The Indian government has given a go ahead to the proposal mooted by
the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for scaling up services for
controlling tuberculosis. These include the diagnosis, care and
management of drug resistant tuberculosis under Revised National TB
Control Program (RNTCP). The project with an estimated cost of $144
649 crore) has an assistance from the Global Fund.
With the scaling up of diagnosis, care and management services for
multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB), the RNTCP shall establish 43
state-of-the-art laboratories using latest diagnostic technologies
throughout the country. The project shall also scale up care and
management of MDR-TB in the country resulting in the initiation of
treatment of 55,000 cases. The project is expected to get completed by
The reports have shown that with the implementation of RNTCP the
estimated rate of TB prevalence is on the decline in India. According
to the WHO Global TB Report, 2009, the TB prevalence in India is
currently 185 per lakh population as compared to 283 per lakh
population in the year 2007. Periodic prevalence surveys conducted
under the model of Directly Observed Treatment Short-course (DOTS)
project by Tuberculosis Research Center (TRC), Chennai, has shown a 12
percent annual decline in TB prevalence.
To control TB, the RNTCP, widely known as DOTS, which is a
WHO-recommended strategy, is being implemented as a 100 percent
Centrally-Sponsored Scheme in the country with an objective of
detecting at least 70 percent of the estimated New Sputum Positive
cases in the community and treatment success rate of at least 85
IAVI to develop HIV vaccine
The Gurgaon-based Translational Health Sciences and Technology
Institute (THSTI) and The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI)
will jointly establish, operate and fund an HIV Vaccine Design Program.
This program will focus on one of the greatest scientific challenges of
AIDS vaccine design and development: the elicitation of antibodies
capable of neutralizing a broad spectrum of circulating HIV variants, a
problem that stems in large part from the almost unparalleled
mutability of HIV.
The HIV program will capitalize on recent research advances that have
sparked a renaissance in AIDS vaccine R&D. In September 2009,
scientists at IAVI and their colleagues in the Neutralizing Antibody
Consortium (NAC), which is overseen by IAVI, reported the isolation of
a pair of potent and very broadly neutralizing antibodies against HIV.
That discovery, the first-of-its-kind in a decade, was followed by the
isolation of other broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs) by
researchers at the Vaccine Research Center of the US National
Institutes of Health and by the IAVI affiliated team. The most
promising of these antibodies are now being scrutinized by researchers
to elucidate the specific mechanisms by which they bind and neutralize
HIV. The idea is to create artificially-synthesized mimics of their
targets on HIV, to be used in vaccines to elicit similarly potent bNAbs
and teach the immune system how to thwart HIV infection.
steps in to control cancer epidemic
The Government of India has reformulated a National Program for
Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases and
Stroke (NPCDCS) for the remaining two years of the 11th Five Year Plan.
As per the Population-Based Cancer Registry, functioning under the
National Cancer Registry Program of the Indian Council of Medical
Research (ICMR), it is estimated that at any given point of time, there
are 28 lakh cancer patients in the country.
Further, as per the report of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)
on 'Time Trends in Cancer Incidence Rates (1982-2005)', the number of
cancer patients is growing over the years at an average of
approximately 1.2 percent per year.
The new program envisages prevention and control of common
non-communicable diseases (NCDs) including cancer, through behavior and
life style changes; build capacity at various levels of healthcare for
prevention, diagnosis and treatment of common NCDs; train human
resource and establish and develop capacity for palliative and
rehabilitative care. Under the program, diagnostic services, basic
surgery, chemotherapy and palliative care to cancer patients at 100
districts across 21 states are being provided. The central government
is also supplementing the efforts of the state governments by focusing
on early detection of cancer, health education and creating awareness
through print and electronic media.
New DBT, ICMR
guidelines for probiotics
Probiotics are the live microorganisms that live inside the human body
and confer health benefits. The globalization of food trade has
followed the Indian markets with many of probiotic products.
In order to safeguard the consumers from any adverse effects, Indian
Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and Department of Biotechnology
(DBT) have framed guidelines to ensure standardization of commercial
products and their efficacy. A 10-member task force was
constituted under the chairmanship of Dr NK Ganguly, president, JIPMER,
Puduchery and former director general of ICMR, to deliberate on the
issues regarding probiotics.
Dr MK Bhan, secretary, DBT, said, “The ICMR-DBT guidelines
comprehensively address various concerns regarding safety, efficacy and
reliability as well as labeling of probiotic products being sold in
India. I hope the scientific community, the regulatory agencies and the
public at large will be benefited by these guidelines”
The report also quotes Dr VM Katoch as saying that the guidelines have
been developed for scientific purpose with the main aim to guide the
regulatory authority for evaluating probiotic products in India. “I
hope that these will also stimulate thinking among scientists
interested in developing this area in India,” said Dr Katoch.
The global probiotic market generated $15.9 billion in 2008 and is
expected to be worth $32.6 billion by 2014 with a compound annual
growth rate of 12.6 percent from 2009 to 2014. On the other hand, the
probiotic product industry in India was estimated to be around $461,116
with a projected annual growth rate of 22.6 percent until 2015. With
these kind of guidelines in place, it is expected that the regulatory
authorities will ensure that the general public is not taken for a ride.
GOI sets up
task force for pharma
The Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has constituted a task
force to evolve a long-term strategy for addressing various issues
faced by the Indian pharma industry. This comes after the leaders of
the pharma industry strongly requested the Union Health and Family
Welfare Minister, Mr Ghulam Nabi Azad, to constitute a task force to
prepare a long-term strategy for strengthening the drug sector in the
country and look into matters concerning medical devices, clinical
research organizations and R&D labs.
The task force that will submit its report within three months has the
mandate to evolve a short, medium and long-term policy and strategy to
make India as a hub for drug discovery and R&D. The task force will
recommend measures to tackle the problem of spurious drugs, use of
anti-counterfeit technologies, and devise roadmaps for implementation
of all recommended measures.
The task force will bring out policy measures to promote indigenous
production of bulk drugs, prevent take over of Indian pharma companies
by MNCs, drug pricing, promotion of generic drugs and recommend
measures to assure adequate availability of quality generic drugs at
biotech park gets green signal
After the clearance from the state government and
assistance from the central government, the biotech park at Himachal
Pradesh will soon become a reality. The 35-acre biotech park is
expected to capitalize on the Himalayan bioresources. Besides boosting
the employment and other financial requirements of the region, the
state-of-the-art park is also expected to attract investors from India
The park will be set up at Aduwal village near Nalagarh in Solan
district and will have a biotechnology incubation center and a
biotechnology industrial cluster. The Chief Minister of Himachal
Pradesh, Mr Prem Kumar Dhumal, revealed that the Himachal government is
looking for a partner to develop a multi-billion biotechnology industry
park, under public-private-partnership (PPP) mode.
Speaking to BioSpectrum, Dr Nagin Nanda, director, Department of
Environment, Science and Technology, Government of Himachal
Pradesh, said, “We have invited the financial and technical responses
for the biotech park project and six companies have responded to the
technical bid process. This is a tripartite process in which the
central government, Himachal Pradesh government and the private
developers are involved.”