'96 Batch - General News

Friday, October 24, 2003

Tests for medical graduates to be reviewed

By Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI OCT. 20. The controversy over mandatory screening tests for medical students graduating from foreign institutions has taken a new turn. The Union Health Ministry has asked the Law Ministry to look into the possibilities of relaxing the conditions and exempt students who had graduated before 2002 from institutions that were recognised by the Medical Council of India.

The move comes in the wake of representations made by the students on the ground that introduction of the screening tests for all, irrespective of whether they passed out of recognised institutions or not, was unjustified and that it was improper to introduce the regulations regarding the tests with retrospective effect.

According to Ministry officials, the points made by the students seemed to be justified. But, there were certain legal issues that needed to be looked into.

The regulations about the tests were made on the basis of the Supreme Court orders and, therefore, before taking any action, it was thought fit to take the Law Ministry's opinion.

RCC tele-medicine project in two years

Saturday October 18 2003 10:55 ISTTHIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Regional Cancer Centre here will commission a Rs 235-crore tele-medicine project in two years.

The project, aimed at reaching the sophisticated medical facilities throughout the State, will be jointly funded by the Union Ministry for Information Technology and ISRO.

The Regional Cancer Centre said in a statement here on Thursday that it would be giving Rs 179 lakh and Rs 36 lakh respectively for the project.

V-SAT stations would be set up at five tele-medicine centres in Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Kozhencherry, Ernakulam, Palakkad and Kannur as part of the project.

With the introduction of the tele-medicine facility, cancer patients in the State would be able to register their names, consult doctors, clear their doubts and continue their treatment without visiting the RCC.

The facility could also be used to create awareness on the disease among the public.

The tele-medicine facility would also enable doctors to collect information regarding the proposed treatment, approximate expenses and the anticipated duration of treatment before they refer patients to the RCC.

Sunday, October 12, 2003

India to conduct clinical trials for HIV vaccine

By Gargi Parsai

New Delhi Oct. 11. India is preparing to go in for Phase-I clinical trials in March next year for a preventive HIV vaccine developed by a scientist of the National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases (NICED), Kolkata, in collaboration with a U.S.-based biotechnology company.

With this, India would join the global effort in finding a vaccine that would prevent healthy, unaffected people from being infected with HIV. Trials are on in parts of the world with no breakthrough yet. India is estimated to have about four million people afflicted with HIV at the end of 2002.

The Phase-I trial, involving administration of the MVA (Modified Vaccinia Ankara) HIV-1 subtype C vaccine for the first time to humans in India would be conducted with 13 healthy volunteers in the age group of 18-50 to determine the efficacy of the vaccine. It would be conducted at the National AIDS Research Institute (NARI) Pune, under a tripartite agreement between the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO), the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI). Other areas would later be Chennai and the north east.

The Union Government would control the use of the vaccine if and when developed. Three vaccine manufacturers have been shortlisted, though the Phase-I trial vaccine has been manufactured by Therion. About Rs. 17 crores has been invested by ICMR so far. IAVI is looking at an investment of $100 million till the marketing of a vaccine.

The Phase-I would determine the safety, immunogenicity (ability to induce strong immune responses in the person to fight HIV) of the intramuscular vaccine, preliminary dose requirement and schedules for immunisation. This phase is expected to last two years.

Participating in a media workshop here on Friday, the Director-General of ICMR, N.K. Ganguli, and NACO experts expressed the confidence that the ethical and regulatory clearances on safety and toxicology and pre-clinical studies will come before March.

There was no clarity, however, on the norm that a vaccine developed in another country — in this case the U.S. — should first undergo Phase-I clinical trial in the country of origin.

Although the India-specific vaccine has been developed with the involvement of the scientist, Shekhar Chakravorty, of NICED and the U.S. Biotech Company, Therion Biologic Corporation in the U.S., there has been no Phase I clinical trials with this vaccine in that country.

According to Mark Chataway of the IAVI, all HIV laboratory research in vaccine development has to be uniform for global acceptability, though bound by the regulatory requirements of each country.

He hoped the Drugs Controller of India would accept the validity of the ongoing preclinical and toxicology studies on animals (mice) under way at the Therion Corporation.

The current status of the trial in India is that a new vaccine trial centre and immunology dedicated laboratory and staff is being set up at NARI. Efforts are on to enrol volunteers who are likely to be from groups of high-risk sex workers, truck drivers, health care workers and adolescents. The scientists said there would be sufficient safeguards for the volunteers to cover risks.

Two share Medicine Nobel

STOCKHOLM (Sweden) OCT 6. American Paul C. Lauterbur and Briton Sir Peter Mansfield won the 2003 Nobel Prize for medicine on Monday for discoveries leading to a technique that reveals images of the body's inner organs.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging, or MRI, has become a routine method for medical diagnosis and treatment. It is used to examine almost all organs without need for surgery, but is especially valuable for detailed examination of the brain and spinal cord.

Mr. Lauterbur (74), discovered the possibility of creating a two-dimensional picture by producing variations in a magnetic field. He is at the Biomedical Magnetic Resonance Laboratory at the University of Illinois in Urbana.

Mr. Mansfield (70), showed how the signals the body emits in response to the magnetic field could be mathematically analysed, which made it possible to develop a useful imaging technique. Mr. Mansfield also showed how extremely fast imaging could be achievable. This became technically possible within medicine a decade later. Mr. Mansfield is at the University of Nottingham in Britain.

"Well it's, I suppose, every scientist's hope (that) one day that they maybe singled out for such an honour but I must say that in my case I did think about it a few years ago, but then dismissed it," he told Swedish radio. MRI images "have an enormous impact on health care in the developed part of the world today," said Dr. Hans Ringertz, a Swedish specialist in diagnostic radiology.

Worldwide, more than 60 million investigations with MRI are performed each year, the Nobel Assembly said.

MRI represents "a breakthrough in medical diagnostics and research," the Assembly said. Essentially, MRI turns hydrogen atoms in the body's tissues into tiny radio transmitters. Hydrogen atoms are plentiful because they're found in water molecules, which are very widespread in the body.

By tracking where those atoms are, an MRI machine can build up a picture of internal organs.

The award for medicine opens a week of Nobel Prizes that culminates on Friday with the prestigious peace prize, the only one revealed in Oslo, Norway.

No change in merit seat fee structure at Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences

KOCHI: The College of Medicine of the Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences will not change its fee structure in merit seat quotas this academic year even though the state government has reached an agreement with the managements of self-financing medical colleges in this regard.

The college authorities say that since the institution is affiliated to the Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, a deemed university, this agreement does not affect it.

``The functioning of the college is based on the UGC Act and we are not going to disturb the present system here as the classes have already started,'' says APS Krishnan, vice-president of Amrita Institute.

At the meeting on Thursday, representatives of self-financing medical colleges had agreed to follow the fee structure proposed by the government in merit quota seats this academic year.

Antony reaches an agreement with self-financing medical colleges

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: In a second major victory after the agreement on Marad, Chief Minister A K Antony has reached an agreement with the managements of the self-financing medical colleges to settle the row over the fees structure in merit quota seats.

At a meeting with the Cabinet sub-committee led by Industry Minister P K Kunhalikutty here on Wednesday, the representatives of the self-financing medical college managements agreed to follow the fees structure proposed by the Government in merit quota seats in the self-financing medical colleges during the current year.

The representatives of all seven self-financing medical colleges attended Wednesday's meeting.

The Government had proposed a fees structure on par with the fees charged by the Government medical colleges. The managements also agreed to adjust the excess fees already collected.

Kunhalikutty said after the meeting that the management of Pushpagiri Medical College had also agreed to withdraw the writ petition they had filed in the High Court challenging the Government decision to ensure parity in fees structure in merit quota seats in Government and self-financing medical colleges. The cases filed by both the Government and the other managements regarding the issue will also be withdrawn.

The representatives of the managements told the meeting that the Government-proposed fees structure would be followed only during the current financial year.

The fees structure in the coming academic year would be decided by Justice K T Thomas Commission as per the guidelines of the Supreme Court.

Apart from Kunhalikutty, Education Minister Nalakathu Soopy, Electricity Minister Kadavoor Sivadasan, who is holding the additional charge of Health Ministry, Higher Education Principal Secretary K.Mohandas, Law Secretary V Ram Kumar, Health Secretary K.Ramamoorthy and Commissioner of Entrance Examinations C K Viswanathan also attended the meeting.

Govt seeks extension of MCI deadline

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Health Secretary K.Ramamoorthy has written to the Medical Council of India seeking to extend the deadline for admissions to the medical colleges to October 30.

The time-frame fixed by the Medical Council of India for admitting students to the medical colleges had ended on September 30.

A few seats in the self-financing medical colleges, vacated by students following the uncertainty over the fees structure, will remain vacant for the whole course period if the time limit for admissions is not extended.

Ramamoorthy told this website's newspaper that he had requested the MCI to extend the deadline following the uncertainty over admissions to the self-financing medical colleges in wake of the High Court verdict.

As many as seven seats in the Pushpagiri Institute of Medical Sciences, Tiruvalla, and two seats in Dr Somervell Memorial CSI Medical College, Karakonam, are remaining vacant now. Students had vacated these seats following the High Court stay on the Government Order on the fees structure on a petition filed by the Pushpagiri Institute of Medical Sciences and Research. The court also permitted the colleges to tentatively collect Rs 1.5 lakh as annual fees.

However, authorities of the Karakonam Medical College said that the college only collected fees equivalent to the government medical colleges from students admitted to the merit quota.

Thursday, October 02, 2003

India tops in biomedical waste generation

By Our Correspondent

BELLARY SEPT. 29. It is not just industries that cause pollution and environmental hazards but even the transport and healthcare sectors affect public health by producing gaseous emissions and biomedical waste, S.R. Hegde, Director, Vijayanagar Institute of Medical Sciences (VIMS), has said. He was addressing MBA students of the Vijayanagar Institute of Management Studies at the Microbiology Auditorium of the Government Medical College here on Sunday.

He said prevention of waste generation should be given precedence over waste management.

Ravikumar, Head of the Department of Microbiology and coordinator for biomedical waste management at VIMS, who spoke on "Biomedical waste management in hospitals", said India generated the highest quantity of biomedical waste in the world. Karnataka alone produced 94,000 kg. of biomedical waste a day, though the proportion of "infectious" waste was low, he said. If infectious waste was not disposed off scientifically, it could contaminate non-infectious waste, he warned. Apart from acquiring sophisticated equipment, hospitals should devote money and attention to getting rid of infectious waste scientifically. He said hospitals should segregate biomedical waste before disposal. Dr. Ravikumar said private hospitals and nursing homes could use the incinerators set up by the Government to dispose of biomedical waste.

New equipment at RCC to improve cancer care

By Our Staff Reporter

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM Sept. 28. The Rs. 5-crore High Energy Linear Accelerator, which was formally commissioned at the Regional Cancer Centre (RCC) on Sunday, is expected to vastly improve the standards of treatment of deep-seated and unusually shaped tumours.

Compared to the conventional radiation treatment that employs the radioactive isotope Cobalt 60, the state-of-the-art machine produces 15 to 20 times more powerful x-rays and electrons that can be harnessed to provide uniform dose to the tumours irrespective of its depth in the body.

The 6 mv and 15 mv x-ray beams generated by the equipment can be targeted at deep-seated cancer tissues with a high degree of precision.

The sophisticated equipment is particularly useful in the treatment with radiation of head and neck cancer, gynaecological cancers of the breast, lung cancers and brain tumours besides lympho-reticular tumours such as lymphoma and leukaemia.

The accelerator can produce electrons with the option of six energy beams that can target superficial tumours up to a depth of six cm. Electron beam therapy is useful in treatment of tumours of the lip and skin, head and neck and breast cancer.

Electron beams can also be mixed with x-rays to deliver a particular dose to certain types of tumours.

An advantage of the equipment is the use of a sophisticated device called the "multi-leaf collimator", which facilitates the adjustment of field size to conform to the tumours of irregular shapes, a technique called "conformal therapy".

Conformal therapy significantly reduces the complications of treatment.

The equipment enables radiotherapists to target tumours with higher doses.

Enhanced cure rates are significant in treatment of prostate cancer.

Another versatile feature of the machine is the ability to provide Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT). The intensity of radiation doses can be modulated within the range of a tumour to achieve higher degree of tumour control and reduce normal tissue complications.

World Heart Day focusses on women

By Our Staff Reporter

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM Sept. 28. The observance of World Heart Day on Sunday with a focus on women and heart disease has recommended a mix of healthy lifestyle, food habits and exercise to bring down the risk of cardio-vascular diseases among women.

Symposia, free health checks and poster displays marked the observance of the Cardiology unit of the Thiruvananthapuram Medical College and a few private hospitals in the city.

According to a fact-sheet by the Geneva-based World Heart Foundation, cardiovascular diseases (CVD) accounted for an estimated 8.6 million deaths among women annually.

This made CVD the largest single cause of mortality among women, accounting for a third of all deaths in women worldwide, almost 18 times higher than breast cancer and six times more than HIV/AIDS. In developing countries, nearly half of all deaths of women over 50 years of age are due to heart disease and stroke.

In the West, studies had established that the incidence of coronary heart disease with high fatality rates had been on the increase among women.

The studies had also found that smoking was a major risk factor for coronary heart disease (CHD) while passive smoking was also associated with a 30 per cent excess risk.

To their further disadvantage, women with hypertension experienced a risk of developing heart disease that was three times more than that of a woman with normal blood pressure.

Diabetes, physical inactivity and obesity were also known factors for increased risk for heart disease in women.

According to C. G. Bahuleyan, Head of Cardiology, Thiruvananthapuram Medical College, and K. Sivaprasad, the health status of women was often not given due attention. Women are increasingly being seen to sacrifice their health for their family members and not subjected to early detection of disease or treatment of risk factors.

Among the well-known-but-ill-attended risk factors for heart disease in women was psychosocial stress. Marital stress worsens the prognosis in women with heart disease, it is pointed out.

A recent study on a control group of men and women by a private hospital in the city had pointed to the change in food habits and lifestyle for elevated cholesterol levels in women.

The study had analysed reasons for the high incidence of CHD in Indian women in spite of their being non-smokers and lack of conclusive evidence of gender-based proneness to diabetes or blood pressure.

``The level of cholesterol of women above 40 years of age was more than that of men in a similar age group,'' says C. Bharath Chandran, managing director of the SUT Hospital, which conducted the study.

According to the findings of the study, one of the chief reasons for heart ailments among women could be attributed to the lifestyle modulations and food habits that had contributed to elevated levels of cholesterol, one of the major causes for coronary heart disease.

The study on the cholesterol levels of 1,895 men and women who had no previous history of heart disease, found that on an average the cholesterol level of men was 202 mg and that of women 298 mg.

While the average level of cholesterol was high among men in the 20 to 40 age group, the trend was reversed in the higher age groups. Women above 50 years of age had a cholesterol level of 227 mg as opposed to men with an average of 195 mg.

According to the study, 73 per cent of women above 50 years of age have more than 200 mg of cholesterol in their blood only 45 per cent of the men had similar cholesterol levels.

As any as 39 per cent of women were found to have the highest cholesterol level of 240 mg and above as opposed to a bare 16 per cent for men.

Based on the findings, the study recommended regular exercise and food intake with low fat content to keep down the cholesterol levels.

Kalam's prescription for doctors

By Our Special Correspondent

KOCHI SEPT. 26. The President, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, had an advice to doctors. "Please try to educate the public that HIV is not a contagious disease."

This mild dose of prescription came just before he started his convocation address at the National Board of Examinations at the Fine Arts Hall in Kochi on Friday afternoon. The President recalled that immediately after lunch at a five star hotel here, he was accosted by a concerned grandparent with two children -- Benson and Bensy -- who were affected with HIV, saying that the hapless souls were ostracised in society and no school was willing to admit them. "This is cruel to the children; one should show compassion to children'', Mr. Kalam said. He wanted the health educators and doctors to spread the awareness that HIV is not contagious.

Concern over spread of HIV/AIDS

By Our Staff Reporter

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM Sept. 25. A symposium here on Wednesday has expressed concern over the rising incidence of HIV/AIDS in Asian countries. It called for implementing preventive measures and creating awareness about the modes of transmission of the disease.

The symposium on the topic, `The best of current evidence on managing HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections', was held under the joint auspices of the State AIDS Control Society and the Kerala Institute of Medical Sciences.

Barry Peters, Head of the Department of the Genitourinary Medicine and HIV unit, U.K., pointed out that the incidence of HIV and AIDS was increasing alarmingly in Asian countries as opposed to the decline of AIDS cases in the African region.

According to him, the number of HIV/AIDS cases had come down in African countries due to the precautionary measures and the awareness campaigns launched by the respective Governments.

Developed countries had achieved significant progress in reducing the number of AIDS cases. Moreover, AIDS patients in developed countries were able to lead normal lives, whereas in India the victims led a highly stigmatised existence, Dr. Peters said. Harmione Lyall, consultant paediatrician specialising in infectious disease, St. Mary's Hospital, London, emphasised the growing importance of managing HIV infection from mother to child. Prasanna Kumar, Additional Director, Health Services and Programme Officer, AIDS Control Society, said an emerging area of concern in the State was the increase in the transmission of AIDS from pregnant mothers to children. According to current estimates, there are around one-lakh AIDS patients in the State, he pointed out.

State Biotechnology Board constituted

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The State Biotechnology Board, which would guide and coordinate the activities among the various Government departments on biotechnology applications, has been constituted. The first meeting of the board is scheduled to be held in the last week of October.

Chief Minister A.K.Antony is the chairman of the board and Dr.M.S.Valiathan, Executive Vice-President of Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment (KSCSTE), is the convener. Apart from the Ministers of stakeholding departments like Industry, Agriculture and Health, Planning Board vice-chairman V.Ramachandran and Chief Secretary N.Chandrasekharan Nair form part of the board.

The panel of four experts includes Dr.Joseph Thomas from IIT Chennai, Muhammed Majid, chairman of Samy Labs Ltd, Dr.M.D.Nair, former research director of SPIC and Ajith Thomas, chairman of AVT/Mc Cormick Ingredients Ltd.

All top-level administrative and financial decisions in the biotechnology scenario of the State are to be taken by the Biotechnology Board.

KSCSTE director Dr.K.R.S.Krishnan said that the priority of the board would be the co-ordination between various stakeholding departments. ‘‘The generation and the way of utilisation of the corpus fund of Rs 100 crore for biotechnology development would be a topic of discussion,’’ he said. Establishment of biotechnology parks, bioinformatics development and identification of unique strengths of the State would be the immediate objectives of the Board.

‘‘Technological empowerment of the various Government departments, rapid exploitation of pipeline technologies, technology generation through a more focussed research in our universities are other areas that require immediate attention,’’ he said. The think-tank of the board, State Biotechnology Commission, which would be responsible for the implementation of the biotechnology policy will be announced soon after the first meeting of the Biotechnology Board. A core group of experts under Dr.M.S.Valiathan have been formed.

The members include M.Vijayan, director, Indian Institute of Science (IISc), K.P.Gopinathan, professor, IISc, Raj Kumar, managing director, Sreesakthi Paper Mills Ltd, Rajeev Vasudevan, Special officer, Biotechnology Mission, and K.K.Narayanan, managing director, Metahelix Life Sciences.

Dr.M.S.Valiathan said that the Biotechnology Commission would be concentrating more on research and development in biotechnology. ‘‘Our first programme would be to identify and prioritise projects which can develop a commercially viable product or process. Three to four research institutions in the State would work on the different aspects of the project,’’ he said. The Biotechnology Commission will also address all ethical, moral, environmental, economic and social issues related to biotechnology.

Govt. urged not to close cancer wing

By Our Staff Reporter

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM Sept. 23. The Kerala Government Medical College Teachers' Association (KGMCTA) has urged the State Government not to close down the Cancer Department in the Thiruvananthapuram Medical College.

In a statement here today by the KGMCTA, its secretary, K.S. Manoj, has stated that training in radiotherapy was essential for MBBS students. Moreover, the post-graduate MD course in cancer treatment, which is now available only in the Thiruvananthapuram Medical College would loose its recognition if the cancer wing were closed down, he said.

Mr. Manoj said that the Government had been misled by some people with vested interests who claimed that the Regional Cancer Centre (RCC) was a part of the Medical College. Since the RCC is not under the control of the Medical Education Director, it does not have the recognition of the University of Kerala.

Medical college fees: HC notice to Govt.

By Our Staff Reporter

KOCHI Sept. 22. A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court today issued notice to the State Government on a writ petition challenging the Government order fixing the fee for the 50 per cent Government quota in self-financing medical colleges on a par with the fee in the Government medical colleges.

The Bench, comprising the Chief Justice, J. L. Gupta, and Justice R. Basant, issued the notice on a petition filed by the Thiruvalla-based Pushpagiri Medical College management.

Describing the Government's action arbitrary and illegal, the petitioner said the order was violative of a recent ruling of the Constitutional Bench of the Supreme Court. The apex court ruling did not empower the State Government to fix the fee structure in self-financing colleges unilaterally. The Supreme Court had only held that the fee structure should be modified or approved by a committee headed by a retired High Court judge. In fact, the role of the State Government was confined to setting up the committee.

The petitioner contended that the Supreme Court had not stayed or held void the High Court's earlier interim order allowing the petitioner to collect an annual fee of Rs. 1.5 lakhs from the students admitted to the Government quota. The petitioner sought a declaration to that effect.

It also pleaded that the order fixing the fee structure be quashed.

Nursing colleges agree

to Govt. formula

Our Special Correspondent adds from Thiruvananthapuram:

Representatives of the managements of nursing colleges on Monday agreed to go by the Government formula on fee structure during their discussions with the Health Minister, P. Sankaran, here on Monday.The managements informed the Government that they would charge only the same fee collected last year for admission to the management quota. However, some uncertainty has arisen because of the admission of a petition filed by the Pushpagiri Medical College, challenging the decisions taken earlier with respect to the medical colleges, by the High Court.

The Court has asked the Government to explain the decisions.Though the managements agreed on the fee for this year, they maintained that they should be free to revise the fee next year even for the batch admitted this year, based on the recommendations of the committee appointed to fix fees.

Animal trials of indigenous DNA vaccine soon

By N. Gopal Raj

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM Sept. 21. India's first DNA vaccine is set to begin animal trials shortly and a novel anti-diarrhoeal vaccine is in the early stages of human trials. In both cases, Indian scientists have provided the research know-how and industries will be producing the vaccines.

The public sector Indian Immunologicals, based in Hyderabad, will be producing the anti-rabies DNA vaccine developed at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc). DNA vaccines are still very new. It was only a decade ago that scientists found that bare strips of DNA could act as a vaccine. The DNA carries information about one of the germ's proteins. Given as a vaccine, the DNA strips get taken up by the body's cells, which then start producing this protein. The protein prepares the immune system so that it is ready to pounce on the germ when it enters the body.

Although various DNA vaccines are currently being tested, none have yet come into general use. A DNA vaccine is attractive because it can be produced at less cost and, unlike conventional vaccines, does not require refrigeration. In India, about 30,000 people die of rabies each year and another 500,000 take preventive injections.

Researchers led by P.N. Rangarajan of the IISc found that a combination rabies vaccine would be effective when given as preventive therapy and also when injected after a person had been bitten. The combination vaccine has DNA strips carrying a rabies virus gene and also a little of a rabies vaccine produced through cell culture. Indian Immunologicals will initially be testing the DNA combination rabies vaccine on dogs. Apart from the vaccine's efficacy, its stability at different temperatures and its ability to tolerate temperature fluctuations have also to be established, according to a senior company executive.

The animal trials are expected to finish in a year's time and the company should then be in position to market the product as an animal vaccine. The animal trials would also provide the data needed to get permission for testing the DNA vaccine on humans.

Vaccine against rotavirus

Meanwhile, an Indian vaccine against rotavirus is already in the first phase of human trials. Rotavirus causes severe diarrhoea in children and claims half-a-million lives each year, 85 per cent of them in poor countries.

The first rotavirus vaccine was licensed in the United States in 1998 and withdrawn a year later after its use was linked to bowel obstruction in infants. Various groups are trying to develop alternative rotavirus vaccines.

Researchers at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences and at the IISc independently found naturally occurring rotavirus strains which did not cause diarrhoea in newborns and yet were capable of inducing immunity.

Investigations revealed that these rotavirus strains had genes from both cattle and human rotavirus varieties. Natural vaccination by the new strain had considerably reduced rotavirus diarrhoea in newborns in Bangalore, according to C. Durga Rao of the IISc.

The Indian rotavirus vaccine, carrying the two strains identified at AIIMS and IISc, is being produced by the Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech. The vaccine has been developed under the Indo-US Vaccine Action Programme.

World Alzheimer’s Day observed in city

KOCHI: The programmes held as part of the World Alzheimer’s Day on Sunday highlighted the importance of forming a good partnership between the doctors and the people affected with Dementia, so that the best possible medical care can be provided.

The focus of the programmes were also to create an awareness among the public about this health condition.
An initiative of Alzheimer’s and Related Disorders Society of India (ARDSI), the Alzheimer’s Day’s programmes at POC, Palarivattom, were organised in association with Rotary Club of Cochin North and the Kochi chapter of ARDSI.

Prof Antony Isaac, chairman of GCDA, inaugurated the public meeting held in the afternoon and Prof M K Sanu delivered the keynote address.

Dr K Jacob Roy, chairman of ARDSI, Joseph Muttathottil, president of Rotary Club of Cochin North, Fr Zachariah Paranilam, director of POC and Sibby Thomas, project officer of ARDSI were also present at the function.

Earlier, in the seminar held as part of the programme, health experts discussed various aspects of this condition.

Dr Sujith Vasudevan, senior consultant physician of Ojus Clinic, spoke on lifestyle modifications as we grow older, and Dr K J S Rajeev, consultant psychiatrist of PVS Hospital, pointed out the need for staying alert and healthy in the later years.

Dr Mathew Abraham, senior consultant neurologist of Indira Gandhi Cooperative Hospital, talked about the early identification of Dementia.