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Since 1st March, 1999
 
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AIDS vaccine creators need coordination

Attempts to develop an AIDS vaccine need greater coordination to avoid duplication and increase the chances of success, a senior official of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) said. “There is that danger we see right now in AIDS vaccines, a lot of so-called me-too or similar vaccines being tested,” Robert Hetch, a senior vice-president of IAVI, told a meeting of the Global Forum for Health Research in Mumbai. The IAVI wants a stronger scientific consensus on priorities and a tighter funding system to “avoid this kind of duplication and wasted use of resources”. More than 30 vaccine candidates are now in clinical trials around the world, but scientists are not confident that any of them will be really effective in defeating HIV because the virus mutates frequently.

Breast milk and dehydration

Poor milk drainage or a newborn baby’s inability to latch on can make the baby dehydrated and raise levels of sodium in its blood excessively, according to a study published in the journal Pediatircs. The condition is relatively common, but can be difficult to recognise. Clinicians explain that so-called “hypernatremic dehydration” in newborns arises from an inadequate transfer of breast milk from mother to infant. According to experts at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, new mothers, especially first-time mothers, may have difficulty producing an adequate supply of breast milk in the first week in severe cases of dehydration. The experts recommend that breast milk be supplemented with formula or breast milk from another source.

Blockbuster diabetes pill

An experimental diabetes pill to lower blood sugar and certain blood fats have won support from US drug administrators, despite concerns that it may contribute to heart failure. The medicine, Pargluva, is being developed by Bristol-Myers Squibb and Merck. A panel of outside advisers to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) voted 8-1 to urge approval for Pargluva as a stand-alone treatment for the most common form of diabetes, Type 2, which prevents the body from properly using the hormone insulin to control blood sugar. Some analysts had said before the meeting that Pargluva could become a blockbuster drug with more than $1 billion in annual sales.

Crying begins in the womb

An infant’s first cry may occur not in the delivery room, but in the womb, researchers have found. With the help of video-recorded ultrasound images, the investigators from Auckland University in New Zealand found that a group of third-trimester fetuses showed an evidence of “crying behaviour” in response to a low-decibel noise played on the mothers’ abdomen.

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