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Below is a round up of news from or about South Asia for the period 30 April–13 May 2009

India, UK to research on parasite-resistant crops
India's Department of Science and Technology will coordinate an India–UK programme to develop a new generation of parasite-resistant, sustainable and ecologically safe crops. The Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, Indian Agriculture Research Institute in Delhi and UK's Leeds University will work together under the project that has received a grant of one million pounds from the UK government. Globally US$125 billion worth of crops are lost every year to parasites. More>>

More efficient lighting for South Asia
A Regional Centre for Energy Efficient Lighting (RCEEL) has been set up in Colombo, Sri Lanka to introduce, develop and promote efficient lighting technologies in South Asia. Set up with USAID assistance, RCEEL's long-term vision is to produce clean, affordable, sustainable, high-quality energy to benefit underdeveloped communities in the region. More>>

Corrosion-free metal for Indian rails
A new alloy steel developed by the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, could solve the corrosion problem of Indian rails due to toilet discharge. Indian Railways, the second largest railroad in the world, is also plagued by corrosion in salt-laden areas. Corrosion resistance in the new rails has been confirmed in laboratory trials and railways have ordered a number of the rails for large-scale field trials along the coast. More>>

Coconut coir soaks in dye
Coconut coir — fibres found between the husk and outer shell of a coconut that are a by-product of coconut-based industries — absorbs methylene blue, a widely used biological and chemical dye, from wastewaters. Scientists from Varanasi in India turned the unusable part of the coir into 'activated carbon', a highly porous form of carbon with a large surface area, Meanwhile, another group of scientists report that the shrub Blumea malcolmii can absorb harmful sulphur-containing dyes and help improve water quality. More>>

Silver nanoparticles could prevent clotting
Scientists have shown that silver nanoparticles prevent blood platelets from sticking together to form a clot, offer a promising alternative to current clot-dissolving treatments that lead to serious bleeding complications. Blood clots ara emerging as a serious health concern as they cut off blood and oxygen supply to key organs in the body, and silver nanoparticles can help in controlling the problem, report the scientists. More>>

Test to track Leishmania chemical
Indian scientists have developed a test to track a key chemical in Leishmania parasites, which could ultimately lead to a potential drug target. The parasites lack a crucial enzyme, catalase, that is found in nearly all living organisms and instead use a group of chemicals called thiols. The tracking and induced depletion of thiols could potentially serve as an effective drug target, they say. More>>

Polymer producing microbe
Scientists have isolated a new strain of the bacteria Azotobacter that produces copious amounts of a compact polymer with tiny pores. The new strain has potential use in removing or neutralising environmental contaminants and in biotechnological processes. More>>

Rapid test for sheep virus
A rapid new test to detect the bluetongue virus that causes serious disease in sheep, cattle and deer has been developed by scientists. It is more sensitive than current tests, can detect the virus as early as five days after infection and could be useful in testing a large number of samples in a short time. More>>

DNA vaccine to tackle lethal shrimp virus
Scientists have made vaccine from a small piece of DNA taken from a highly lethal and contagious shrimp virus — the white spot syndrome virus (WSSV) that has destroyed entire shrimp farms across the world. On injecting the vaccine into shrimps, it remains for more than a month and kills the virus by 'silencing' or switching off some of its genes. More>>

Sri Lankan satellites to hit space
Sri Lanka plans to launch two satellites; a low earth orbit imaging satellite and a geostationary communication satellite. A consortium of university vice chancellors in the country plans to begin work this year. The satellites will be used for disaster management, coastal conservation, irrigation planning and urban planning. 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]).