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Below is a round up of news from or about South Asia for the period 30 April–15 May.

Asian bank sets up new climate change fund
The Asian Development Bank has announced a new US$40 million climate change fund to help countries in the region cope with the impact of climate change. The fund will assist technical and research projects and mitigation and adaptation activities in developing countries in Asia and the Pacific region. More>>

Scientists find 'obesity gene'
Scientists have pinpointed a genetic sequence that makes a person fatter and more prone to diabetes. The gene is more common in Indian Asians — who account for a quarter of the world's diabetics and are expected to make up 40 per cent of global heart disease cases by 2010. The new gene sequence lies next to the MC4R gene, which regulates energy levels in the body. More>>

Mechanism for TB iron transport found
Indian scientists have worked out how Mycobacterium tuberculosis takes up and transports iron, which is crucial for its survival in the host. Knowledge of the iron transport mechanism opens up the possibility of treatment with new drugs that target this pathway. More>>

Sri Lankan rainfall 'of limited use in predicting malaria'
Studies in Sri Lanka show rainfall data is of limited use in predicting malaria in the country. The effects of rainfall on malaria case numbers varied in different seasons and parts of the country. The weak correlation between rainfall and malaria should be taken into account when preparing predictive models, the researchers say. More>>

Tobacco adverts 'fuel smoking in young Indians'
Tobacco advertisements are causing a growing number of young Indians to start smoking, says a study by the University of Texas School of Public Health. The study shows that in 2004, 11-year-old Indian children were using three times as much tobacco as 13-year-olds, a pointer towards a new wave of increased tobacco use. More>>

Norovirus 'causes gastroenteritis in India'
Indian scientists have confirmed that norovirus cause gastroenteritis in India. New data from India found the virus in 12 per cent of gastroenteritis infections in a hospital, suggesting it is the second most common cause of gastroenteritis after rotavirus. More>>

Scientists characterise Indian hepatitis C subtypes
Indian scientists have carried out detailed analysis of the different types of hepatitis C virus that cause chronic liver disease in northern India. They found that the severity of disease and response to treatment depended on the specific subtype of the virus, which could have implications for diagnosis and treatment of the disease. More>>

Malaria 'on the rise in Afghanistan'
Malaria cases are rising in Afghanistan, with over half of the estimated 26.6 million population at risk of catching the disease. Afghanistan's Ministry of Public Health says 14 of its 34 provinces are at "high risk" of malaria. Most of the estimated 1.5 million malaria cases remain undiagnosed. More>>

Researchers record wide variety of bird song
Indian birds have a range of varied calls, ranging from territorial, begging, threatening, feeding, contact, alarm, distress and roosting, researchers have found. The first comprehensive study on the social and behaviorial aspects of the calls of the Indian chat bird will provide a framework for future acoustic studies in Indian birds, they say. More>> [142kB]

Tigers roam new heights in Bhutan Himalayas
Tigers are roaming the Himalayas at heights not previously recorded. An ongoing study in Bhutan, using global positioning system (GPS) markers and infrared cameras, has found footprints at heights of over 3,700 metres. This makes Bhutan the only country to record tigers at such heights, as well as being the first time tigers and snow leopards have been found to share a habitat. More>>

Rare Kashmir deer faces extinction
A rare species of red deer, which is found only in the India-administered region of Kashmir, is on the verge of extinction. The deer, locally known as hangul, has declined drastically in recent years, a census by Indian wildlife authorities shows. More>>

Compiled by T. V. Padma. Additional reporting by Sanjit Bagchi.

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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