Combining the best of biotechnology knowledge and business studies, Horizon Campus now offers a degree that helps their students translate scientific research into innovative products and viable business opportunities in the marketplace.
The degree offered in affiliation with the Nilai University in Malaysia , delivers teachings drawn from industry experts and high quality academic faculty that includes real life cases, insight into bio ventures, and modules on Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Commercialization, Co-Curricular Activities, Ethics and Social Responsibility, Professional Development, Public Speaking, Graduate Preparation and Basic Business Administration.
The key purpose of this degree is to prepare and train students to work in a multidisciplinary environment along with top health professionals and leading organizations in the industry. The program, which is taught in conjunction with business practices offers a more updated and practical training that is better aligned with companies and their current requirements in the field of science. Using world-leading research staff, business experts and mentors, students are provided with key academic and business skills needed to make a significant contribution to the biotechnology sector.
The Business Studies area also offers training that is analytically rigorous and connected to practice through class discussions based on real-life business cases, company visits, guest speakers, and an internship experience.
Speaking of the degree, Dean of the Faculty of Science Dr.Lekha Wanasekera stated “As the world becomes hungrier for products and technologies that are greener, safer and more efficient, the biotechnology industry which utilizes cellular and bio molecular processes to develop products and technologies is set to boom.” Ms. Harshi Amarasekara, a lecturer at Faculty of Science further mentioned that graduates with additional skills in business who can navigate a product’s journey to market will be in great demand. This is the reason we designed this degree to comprise of business disciplines that are an integral part of today’s organizations. Hence the students who are registered with us for this degree have the opportunity to enhance a variety of skills such as communication, present information clearly in both written and oral form, working in teams, self-management, self-motivation, self-discipline , learning skills, problem solving skills, critical thinking skills, analytical skills, moral and professional ethics and taking ownership of responsibilities. Overall, the degree is designed to expose students to gain a high proficiency in biotechnology and business along with a focus on the development of their inner character.”
This carefully selected combination, coupled with relevant industry experience and a strong focus on teamwork, is set to provide Horizon graduates with a truly interdisciplinary educational experience that will be key to higher salaries, job security and career advancement. Horizon Campus through offering degrees of this nature, is setting a benchmark for other higher education institutes in the country, to provide the valuable and suitable skills required by the industry and in giving a competitive advantage to their students
Interested parties in the said field can obtain further information by visiting www.horioncampus.edu.lk or visiting Horizon Campus at Malabe.
Self-limiting gene to curd SENA – Wayamba University and the HorizonCampus have identified a self-limiting gene to destroy the eggs of the Fall Armyworm
The Nano Technology Department of the Wayamba University and the Horizon Campus have identified a self-limiting gene to destroy the eggs of the Fall Armyworm (FAW) (Spodoptera frugiperda).
They are working together to develop this gene in their own labs to find a permanent solution for the crisis. According to them, this can be applied to a large area like 10,000 -15,000 acres within one day using drones. They have already tested this gene on affected-fields in Ukraine as well and the cost of applying this to a one-acre plot of land is estimated around Rs. 200 – Rs. 300.null
Spread of FAW
The Fall Armyworm is a pest which can destroy more than 80 kinds of plants, including maize, rice, sugarcane and cotton. It has spread throughout North, South and Central America, where it has caused significant crop damage for decades. The FAW has developed resistance to insecticides in a number of regions and growers are in need of new solutions to control this pest.
According to an Agriculture and Biosciences International Centre report, the FAW has caused an estimated US dollars 13.8 billion loss to maize, sorghum, rice and sugarcane cultivations in Africa.
Since 2016, the Fall Armyworm has been spreading throughout Africa and is now found in at least 28 countries. Native to America, the FAW was identified in Sri Lanka last year and has rapidly spread over the entire country. It has infected nearly 50 percent of the maize cultivation in the country, extending to 82,000 hectares. If it infects the export-oriented crops, we may face some problems in exporting as well.
Efforts to control FAW
Considering the damage caused by the FAW to the country, the Wayamba University and the Horizon campus dedicated their efforts to identifying and providing a rapid solution to the issue. According to them, this self-limiting gene is the heart of this method of insect control. When male insects with the self-limiting gene are released to reproduce with wild females, all of their offspring receive a copy of this gene. The self-limiting gene disrupts the proper functioning of their cells by flooding the insect’s cells with a protein to stop them from properly expressing other essential genes needed for development and preventing the offspring from surviving until adulthood.
Since the self-limiting gene functions by using the insect’s own biology against itself, this method of control provides a solution that only affects the particular species of pest without introducing harmful toxins.
They have also designed insects that can turn-off the self-limiting gene with an antidote called tetracycline. This allows breeding insects on a large scale without the need for any additional genetic engineering.
They are aiming to introduce a marker gene into insects, which expresses a protein called ‘DsRed2’. Like the self-limiting gene, it will also be inherited by all offspring. This protein is found in the body of the larvae and pupae and glows red under a special light. As a result, these insects can be easily identified apart from the wild ones.
The marker gene is vital for a control programme as it allows scientists to easily identify the offspring of target insects while enabling their tracking-and-tracing in the wild. The number of offspring of the self-limiting insects and wild ones can be calculated through the examination of larvae in the field. This makes it a highly useful tool for quality control in production and effective monitoring in the field. They use that data to tailor the releases and ensure high levels of pest suppression.
As the marker is integrated into the insect’s DNA, this method provides a better monitoring tool compared to fluorescent dust or food dyes used in other insect control programmes.
About the self-limiting gene
1. The self-limiting gene produces a tetracycline-controlled trans-activator protein.
The self-limiting gene creates a protein called tetracycline-controlled trans-activator (tTAV protein). One section of the self-limiting gene contains a binding site called tetO.
2. tTAV protein binds to tetO, producing positive feedback.
The tTAV protein binds to the tetO site on the self-limiting gene. This works as positive feedback, informing the gene to produce more tTAV. As the amount of tTAV protein is increased, there is more positive feedback, and even more protein is created.
3. High levels of tTAV prevent cells from working properly.
Once there is enough tTAV protein, it interferes with the machinery which cells use to control the expression of genes. Essential genes are not expressed, and the insects die while they are still pupae or larvae.
In some research, both male and female insects die, while in others the gene only affects female insects.
4. The self-limiting gene can be turned off with an antidote.
When the pests are reared with an antidote called tetracycline, the tTAV protein binds to the antidote instead of tetO. There is no positive feedback, so levels of tTAV remain low and the insect survives.
They said they can breed these self-limiting insects by adding tetracycline to their food. However, in the wild their offspring do not have access to tetracycline and so they die.
According to their statement, if government authorities can test this gene on affected grounds, the waste of public money can be stopped. Further, this team is willing to extend their support to the government to develop this kind of technology in the country without depending on imported pesticides.
Even the use of some natural extractions like neem oil may kill other environmental-friendly species that are important to agriculture. It is hard to control the FAW even after applying natural or artificial pest control techniques.
Usually, one single egg will lead to 2,000 eggs, but the technique they proposed will destroy each and every egg that remains in the field, without allowing the pest to regenerate.
Academicians involved in this project:
* Prof. C.A.N Fernando, Nano Science Technology Department, Technology Faculty, Wayamba University of Sri Lanka, Kuliyapitiya
* Prof. Ajith C. Herath, Applied Science Faculty, Rajarata University of Sri Lanka, Mihintale.
* Prof. L. Obeysekara, Technology Faculty, Horizon Campus, Malabe
* Prof. P Samarasekera, Physics Department, University of Peradeniya
* Prof. D.P.S.T.G Attanayake, Biotechnology Department, Wayamba University, Makandura
*Prof. R.C.W.M.R.A Nugawela, Biotechnology Department, Wayamba University, Makadura
* Prof. Aruni Weerasinghe, Plant Science Department, Agriculture Faculty, Rajarata University of Sri Lanka, Anuradhapura.
* Prof. D.P.S.T.G Attanayake, Biotechnology Department, Wayamba University, Makadura
* Prof. Sanath Rajapakse, Molecular Biology and Biotechnology Department, Science Faculty, University of Peradeniya
* Prof. Sanath Hettiaracchi, Applied Sciences Faculty, Rajarata University of Sri Lanka, Mihintale
* Prof. Rohan Weerasooriya, National Institute of Fundamental Studies, Kandy
* Prof. B. Obeysekara, Australia
* Prof. Ronald Hummel, Germany
* Dr. PSB Wanduragala (Coordinator) – Secretary, National Institute of Fundamental Studies, Kandy
* Dr. K.H Sarananda, Bio Systems Engineering Department, Wayamba University, Makadura
* Dr. Upaneth Liyanarchchi (Coordinator), Nano Science Technology Department, Technology Faculty, Wayamba University of Sri Lanka, Kuliyapitiya
* Dr. Pradeep Perera, Nano Science Technology Department, Technology Faculty, Wayamba University of Sri Lanka, Kuliyapitiya
* Dr. Nimali Tharangani De Silva (Coordinator)- Nano Science Technology Department, Technology Faculty, Wayamba University of Sri Lanka, Kuliyapitiya
* Dr. Asanka Rajapakse, Nano Science Technology Department, Technology Faculty, Wayamba University of Sri Lanka, Kuliyapitiya
* Dr. Malita Abeykoon, Bells Lab Communication PLC , Sri Lanka
Reference : Daily News – 06th February 2019
Horizon team from Faculty of Science has observed Ruddy-breasted Crake, a rare bird species at Diyasaru Park
Ruddy-breasted Crake is an endangered species appearing in the IUCN red list. It is a shy water bird which belongs to Rallidae family. Ruddy Crake migrates to Sri Lanka in December and leaves by March. It is uncommon and rarely seen, because of lack of the habitat and the urbanization. The Horizon team (Batch 10 undergraduates following BSc (Hons) in Biotechnology) led by senior lecturers Mr Medisha Gunawardena and Mr Eranda Mandawala, were fortunate to spot this rare species on 11.12.2018 during their field visit to Diyasaru Biodiversity Park around Thalawathugoda. During this field visit, the undergraduates were able to expand their knowledge on Biodiversity of wet lands and importance of conserving them. It was a memorable experience for them as they were able to observe and learn about endemic and endangered flora and fauna in wetlands.