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Below is a round up of news from or about South Asia for the period 2–15 April 2009.

Thousands of dolphins found along Bangladeshi coast
Conservation scientists have hit on a treasure trove of almost 6,000 rare Irrawaddy dolphins in the freshwaters of the Sundarbans mangroves near the Bangladesh coast along the Bay of Bengal. But they fear climate change and fishing could threaten this population. More>>

South Asian amphibians on way to extinction
A quarter of India's amphibians are headed for extinction, the International Union for Conservation for Nature (IUCN) has warned. Of the Asian amphibian species — including those from China, Indonesia, Japan and the Philippines — more than a half are native to Sri Lanka, which has lost 20 per cent of its amphibians to date. More>> [38kB]

NASA heads to Mount Everest
NASA scientists are set to begin arduous walking experiments in the rarefied atmosphere of Mount Everest, to help future space walks on Mars and Moon. "Mission planners will need to know how long periods in extreme environments affect sleep and how lack of it will impact alertness, performance on critical tasks, and long-term health, and safety," they say. More>>

Butterflies moving up Himalayas
Butterflies are moving higher up the Himalayan slopes because of climate change. The Apollo and Pika butterfly species, usually found at 3,000 metres above sea level, have relocated up to 500 metres higher into the mountain ranges, a study by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in Nepal's Langtang region shows. More>>

Novel guar gums
Indian and Korean scientists have developed a process to make novel guar gums that can absorb water more quickly and in larger amounts. The gums are most widely used in the food industry, including baking, dairy and meat, and as a dressing and sauce. They are extracted from the guar bean tree that is mainly grown in India and Pakistan. More>>

Gum disease link to diabetes during pregnancy
Pregnant women with gum disease have an increased risk of developing gestational diabetes even if they do not drink or smoke, a Sri Lanka–US study shows. Women should see a dentist if they plan to get pregnant, or after becoming pregnant, the scientists from the University of Peradeniya and New York University suggest. More>>

Compendium of biomarkers for pancreatic cancers
Scientists from India and the US have jointly developed a comprehensive compilation of biomarkers for pancreatic cancer, a deadly disease that does not have sufficiently sensitive or specific markers. The compilation, which includes over 2,500 genes, is the first step in developing biomarkers for the cancer in a global and systematic manner. More>>

Rotavirus details from Pakistan
Scientists in Pakistan report the results of the first detailed genetic analysis of diarrhoea-causing rotavirus strains in the country. The analysis has led to the detection of the G-12 strain that was first introduced from the Philippines in 1987 and has since re-emerged in most Asian countries, as well as Europe and the US. More>>

Cancer risks in Indian HIV patients
Non-Hodgkin lymphomas, a group of cancers of white blood cells, are the predominant cancers in HIV patients in India. A new analysis of cancers in Indian HIV patients shows that, unlike patients in the west, Kaposi's sarcoma caused by the human herpes virus is low in Indian patients. But cervical, anal, penile and vaginal cancers are being increasingly recorded, the analysis shows. More>>

Injecting drug users 'increase HIV risk in Maldives'
Maldives health minister Aminath Jameel says that though there is no evidence of an increase in use of needles and syringes among drug users and its link with HIV in the country, there is a need for research on the issue. A nongovernmental organisation says anectodal evidence points to rising drug use, while a 2007 study on potential HIV risk in the Maldives concludes that one-third of injecting drug users share needles and one-third of female sex workers in Male' inject drugs. More>>

Pakistan science minister unearths boat scam
Pakistan science minister Muhammad Azam Khan Swati claims to have unearthed a US$6 million scam to buy a 36-year-old discarded boat by the country's National Institute of Oceanography. Swati also charged the NIO with fudging expenditure details. More>>

Compiled by T. V. Padma. Additional reporting by Papri Sri Raman.

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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