Asia Pacific Focus

UAE’s ADSCC Begins Revolutionary CAR T-Cell treatment First Time in the Region
Asia Pacific Focus

UAE’s ADSCC Begins Revolutionary CAR T-Cell treatment First Time in the Region

The United Arab Emirates is the pioneer in revolutionizing healthcare and medical treatments across the region and world. Capital Abu Dhabi’s ADSCC (Abu Dhabi Stem Cell Centre) is initiating one of its kind revolutionary experiment in the region that will focus on the safety and efficacy of using CAR T-cell treatment module for hematologic or blood cancers such as lymphoma, myeloma, and certain types of leukemia.

ADSCC – The pioneer in revolutionizing healthcare in UAE

ADSCC was founded in Abu Dhabi in 2019. The prime objective of this center was to conduct radical research on stem cells, thereby bringing the most innovative and advanced treatments to the country. At each step, ADSCC has excelled and proved to deliver the highest standards of treatment quality, patient experience, and follow-up.

The center primarily focuses on harvesting, processing, and storing cell products for clinical purposes in regenerative medicine as well as hematopoietic transplantation.

ADSCC is brought to the forefront of the country’s healthcare and medical research sector by its exceptional team of internationally qualified and recognized doctors working in close coordination with the researchers. ADSCC offers specialties including immunology, hematology, clinical stem cell therapy, molecular biology, orthopedics, and urology, amongst others.

What is CAR T-cell therapy?

CAR T-cell therapy presents an innovative approach that strengthens the body’s immune system to attack certain forms of cancer. In this therapy protocol, a small amount of the patient’s own T-cells (white blood cells that are a crucial component of the immune system that has the capacity to target and destroy abnormal cells including cancer cells) are segregated and collected from the blood. These cells are then re-engineered in the laboratory to allow them to now carry special structures on their surface, called Chimeric Antigen Receptors (CARs). When re-injected into the body, these CAR T-cells multiply rapidly and intensify the ability of T-cells to target cancerous cells and destroy them.

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This new technology using CAR T-cells is the latest globally recognized immunotherapy technology.

Dr. Fatima Al Kaabi, Director of the Bone Marrow Transplant Program in Abu Dhabi and the principal investigator in the immune cell experiment, said taking pride in UAE’s achievement of being first in the region to initiate the experiment, “We are proud to be the first in the country and the region to produce and conduct this new and innovative type of treatment and research locally to better understand its effects on cancer cells. Local research to ensure that the people of the country and the rest of the world receive the best possible health care.”

The CAR T-cell therapy experiment is in collaboration with biomedical research company Miltini Biotech. The CAR T-cell therapy experiment will include the use of “apheresis”, a simple process that includes donating blood to enable separation of its components for analysis and treatment.

Dr. Yendre Ventura, Immunologist, Director General of the Abu Dhabi Stem Cell Center, and Principal Investigator of the Clinical Trial of CAR T-cell Immunotherapy, said, “The treatment of cancer remains one of the most complex and challenging medical pathways in the world, which underscores the need of an increasing number of locally developed research and therapeutic innovations. It will be a long and arduous process understanding the impact of T immune cells with receptors targeting cancer cells on patients, but at the same time it will pave the way for a new and distinguished chapter in the history of the United Arab Emirates, where these experiences will consolidate its distinguished position globally in the field of medical innovation and research and development.”

“Our world-leading physicians and researchers, in collaboration with our partners at Miltini Biotic, are paving the way for advanced treatments for a healthier society while strengthening Abu Dhabi’s position as a global hub for healthcare, innovation, and research,” he added.

Viral vectors form the crucial element used by molecular biologists for genetic modification of immune cells. Recently, the viral vectors have been successfully used for the production of Covid-19 vaccines that contain a version of the virus, the ‘vector’.

Dr. Robert Handgrittinger, Head of Adoptive Cell Transfer and Head of Pediatric Services at the Abu Dhabi Bone Marrow Transplant Program, said, “It is our job to make sure that the immune cells that we modify effectively target the cancer cells in each patient so that we can help direct them. On the right track to lying dormant and this is where the role of viral vectors and the partnership with Miltini Biotech comes into play. Ultimately, building a robust CAR T-cell immune cell therapy program in Abu Dhabi.”

Indo-Pacific Alliance AUKUS and its Bearing  on China: What lies ahead
Asia Pacific Focus

Indo-Pacific Alliance AUKUS and its Bearing on China: What lies ahead

Wednesday marked announcement by US President Joe Biden about the formation of AUKUS. United States is forming an Indo-Pacific alliance with Australia and Great Britain. The aim is point straight – allow for broader sharing of defence capabilities along with helping Australia get equipped with nuclear powered submarines. The move can, in most likelihood, irk China and deepen growing rift between Beijing and Washington.

In a virtual announcement, Biden, Australian PM Scott Morrison and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that the agendas would be rapidly attended to, in an attempt to strengthen the alliance in region. President Biden said, “We all recognize the imperative of ensuring peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific over the long term. We need to be able to address both the current strategic environment in the region and how it may evolve.”

Why is AUKUS formed?

UK PM Boris Johnson said that the alliance will bring the three maritime countries on the same page to enable strengthening the partnership amid rapidly evolving global relations and alliances. “We will have a new opportunity to reinforce Britain’s place at the leading edge of science and technology, strengthening our national expertise, and perhaps most significant, the UK, Australia and the US will be joined even more closely together,” Johnson said.

The prime sharing platforms mutually decided by US, UK and Australia include artificial intelligence, cyber and underwater defence powers and capabilities.

Till date US has shared its nuclear propulsion technology with only Britain. With new alliance bringing Australia from the region into tech sharing picture is sure to attract Beijing’s attention. However, Morrison said that Australia is not seeking to develop nuclear weapons program and clarified that information sharing would be used only to develop Australia’s own submarine fleet. Morrison said US, UK and Australia had “always seen through a similar lens,” and amid growing global complex relations, the alliance will help “to meet these new challenges, to help deliver the security and stability our region needs, we must now take our partnership to a new level.”

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What can AUKUS formation mean for China?

China and USA have been at cliff’s edge with their rivalry since former US President Donald Trump’s direct attacks on his Chinese counterpart. The formation of AUKUS can be seen as a direct provocation by China with Biden’s renewed efforts to focus US foreign policy on the Asia- Pacific region. However, an anonymous Biden administration official cleared the air saying that objective of alliance is not towards targeting a particular country, but rather in line to broaden engagement by the three countries in Indo-Pacific region.

A nuclear powered submarine fleet will allow Australia to conduct longer patrols in the waters and would give the AUKUS alliance a stronger presence in Indo-Pacific region. Underwater warfare capabilities are China’s peeve point, according to Matt Pottinger who served as deputy national security adviser in Trump administration. He said, “When you have a strong military, it provides a backdrop of deterrence that gives countries the confidence to resist bullying. Part of the problem right now is that Beijing has gotten rather arrogant and it’s been less willing to engage productively in diplomacy.”

Announcement of AUKUS formation comes ahead of Quad Summit next week in White House, an alliance between US, India, Australia and Japan.

Quad Summit to Be Conducted on September 24, Hosted by Joe Biden
Asia Pacific Focus

Quad Summit to Be Conducted on September 24, Hosted by Joe Biden

In the upcoming summit, the Quad leaders will focus on deepening the ties and advancing practical cooperation in areas such as combating the Coronavirus pandemic, addressing the climate crisis, and promoting a free and open Indo-Pacific. Prime Ministers from India, Australia, Japan and US President will be meeting for the intensive discussion.

The White House confirmed on September 13, that US President Joe Biden will host the first-ever Quad leaders’ Summit at the White House on September 24. It is believed that President Biden has been looking forward to welcoming PM Modi, Japan Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. These Quad members will have their first-ever in-person Quad meet.

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Previously, a virtual meeting of the leaders was held in March 2021. During the meet, issues pertaining to emerging technologies and cyberspace, and promoting free and open Indo-Pacific will also be discussed in-depth. They are also looking forward to exchanging views on contemporary global issues such as connectivity and infrastructure, maritime security, cyber security, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

The recent developments in Afghanistan and rising global terror threats are also expected to be part of the discussion for four leaders. Kamala Harris concluded by saying that hosting the leaders of the Quad demonstrates the Biden-Harris administration’s priority of engaging in the Indo-Pacific, including through new multilateral configurations to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

This summit holds prime significance since India, Japan, the US and Australia gave shape to the long- pending proposal of setting up the Quad to develop a new strategy to keep the critical sea routes in the Indo-Pacific free of any influence.

Japan’s Vaccination Minister Favourite to Replace PM Suga
Asia Pacific Focus

Japan’s Vaccination Minister Favourite to Replace PM Suga

Japan’s vaccination minister Taro Kono is said to be the favourite to replace the current Prime Minister, Yoshihide Suga, as the head of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. This statement can be deemed accurate if seen in the light of a poll conducted by TV Tokyo and Nikkei. About 27% of survey respondents, in total, opted for Kono as a “proper person” to become the party’s president.

They were given a choice of 10 LDP politicians. According to the survey, former Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba came second with 17%, and ex-Foreign Minister Kishida Fumio came third with 14%. Furthermore, former Internal Affairs Minister Sanae Takaichi – seeking to become the country’s first female premier – secured fifth place with 7%.

On September 3, Suga said he would not seek another term as the leader of his party after being on the job for about a year. His support rate dropped amid surging criticism over his pandemic management. It merits mentioning that whoever takes over as the party’s leader has the virtual assurance of becoming the prime minister due to LDP’s dominance in parliament.

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Taro Kono, on Friday, declared his candidacy for the leadership, becoming the third lawmaker to join the race officially alongside Takaichi and Kishida. He also serves as the minister of Administrative Reform. On Saturday, the results of the Sept. 9-11 poll were released. The Nikkei poll also lent the current cabinet with an approval rating of 36% – unchanged from the previous month’s and very low than the disapproval rating of 56%.

The poll consisted of responses from 984 men and women over the age of 18 – contacted randomly. In the election, only LDP lawmakers and grassroots members will be able to cast their votes, but candidates’ fandom among the general masses counts as the winner of the race.

Australian Office Might Have Pushed Britain To Drop Paris Agreement Out Of Its Free Trade Deal
Asia Pacific Focus

Australian Office Might Have Pushed Britain To Drop Paris Agreement Out Of Its Free Trade Deal

Australia might have actually pushed the UK to drop key climate commitments in order for their Free Trade Agreement to come through. Leaked emails are indicating that indeed the Morrison government might have pushed Boris Johnson to do the inevitable.

According to media reports, Australian PM Scott Morrison might have insisted that the “reference to Paris Agreement temperature goals” be removed from the text of the trade deal. This comes across as a shock owing to the seriousness behind bringing down carbon emissions rates worldwide.

This also comes as a stark contrast to what was actually agreed between the European Union and the UK; where temperature commitments are top priority. In fact, it was taken so seriously, that deviation from terms put down according to the Paris Agreement, would lead to the suspension of the deal itself. But this does not seem to be the fate of doing business with Down Under for Britain.

After the Brexit, Britain has been forced to scout for trade partners and fill in their self-created gaps with their EU partners gone. Certain emails obtained by Australian and British media agencies claim that Liz Truss, the UK trade secretary, and Kwasi Kwarteng, the UK business secretary, had decided the government could “drop both of the climate asks” from the deal.

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There may be some semblance of truth here. According to another email from the Cabinet Office, “We haven’t yet seen the formal read out, but we understand the conversation took place and the Business Secretary has agreed that, in order to get the Australia FTA over the line, DIT can drop both of the climate asks (i.e., on precedence of Multilateral Environmental Agreements over FTA provisions and a reference to Paris Agreement temperature goals.)”

The Paris Agreement makes countries set goals in order to limit global warming to well below 2C, preferably to 1.5C. These mails may not have been finalized but do show a sense of non-seriousness towards the urgency to cooperate with the Paris Agreement. It is also a reason for the 10 Downing Street to feel embarrassed; owing to the fact that UK is going to be the venue for the next COP Climate Change meet slated in October this year.

The email surfaced in August, three months after Australia and UK have shaken hands over their promising Free Trade Agreement. Australian PM Scott Morrison has not shown any promising initiatives towards meeting temperature control norms, despite being a member who signed the Paris Agreement. The desire to drop temperature considerations also comes after they have agreed in writing to work towards strengthening inter-country ties.

North Korea’s 73rd-Anniversary Parade Showcases Soldiers in Gas Masks and Hazmat Suits
Asia Pacific Focus

North Korea’s 73rd-Anniversary Parade Showcases Soldiers in Gas Masks and Hazmat Suits

On Thursday, North Korea celebrated its founding year. Nation’s 73rd anniversary was conducted at midnight with a military parade in Pyongyang. Marching bands led a parade, including research units, laborers, and an emergency disease prevention unit dressed in orange hazmat-style suits and wearing gas masks.

The Korean Central News Agency said that the fighter planes flew in line over the midnight sky at Kim Il-sung Square in Pyongyang, and few conventional weapons like rocket launchers and anti-tank rockets were also displayed.

North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un appeared on a platform and waved at the crowd. There were few changes compared to last year’s parade; there was no display of ballistic missiles and no speech by Kim, the Roding Sinmunnewspaper reported.

As per Rodong Sinmunnewspaper, 5.7 million Worker-Peasant Red Guards also marched in the parade. First time North Korea staged a parade with the military force, which was introduced as a reserve force following the 1950-53 Korean War.

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However, health experts question Pyongyang’s claim that there is no covid case in the nation. North Korea has repeatedly stated that there has been no Covid-19 case until now and no signs that it even took place in the past.

In June, Kim dismissed a few senior leaders that failed to manage the coronavirus restrictions, KCNAdetailed. Many higher officials in the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea were shuffled, KCNA added.

Many foreign diplomats and aid workers left the nation, referring to food shortages and outrageous limitations on day-to-day living. Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of NorthKorean Studies in Seoul, told the Guardian, “The parade is by all accounts rigorously planned as a domestic celebration pointed toward advancing public solidarity and fortitude of the system.”

Taliban Claims Full Control of Panjshir Valley and Unveil a New Government Soon
Asia Pacific Focus

Taliban Claims Full Control of Panjshir Valley and Unveil a New Government Soon

On 6 September, the Taliban declared that they seized full control of Panshir Valley, this completes their takeover of the country, and soon they would announce a new government. Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban representative, said, “Panjshir, which wasthe last place of the escapee enemy, is finally occupied.”

The Panjshir Valley is the hometown where the country’s Tajik ethnic minorities live. It is located on the north side of Kabul’s capital and is surrounded by mountains.

The Taliban released a video showing light mountain guns, firearms and different weapons they said had been taken from the armed resistance.

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The anti-Taliban resistance army is led by Ahmad Massoud, which includes tribal militias and former Afghan security forces trained by the US. His dad successfully protected Panjshir Valley from the Taliban when they took control of Afghanistan from1996 to 2001.

Massoud didn’t accept defeat, saying his army will continue the fight. “TheNRF on a basic level consent to take care of the current issues and put a prompt end to the war andproceed with talks and negotiations,” Massoud stated on the Facebook post.

Massoud called for a negotiated agreement with the Taliban before the fight broke out around a week earlier. Currently, the Taliban leaders have vowed to introduce a comprehensive government in Kabul that will permit ladies to work and get training inside the structure of Islamic law or Shariah; however, numerous Afghans question the unwavering quality of their promises.

Japanese PM announces not to run in the party leadership race
Asia Pacific Focus

Japanese PM announces not to run in the party leadership race

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced Friday that he would not be running in the Liberal Democratic Party leadership race this month.

Suga said running in the race and leading a war against the coronavirus “would require a lot of energy” – thus setting a stage for his replacement after a year in office.

Suga, 72, took over after former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who resigned last September, citing ill health after a record eight-year term. He has seen his support ratings drop below 30 per cent as the nation grapples with its worst wave of COVID-19, ahead of a general election this year.

The shock announcement is also seen as an aftermath of his approval ratings stooping to an all-time low due to his government’s handling of the response to the pandemic.

“At the executive meeting today, President Suga said he wants to direct all his efforts on anti-coronavirus steps and will not run in the leadership election,” the LDP’s secretary-general, Toshihiro Nikai, told the press after news of Suga’s departure was reported.

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“I’m surprised. It’s really regrettable. He tried his best, but after thorough deliberations, he made this decision,” he added.

Suga will back Taro Kono – minister in charge of the nation’s vaccination programme – to succeed him.

Political manoeuvring has heated up among ruling party grandees and potential candidates since Suga’s surprise announcement that he was stepping down.

Suga is expected to continue until his replacement is chosen in the party election set for Sept. 29. The LDP leader will then become the PM – given the party’s majority in parliament.

Kono, 58 – a former foreign and defence minister – is popular among the youth after building support via Twitter, where he has 2.3 million supporters – a rarity in Japanese politics, dominated by older men less skilful with social media.

Taiwan warns China as Island’s defense security concerns rise
Asia Pacific Focus

Taiwan warns China as Island’s defense security concerns rise

Taiwan has given a warning to China as the defense security concerns in the Island rise. Taiwan stated that China could easily paralyze the Island’s defense mechanism. The statement said that China has the capability to neutralize Taiwan’s sea and air defenses and counter-attack systems. 

Taiwan has revealed that a large number of cyberattacks from China focus on its administration organizations consistently. These assaults have increased as of late. 

According to Bloomberg News reports, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense said that the documents showed a more disturbing evaluation than last year’s report, which stated that China could not still launch an assault on Taiwan. 

Critics say Taiwan probably can’t shield itself against a Chinese assault without foreign help. The United States has tried to maintain harmony between Taiwan and forestalling a conflict with China through its strategy of strategic ambiguity. 

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China has begun these actions since Tsai’s 2016 election results. Its goal is to decrease Taiwan and incite the Island’s people to infer that their most ideal choice is unification with the Mainland. 

Beijing doesn’t possess the logistic capacity or vehicle vital for attacking Taiwan’s mountainous main Island. The ministry prescribed checking Chinese aims to expand preparation and training for challenging landing tasks. China currently possesses the ability to seize Taiwan’s nearly tiny islands, it added. 

Another primary concern for Taiwan is its economy, which is very dependent on trade with China, which makes it the largest trading partner. However, their economic relations have undergone challenging situations in recent years. Moreover, the Taiwanese government has a growing concern regarding its overreliance on Chinese trade.

Thailand’s PM Prayut Chan-o-cha going to face a no-confidence vote in Parliament
Asia Pacific Focus

Thailand’s PM Prayut Chan-o-cha going to face a no-confidence vote in Parliament

Thailand’s PM Prayut Chan-o-cha faces a confidence motion in Parliament as the pro-democracy groups and opposition parties tighten up tension on his administration as it battles to contain one of the most terrible Covid-19 flare-ups in the locale. 

The opposition parties presented a movement for objection debates and no-confidence votes on Monday (Aug 16) against Prayut and five different ministers, including Deputy Premier Anutin Charnvirakul, who leads the health ministry. The Parliament voting might begin somewhere during early September, as per House Speaker Chuan Leekpai. 

In the same way as other Southeast Asian friends, Thailand has seen a relentless surge in coronavirus cases with the fast spread of the Covid Delta variant. The deteriorating episode has inundated the public health care system, with more than 210,000 active cases and around 5,600 people in severe conditions. 

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The control measures hurt businesses, jobs of more than 40% of the populace and triggers street protests for Prayut’s resignation.

The protest by the pro-democracy movement, which has been requesting Prayut’s resignation for over a year, has faced rubber bullets, water cannons and tear gas. As per the authorities, the protesters are breaking the containment measures and social distancing rules.

While Prayut will probably survive the third no-confidence motion since 2019, the opposition parties are trying to reveal his administration’s inability to contain the covid-19 spread and failing to speed up the vaccination drive that has only covered 7% of the country’s 70 million population. 

The protest, which also calls for a government change and constitutional reform, has won traction as of late, with more people frustrated with the public authority’s handling of the immunization rollout and rapid spread of delta variant are joining the protest.

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