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Scientists discover 1,000 new genes associated with intelligence

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In a remarkable discovery, scientists have identified a whopping 1,016 specific genes associated with intelligence, many of which were hitherto unknown to science.

The study was headed by statistical geneticist Danielle Posthuma at Amsterdam’s Free University in the Netherlands. The international team conducted a genome-wide association study (GWAS) of almost 270,000 participants – with some very fruitful results.

The large-scale study led to the unearthing of 190 new genomic loci (a fixed position on a chromosome) and 939 new genes associated with intelligence. The discovery serves to enlighten human understanding of the genetic makeup of cognitive ability.

Participants took part in neurocognitive tests that measured their intelligence. Scores were then compared with their DNA, alerting scientists to which mutations are associated with higher intelligence. This led to some other genetic discoveries, namely that the intelligence genes correlated with increased instances of autism, along with longevity, suggesting that carriers could be prone to living longer lives.

What’s more, the 270,000-strong sample led to the detection of over nine million mutations. Wading through this information, the team identified 205 regions in DNA code linked with intelligence – including 190 unprecedented ones. Of the 1,016 specific genes identified, 939 of these were brand new discoveries.

Meanwhile, presence of these genes demonstrated a negative correlation with cognitive health disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and depressive symptoms.

“Our results indicate overlap in the genetic processes involved in both cognitive functioning and neurological and psychiatric traits and provide suggestive evidence of causal associations that may drive these correlations,” explain the researchers.

“These results are important for understanding the biological underpinnings of cognitive functioning and contribute to understanding of related neurological and psychiatric disorders.”

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Egyptian startup Potcast Productions raises funding to upscale offerings

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Potcast Production, an Egypt-based innovative company that specializes in podcast production, has announced securing an an undisclosed pre-seed funding round to help enhance its content production capabilities, scale its marketing efforts, and accelerate the development of new podcast series.

Potcast Productions which was established by entrepreneur Islam Adel in 2020, creates 15 diverse podcast programmes tailored to various target demographics, and has racked up seven million listens and over 600,000 viewing hours within the last six months.

According Adel, the pre-seed funding round comes from Innovative Media Productions (IMP), the media company behind Egypt’s Shart Tank television show, which made its first investment in Potcast Productions back in April, as well as renowned investor Ahmed Tarek Khalil.

“The funds will be used to enhance Potcast’s content production capabilities, scale up its marketing efforts, and accelerate the development of new, high-quality podcast series that cater to a diverse and growing audience,” Adel said.

“This round of investment will also support plans to produce high quality audio experiences both digitally and offline, further solidifying Potcast’s position as a leader in audio-first content production.

“The injection of funds will be directed towards enhancing Potcast’s capacity to produce high-quality content, scaling its marketing initiatives, and creating new podcast series to meet the demands of an increasingly diverse listener base.

“The investment will also support Potcast’s ambition to deliver premium audio experiences, both online and offline, thereby reinforcing its status as a pioneer in the realm of audio-first content production.

“Securing this follow-up investment from IMP and Ahmed Tarek Khalil is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our team.

“Their support validates our mission to transform podcasting in the region and propels us forward as we continue to innovate and expand our reach,” Adel said.

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Kenyan marketing startup Wowzi partners Mastercard in $2m deal for content creators

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Kenyan influencer marketing platform, Wowzi, has announced a partnership with Mastercard and Masria Digital Payments which will see it disburse $2.04 million to transform the financial management landscape for content creators through innovative digital card solutions.

Co-founder and CEO of Wowzi, Brian Mogeni, who made the announcement, said the agreement with Mastercard and MDP is a five-year deal that will see Wowzi provide Kenyan content creators with access to a wide range of digital card benefits.

“Our journey has always been driven by the belief that content creators are the heartbeat of the digital age. This strategic partnership with Mastercard and MDP represents a pivotal moment in our mission to empower these creators,” Mogeni said.

“Leveraging MDP’s expertise in digital payments, these cards are designed to offer content creators a seamless and secure user experience, simplifying both online and offline transactions.

“Innovation is at the core of our values, and we recognise that the influencer and creator market is underserved when it comes to payment solutions.

“We are dedicated to being at the forefront of technology solutions that cater to the unique needs of content creators. This collaboration allows us to not only address those needs but to set new standards in financial empowerment, security, and convenience for our valued community,” he added.

Wowzi which was launched in 2020 by Mogeni, Mike Otieno and Dr Hassan Bashir, has built a self-serve online platform that allows brands of any size or industry to create and manage massive, distributed messaging campaigns utilising thousands of real, everyday customers and fans who get paid to offer authentic endorsements online for the products they already love.

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