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Below is a round up of news from or about South Asia for the period 15–31 October 2007.

Heart disease increasing threat to India's poor
India's lower classes are becoming increasingly vulnerable to heart disease, according to a report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Tobacco use and high blood pressure were more common in lower socioeconomic groups than higher, educated groups, say researchers. More>>

Indian model can predict resistant HIV
A model, developed by researchers at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, could help predict the emergence of multidrug-resistant forms of HIV that are leading to failure of anti-HIV drugs. The model, reported in PLoS Computational Biology, predicts the emergence and growth of recombinant forms after cells are infected with different types of HIV. More>>

Biofilms: reservoirs for cholera
Biofilms — sticky complexes of microorganisms on water surfaces — act as reservoirs for cholera bacteria, report scientists from Bangladesh and the United States in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Vibrio Cholerae O1 change into a form that cannot be multiplied rapidly, bind to biofilms in water and remain in this state, until conditions become favourable for growth. More>>

Cow dung causes arsenic poisoning
Thousands of poor Bangladeshi and Indian women living in rural areas with high arsenic content in groundwater face the additional problem of arsenic-laden smoke from cowdung burning. Studies by an Indo-Bangladesh team, reported in the Journal of Environmental Monitoring, show women using cow dung as fuel inhale 1860 nanograms of arsenic daily, almost 465 nanograms of which can be absorbed. More>>

Asian chronic disease challenge can be met
Chronic disease, such as stroke and cancer, poses both an economic and healthcare challenge to Asian countries, but is avoidable say Canadian and UK researchers. Practical interventions for Asian countries to address four sources of chronic disease are discussed in this study. The authors say an Asian partnership with Western governments and institutions could have global benefits. More >>

Welfare information an 'easy boost' for public health
Simply informing the poor about government-provided health, education and social services goes a long way to improving health and well being, according to a study conducted in India. The study, reported in the Journal of American Medical Association, says this is a relatively easy way to boost health in developing countries. More>>

Sri Lanka to launch nanotechology companies
Sri Lanka will set up two public-private nanotechnology companies under a 5 billion Sri Lankan rupees (US$127 million) project to be implemented over the next five years. A national nanotechnology board will promote and regulate the sector in the country, according to science and technology minister Tissa Vitharana. More>>

Nepal seeks IAEA membership
Nepal will join the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), pending final approval by the United States and ratification by parliament. Nepalese scientists hope to use nuclear energy for medicine and agriculture. More>>

How the Indian subcontinent created the Himalayas
The Indian subcontinent raced ahead, faster than the other pieces that broke off from a single continent 50 million years ago, write researchers from India's National Geophysical Research Institute and Germany's National Research Center for Geosciences in Nature. The thinness of the plate allowed it to travel at 20 centimetres a year. More>>

Rare Himalayan livestock under threat
Rare indigenous goats, sheep, horses and dogs are under threat in the Himalayas, found a field study by the Tribal Research and Cultural Foundation. The authors say the Himalayan belt has lost a dozen of its rarest breeds, starting in 1968 when India started introducing exotic breeds for higher wool and meat yields. More>>

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