, Ala., Jan. 20, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The University of Alabama at Birmingham Marnix E. Heersink School of Medicine announces today the first peer-reviewed research outlining the successful transplant of genetically modified, clinical-grade pig kidneys into a brain-dead human individual, replacing the recipient’s native kidneys. These positive results demonstrate how xenotransplantation could address the worldwide organ shortage crisis.

In the study published in the American Journal of Transplantation, UAB researchers tested the first human preclinical model for transplanting genetically modified pig kidneys into humans. The study recipient had two genetically modified pig kidneys transplanted in his abdomen after his native kidneys were removed. The organs were procured from a genetically modified pig at a pathogen-free facility.

“Along with our partners, we have made significant investments in xenotransplantation for almost a decade hoping for the kinds of results published today,” said Selwyn Vickers, M.D., dean of the UAB Heersink School of Medicine and CEO of the UAB Health System and UAB/Ascension St. Vincent’s Alliance. “Today’s results are a remarkable achievement for humanity and advance xenotransplant into the clinical realm. With this study, our research teams have also demonstrated that the decedent model has significant potential to propel the xenotransplantation field forward.”

For the first time, the pig kidneys transplanted were taken from pigs that had been genetically modified with 10 key gene edits that may make the kidneys suitable for transplant into humans. This process demonstrates the long-term viability of the procedure and how such a transplant might work in the real world. The transplanted kidneys filtered blood, produced urine and, importantly, were not immediately rejected. The kidneys remained viable until the study was ended, 77 hours after transplant.

“This game-changing moment in the history of medicine represents a paradigm shift and a major milestone in the field of xenotransplantation, which is arguably the best solution to the organ shortage crisis,” said Jayme Locke, M.D., director of the Comprehensive Transplant Institute in UAB’s Department of Surgery and lead surgeon for the study. “We have bridged critical knowledge gaps and obtained the safety and feasibility data necessary to begin a clinical trial in living humans with end-stage kidney failure disease.”

Gene editing in pigs to reduce immune rejection has made organ transplants from pigs to humans possible, which could offer help to thousands of people who face organ failure, disease or injury. The natural lifespan of a pig is 30 years, they are easily bred and can have organs of similar size to humans.

Genetically modified pig kidneys have been extensively tested in non-human primates. In addition to testing in non-human primates, evaluating genetically modified pig kidneys in a human preclinical model research may provide important information about the potential safety and efficacy of kidneys in human transplant recipients, including in clinical trials.

“This human preclinical model is a way to evaluate the safety and feasibility of the pig-to-non-human primate model, without risk to a living human,” Locke added. “Our study demonstrates that major barriers to human xenotransplantation have been surmounted, identifies where new knowledge is needed to optimize xenotransplantation outcomes in humans, and lays the foundation for the establishment of a novel preclinical human model for further study.”

This effort is supported by biotechnology pioneer United Therapeutics Corporation, which awarded a grant to UAB to launch the innovative xenotransplantation program. Revivicor, Inc., a subsidiary of United Therapeutics, provided the genetically modified pig that was the source of the investigational xenotransplant kidneys called UKidney™.

“All of us at Revivicor are in awe of the historic achievements at UAB with our investigational 10-gene xenokidney, or UKidney,” said David Ayares, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer of Revivicor and a trailblazing genetic engineer since his early work cloning the world’s first pigs and the first alpha-Gal knockout pigs. “We feel confident that this UKidney may turn out to be a life-saving solution for thousands of people on dialysis, subject to successful completion of our clinical trials and achievement of FDA approval in the next several years.”

About the study
The peer-reviewed research is a study of ambitious scope and great significance, given that more than 800,000 Americans are living with kidney failure. Most never make it to the waiting list, and far too few human organs are available to put a dent in that number. Although dialysis can sustain life for some time, transplantation offers a better quality of life and a longer life for the few individuals who can gain access to transplantation. Each stage of this decedent xenotransplant study approximated the steps that might be taken in a Phase I xenotransplant clinical trial:

  • The kidneys were removed from a donor pig housed at a pathogen-free, surgically clean facility. The kidneys were then stored, transported and processed for implantation, just as human kidneys are.
  • Before surgery, the brain-dead recipient and donor animal underwent a crossmatch compatibility test to determine whether the genetically modified pig kidney and its intended recipient were a good tissue match. A crossmatch is done for every human-to-human kidney transplant; however, this pig-to-human tissue-match test was developed at UAB and marked the first time a prospective crossmatch has been validated between the two species.
  • The pig kidneys were placed in the exact anatomic locations used for human donor kidneys, with the same attachments to the renal artery, renal vein and the ureter that carries urine from the kidney to the bladder.
  • The brain-dead recipient received standard immune-suppression therapy used in human-to-human kidney allotransplantation.

The study was conducted to meet the standards directly comparable to those that would apply to a Phase I human clinical trial, mirroring every step of a standard transplant between humans. It included Institutional Review Board and Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee approval, a tissue compatibility confirmation before starting the operations, using the standard procedures of human-to-human transplants to remove, preserve, transport and transplant the kidneys into a human, and giving the standard immunosuppression therapy to the recipient.

Transplant recipient Jim Parsons helps open doors to the future of organ transplantation
This scientific and medical breakthrough would not have been possible without Jim Parsons, the recipient, or his family.

Parsons, 57, was a registered organ donor through Legacy of Hope, Alabama’s organ procurement organization, and he had longed to have his organs help others upon his death; but his organs were not suitable for donation. His family permitted UAB to maintain Parsons on a ventilator to keep his body functioning during the study. His native kidneys were removed, and two genetically modified pig kidneys were transplanted.

“Mr. Parsons and his family allowed us to replicate precisely how we would perform this transplant in a living human. Their powerful contribution will save thousands of lives, and that could begin in the very near future,” Locke said. “Mr. Parsons’ gift honors his legacy and firmly establishes the viability, safety and feasibility of this preclinical model. Because of his gift, we have proposed this to be known as ‘The Parsons Model.’”

Parsons’ ex-wife, Julie O’Hara, and their children, Ally, David and Cole, made the decision (along with Jim’s sisters and mother) to take part in the study after they were approached by Alan Spriggs with Legacy of Hope and Locke.

“Jim was a never-met-a-stranger kind of guy who would talk to anyone and had no enemies — none,” O’Hara said. “Jim would have wanted to save as many people as he could with his death, and if he knew he could potentially save thousands and thousands of people by doing this, he would have had no hesitation. Our dream is that no other person dies waiting for a kidney, and we know that Jim is very proud that his death could potentially bring so much hope to others.”

The critical need for other organ donation options
Kidney disease kills more people each year than breast or prostate cancer, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Although transplantation is the gold standard treatment for end-stage kidney disease, fewer than 25,000 kidney transplants are performed each year in the United States and 240 Americans on dialysis die every day. Many of these deaths could be prevented if an unlimited supply of kidneys were available for transplant.

The wait for a deceased donor kidney can be as long as five years, and in many states, it is closer to 10 years. Almost 5,000 people per year die waiting on a kidney transplant.

About UAB transplant and the xenotransplant team
UAB Medicine is a world leader in organ transplantation and has performed 9,055 kidney transplants from Jan. 1, 1988, to Dec. 31, 2021 — the second-most kidney transplants in the United States during that time. The focus of UAB’s xenotransplantation program is to address the organ shortage by safely transplanting genetically modified pig kidneys into humans with kidney failure. Learn more.

About UAB
Known for its innovative and interdisciplinary approach to education at both the graduate and undergraduate levels, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, a part of the University of Alabama System, is an internationally renowned research university and academic medical center. UAB consistently exceeds $600 million in annual research awards and totaled almost $850 million last year, including one-time COVID-related funding. UAB is Alabama’s largest single employer, with more than 26,000 employees, and was named America’s Best Large Employer by Forbes in 2021. The institution’s annual economic impact on the state exceeds $7 billion each year. The pillars of UAB’s mission include education, research, innovation and economic development, community engagement, and patient care. Learn more at

EDITOR’S NOTE: The University of Alabama at Birmingham is one of three doctoral research universities in the University of Alabama System. In your first reference to our institution, please use University of Alabama at Birmingham and UAB on subsequent references.


Media Contacts:
Tyler Greer, 205-934-2041
Nicolas Kressmann, 732-532-5318

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Sputnik V demonstrates strong protection against Omicron variant, with over 2 times higher virus neutralizing activity compared to the Pfizer vaccine according to a unique independent comparative study conducted by the Spallanzani Institute in Italy

Previous studies also demonstrated additional significant strengthening of protection against Omicron by Sputnik Light booster, which can also be a universal booster to other vaccines to strengthen and lengthen their protection against Omicron.

MOSCOW, Jan. 20, 2022 /PRNewswire/ —

  • A unique comparative study conducted at the Italian Spallanzani Institute, the leading Italian research institute for infectious diseases, by a joint Italian-Russian team of researchers representing the Institute and the Gamaleya Center shows that the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine demonstrates more than 2 times higher titers of virus neutralizing antibodies to Omicron (B.1.1.529) variant than 2 doses of Pfizer vaccine (2.1 times higher in total and 2.6 times higher 3 months after vaccination).
    o The study was conducted in the equal laboratory conditions in the Spallanzani Institute in Italy on comparable sera samples from individuals vaccinated with Sputnik V and Pfizer with a similar level of IgG antibodies and virus neutralizing activity (VNA) against Wuhan variant.
    o Sputnik V shows significantly smaller (2.6 times) reduction of virus neutralizing activity against Omicron as compared to reference Wuhan variant than Pfizer vaccine (8.1-fold reduction for Sputnik V in contrast to 21.4-fold reduction for Pfizer vaccine).
  • The study demonstrates that Sputnik V neutralizes the Omicron variant by inducing robust antibody response associated with high levels of protection.
    o Among the top quartile of individuals with high RBD-specific IgG antibodies, 100% of those vaccinated with Sputnik V were able to neutralize Omicron variant in comparison to 83.3% of individuals vaccinated with Pfizer.
    o Among all samples, 74.2% of Sputnik V-vaccinated sera were able to neutralize Omicron vs 56.9% for Pfizer-vaccinated.
  • – The study discusses several reasons for Sputnik V eliciting stronger virus neutralizing antibodies against Omicron, including:
    o Sputnik V develops a wider pool of antibodies to different epitopes in contrast to Pfizer vaccine, which utilizes the spike protein in a proline-stabilized form directed mainly to the specific epitopes, which were highly affected by the mutations in the Omicron variant;
    o Heterologous prime-boost vaccination regimen of Sputnik scheme;
    o Better mimicking of adenoviral vaccine platform of the infection.
  • The data supports the results of the recent laboratory study by the Gamaleya Center published in MedRxiv[i] demonstrating that Sputnik V induces robust neutralizing antibody response to Omicron variant, which is further strengthened by Sputnik Light booster:
    o  As 80% of epitopes in the spike protein recognized by CD8+ T cells are not affected by the mutations in the Omicron variant, Sputnik V elicits strong and long-lasting T-cell response and is expected to provide durable protection against severe disease and hospitalization caused by Omicron.
    o Sputnik Light as a booster significantly increases virus neutralizing activity against Omicron, which is comparable to titers observed after Sputnik V against wild-type virus, associated with high levels of protection.
  • The Sputnik team stands for the open and transparent comparison of different vaccines and has initiated partnerships with other vaccine producers to conduct joint studies in a number of countries.
    o In particular, a “mix & match” trial of a combination of Sputnik Light with vaccines produced by AstraZeneca, Sinopharm, Moderna and Cansino, conducted in 5 provinces in Argentina has demonstrated that Sputnik Light induces stronger antibody and T-cell response as compared to homologous regimen (two shots of the same vaccine).
    o Each “vaccine cocktail” combination with Sputnik Light provided a higher antibody titer on the 14th day after administering a second dose when compared to original homogenous (same vaccine as first and second dose) regimens of each of the vaccines.
  • Sputnik Light is a universal booster to other vaccines thanks to the optimal configuration of Sputnik vaccine’s adenoviral platform which provides better protection against Omicron and other mutations as demonstrated in multiple studies.
  • Heterologous boosting with Sputnik Light has proven to be one of the best solutions to prolong the protection period of other vaccines. The Sputnik team urges immediate global, open comparative studies on Sputnik Light and other boosters to COVID vaccines. Any efforts to deter these comparative “mix & match” studies delay the end of the pandemic as the advantages of this most efficient approach will not be utilized.
  • Sputnik V has been authorized in 71 countries with a total population of over 4 billion people, and Sputnik Light in more than 30 countries. Sputnik V and Sputnik Light have been developed using a safe technology that has been widely studied for over 30 years and have not been associated with rare serious side effects such as myocarditis or pericarditis. The highest safety and efficacy of Sputnik V and Sputnik Light was demonstrated in more than 30 studies and real-world data publications from more than 10 countries.
  • Sputnik V and Sputnik Light can be stored in a conventional refrigerator at +2 +8ºC for 6 months, making them available globally, including in remote territories, without any need to invest in additional cold-chain infrastructure.

The Gamaleya National Research Center of Epidemiology and Microbiology (Gamaleya Center) and the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF, Russia’s sovereign wealth fund, investor in Sputnik V and Sputnik Light coronavirus vaccines), today announced a unique independent comparative study conducted at the National Institute for Infectious Diseases Lazzaro Spallanzani (Italy) by a joint team of researchers of the Institute and the Gamaleya Center showing that 2 doses of Sputnik V provide more than 2 times higher geometric mean titers (GMT) of virus neutralizing antibodies to the Omicron variant of COVID than 2 doses of Pfizer vaccine (2.1 times higher in total and 2.6 times higher 3 months after vaccination).

An article by a team of 12 Italian and 9 Russian scientists led by Francesco Vaia, Director of the Spallanzani Institute and Alexander Gintsburg, Director of the Gamaleya Center, has been published in medRxiv (the preprint server for health sciences) and is available at:

The study was conducted in Spallanzani Institute in the equal laboratory conditions at the Italian Spallanzani Institute on comparable groups of sera from individuals vaccinated with Sputnik V and Pfizer, with no statistically significant difference in neutralizing activity against Wuhan variant.

Sputnik V demonstrates more than 2 times higher titers of virus neutralizing antibodies to Omicron variant than 2 doses of Pfizer vaccine

The advantages of Sputnik V are the use of native S glycoprotein (spike protein without proline-stabilization and other modifications) and the use of a heterologous prime-boost vaccination regimen. The Pfizer vaccine utilizes the spike protein in a proline-stabilized form in contrast to Sputnik V. Proline-stabilization and other modifications may move an immune response predominantly to the actively mutating receptor-binding domain (RBD) of spike protein. In the Omicron variant, a substantial number of mutations were registered precisely in RBD, which is why such a significant drop in neutralizing activity against this variant may be observed in the sera of Pfizer-vaccinated.

Table 1. Among the top quartile of individuals with high RBD-specific IgG antibodies, 100% of those vaccinated with Sputnik V were able to neutralize Omicron variant in comparison to 83,3% of individuals vaccinated with Pfizer

Boosting with Sputnik Light as part of the “mix & match” approach may help address the lower efficacy of mRNA vaccines against Omicron as well as the documented, quickly waning, efficacy of mRNA vaccines against COVID-19. Partnerships between adenoviral and mRNA vaccines could provide for stronger protection against Omicron and other variants.

Based on the data collected by the Spallanzani Institute and results of previous studies, heterologous (“mix & match”) boosting with Sputnik Light is the best solution to increase other vaccines’ efficacy and extend the booster protection period as optimal adenoviral platform configuration provides better protection against Omicron and other mutations:

a.  Sputnik Light as a booster significantly increases virus neutralizing activity against Omicron, which is comparable to titers observed after Sputnik V against wild-type virus, associated with high levels of protection. The study results were summarized in an article available at:

b.  Sputnik Light has already shown strong results as a booster in “mix & match” trials in Argentina. A combination of Sputnik Light with vaccines produced by AstraZeneca, Sinopharm, Moderna and Cansino, conducted in 5 provinces (City and Province of Buenos Aires, as well as Córdoba, La Rioja and San Luis) has demonstrated that Sputnik Light induces stronger antibody and T-cell response as compared to a homologous regimen (two shots of the same vaccine). Each “vaccine cocktail” combination with Sputnik Light provided higher antibody titer on the 14th day after administering a second dose when compared to original homologous (same vaccine as first and second dose) regimens of each of the vaccines.

c.  As duration of vaccine protection is key to avoid frequent boosting, authors of another study in Argentina have noted that protection against coronavirus remains stable following vaccination with the Russian Sputnik V vaccine as a consequence of antibody maturation, resulting in improved potency of antibodies to viral escape mutations:

d.  The study conducted by a number of highly respected institutes in the US (Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard University, Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and University of North Carolina) demonstrated that boosting Pfizer vaсcine with Ad26 vector produces optimal durable protection against Omicron with 4 times higher increase in Omicron-specific T-cells and 2.4 times in neutralizing antibody titers vs Pfizer booster. Sputnik Light is based on Ad26 vector and is the universal booster for other vaccines vs all mutations:

e.  US study on 168 mln people showed that one-shot COVID vaccine based on Ad26 is superior against infections and hospitalizations to quickly waning two-shot mRNA vaccines. In the 6th month after vaccination, Pfizer protection against hospitalization waned 4 times, while there was no evidence of waning protection against hospitalization for Ad26 vector:

f.  Another study conducted on almost 500,000 health care workers in South Africa demonstrated 85% efficacy of Ad26 booster against hospitalization caused by Omicron variant:

Russia Direct Investment Fund logoPartnership among vaccine manufacturers through heterologous (“mix & match”) boosting by other vaccines is needed to address the quickly waning efficacy of mRNA vaccines against COVID-19, which was documented in multiple studies:

a.  The study in US among 65+ years old population demonstrated the decrease in mRNA vaccine effectiveness against Delta accelerated after month 4, reaching a low of approximately 20% in months 5 through 7:

b.  According to Swedish data, the Pfizer vaccine’s efficacy against Delta strain is falling to below 30% after 6 months:

c.  The UK Health Security Agency said those who had received three doses of Pfizer’s vaccine saw their protection against symptomatic illness caused by Omicron variant drop to 45% within 10 weeks:

Alexander Gintsburg, Director of the National Research Center for Epidemiology and Microbiology, said:

“The joint study by the Gamaleya Center and Spallanzani Institute confirmed the results obtained in our separate study published in December 2021. The hard scientific data proves Sputnik V has higher virus neutralizing activity against Omicron as compared to other vaccines and will play a major role in the global fight against this new contagious variant.”

Denis Logunov, Deputy Director of the National Research Center for Epidemiology and Microbiology, noted:

“The Spallanzani Institute is one of the leading European research centers and our joint study provided a unique opportunity for independent analysis of different vaccine platforms against Omicron. Adenoviral vector platform in the core of Sputnik V and Sputnik Light vaccines once again proved to be the best solution in creating strong and durable immunity against COVID and its new variants.”

Kirill Dmitriev, CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, commented:

“Results of the study in Italy confirm Sputnik V offers the strongest protection against Omicron. The adenoviral platform has shown high efficacy in fighting mutations of COVID previously. Partnership of different platforms is the key and heterologous (“mix & match”) boosting with Sputnik Light will help strengthen efficacy of other vaccines in light of combined Delta and Omicron challenge.”

Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) is Russia’s sovereign wealth fund established in 2011 to make equity co-investments, primarily in Russia, alongside reputable international financial and strategic investors. RDIF acts as a catalyst for direct investment in the Russian economy. RDIF’s management company is based in Moscow. Currently, RDIF has experience of the successful joint implementation of more than 100 projects with foreign partners totaling over RUB2.1 tn and covering almost all of Russia’s regions. RDIF has established joint strategic partnerships with leading international co-investors from more than 18 countries that total more than $40 bn. Further information can be found at


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Fans mourn Narayan Debnath, creator of the first Bengali comic-strip superhero

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Global Voices

Narayan Debnath in his study. 2011. Image via Wikipedia by Bonyoraj. CC BY 3.0. Indian comics artist, writer and illustrator Narayan Debnath was perhaps not known in the international arena but he is hailed as the father of Bengali language comic strips. His popular comic strips such as Handa Bhonda (1962), Bantul the Great (1965) and Nonte Phonte (1969) popularized Bengali comics and entertained Bengali speaking children and teens in India and Bangladesh for generations. On January 18, 2022, Debnath passed away at the age of 96in a hospital in Kolkata after prolonged illness. His fans on soci… Continue reading “Fans mourn Narayan Debnath, creator of the first Bengali comic-strip superhero”

Emerson’s Southeast Asia Service Centre Cuts Flow Meter Service Turnaround Times by 80% with New Larger Calibration Stand

Revamped facility provides Southeast Asia customers with convenience, quality assurance, and accreditation for calibration

SINGAPORE, Jan. 22, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Emerson’s Southeast Asia Service Center is expanding the advantage offered to its customers by adding the calibration of large flow meters to its offering, resulting in an 80% reduction in service and line downtime for customers in the Southeast Asia region.

Updates to flow calibration services include increasing line sizes from .10 to 4 inches to a much larger 12 inches, which increases flow rates from 0.05 to 3,000 kilograms per minute, and increase flow up to 12,000 Kg/min.

Prior to the addition of the new larger calibration stand, customers in the region’s oil and gas and chemical industries needed to ship larger sized flow meters to testing facilities overseas to diagnose, repair or calibrate their devices to factory standards. This process was not only time-consuming but costly, often leading to shutdowns and delays.

Now the Southeast Asia Service Center has resolved the problem by offering local calibration services for a broader range of instrumentation devices. This saves customers time and resources since support specialists can perform quality assurance, diagnostics, setup and repair on-site. As a result, calibration and service turnaround times can be reduced from two months to two weeks.  Aside from the new calibration stand, Emerson support and technical specialists can now diagnose and troubleshoot flow meter problems and other customer concerns remotely in Asia. This reduces overall cost, speeds up operations and ensures safety for both customers and Emerson personnel in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Service Center adheres to international standards, with an ISO 17025-compliant quality management system, which ensures that the laboratory meets the technical requirements necessary to consistently deliver technically valid calibrations. Accreditation from Singapore Accreditation Council (SAC), a signatory of ILAC-MRA, means that calibration results can be accepted in other countries without additional testing or verification.

The existing service centre is compliant with Singapore Standards (SS) re-calibration requirements namely SS660, SS648 which are related to bunker cargo delivery. Emerson has been designated for the existing capability by Enterprise Singapore, Weights and Measures as an Authorized Verifier (AV).   With the AV status, Emerson is authorized to seal flow meters once they are calibrated in the lab. This ensures compliance to regulatory and contractual requirements for flow meters used for custody transfer applications. Emerson plans to secure ISO17025 Accreditation and Authorized Verifier status for the expanded capability as well.  It also ensures metrological traceability and process reliability for laboratories and facilities from 14 Global Service Centres operated by over 400 local service specialists in 14 different regions worldwide.

About Emerson
Emerson (NYSE: EMR), headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri (USA), is a global technology and engineering company providing innovative solutions for customers in industrial, commercial and residential markets. Our Automation Solutions business helps process, hybrid and discrete manufacturers maximize production, protect personnel and the environment while optimizing their energy and operating costs. Our Commercial & Residential Solutions business helps ensure human comfort and health, protect food quality and safety, advance energy efficiency and create sustainable infrastructure. For more information, visit

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Police violently break up Afghan refugee protest in Indonesia

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Afgan refugees in Indoneisa have been meeting to protest perceived inaction from the UNHCR. Refugees are calling for either Indonesian citizenship, or resettlement elsewhere. Image via YouTube. Content notice: This article contains mention of depression, suicide, and police violence. A peaceful protest of Afghan refugees was violently broken up by police on January 17 in Pekanbaru, Indonesia, a city on the island of Sumatra. The refugees were attempting to draw international attention to their years of displacement, mistreatment, and neglect by the Indonesian government and the international c… Continue reading “Police violently break up Afghan refugee protest in Indonesia”

Sweegen Praises New Framework on Stevia Technology By International Food Safety Authority

Sets Global Example on Standards for Countries

Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif., Jan. 20, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Sweegen’s health and wellness commitment through global sugar reduction solutions became stronger after Codex Alimentarius (Codex), the international food standard safety authority, recently adopted the specifications for all four stevia technologies, including Sweegen’s bioconversion.

“The new Codex framework is timely as the benefits of steviol glycosides, the sweet component in the stevia leaf, fit into the broader health and wellness narrative, which is something consumers want to see more of, and global food and beverage manufacturers want greater access to,” said Luca Giannone, senior vice president of sales.

The significance of the adoption is that there is now a more streamlined approach to regional adoption of new production technologies. This will provide greater access to less common and better-tasting steviol glycosides at scale and a more sustainable supply of the sugar-like tasting ingredients.

Sweegen’s support for adopting the “Framework for Stevia Technology” started four years ago as a member of the alliance group, the International Stevia Council (ISC). Adopting the framework was a stevia industry effort and collaboration internationally where Sweegen represented bioconversion technology.

“With this framework, most countries in the world will gradually adopt this standard, and our global stevia footprint can expand more rapidly into countries where we are seeking approval for offering our pure, clean, and great-tasting Signature Bestevia ingredients produced by bioconversion,” said Giannone.

Modern technology advancements, such as bioconversion, produce clean new generation sweetener molecules such as Rebaudiosides M, D, and E, originally found in small quantities in the stevia leaf. Unlike first-generation ingredients like Rebaudioside A, these rebaudiosides impart a clean sugar-like taste with a better sensory profile and are highly sought-after by food and beverage manufacturers in countries where they have regulatory approvals.

“The adopted framework is good news for brands that want greater access to Sweegen’s pure and clean tasting stevia ingredients, Rebs D, E, M, and more,” said Giannone. “By leveraging proprietary bioconversion technology, we start with the stevia leaf, and with the support of enzymes, produce a final product that is a single purified steviol glycoside (not a mixture) that naturally occurs in the stevia leaf.”

Under the new framework, all of Sweegen’s rebaudiosides are approved by Codex. Last year, Sweegen earned regulatory approval for its Signature Bestevia Reb M in Europe, which enables greater flexibility in satisfying regional preferences for sweetness and great taste.

“We welcome the adoption of the Codex framework and the opportunity to support our customers globally with new sugar reduction innovations,” said Steven Chen, Sweegen’s chief executive officer. “Sweegen is proud to be part of this collaborative effort to bring much-needed innovation to the food and beverage industry.”

About Sweegen

Sweegen provides sweet taste solutions for food and beverage manufacturers around the world.

We are on a mission to reduce the sugar and artificial sweeteners in our global diet.  Partnering with customers, we create delicious zero-sugar products that consumers love.  With the best next-generation stevia sweeteners in our portfolio, such as Bestevia® Rebs B, D, E, I, M, and N, along with our deep knowledge of flavor modulators and texturants, Sweegen delivers market-leading solutions that customers want, and consumers prefer. Be well. Choose well.

For more information, please contact and visit Sweegen’s website,

Cautionary Statement Concerning Forward-Looking Statements

This press release contains forward-looking statements, including, among other statements, statements regarding the future prospects for Reb M stevia leaf sweetener. These statements are based on current expectations but are subject to certain risks and uncertainties, many of which are difficult to predict and are beyond the control of Sweegen, Inc.

Relevant risks and uncertainties include those referenced in the historic filings of Sweegen, Inc. with the Securities and Exchange Commission. These risks and uncertainties could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed in or implied by the forward-looking statements, and therefore should be carefully considered. Sweegen, Inc. assumes no obligation to update any forward-looking statements due to new information or future events or developments.


Ana Arakelian

Versius adopted for urological procedures in Pakistan

Versius adopted for urological procedures in Pakistan

  • The Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation (SIUT) is the first hospital in Pakistan to acquire Versius to complete high-volume urological procedures
  • At SIUT, Versius is being used as part of a multispecialty programme, beginning with urological procedures and later expanding into general surgery

Cambridge, United Kingdom. 20 January 2022 00:01 (GMT). CMR Surgical – the global surgical robotics business – has today announced the successful completion of high-volume urological procedures at the Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation (SIUT) using the next generation surgical robotic system, Versius®, in Pakistan. SIUT is a renowned, charitable institute, providing free state of the art medical treatment to all patients, regardless of background or wealth, facilitating the treatment of renal ailments, urological and nephrological conditions, oncological treatments, treatments of hepatic and gastrointestinal diseases, and organ transplantation.

The small, portable and modular design of Versius allows it to easily be moved between operating theatres, supporting high-utilisation of the system. Completing over 100 cases within two months, SIUT have rapidly integrated Versius into high-volume complex urological procedures, including cystectomies, prostatectomies and radical nephrectomies. Versius will be used as part of a multispecialty robotics programme, later being used for a range of general surgery procedures, including cholecystectomies and hernia repairs.

Mark Slack, Chief Medical Officer of CMR Surgical said: “Since day one, CMR’s mission has been to make the benefits of keyhole surgery more accessible to patients globally. The Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation is a fine example of an institution that shares our mission and sees the important role surgical robotics will play to fulfil needs in their busy operating rooms. The pace and high volume of procedures being carried out at SIUT has been remarkable, with record breaking number of procedures being carried out, enabled by the unique technology features of Versius.”

CMR services, integrated data capabilities and training support rapid transition for surgical teams and hospitals to use Versius, playing a potential role in reducing surgical costs, optimising surgeon performance, and improving patient safety outcomes in the near and long term.

“With the volume of patients we operate on, it was important to adopt the Versius system quickly and proficiently to ensure patient safety. We are impressed by the speed at which we have been able to achieve high procedure volumes in such a short period of time. The remote training we received from the CMR Team in the Middle East enabled us to learn how to use the new system efficiently, and the technology built into the small, modular arms of Versius was easy to adapt to.” Prof Dr. Adibul Hasan Rizvi, Director of the Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation said: “At SIUT, we believe technological innovations in healthcare should benefit all people. This belief has remained a guiding principle for us since our inception. The institute looks forward to entering many more avenues and therapeutic areas with the help of this next generation Robotic System, Versius.”

The successful launch of Versius at SIUT adds Pakistan to a growing number of markets across India, Middle East, Europe and Australia where Versius is used in hospitals as a valuable surgical tool. The announcement follows other recent expansion news from CMR, including the recent award of Anvisa regulatory approval in Brazil, new market launches in Italy and the Middle East, and plans to build a new global manufacturing facility to keep up with global demand for Versius.

— ENDS —

Media Contacts:

If you wish to see more, please contact CMR Surgical at:

Press Office, CMR Surgical
T +44(0) 1223 755801

Notes to editors:

The Versius® Surgical Robotic System

Versius® resets expectations of robotic surgery. Versius fits into virtually any operating room set-up and integrates seamlessly into existing workflows, increasing the likelihood of robotic minimal access surgery (MAS). The small, portable and modular design of Versius allows the surgeon to only use the number of arms needed for a given procedure.

Biomimicking the human arm, Versius gives surgeons the choice of optimised port placement alongside the dexterity and accuracy of small fully-wristed instruments. With 3D HD vision, easy-to adopt instrument control and a choice of ergonomic working positions, the open surgeon console has the potential to reduce stress and fatigue and allows for clear communication with the surgical team. By thinking laparoscopically and operating robotically with Versius, patients, surgeons and healthcare professionals can all benefit from the value that robotic MAS brings.

But it’s more than just a robot. Versius captures meaningful data with its wider digital ecosystem to support a surgeon’s continuous learning. Through the Versius Connect app, Versius Trainer and CMR clinical registry, Versius unleashes a wealth of insights to ultimately improve surgical care.

About CMR Surgical Limited

CMR Surgical (CMR) is a global medical devices company dedicated to transforming surgery with Versius®, a next-generation surgical robot.

Headquartered in Cambridge, United Kingdom, CMR is committed to working with surgeons, surgical teams and hospital partners, to provide an optimal tool to make robotic minimal access surgery universally accessible and affordable. With Versius, we are on a mission to redefine the surgical robotics market with practical, innovative technology and data that can improve surgical care.

Founded in 2014, CMR Surgical is private limited company backed by an international shareholder base.