February 13, 2014
By- DEEPA M
Biotechnology industrial park
- It is a special form of industrial park that specialized in biotechnology
- Biotech Park and Incubation Centers have been established at Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh and Shapoorji Pallonji Biotech Park, Genome Valley in Hyderabad (Andhra Pradesh). The other projects approved for Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala for setting up of biotech incubation / pilot plant facilities are at various stages of development
- Department of Biotechnology (DBT) has been interacting with more than 5,000 scientists per year in order to utilise the existing expertise of the universities and other national laboratories
- There has been close interaction with the State Governments particularly through State S & T Councils for developing biotechnology application projects, demonstration of proven technologies, and training of human resource in States and Union Territories
- Deep involvement of the scientific community of the country through a number of technical task forces, advisory committees and individual experts in identification, formulation, implementation and monitoring of various programmes and activities
- Initiatives have been taken to promote transgenic research in plants with emphasis on pest and disease resistance, nutritional quality, silk-worm genome analysis, molecular biology of human genetic disorders, brain research, plant genome research, development, validation and commercialisation of diagnostic kits and vaccines for communicable diseases, food biotechnology, biodiversity conservation and biotechnology based development for SC/ST, rural areas, women and for different States
DBT- Department of Biotechnology Mandates-
• Promote large scale use of Biotechnology
• Support R&D and manufacturing in Biology
• Responsibility for Autonomous Institutions
• Promote University and Industry Interaction
• Identify and Set up Centres of Excellence for R&D
• Integrated Programme for Human Resource Development
• To serve as Nodal Point for specific International Collaborations
• Establishment of Infrastructure Facilities to support R&D and production
• Evolve Bio Safety Guidelines, manufacture and application of cell based vaccines
• Serve as nodal point for the collection and dissemination of information relating to biotechnology.
Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojna (RGGVY)
- Undue favours, violation of rules hamper rural electrification project reported by CAG
- Expenditure of Rs. 41.42 crore was incurred for ineligible works, payments for works not done or assets not created and unfruitful expenditure on assets not put to use.
- Diversion of funds and undue favours to contractors in the execution of the prestigious Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojna (RGGVY) leading to cost variations of Rs. 2,262 crore.
- It said inadequacies in identification and estimation of un-electrified villages and BPL beneficiaries at the planning stage had the impact of variations in cost estimates
- There were also instances of diversion of funds to the tune of Rs. 157.78 crore for non-RGGVY purposes as RGGVY funds were mixed with general funds of the state power utilities
- The Power Ministry did not conduct feasibility study before launching the scheme, despite recommendations from the 14th Lok Sabha’s Standing Committee on Energy that updated statistic should be obtained on rural electrification.
- Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana (RGGVY) was launched in April-05 by merging all ongoing schemes.
- Under the programme 90% grant is provided by Govt. of India and 10% as loan by REC to the State Governments.
- REC is the nodal agency for the programme
The RGGVY aims at:
- Electrifying all villages and habitations as per new definition
- Providing access to electricity to all rural households
- Providing electricity Connection to Below Poverty Line (BPL) families free of charge
Infrastructure under RGGVY:
- Rural Electricity Distribution Backbone (REDB) with 33/11 KV (or 66/11 KV) sub-station of adequate capacity in blocks where these do not exist.
- Village Electrification Infrastructure (VEI) with provision of distribution transformer of appropriate capacity in villages/habitations.
- Decentralized Distributed Generation (DDG) Systems based on conventional & non-conventional energy sources where grid supply is not feasible or cost-effective
Implementation Methodology and conditions under RGGVY:
- Preparation of District based detailed project reports for execution on turnkey basis.
- Involvement of central public sector undertakings of power ministry in implementation of some projects.
- Certification of electrified village by the concerned Gram Panchayat.
- Deployment of franchisee for the management of rural distribution for better consumer service and reduction in losses.
- Undertaking by States for supply of electricity with minimum daily supply of 6- 8 hours of electricity in the RGGVY network.
- Making provision of requisite revenue subsidy by the state.
- Determination of Bulk Supply Tariff (BST) for franchisee in a manner that ensures commercial viability.
- Three tier quality monitoring Mechanism for XI Plan Schemes made mandatory.
- Web based monitoring of progress.
- Release of funds linked to achievement of pre-determined milestones.
- Electronic transfer of funds right up to the contractor level.
- Notification of Rural Electrification Plans by the state governments
Setting Up of National Institute of Mental Health Rehabilitation
- In the Twelfth Five Year Plan there is a scheme for establishment of a National Institute for Mental Health Rehabilitation.
- The Government has already initiated action to set up the Institute in consultation with National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences, Bangalore.
- The proposal is at a nascent stage.
- There are many causative factors of mental disabilities, including malnutrition, infection, for e.g. Encephalitis or Meningitis; injury to the brain during delivery etc.
- National Trust for the Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities (National Trust) is running `Aspiration` an early intervention programme to enhance capabilities and help children achieve as many crucial milestones as possible, with therapy and social education, prevent secondary impairment and modify and adapt the social and physical environment.
- 79 Early Intervention Centres have been set up in the country.
- National Trust and National Institute of Mentally Handicapped conduct training programmes for Capacity Building of Non-Governmental Organizations in providing early intervention techniques.
India to follow new OECD standard to combat black money
- New “game-changing” mechanism by OECD to combat the menace of offshore tax evasion, a protocol to which India is a signatory with the purpose of tackling black money
- The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development will formally present the standard for the endorsement of G20 finance ministers.
- The G20 invited the OECD to develop a global standard on automatic exchange of information in 2013 and remains the driving force behind the move toward greater tax transparency worldwide
- India has already signed the OECD’s global standard for automatic exchange of information between tax authorities two years back and once the new format is implemented, the country will follow the new protocols envisaged in it
- New protocols are aimed to smoothen the automatic exchange procedures which are used to crack cases of offshore tax evasion and illegal stashing of money.
- The standard calls on jurisdictions to obtain information from their financial institutions and exchange that information automatically with other jurisdictions on an annual basis
- It sets out the financial account information to be exchanged, the financial institutions that need to report, the different types of accounts and taxpayers covered, as well as common due diligence procedures to be followed by financial institutions
- OECD incorporates progress made in this area within the European Union and ongoing efforts to reinforce global anti-money laundering standards
- This new standard on automatic exchange of information will ramp up international tax co-operation, putting governments back on a more even footing as they seek to protect the integrity of their tax systems and fight tax evasion
A helicopter that flies under mind control-
- Scientists have developed a mind-controlled system that allows users to fly a model helicopter with just their thoughts
- Researchers at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis created a brain-computer interface a system that allows the brain to communicate directly with an external device that lets participants control the path of a flying object, known as a quad copter, by thinking about specific movements.
- The interface requires users to wear an electro-encephalography (EEG) cap with attached electrodes that pick up signals from the brain
- When participants think about a specific movement up, down, right or left, for instance neurons in the brain’s motor cortex produce tiny electric signals that are then sent to a computer
- The signal coming from his brain is being picked up by these sensors and then decoded and sent through a Wi-Fi system to control flying quadcopter.
- The computer is going to read that digital signal and do all the processing and extract out the brain signal and control quadcopter.
- The technology could be used to help people with disabilities lead more independent lives.
Science Technology and Innovation (STI) Policy-2013
- Enhance India`s global share of scientific publications from the present 3.5% to 7.0%;
- Establish world class infrastructure for Research and Development (R&D)
- Make careers in science, research and innovation attractive enough for talented and bright minds
- Create an environment for enhanced private sector participation in R&D, technology and innovation.
- Participate in international R&D projects that are high end science
- The Policy seeks to establish a strong and viable Science, Research and Innovation System for High Technology-led path for India
- Further, a large number of new institutions such as Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research (IISERs), Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), Central universities, etc. have been established providing new opportunities for science education and research in the country
- Creation of centres of excellence and facilities in emerging and frontline areas in academic and national institutes, induction of new and attractive fellowships such as Innovation in Science Pursuit for Inspired Research (INSPIRE) and establishment of National Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB) have also given a boost to R&D.
INSPIRE- “Innovation in Science Pursuit for Inspired Research (INSPIRE)“ is an innovative programme sponsored and managed by the Department of Science & Technology for attraction of talent to Science. The basic objective of INSPIRE is to communicate to the youth of the country the excitements of creative pursuit of science, attract talent to the study of science at an early age and thus build the required critical human resource pool for strengthening and expanding the Science & Technology system and R&D based.
SERB- the Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB) is a statutory body established through an Act of Parliament. Supporting basic research in emerging areas of Science & Engineering are the primary and distinctive mandate of the Board. The Board structure, with both financial and administrative powers vested in the Board, would enable quicker decisions on research issues, greatly improving thereby our responsiveness to the genuine needs of the research scientists and the S&T system
CSIR Developed Clot Specific Streptokinase Enters into Phase-2 Human Clinical Trials
- The Clot Specific Streptokinase (CSSK), a novel patented thrombolytic biopharmaceutical therapeutic protein drug licensed from the CSIR-Institute of Microbial Technology (CSIR-IMTECH), Chandigarh, a constituent institute of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), has received permission from the Drugs Controller General of India (DGCI) to conduct Phase-2 human clinical trial to test the efficacy of CSSK in the patients of heart attack, a condition known as Acute Myocardial Infarction. M/s Symmetrix Biotech Pvt. Ltd. has been carrying out the clinical development of CSSK, also known as SMRX-11.
- CSSK would be the first patented biopharmaceutical drug developed in India.
- This has been the culmination of seven years of long and meticulously carried out developmental process of this molecule under a unique and successful public-private partnership between CSIR-IMTECH and Nostrum Pharmaceuticals of the US (the parent company of Symmetrix Biotech Pvt. Ltd.
- CSSK is unique in that it has a hugely reduced risk of bleeding during the treatment, which makes it a distinctively improved drug compared to several currently employed thrombolytic drugs where the risk of bleeding exists to varying degrees. Besides being safe and effective, CSSK would also be a much cheaper and affordable alternative to the currently available expensive thrombolytic drugs and will thus address the needs of the larger masses of the country
- A recent report in the international journal,Nature Biotechnology (2012, Volume 30-10, 903) pointed highlighted: “If CSSK is approved, it could be India’s answer to more expensive thrombolytic agents such as tPA”.
- Earlier, in July 2006, CSIR-IMTECH had licensed CSSK to Nostrum Pharmaceuticals of the US for clinical development through its Indian subsidiary,Symmetrix Biotech Pvt. Ltd. Under this cooperation since 2007, several important developmental milestones of CSSK were achieved:
1. Development of a cGMP process to produce CSSK batches for preclinical and clinical trials
2. Achievement of a successful proof of concept of efficacy of CSSK in primates (cynomolgus monkeys)
3. Conduct of successful preclinical toxicology trials on CSSK in cynomolgus monkeys
4. Successful completion of Phase-1 clinical trial on CSSK in healthy human volunteers, which was conducted early last year as per the permission and a protocol approved by DCGI.
- This successful Phase-1 clinical trial demonstrated the safety of CSSK which was given as a single bolus dose to healthy human volunteers who tolerated the drug very well with no adverse effects without any side effects which is otherwise sometimes observed in a clot buster therapy with streptokinase particularly, such as increased risk of internal bleeding due to a drop in blood-fibrinogen levels.
- Unlike the biogenerics, the newer therapeutic CSSK is a novel thrombolytic with reduced side effect of bleeding.
- it has been designed by protein engineering in such a way that unlike streptokinase, it is activated only upon coming in contact with the blood clot, and as a result the clot dissolving substance plasmin is produced by CSSK only at the site of the blood clot.
- Consequently, a very small amount of plasmin is generated, which quickly dissolves the blood clot without harming the precious blood component, fibrinogen, a protein that is necessary for clot formation, thus greatly thwarting the possibility of bleeding during clot dissolution-which otherwise can often lead to the patient’s death.
- The safety and tolerability of CSSK has been very convincingly established in healthy human volunteers during the recently conducted, DCGI approved Phase-1 clinical trial in India.
- A maximum dose of up to 20mg CSSK was given to healthy human volunteers with no sign of any adverse effect.
- More importantly, the blood fibrinogen levels in these volunteers remained unchanged following the CSSK dosing.
- Previously, the efficacy of CSSK had been successfully demonstrated in cynomolgus monkeys where it was shown to dissolve the newly created blood clots in the animal’s femoral artery without destruction of the blood fibrinogen levels.
- Starting, during the latter part of this month of February 2014, the efficacy of CSSK will be tested in human patients of heart attacks (Acute Myocardial Infarction or AMI) in a DCGI approved protocol for Phase-2 human clinical trial in India.
- Based on the strength of its safety profile, CSSK is expected to be a leading thrombolytic drug worldwide upon successful clinical development.