World-Renowned and Legendary Tony Roma’s Restaurant Celebrates 50th Anniversary

ORLANDO, Fla., Jan. 20, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Today, Romacorp, Inc., the parent company of Tony Roma's , the world's largest casual dining concept and widely–recognized restaurant brand that specializes in ribs, celebrates its 50th anniversary. On January 20, 1972, the company's founder Tony Roma opened his flagship restaurant, Tony Roma's, in North Miami, Florida. The restaurant quickly became one of the most popular eateries in Miami and established its niche in the market.

Over the years, loyal customers, families and friends continued to flock to the restaurant for its popular Baby Back Ribs. These special ribs emerged as a house specialty that are now enjoyed by guests across the globe. Now, after 50 years of successful growth and world–wide expansion, the company is celebrating being one of the most recognizable names in the restaurant industry.

"What better way to kick off 2022 than to be celebrating this monumental moment for our 50 years old brand," said Ramon Bourgeois, CEO (Acting) & COO of Romacorp, Inc. "As we look to the next 50 plus years, we are focused on growth, a fresh new concept, family–friendly dining experiences and continuing to serve up our saucy and flavorful ribs. We look forward to bringing families together around the table for many more years to come."

Tony Roma's is delighted and honored that dignitaries including U.S. Representative Val Demings have shared congratulatory wishes to the brand, which has been serving families and communities for five decades, locally in Florida and around the world.

Tony Roma's is a full–service, family–friendly dining destination with locations spanning 5 continents that serves up its World–Famous Baby Back Ribs and beloved menu classics, such as Kicking shrimp, Onion Loaf, Miami Burger, Sizzling Ribeye & Romaritas. Recently, the brand announced its new visionary leadership team, who are paving the way for the brand's next chapter of growth to expand the brand and Tony Roma's portfolio of dining experiences.

Later this year, the brand plans to launch a 3,000+ square foot dining prototype along with its 500 square foot fast–casual concept Bones & Burgers, which will cater to on–the–go guests, while still providing the same quality ingredients and fresh preparations in an authentic quick–service space.

The company plans to open 200 Tony Roma's locations over the next decade, primarily focusing on markets in the Middle East, Asia and the United States. The newest Tony Roma's locations are set to open in North Carolina this summer and Montana before the end of the year.

For more information about Tony Roma's, please visit TonyRomas.com for more details and dining reservations.

About Romacorp, Inc.
Romacorp, Inc., is the parent company of Tony Roma's restaurants, the world's largest casual dining concept specializing in ribs. Headquartered in Orlando, Florida, Tony Roma's is present in 20 countries and is one of the most globally recognizable names in the industry. The first Tony Roma's restaurant opened 50 years ago in North Miami, Florida. For more information about Romacorp, Inc. and Tony Roma's, visit www.tonyromas.com.

Media Contact:
Chloe Blair
Uproar PR for Romacorp
615–517–5116
cblair@uproarpr.com


Expereo Launches SD-WAN Gateways

AMSTERDAM, The Netherlands, Jan. 20, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Expereo, the leading global provider of managed Internet, SD–WAN, SASE, and Cloud Access solutions, announces the launch of SD–WAN Gateways. This new service boosts the SD–WAN performance for enterprises with a global footprint to support their multi–cloud strategies and increase application performance.

SD–WAN Gateways allow enterprises' global network to enhance the SD–WAN experience between data centers and hub sites both intra–regionally and globally, without sacrificing in–country performance. Enterprises can combine their existing SD–WAN solution with Expereo SD–WAN Gateways, to optimize the end–user application experience and reduce operational costs.

The new service leverages Expereo's managed SD–WAN service offerings complemented with proprietary smart BGP routing optimization technology, optimizing SaaS reach and access to public and private cloud, overcoming internet limitations.

"Businesses are entering a multi–cloud era in which the internet cannot always provide consistent quality for enabling their applications to perform seamlessly. One of the main SD–WAN Gateways benefits is that it combines a scalable network infrastructure with an enhanced WAN performance boosting your application performance. This results in a better user experience and higher productivity," comments Sander Barens, CPO of Expereo.

As Thomas Jongerius, SD–WAN/SASE Technical Lead at Expereo explains "Many enterprises face poor application experience due to unpredictable Internet performance resulting in high IT and support cost for businesses that operate globally. Our new SD–WAN Gateway service is all about getting the best application performance across the entirety of your network."

With SD–WAN Gateways, Expereo expands its managed services offering, taking a new step towards simplifying global cloud connectivity.

About Expereo

Expereo is the leading provider of managed network solutions, including Global internet connectivity, SD–WAN, SASE, and Cloud Access Optimization services. Expereo is the trusted partner of 30% of Fortune 500 companies and powers enterprise and government sites worldwide, helping to enhance every business' productivity with flexible and optimal Internet performance. In Feb 2021, Vitruvian Partners international growth capital and buyout firm acquired a majority stakeholding in Expereo, alongside the leading European private equity firm Apax Partners SAS and the company's management.

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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

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 www.madisonrealtycapital.com.


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

NEWS HIGHLIGHTS
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 www.uab.edu.

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.

FACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/UAB.edu TEXT: www.uab.edu/news
TWEETS: www.twitter.com/uabnews VIDEO: www.youtube.com/uabnews

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

A photo accompanying this announcement is available at: https://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/33d4e6ff–7c94–45e9–b4b2–54b02013eabc

A video accompanying this announcement is available at: https://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/90656f74–a325–479f–9177–9d9538f11799


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

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 info@sweegen.com and visit Sweegen's website, www.sweegen.com.

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.

Attachment


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

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 info@sweegen.com and visit Sweegen's website, www.sweegen.com.

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.

Attachment


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
E pressoffice@cmrsurgical.com

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.


Count Me in: Working Together for Disability Inclusion in Guatemala

The organization “Mujeres con Capacidad de Soñar a Colores” during one of their awareness-raising performances. Credit: Diana Alvarado (@alvaradodii) and Mujeres con Capacidad de Soñar a Colores , UNDP

By Peride Blind
GUATEMALA CITY, Jan 20 2022 – “Persons with disabilities are capable and equal. It is time the world understands that,” says Antonio Palma, a UN Volunteer at the Resident Coordinator’s Office in Guatemala. Antonio, who has a visual impairment, expresses what many other persons with disabilities feel. Ignored, mistreated, misunderstood, underestimated, condescended to.

People with disabilities are diverse, and they experience exclusion and marginalization in different ways and to different degrees.

About 1 in 10 Guatemalans has a disability. That’s one out of every ten neighbours, friends, relatives, co-workers, passers-by, or distant strangers.

You might think that ten per cent of the population would get some recognition. But the country has little data on persons with disabilities, making them less visible in public policy and often left with little or no access to basic services in health, education, work, among other areas.

Some people might think that providing such services is a charitable gesture. What that perspective ignores is that persons with disabilities are people, and as such they have human rights.

Fulfilling the human rights of persons with disabilities requires certain steps so that they can participate and be fully included in society.

The UN Country Team (UNCT) in Guatemala recognizes this basic principle. We are a proud pioneer of the Disability Inclusion Strategy of the Secretary General and a two-time implementer of the United Nations Partnership on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Indigenous Guatemalan woman with physical disability. Credit: Huayra Bello (@huaybello) and Mujeres con Capacidad de Soñar a Colores , UNDP

To advance our work in this area, we at the UNCT in Guatemala recently conducted an in-depth analysis of disability inclusion in the country. Through interviews, focus groups, and surveys, we identified some concrete gaps and challenges, for example in terms of the legal and public administration system. Our ultimate goal: end exclusion and leave no one behind.

Here’s what we found, and what we’re doing about it.

    • DATA: Persons with disabilities are not consistently included and counted in mainstream data collection. This hampers access to important information about the quality and access of persons with disabilities to key services, thus leading them to be further excluded from already precarious social protection systems for example. To help correct this situation, the UNCT in Guatemala will, in the next two years, will support measures to create a national database of persons with disabilities and how mainstream data is gathered and utilized.

    • RESOURCES: The National Council for the Attention of Persons with Disabilities (CONADI) has a mandate to implement the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. But their budget is very limited so the UNCT provides additional training to boost the capacity of organizations of persons with disabilities to help ensure they can support CONADI and lead the way on inclusion.

    • PRACTICES: The more that the many forms of exclusion and discrimination are rooted out, the more room is made for the positive inclusion of persons with disabilities. With this aim, the team in Guatemala supported the creation of the first Consultative Council of Organizations of Persons with Disabilities bringing the urban and the rural together, with a gender focus. The Council, once operationalized in 2022, will vet all projects and programmes of the UN System in Guatemala to ensure inclusion and accessibility.

    • COMMUNICATIONS: Noting the importance of persons with disabilities advocating for their rights, the UN Team in Guatemala launched a fifteen-day communications campaign #YoMeSumo prior to the International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2021. Each day of the campaign features the story of a Guatemalan with disability and how they are advocating for their rights. See all the videos on our YouTube channel.

The UN Team in Guatemala believes in leading by example. Having recently signed our first UNCT-wide non-discrimination declaration, all 22 members now encourage persons with disabilities to apply in their job vacancy announcements and have adopted the practice of hiring personnel with disabilities.

In 2021, the UN Team provided additional training on disability inclusion to staff to create a more inclusive and welcoming environment. To this end, the UN Guatemala carried out a review of employment practices and office accessibility, and adopted a Manual on Accessible Communication.

In all these efforts, the UN Team is fostering collaboration between the UN, government, and persons and organizations of persons with disabilities.

Antonio Palma, the UN Volunteer, has long dreamed of working at the world’s most influential human rights organization. He is excited to help shift perceptions about persons with disabilities in Guatemala from within the UN by using strategic and inclusive communication.

Working together, we may increase inclusion and unity. Antonio Palma offers his vision for building unity: “All Guatemalans are one, regardless of any differences.”

Adds the UN Resident Coordinator in Guatemala, José Miguel Barreto: “COVID-19 has taught us yet again that we all need one another. The world is more beautiful, more secure, and more just when everyone is included, including persons with disabilities. Each one of us can do something to make that happen.”

Source: UNDP

Peride Blind is Strategic Planning officer/RCO Team Leader, UNCT in Guatemala. The article was written with editorial support from Paul VanDeCarr, Development Coordination Office. To learn more about the work of the UNCT in Guatemala, visit: https://guatemala.un.org/.

 


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Covax, the Developing World’s Hope against COVID, Has Made It Only Halfway

Delivery of syringes for the vaccination campaign in El Salvador. Latin American countries have made steady progress in immunizing their populations, partly through direct negotiations between their governments and suppliers and partly through international cooperation. CREDIT: PAHO

Delivery of syringes for the vaccination campaign in El Salvador. Latin American countries have made steady progress in immunizing their populations, partly through direct negotiations between their governments and suppliers and partly through international cooperation. CREDIT: PAHO

By Humberto Márquez
CARACAS, Jan 20 2022 – The Covax initiative, the hope of the countries of the developing South to immunize their populations against COVID-19, only met half of its goals in 2021. And as 2022 begins, and the omicron variant of the virus is spreading fast, the scheme still depends on the decisions of pharmaceutical companies and the goodwill of donor governments.

José Manuel Durão Barroso, president of the Gavi Vaccine Alliance, one of the entities leading the Covax initiative, warned at the outset that “as long as a large part of the world’s population is unvaccinated, variants will continue to emerge and the pandemic will drag on.”

“We will only prevent variants from emerging if we are able to protect the entire world population, not just the rich areas,” added Durão Barroso, former prime minister of Portugal (2002-2004) and former president of the European Commission (2004-2014), in an email interview with IPS.

Covax, a global access fund for COVID-19 vaccines established in April 2020 as an alliance of countries, multilateral organizations and private foundations, had brought together 184 countries by October that year and set out to procure and distribute hundreds of millions of vaccines against the disease equitably in countries of the developing South.

Under the scheme, one group of countries self-funds and pays for the vaccines sent to it by Covax, while another, the poorest, are to receive the immunizations free of charge.

Shortly after the first vaccines were applied in industrialized countries in late 2020, an encouraging first shipment of 600,000 doses of the British Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine arrived at the international airport in Accra, Ghana, the first country to benefit from the Covax mechanism, on Feb. 24, 2021.

The initiative was launched to distribute and apply, in more than a hundred countries, two billion doses throughout 2021, to ensure equitable immunization of 40 percent of the world’s population, before reaching 70 percent in the first half of 2022 – figures aimed at curbing the pandemic”As long as a large part of the world’s population is unvaccinated, variants will continue to emerge and the pandemic will drag on. We will only prevent variants from emerging if we are able to protect the entire world population, not just the rich areas.” — José Manuel Durão Barroso

But disaster lurked around the corner. India was hit by a sudden, devastating wave of COVID-19 infections, and the overcrowded country stopped exporting vaccines. And the Serum Institute of India (SII), the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, was to be the source of the vaccines for the Gavi-Covax mechanism.

While high-income countries such as the United States, Canada, European nations and Israel purchased large quantities of vaccines from pharmaceutical transnationals, sometimes in excess of their populations, it was logical for Covax to seek supplies from India’s SII, where doses were also cheaper.

A dose prepared by the SII could cost three dollars, compared to 50 or 100 percent more in a Western pharmaceutical company.

Thus, while its recipients in the South awaited vaccines under great pressure from their local populations, Covax had to announce in April and May that there would be delays, which occurred in the following months, placing many countries in an uncertain and impotent wait while the virus variants raged.

By early January 2022, the number of infected cases exceeded 300 million worldwide and deaths surpassed 5.5 million, with two populous countries in the South, India and Brazil, following the worst-hit country in absolute numbers: the United States.

Instead of two billion doses, Covax distributed less than half of that – 900 million – throughout 2021. And as of November 2021 it had delivered less than 600 million doses, although it reached 900 million thanks to donations of 310 million doses in December.

What went wrong?

Durão Barroso explained that “the unfortunate epidemiological situation in India, combined with the fact that only a few vaccines had received the WHO emergency use listing and were available for global supply at that time, significantly delayed the launch of Covax.”

This situation “together with export restrictions, the hoarding of vaccines by many richer countries, and manufacturers who do not prioritize vaccine equity, meant that we could not access as many doses as we expected in the second and third quarters of the year,” added the head of Gavi.

When the race against the clock for vaccines began, “many governments in high-income countries made reference to global solidarity,” so that all nations would have access to immunizations, recalled Kate Elder, senior vaccines policy advisor at the humanitarian organization Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).

“Pharmaceutical companies said they would do their part to ensure that the mistakes of the past were not repeated and that it was not just high-income countries that would have access to medical innovations,” Elder said in her response to a list of questions from IPS.

“However, this did not happen and calls to move away from the business-as-usual approach were ignored. High-income countries started buying up COVID-19 vaccine doses even before they were available,” she said.

The corporate behavior contradicted earlier assertions that antiviral vaccines should be global public goods, and pharmaceutical corporations, as in other circumstances in the past, prioritized sales to the highest bidder and sought primarily their own financial gain, according to MSF.

Donations arrive

The result of the first few months was that Covax only delivered one million doses in February 2021, 23 million in March, 15 million in April, and 30 million in May. From early on it was clear that reaching the goal of two billion doses in 10 months was impossible.

Confidence in vaccine delivery mechanisms, and in immunization itself, eroded, for example in Gambia, Namibia or Nigeria in Africa, or in Afghanistan and Pakistan in Asia. Anxiety also escalated because, having received the first dose of a vaccine, people demanded the second even more loudly

The first shipment of vaccines by Covax to a developing country arrived at the international airport in Accra, Ghana on Feb. 24, 2021. CREDIT: Krishnan/Covax

The first shipment of vaccines by Covax to a developing country arrived at the international airport in Accra, Ghana on Feb. 24, 2021. CREDIT: Krishnan/Covax

The countries of the developing South then began or intensified their search for vaccines outside of Covax. And, in parallel, some made progress in the production of their own vaccines, as was the case of Saudi Arabia, India and Singapore in Asia, Egypt in Africa and Argentina, Brazil, Cuba and Mexico in Latin America.

In the second half of 2021, donations began to appear, like a lifeline. Rich countries, having vaccinated large segments of their population and with vaccines or supplies such as syringes available, began to donate, often under the Covax umbrella, millions of doses to countries in the developing South.

Donor countries have so far offered Covax 591 million doses to be delivered in 2021 and the first half of 2022, and the scheme has sent 259 million doses to recipient countries, which partially explains the acceleration of deliveries in November (155 million) and December (310 million) 2021.

The main donors to Covax have been the United States (145 million doses), a group of 16 European Union members (81 million), the United Kingdom (11.5 million) and Canada and Japan (8.4 million doses each).

However, in some cases the doses arrived very close to their expiration date – or with a shortage of syringes or freezers to preserve them, as in Somalia and East Timor – forcing them to be discarded or sometimes sent back, as happened in the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.

The road ahead

Covax, in Elder’s view, was “naively ambitious,” and its success “was tied to unsound assumptions. Foreseeable challenges were not factored into the design of the mechanism and some poor policy decisions were made.”

“From its design to its governance and accountability mechanisms, the exclusion of meaningful participation of key stakeholders has undermined Covax’s ability to succeed,” the MSF vaccines policy expert argued.

The hoarding of vaccines and medicines by high-income countries has already happened on other occasions, such as during the HIV/AIDS epidemic or with regard to access to vaccines against pneumococcus, human papillomavirus or rotavirus.

For Elder, “if we want to learn from this experience to improve access to vaccines, the first step is to make a radical change. This basically means making the technology and innovation of medical tools public to guarantee an equitable model and decentralize production.

“Technology born of public investment cannot be owned by corporations, it must be a global public good,” she said.

In addition, “it is necessary to strengthen multilateral organizations and regional platforms, since each region knows best what its needs are, instead of public-private alliances based on the goodwill of pharmaceutical companies, which, at the end of the day, we already know what their interests are going to be.”

Durão Barroso said that Covax “has reached a point where it can now meet the demand of the countries it serves. However, there is a real risk that the supply disruption will continue in 2022.”

So “we have asked manufacturers to be more transparent about when they will make doses available, and from donor governments we have asked for larger and more predictable donations. This is finally happening,” added the head of Gavi.

Durão Barroso stressed that in the face of the spread of different variants “it is absolutely critical that we avoid a scenario of vaccine nationalism 2.0, where rich countries immobilize the supply of new vaccines.

“We depend on countries’ commitment to multilateralism and manufacturers’ commitment to transparency to ensure that we don’t fall behind again,” he stated.

Next-generation Lumos Controls mobile application redefines the enterprise lighting experience

LAGUNA HILLS, Calif., Jan. 20, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Lumos Controls launches an all–new mobile application to simplify and redefine smart controls for enterprises. The app is a perfect gateway in making any building smarter in the shortest span of time and meet their sustainability goals. The launch of redesigned Lumos Controls App emphasizes on bringing a great difference to the commercial and industrial lighting experiences along with great savings on energy bills and labor cost.

Vivek Pramod, Senior Vice President & GM – Smart Controls, WiSilica, says, "While smart controls are a must have for any modern building, the present solutions in the industry compels the user to understand the complexities of underlying technology even for the simplest of tasks. This is a big deterrent for smart technology adoption."

The app introduces several breakthrough features to simplify commissioning, configuration and automation of smart control ecosystem the way the industry needs it. Users can use this intuitive app without any additional training, thanks to a host of features such as multilanguage support, contextual in–app user tips, and a well–structured user guide. The mobile app provides flexible and easy solutions for lighting automation with multi–option scheduling and daylight harvesting.

"Our new app is collective result of all the feedback from our users over the years and rightly blended with our extensive technology expertise. The outcome is a simple to use mobile app tailor–made for smart enterprises and with a perfect balance of controls and configuration. This is a big step in our long journey ahead to create extensive value for lighting controls beyond its staple functionality and lots more to follow," Vivek concluded.

The app is a part of a well–rounded smart control ecosystem comprising of fit–to–purpose lighting control devices, multi–mount sensors, switches, gateways, analytical dashboards and more. The smart controls ecosystem is designed to facilitate seamless integration with building management system for a complete green building solution. Beyond the basic functionalities, now the lighting controls can deliver immense value better than ever!

This next–gen app is available for download on the iOS app store and Google play store for users.

About Lumos Controls

Lumos Controls is a smart controls solution from WiSilica, the leading IoT platform and solutions provider. Built on an IoT platform (ARIXA), this solution features the most advanced lighting control devices, intuitive interfaces, and versatile edge/cloud computing that are brought together to build an intelligent lighting network that's future ready for smart enterprises. Lumos Controls is on a mission to unlock the extra ordinary potential of light and give lighting controls a life of its own and beyond.

For more information: Lumoscontrols.com

Media Contact:
Gokul Ravindran
WiSilica Inc.
23282 Mill Creek Dr #340,
Laguna Hills,
CA 92653, USA
pr@wisilica.com

A photo accompanying this announcement is available at https://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/f22f6fc3–7549–4a4d–bd06–ca476e9dd328