• South Asia News in brief: 7–20 August


Below is a round up of news from or about South Asia for the period 7–20 August 2008.

Indian HIV/AIDS vaccine safe, well-tolerated
A US–Indian designed HIV/AIDS vaccine was found to be safe and well-tolerated in the first phase of trials in Chennai. The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative and the Indian Council of Medical Research tested two doses of the vaccine. After three injections, 82 per cent of the volunteers who received a low dose and 100 per cent of those who received a high dose registered immune responses to the vaccine. More>>

India to set up transgenic crop initiative
The International Crop Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) at Patancheru near Hyderabad and India's Department of Biotechnology will work together to set up a Platform for Translational Research on Transgenic Crops. The five-year, US$6.25 million initiative will boost research in genetic engineering of crops to solve problems that cannot be tackled through conventional plant breeding. More>>

Study offers insight into cholera's recurrence
Historical data on cholera deaths in Bangladesh and India have been studied to gain new insights into why outbreaks recur. The team from the United Kingdom and United States report that people's immunity to the disease wanes after a few months and a large number of infected persons do not show symptoms. More>>

Modified guidelines 'improve pneumonia care' in Bangladesh
Modifying international guidelines on pneumonia management to local conditions yielded far better results for children in Bangladesh a study in The Lancetshows. Fewer children died when guidelines allowed children with severe pneumonia to be treated at local facilities instead of hospitals, with referrals only for those showing danger signs or in extremely severe cases. More>>

Myanmar gears up for forecast, disaster warning programmes
Myanmar will set up a committee comprising its meteorology and hydrology department and international institutes to improve weather forecasting services. The country is also working with China and Thailand to improve earthquake studies, and with India to improve tsunami warning. More>>

Genetic testing can 'forecast outbreaks'
Genetic tests for multidrug-resistance and virulence in bacteria samples from waters can help monitor and forecast waterborne outbreaks. Scientists who analysed Escherichia coli samples taken from waters of the Gomti River in northern India found several genes that not only made E. coli infectious but also resist several common drugs. The information can be used for tracking disease outbreaks. More>>

International collaboration turns sweet potato orange
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Harvest Plus, a global group of scientists and institutions, are working together on biofortification, a technique to pump nutrients into staple food crops while they grow and improve nutritional deficiencies among the world's poor. A white Bangladeshi sweet potato that has been turned orange after being enriched with beta-carotene is being tested for its ability to improve vitamin A levels in women. More>>

Double DNA vaccine against filarial 'more effective'
An Indian vaccine against filaria, consisting of two pieces of the Brugia malayi's DNA showed better immune response in studies in mice than a vaccine with just one piece of DNA. The strategy of using more than one DNA piece could prove more effective, scientists report. More>>

Bangladesh's shipbreakers under the spotlight
Lung health risks in Bangladesh's shipbreaking industry will be a focus of new research by the University of British Columbia, supported by the Canadian government. Shipbreaking, which involves dismantling old ships and re-using some parts, is considered one of the most hazardous professions, because workers are exposed to many hazardous substances, particularly asbestos. More>>

Jatropha goes in for early germination
Jatropha, a plant that is evoking global interest as a promising source of biofuel, shows early germination in humid climates. The trait known as 'vivipary', where seeds germinate and embryos develop while the fruit is still attached to the parent plant, is extremely rare in plants and has been reported in less than 100 flowering families. This feature could have implications for commercial seed harvesting, reports Current Science. More>> [103kB]

Nepali child soldiers 'suffer more depression'
Former child soldiers of Nepal are more likely to suffer from depression and post-traumatic stress than other Nepali children. The findings of the first-ever study on the mental health of Nepali child soldiers was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. More>>

Compiled by T. V. Padma.

If you would like to suggest a story for this news in brief, please contact the South Asia Regional Coordinator T. V. Padma ([email protected]).