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Below is a round up of news from or about South Asia for the period 18 September–1 October 2008.

Extreme rainfall events 'increasing in India'
Extreme rainfall events have been increasing in India over the past five decades and are linked to increased sea surface temperatures in the Indian Ocean, say Indian scientists. The researchers analysed 104 years worth of rainfall data. More>>

High arsenic levels found in Bangladeshi food
Field surveys by Bangladeshi and Japanese researchers have found high levels of arsenic in all crop types due to arsenic-polluted water and soil. Ingesting arsenic can seriously affect the health of millions of people in Bangladesh. More>>

Pakistan, west India 'among key biodiversity hotspots'
Pakistan, west India and the Indo-Australian archipelago are among key biodiversity hotspots that evolved over the last 50 million years. An international research team reports the Indo-Australian archipelago has been the tropical centre for diversity since the Miocene era, 23 million to five million years ago. More>>

Bangladesh adopts long-term flood forecasting technology
Bangladesh has adopted a three-pronged, long-term flood forecasting system to counter the disastrous effects of climate change. The system will be piloted in five areas initially. More>>

Simple measures 'halve newborn death rates'
Simple interventions such as hygienic delivery, umbilical cord care, keeping babies at the right temperature and promoting breastfeeding can halve death rates in newborns, a study in Shivgarh, India, has found. More>>*

South Asia to host travelling science show
A science exhibition will travel in a caravan of vehicles across South Asia to popularise science in eight South Asian countries. The caravan is an innovation on an earlier 'Science Express', a science exhibition on a train in India. This was agreed during the first-ever meeting of science ministers of South Asian countries.

Ayurvedic herbs 'protect liver during TB treatment'
Adding modified extracts from two herbs prescribed in Ayurveda — traditional Indian medicine — can help reduce liver damage in patients receiving treatment for tuberculosis, according to researchers. Tuberculosis treatment causes liver damage in 4–11 per cent of patients, with 0.1 per cent of cases turning fatal. More>>

Mother's flu shot 'protects her baby'
Vaccinating pregnant women against influenza protects newborn babies from the infection, according to research in Bangladesh. The study by the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research found a 63 per cent reduction in influenza in infants born to vaccinated mothers. More>>

Indian spice 'reduces stroke'
Curcumin, an active ingredient of the Indian spice turmeric, reduces the size of blood clots in haemorrhagic strokes in animal models, US researchers have found. Curcumin is known to be an effective anti-inflammatory. More>>

Bacteria-busting silver nanoparticles
The antibacterial properties of silver nanoparticles increase with dose and treatment time, report researchers from India's Jawaharlal Nehru University in Current Science. More>> [575kB]

Glucose nanospheres 'promising intracellular transporters'
Nanospheres made from glucose molecules can help transport molecules that cannot cross membranes. Their surfaces are functional without any modifications, and shine naturally, which can help locate their precise position inside a cell, say Indian researchers. More>>

Ancient Ayurveda 'had biochemical basis'
Ancient Ayurvedic texts classified individuals' body characteristics to their predisposition to disease and response to treatment. Indian scientists now report that the most extreme examples of this classification tally with differences in biochemical factors and gene expression. More>>

Exotic weeds 'wiping out rare rhinos'
The one-horned rhinos of South Asia are travelling further afield for their food and into the hands of poachers, say Asian rhino specialists. Their natural food vegetation is being forced out by unwanted plants on the grasslands of India and Nepal. More>>

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Compiled by T. V. Padma, with additional reporting by Chesmal Siriwardhana.

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]).

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