Year: 2011

Now, ‘bio-battery’ that runs on waste paper

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Sony has developed a battery that can ‘digest’ waste paper and turn it into energy.
In 2007, the company demonstrated a Walkman that used a ‘bio battery’ — an organic battery that generates electricity by ‘digesting’ food, just like humans do.
But the company’s latest development shows off a much more useful product, the Daily Mail reported.
The prototype — on show at Eco-Products 2011 in Tokyo, shows how it could be possible to use enzymes to ‘break down’ waste paper into a fuel we can use. The prototype generates enough energy to power a (very) small fan.
The process is unlike conventional batteries — and initially at least, much more like the action of a digestive system.
A digestive enzyme, cellulase, ‘breaks down’ the cellulose in paper into glucose, a sugar that Sony’s ‘bio batteries’ can use as fuel.

Smaller brain size may signal Alzheimer’s

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People with smaller regions of the brain’s cortex may be more likely to develop symptoms consistent with very early Alzheimer’s disease, a new study has suggested.
“The ability to identify people who are not showing memory problems and other symptoms but may be at a higher risk for cognitive decline is a very important step toward developing new ways for doctors to detect Alzheimer’s disease,” said Susan Resnick, PhD, with the National Institute on Aging in Baltimore.
For the study, researchers used brain scans to measure the thickness of regions of the brain’s cortex in 159 people free of dementia with an average age of 76. The brain regions were chosen based on prior studies showing that they shrink in patients with Alzheimer’s dementia.
Of the 159 people, 19 were classified as at high risk for having early Alzheimer’s disease due to smaller size of particular regions known to be vulnerable to Alzheimer’s in the brain’s cortex, 116 were classified as average risk and 24 as low risk.
At the beginning of the study and over the next three years, participants were also given tests that measured memory, problem solving and ability to plan and pay attention.
The study found that 21 percent of those at high risk experienced cognitive decline during three years of follow-up after the MRI scan, compared to seven percent of those at average risk and none of those at low risk.
“Further research is needed on how using MRI scans to measure the size of different brain regions in combination with other tests may help identify people at the greatest risk of developing early Alzheimer’s as early as possible,” said study author Bradford Dickerson, MD, of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and a member of the American Academy of Neurology.
The study also found 60 percent of the group considered most at risk for early Alzheimer’s disease had abnormal levels of proteins associated with the disease in cerebrospinal fluid, which is another marker for the disease, compared to 36 percent of those at average risk and 19 percent of those at low risk.
The study has been published in the December 21, 2011, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

More potent ways to design HIV drugs found

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In perhaps the most comprehensive survey of the inner workings of HIV, an international team of scientists led by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco has mapped every apparent physical interaction the virus makes with components of the human cells it infects.
This work may reveal new ways to design future HIV/AIDS drugs.
In back-to-back papers published today (December 22) in the journal Nature, the survey reveals a pathogenic landscape in which HIV’s handful of proteins makes hundreds of physical connections with human proteins and other components inside the cell.
In one paper, the team details 497 such connections, only a handful of which had been previously recognized by scientists. Disrupting these connections may interfere with HIV’s lifecycle, and the existence of so many new connections suggests there may be several novel ways to target the virus.
“Have we identified new drug targets?” said Nevan Krogan, who led the research. “I believe we have.” Krogan is an associate professor of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology at UCSF.

Cough & cold medicines overtake antibiotics

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Cough and cold seem to be our biggest worry as far as healthcare concerns go. The trend is visible with not only certain cough and cold medicines being the largest selling drugs, but with popular cough medication Phensedyl also overtaking antibiotic Augmentin to become the top-selling drug in the pharma retail market.
Phensedyl, after showing a dip earlier this year, has regained its share from Augmentin. Phensedyl which is marketed by Abbott, witnessed a growth of little over 12% for the 12-month period ended October this year, while GlaxoSmithKine’s Augmentin grew just 7% during the period, according to consultancy firm, IMS Health which tracks retail pharma sales.
Industry experts say that sales of cough and cold medications register a spurt during the August-October months with the rise of respiratory infections. There may also be a host of issues at play including the supply of the medication as well as raw material for manufacturing it. Phensedyl had a market share of 0.43%, while Augmentin was slightly lower at 0.40%, followed by anti-diabetic therapy Human Mixtard at 0.39% and cough and cold drug Corex at 0.37% during the 12-month period ended Octoberthis year.
Others which posted a robust double-digit growth during the 12-month period include Human Mixtard, Revital, Monocef and Betadine. In October, Corex was the top-selling brand, followed by Augmentin, Phensedyl and Human Mixtard was at the fourth slot in the over Rs 5,000-crore market. The overall growth in October dipped to 13%, the lowest during the year.
Says Amit Backliwal, MD IMS Health, “Though the 13% growth registered by the industry in October 2011 is the lowest growth observed over the past 10 months, it still remains healthy and in double-digits. A look at the past trends indicates that the market trajectory in 2011 is in line with previous years; sales have peaked in the July-September quarter (coinciding with the monsoon season where infectious / respiratory diseases also peak), and then declined marginally, which is a normal trend. We expect the industry growth for FY11 to remain bullish in the range of 14-17%, and in-line with the IMS Market Prognosis report forecast”.
While the top pecking order in terms of market share remained the same led by multinational Abbott, there was a huge growth witnessed in certain mid-size companies.
“One such prime example is Macleods Pharma, which we believe will move to into the elite top-10 players group very soon, if they continue to clock their current growth momentum,” he added.
Doctor

Is your hospital fire- proof ?

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After Kolkata hospital fire killed over 70 people, Bhopal feels the need to have a reality check In the wake of a major fire incident at AMRI Hospital (Kolkata) , which has claimed over 80 lives, health officers of both Bhopal and Indore have pulled up their socks. The Bhopal CMHO Pankaj Shukla has giving strict instructions to all the private nursing homes of the city to ensure availability of fire fighting equipments within a week . Whereas, the Indore CMHO Dr. Sharad Pandit admitted that not all the hospitals in the city were well equipped to handle the fire crisis. Both the officers have said that a drive would be undertaken to ensure the fire safety in nursing homes and private hospitals. “I have mailed safety norms as prescribed by World Health Organisation to owners of all the nursing homes. We shall carry out a drive after a week to see if the instructions have been complied with or not,” said CMHO Bhopal. The WHO norms prescribe availability of quality firefighting equipment at all the hospitals. State’s one of the biggest referral hospital Maharaja Yashwantrao Hospital in Indore has just a few fire extinguishers on each floor with some of them are waiting to be refilled, accepted superintendent Dr. VS Bhatia. In contrast, Director of Narmada Hospital (Bhopal) Dr Rajesh Sharma said that said besides affiliation with National Accreditation Board for Hospitals & Healthcare Providers, his hospital is also licensed by fire brigade. However , most of the hospitals in Indore do not have water sprinklers and fire alarms. When spoke to DIG (Fire) Ms Knwar he said, “In the last two years no hospital has been issued any fire certificate.” The health department would now undertake a drive to check if these hospital had a fire certificate that is issued to buildings the fulfill the basic norms for fire safety. Dr. Pandmakar Tripathi District Malaria Officer of Bhopal, said that possibility of fire accident is hardly taken into account when inspection of hospitals are carried out. “I have seen distance between beds of patients, arrangement of dranking water, cleanliness and such issues find priority in inspections,” Dr Tripathi said. Indore CMHO said, “Some of the hospitals only have sand buckets and fire extinguishers but no proper fire safety equipments. The registrations of the new hospitals under the MP Nursing Home and Clinical Establishment Act, 2003 would now be strictly done only if these establishments had proper No Objection Certificate from the Fire Brigade.” However , eminent physician NP Mishra said there are fire extinguishers in almost all the nursing homes of Bhopal but fire at AMRI hOspital went out of control because firemen could not reach the patients due to narrow lanes of the hospital . On the country nursing homes in Bhopal are spacious and therefore possibility of major fire in a hospital is less. However, when spoke to major hospitals in Indore like Bombay Hospital and SAIMS, which are huge in terms of area and construction, they said that they had fire safety equipments in place . “The fire alarms are put next to the machines where there is a fear of short circuit and powder fire extinguisher are kept handy,” said SAIMS Chairman Dr. Vinod Bhandari.

Facebook offers Rs 70 L package to IIT-Kanpur student

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If you think that IIT students do not receive hefty pay packages as B-School pass outs, think again. Social networking biggy Facebook has made an offer of about Rs. 70 lakh per annum to IIT student during the campus placement.
IIT-K registrar Sanjeev Kashelkar said, “M Tech (computer science and engineering) student Siddharth Agrawal has been offered the package (near about Rs 70 lakh).”
He said Facebook has offered many lucrative offers to other students as well but the one which it offered to Agarwal is highest so far. But the registrar, however, did not disclose the actual amount. Last week, Facebook had offered a similar package to an IIT-Kharagpur student.
The placement session in the IIT took off on 2nd December, 2011 with more than 950 graduates and post graduates competing for jobs in high-profile companies like Microsoft, GE, Infosys and TCS.
On the first day of placement, more than 100 students were placed with 15 students being selected by Microsoft. More than 400 students have been selected so far since the placement process started, the registrar added.
Almost 200 companies are expected to visit the institute to hire aspirants in the remaining days. The placement session would end on 22nd December.

Tech colleges to have students’ union polls

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For the first time in the state, technical colleges would also have students’ council elections, most probably from the next academic session. The minister for higher and technical education, for higher and technical education, Laxmikant Sharma, announced on Sunday that the polls would be held at the technical colleges by direct method from the next academic session, like in other colleges of the state. He was speaking at the alumni meet of the Sardar Vallabhbhai Poltechnic. If the announcement gets implemented, then the technical students would be getting official representatives to take up their issues with college managements and the Rajiv Gandhi Proudyogiki Vishwavidyalaya (RGPV) for the first time. During the last 10 years, number of technical colleges in the state have burgeoned, and students’ issues including the demand related with the excess fees, problems related to internal marks and others have been making headlines. Election of students’ representatives might help in resolving these issues in a better way, students’ organisations fee. WELCOME: The major students’ organisations – National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) and the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) have both welcomed the announcement by the minister. State general secretary of ABVP, Bharati Kumbhare, said they had demanded students’ council polls as per Lyngdoh Committee recommendations, and this meant elections in a direct manner at all the private and government colleges. “Elections are actually more important for technical colleges as they face bigger issues and are bogged down by the pressure of internal marks and forced to remain silent,” Kumbhare said. State general secretary of NSUI, Pinky Mudgal, also said that elections were important in technical colleges as it meant resolving their issues and encouraging highly qualified future bunch of leaders. “In a democratic counter, every young person should have a chance to groom oneself as future leader and to take up the issues democratically,” she said.