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Researchers in the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley’s Department of Health and Biomedical Sciences are working to develop a next generation of anti-HIV drugs that are more effective and have fewer side effects.

Featured: Researchers in the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley’s Department of Health and Biomedical Sciences are working to develop a next generation of anti-HIV drugs that are more effective and have fewer side effects. Human immunodeficiency virus 1 (HIV-1) remains one of the leading causes of death globally. To further support studies into HIV-1, the National Institutes of Health awarded UTRGV a grant for the project, called “Nanodiamond Based Anti-HIV Drug Delivery Targeted Towards the Brain,” The grant is for $432,729 starting July 1, 2018 and ending June 30, 2021. The principal investigator is Dr. Upal Roy, Assistant Professor at the UTRGV Department of Health and Biomedical Science.  From left are some of the students majoring in Biomedical Science who will be working on the research – Jonathan Abshier, Roberto DeLa Garza, Dr. Upal Roy, Jesus Hernandez and Hari Das. he Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg City Council, along with the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation and its Board of Directors, lobby the Texas Legislature and the UT System Board of Regents on matters that benefit and protect UTRGV and its School of Medicine, which have major campuses in the city. 

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For sixth consecutive month, city’s retail economy shows improvement over same period last year, with June 2018 figure up almost six percent over June 2017, reports Edinburg EDC

By DAVID A. DÍAZ
Legislativemedia@aol.com

Edinburg’s retail economy during June 2018 showed an almost six percent improvement over the same month in 2017, representing the sixth consecutive month of growth over the same period last year, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation has announced.

The previous month, in May 2018, the local retail economy registered a more than seven percent improvement over the same month in 2017.

In May 2018, April 2018,  March 2018, February 2018 and January 2018, Edinburg’s retail economy reported a 7.23 percent, 9.84 percent, 11.09 percent and 9.29 percent improvement, respectively, over the same six months in 2017.

All figures for Edinburg, along with every other governmental entity in Texas which collect a local sales tax, are provided by the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. The most recent findings are based on sales made in June 2018 by businesses that report tax monthly, and sales made in April, May and June by quarterly filers.

The Edinburg EDC, of which Joey Treviño is the Executive Director, is the jobs-creation arm of Mayor Richard Molina, Mayor Pro-Tem David Torres, Councilmember Homer Jasso, Jr., Councilmember Gilbert Enríquez, and Councilmember Jorge Salinas.

The Edinburg EDC Board of Directors is comprised of Councilmember Enríquez as President, Edinburg School Board Trustee Miguel “Mike” Farías as Vice-President, Councilmember Salinas as Secretary/Treasurer, and Mayor Molina and Mayor Pro Tem Torres as Members.

The amount of local sales taxes collected helps reflect the strength of an economy, along with construction activities, per capita income, education, historical performances, and related trends.

The local sales tax is also used in Edinburg to help pay for many city services, while the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation uses its one-half cent local sales tax to help generate economic development in the city.

Edinburg’s retail economy in June 2018 produced $2,043,761.92 in local sales taxes, compared to $1,931,396.03 in June 2017 – representing an improvement of 5.81 percent.

Under the reporting system maintained online by the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, for all public entities which generate local sales taxes, year-to-date totals begin in November of each year.

Between November 2017 and June 2018, Edinburg’s retail economy has generated $15,057,260.22 in local sales taxes, compared with $14,082,798.52 from November 2016 to June 2017, an improvement of 6.84 percent.

In terms of local sales tax revenue for June 2018, McAllen led all major Valley cities with $5,766,654.71, while Brownsville was second ($3,326,694.66), Harlingen was third ($2,186,866.83), and Edinburg was fourth ($2,043,761.92).

The sales tax, formally known as the State Sales and Use Tax, is imposed on all retail sales, leases and rentals of most goods, as well as taxable services. Texas cities, counties, transit authorities and special purpose districts have the option of imposing an additional local sales tax for a combined total of state and local taxes of 8 1/4% (.0825).

How Key Valley Cities Performed In June 2018 and June 2017

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar on Wednesday, August 8, 2018, said he will send cities, counties, transit systems and special purpose taxing districts $842.7 million in localsales tax allocations in June 2018 – 8.2 percent more than in June 2017.

The local sales tax data is among the latest economic barometers featured in a detailed summary provided by the state comptroller’s office.

Among its many duties, the Texas Comptroller’s office is the state’s chief tax collector, accountant, revenue estimator and treasurer.

Based on the amount of sales taxes generated, according to the state comptroller’s office, the Valley’s major cities ranked accordingly in the following local sales tax figures:

June 2018 compared with June 2017

• McAllen: $5,766,654.71, up 9.41 percent compared with June 2017 ($5,270,617.50);
• Brownsville: $3,326,694.66, down 3.97 percent compared with June 2017 ($3,464,521.28);
• Harlingen:$2,168,351.70, down 0.84 percent compared with June 2017 ($2,186,886.63);
• Edinburg: $2,043,761.92, up 5.81 percent compared with June 2017 ($1,931,396.03);
• Pharr: $1,566,840.80, up 1.21 percent compared with June 2017 ($1,538,105.49);
• Mission: $1,390,512.90, up 7.57 percent compared with June 2017 ($1,292,617.51); and
• Weslaco: $1,133,129.47, up 5.68 percent compared with June 2017 ($1,072,209.70).

November 2017 through June 2018, compared with November 2016 through June 2017

Under the reporting system maintained online by the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, for all public entities which generate local sales taxes, year-to-date totals begin in November of each year.

From November 2017 through June 2018, based on the amount of sales taxes generated, compared with November 2016 through June 2017, the Valley’s major cities ranked accordingly in the following local sales tax figures:

• McAllen: $42,303,162.30, from November 2017 through June 2018, up 6.28 percent compared with November 2016 through June 2017 ($39,802,225.64);

• Brownsville: $25,790,189.23, up 4.60 percent from November 2017 through June 2018, compared with November 2016 through June 2017 ($24,655,657.35);

• Harlingen: $17,229,460.92, from November 2017 through June 2018, up 7.88 percent compared with November 2016 through June 2017 ($15,969,528.16);

• Edinburg: $15,057,260.22, from  November 2017 through June 2018, up 6.84 percent compared with November 2016 through June 2017 ($14,092,798.52);

• Pharr: $12,450,483,34, from November 2017 through June 2018, up 9 percent compared with November 2016 through June 2017 ($11,421,470.85);

• Mission: $10,276,196.70, from November 2017 through June 2018, up 3.08 percent compared with November 2016 through June 2017 ($9,968,475.33); and

• Weslaco: $8,480,516.41, from November 2017 through June 2018, up 3.48 percent compared with November 2016 through June 2017 ($8,194,907.29).

For details on local sales taxes generated in June 2018 by individual cities, counties, transit systems and special purpose districts, visit the Comptroller’s Monthly Sales Tax Allocation Comparison Summary Reports.

UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS RIO GRANDE VALLEY AWARDED GRANT FOR ANTI-HIV DRUG RESEARCH

Researchers at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley’s Department of Health and Biomedical Sciences are working to develop a next generation of anti-HIV drugs that are more effective and have fewer side effects

To further support the study of human immunodeficiency virus 1 (HIV-1) – still one of the leading causes of death worldwide, predominantly in developing countries – the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently awarded a grant to the UTRGV researchers for their project, called “Nanodiamond Based Anti-HIV Drug Delivery Targeted Towards the Brain.”

The grant is for $432,729, which began July 1, 2018 and ends June 30, 2021.

The principal investigator is Dr. Upal Roy, Assistant Professor at the UTRGV Department of Health and Biomedical Science. Collaborators are Dr. Shizue Mito, Assistant Professor in the UTRGV Department Chemistry, and Dr. Vadym Drozd, Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering at Florida International University.

The proposed research develops a molecule that will be conjugated with the microglia-specific antibody for targeted drug delivery to the brain. Microglia is a type of cell that is majorly found throughout the brain. The proposednanodrug can be used to directly deliver an anti-HIV drug specifically to the inflammatory areas of the brain where most of the infected microglia and the virus are present.

Roy and his colleagues hypothesize that the nanodiamond-mediated drug delivery will be more efficient, safe and effective than conventional drugs.

“The patients will find these next-generation drugs less expensive, and with the simplified dosing schedule, they will stay in the treatment for a much longer period of time – which eventually will improve the quality of their lives,” he said.

The proposed research will help to stimulate the research environment at UTRGV, Roy said, and will expose current undergraduate and graduate students to the biomedical research environment.

“This research work is very translational, which will eventually reach the patients in need in the Rio Grande Valley who are affected by this disease. It will put UTRGV on the national map for HIV research, which can also help us bring more research funding to this region,” he said.

Roy extends credit to the UTRGV Health and Biomedical Science Department for supporting the project, and Dr. Saraswathy Nair, the department chair and Associate Professor; Dr. Michael Lehker, Dean of College of Health Affairs; Dr. Shawn Saladin, Associate Professor and Associate Dean for the School of Rehabilitation Services and Counseling; and Dr. John Krouse, Dean of the UTRGV School of Medicine.

About UTRGV

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) was created by the Texas Legislature in 2013 as the first major public university of the 21st century in Texas. This transformative initiative provided the opportunity to expand educational opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley, including a new School of Medicine, and made it possible for residents of the region to benefit from the Permanent University Fund – a public endowment contributing support to the University of Texas System and other institutions.

UTRGV has campuses and off-campus research and teaching sites throughout the Rio Grande Valley including in Boca Chica Beach, Brownsville (formerly The University of Texas at Brownsville campus), Edinburg (formerly The University of Texas-Pan American campus), Harlingen, McAllen, Port Isabel, Rio Grande City, and South Padre Island. UTRGV, a comprehensive academic institution, enrolled its first class in the fall of 2015, and the School of Medicine welcomed its first class in the summer of 2016.

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Amanda L. Alaniz contributed to this article. For more information on the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation and the City of Edinburg, please log on to http://edinburgedc.com.

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