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Below is a round up of news from or about South Asia for the period 4–17 September 2008.

Czech researchers punished for collecting rare Indian insects
An Indian court has ruled two Czech nationals guilty of collecting rare beetles, butterflies and other insects from Singalila National Park in Darjeeling in northeast India. While a Czech scientist has been fined, his colleague has been jailed for three years under India's national wildlife protection and biodiversity laws. The two deny any plans of selling the rare specimens. More>>

Simple therapy 'reduces depression in poor mothers'
Simple interventions by community health workers reduce depression in new mothers in poor communities, and increase the weight and height of their babies, a study in Pakistan has shown. The authors say such interventions can be integrated into health programmes in resource-poor settings. More>>*

Scientists gain crucial insights into Indian HIV strain
Indian researchers have reported how antibodies that neutralise the C strain of the HIV virus — common in India — develop in infected persons, and for how long they remain after initial infection. More regions in the HIV envelope protein may be involved in this process than previously thought, they say. More>>[127kB]

Health woes rise as floods recede in Bangladesh
The incidence of diarrhoea and other diseases is increasing among survivors of heavy floods in Bangladesh in September. Cases of diarrhoea, pneumonia and skin infections have risen as the waters have receded. More>>

Device goes online to monitor lung disease
A cheap, portable, and easy to operate device to test lung function has been developed by Indian scientists. The device has an embedded web server and connection that helps health workers in remote areas communicate with distantly-located doctors testing patients with asthma and other disorders during an emergency. More>>

Tea giants to work together on research
Two leading tea-producing nations, India and Sri Lanka, will collaborate on tea research. India's Tea Research Association and the Tea Research Institute of Sri Lanka made the agreement on scientific cooperation in September. More>>

Plant agent 'could combat sexually transmitted infection'
A substance extracted from the plant Sapindus can help combat trichomoniasis, the most common non-viral sexually transmitted disease. Researchers say the extract has potential in a microbe-killing contraceptive. More>>

Model explains plant virus resistance
Bangladeshi scientists have developed a model that explains why plants infected with one virus become resistant to other similar viruses. The model also suggests a method to develop genetically engineered plants that are resistant to plant viruses, without any significant decline in yields. More>>

Bacteria 'degrades toxic dye'
A bacteria found in tannery wastes can help degrade the toxic dye Congo red. Indian scientists report that treating the dye first with chemicals, followed by biological degradation by the strain of Bacillus species gave the best results.More>>

International publisher teams up with Indian institute
Springer, one of the leading publishers in the fields of science, technology and medicine, is teaming up with the Indian Institute of Technology Madras, on the occasion of the latter's fiftieth anniversary. Together they will launch the journal International Journal of Advances in Engineering Sciences and Applied Mathematics. More>>

India's controversial use of brain scans in courts
An article in the International Herald Tribune reports on India's controversial use of brain scans in court cases. In June, a judge explicitly cited a scan as proof that the a murder suspect's brain held "experiential knowledge" about the crime that only the killer could possess, sentencing her to life in prison. More>>

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Compiled by T. V. Padma, with additional reporting from Chesmal Siriwardhana, Sanjit Bagchi and Wagdy Sawahel.

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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