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Below is a round up of news from or about South Asia for the period 22 August–3 September 2008.

Scientists find clues to enormous HIV variation
An Indo–US team of scientists report a high degree of variation in amino acids that make up a key protein that helps the HIV virus multiply. This could contribute to the enormous genetic variation in the virus, which poses problems for treatment of the disease. More>>  [794kB]

How and when the 'roof of the world' rose
Scientists have gained new insights in the exact timeline of events that led to the rise of the Tibet plateau, described as the 'roof of the world'. US scientists who pieced together the geological puzzle say the rise of the plateau, due to collision of India with Asia about 50 million years ago, is closely linked to movement of the earth in the Pacific Ocean. More>>

Himalayan climate change data missing
Global warming is impacting Himalayan glaciers, and yet crucial data in the region is missing, warns the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD). Andreas Schild, director-general of ICIMOD has called for more scientific and regional cooperation to plug the gap. The region has the largest concentration of ice apart from the two poles. More>>

Prevention of suicide attempts 'possible'
Low-cost interventions to prevent repeat suicide attempts are feasible in low-income countries, studies in Brazil, China, India, Iran, and Sri Lanka [600kB] have shown. Patients given brief intervention programmes and followed up with contact, were much less likely to attempt suicide again. An accompanying article [637kB] in The Bulletin of the World Health Organization provides the first comprehensive overview of patterns of suicide attempts worldwide.

Hormone 'makes plants less vulnerable to salt stress'
Spraying plants with the hormone salicylic acid can help them withstand excess salt in the soil, report scientists in Pakistan. External application of the chemical improves the growth of salt-stressed sunflower plants and leads to higher yields. More>> [68kB]

Bangladesh gears up for climate change
Bangladesh is preparing itself for climate change, with plans afoot under the six sectors of agriculture, health, environment, livelihoods, disaster management and development. The national action plan will be presented at a conference in London, United Kingdom, this month. More>>

Poor Afghan child health 'due to mothers' lack of education'
Child health in war-torn Afghanistan is suffering due to mothers' low educational background and inability to access healthcare. A study found that 32.5 per cent of under-fives are suffering from acute diarrhoea and 41.5 per cent from breathing illnesses, while over 40 per cent have stunted growth. More>> [196kB]

Bangladesh researchers 'can create petrol from waste'
Scientists in Bangladesh say they have developed technology to produce petroleum products from organic waste. The Bangladesh Council of Scientific and Industrial Research is studying the commercial feasibility of the technology, which produces petroleum from municipal waste as well as rice and oil seed husks. More>>

Researchers discuss keys to better beekeeping
Beekeeping helps reduce poverty and conserve valuable genetic resources, an international beekeeping congress in Bhutan was told. Aspects of beekeeping including commercial exploitation, pest control and the bee's place in the ecosystem were discussed. More>> [31kB]

Veggie compound dissolves urinary stones
A chemical found in fruits and vegetables can help dissolve stones formed in the urinary tract due to the deposition of salts, according to Indian scientists. Studies in rats show lupeol and its derivative can reduce the stones. More>>

Fitting drugs into DNA
The Indian Institute of Science has developed computer models to show how an anti-cancer drug can be inserted into a cell's genetic material. This is a critical step in the function of many anti-cancer drugs. More>>

Compiled by T. V. Padma. Additional reporting by Mustak Hossain 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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