Cause of fatal childhood disorder revealed in gene study

A gene involved in brain development that can lead to severe disability and infant death has been identified by scientists. Mutations in the gene cause profound developmental problems and seizures in young children, researchers have found.

Scientists and doctors worked with children with a range of severe problems, including seizures and abnormal brain scans, and discovered that the infants all had mutations in a gene known as PLAA. The researchers have named the condition PLAA-associated neurodevelopment disorder, or PLAAND. By making a mouse with the same mutation as found in patients, the team – led by the University of Edinburgh – showed how this gene had to function properly for the healthy brain to develop. PLAA is essential for signaling cells to clear build-up of damaged proteins, which is crucial for brain cell function, the researchers say. Cells in children with PLAAND have lost this ability and damaged proteins build up, causing severe problems in brain development and at synapses – parts of brain cells that communicate with other cells.Insights learned from the study may enable scientists to uncover new drugs to treat this rare disease. They could also shed light on conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, in which there is also an issue with damaged protein build up. The study, published in American Journal of Human Genetics, was funded by the Medical Research Council.

Dr Pleasantine Mill, of the University of Edinburgh’s MRC Human Genetics Unit, said: “Pinpointing mutations in this gene that lead to such severe outcomes in the affected children is an important advance.

“Children affected with PLAAND die before the age of six and most heart-breaking for their families is that they fail to meet any developmental milestones. There is no treatment currently available. In identifying this gene and the processes it controls, we have made significant steps in understanding its role in healthy brain development, which will help us target drug studies in future.”


Government of Odisha and University of Chicago partner for research and pilot project implementations

The Government of Odisha collaborated with the University of Chicago and the University of Chicago Trust in India to sign a statement of intenton April 3, 2017to advance its commitments for new research, knowledge, and capacity-building partnerships. This partnership will enable the University of Chicago’s Center in Delhi to work closely with the Government of Odisha in carrying out research, impact evaluations, and pilot project implementation in the sectors of energy and environment, health, and water & sanitation through the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC-India) and the Tata Centre for Development (TCD).
This partnership will also facilitate knowledge sharing and capacity development of personnel and institutions, and assist in the development of Odia Virtual Academy for digitization, preservation and improved access to archival material through the University of Chicago Library.

As part of the partnership, EPIC-India, a satellite office of the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago focused on working with Indian policymakers tackle energy-related challenges, will be setting up a knowledge cell wherein Bhubaneshwar-based researchers will work closely with state government officials in designing innovative energy and environment solutions. The cell will be housed within the State Pollution Control Board, Odisha.

Shri Naveen Patnaik, Hon’ble Chief Minister of Odisha, during the signing of Statement of Intent, said, “The world is undergoing fast changes cutting across various fields and the changing paradigms are evident and prominently visible. The future will be driven by the knowledge and technology-centric solutions. Hence, knowledge partnerships between premier Universities and the policy makers’ in Governments across the Globe have become an important imperative. As Odisha is marching towards its Vision for the future, such collaborations will have to become an integral part of our planning process.”

“It is a privilege to work with the Government of Odisha, and we are very optimistic that the partnership will result ininnovative solutions to critical energy and environment challenges in the state,increased capacity of personnel and institutions, and improved preservation of and access to archival material,” said Dr. Balaji Srinivasan, Associate Provost and Senior Advisor to the President at the University of Chicago. He added, “It is through partnerships like these that the University of Chicago is creating enduring impact in South Asiathrough policies backed by data-driven research and catalyzingthe interdisciplinary and cross-cultural discourse for which the University is well known.”

The Odisha initiative is one of several that EPIC is working on in India. Professor Michael Greenstone, Director of EPIC, said, “We are already working closely with several state governments in India to conduct real-world policy experiments. In Odisha, we aim to bring our expertise in applied research on innovative policy ideas to develop mechanisms that facilitate increased energy access and reduced health and environmental problems.”

Professor AnupMalani, Faculty Director of the Tata Centre for Development, added, “Our development-focused research, implementation, and training projects in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Rajasthan, Delhi and other states position us well to serve Odisha’s needs in health, water and sanitation, and education. We look forward to this productive collaboration.”

The Energy Policy at the University of Chicago (EPIC) and its satellite office in India, EPIC-India, conduct cutting-edge research to test new approaches to expanding energy access and achieving low-cost reductions in pollution through innovative solutions that are most suitable for the Indian context.
The Tata Centre for Development focuses on solving practical problems related to social and economic development in India through an integrated platform comprised of research, implementation and training components.
The University of Chicago Center in Delhi provides a base for research, teaching, and dialogue among scholars from the University of Chicago, across India, and around the world, and is designed to serve scholars across all levels as a working space and gathering place for faculty, students, alumni, and friends of the University

CII National Conference on Vaccine Industry in India

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While addressing the inaugural session of the CII National Conference on Vaccine Industry in India “Reforms required for early accessibility, growth & sustained competitiveness” on 10th November 2016 at New Delhi, Mr CK Mishra, Secretary, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India, said that the entire Indian Healthcare industry has to get involved for an effective healthcare delivery in India; and we must move from “Health for All” to “Health By All”, whereby the vaccine industry has a critical transformational role to play. Indian Government is fully geared to provide an enabling regulatory environment which would facilitate in creating a comprehensive national healthcare delivery system.

Further, Mr C K Mishra lauded the efforts of Indian vaccines players in leaving a mark on global landscape as leading supplier of vaccines to world, and said that it is encouraging to witness that there has never been an instance of shortage of vaccines in India primarily on account of successful implementation of our Mission Indradhanush.

Mr Mishra also stated that the domestic vaccines manufacturers should accord prime importance in meeting domestic demand; upscale R&D related work, and also take initiative in developing critical vaccines such as PCV and HPV. The Health Secretary said that the Government is committed to putting together resources for Mission Indradhanush. Besides, he stressed that both industry and government should continue nurturing the symbiotic relationship thereby taking vaccine industry to a higher level.

Mr KL Sharma, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India called for the industry to submit specific recommendations within a fortnight, and assured a speedy response by the Government. Expressing optimism in capability of Indian vaccine industry, Mr Sharma said that this niche sector is going to be game changer, and Indian government is proud of its achievements.

Responding to CII’s call for a Single Window System and ease in Clinical trial regulations, Dr G N Singh, Drug Controller General of India, Central Drugs Standard Control Organization, Government of India, announced formation of an Expert Group to examine the regulatory issues. This Expert group to be formed with CII would work towards a speedy resolution of issues in vaccines in time-bound manner without compromising critical aspects like quality, patient safety and patient management. Further, Dr Singh, appealed industry to chalk out a mechanism for Post Marketing Survey (PMS) so that hospitals will have a proper survey mechanism in place.

Earlier, Dr Rajesh Jain, Joint Managing Director, Panacea Biotech Pvt. Ltd, and Convener of the Conference, while delivering Welcome address, urged Government  to setup a “Regulatory Innovation Cell” and also requested for minimize unnecessary paper work, maximize innovation, capitalize Mission Indradhanush by developing vaccines faster which are accessible for our country’s National Immunization Program in a timely manner.

Dr Suresh Jadhav, Executive Director, Serum Institute of India Ltd., said that this is a historical day when the senior officials of Health Ministry, regulators, and vaccine manufacturers, came together to address the issues to expedite the vaccines availability.


Shri J P Nadda unveils Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Abhiyan in Delhi


“Carrying forward the vision of our Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, the Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Abhiyan (PMSMA) is aimed to reduce maternal and infant mortality rates through safe pregnancies and safe deliveries. The national programme will provide special free antenatal care to about 3 crore pregnant women across the country in order to detect and prevent high risk pregnancies.” This was stated by Shri J P Nadda, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare at the launch of Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Abhiyan (PMSMA), here today. Shri Faggan Singh Kulaste, Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, Shri C K Mishra, Secretary (Health) and Mr. Louis George Arsenault, UNICEF Representative to India and were also present at the occasion, along with other senior officials. Representatives from IMA, FOGSI, Rotary International and other development partners were also present.


Shri Nadda stated that the nationwide programme will provide fixed day assured, comprehensive and quality antenatal care to pregnant women on the 9th of every month. Pregnant women can now avail of a special antenatal check-up in their second or third trimesters at Government health facilities provided by gaenocology specialists/ physicians with support from private sector doctors to supplement the efforts of the Government sector, Shri Nadda stated. These services including ultrasound, blood and urine tests will be provided in addition to the routine antenatal check-ups at the identified health facility/outreach in both rural and urban areas.  One of the aims is to identify and follow-up on high risk pregnancies in order to reduce MMR and IMR, he added.


Pointing out that private practitioners will play a critical role in the success of this programme Shri Nadda said that this needs to be made a national social movement which shall engage the doctors from the private sector and other stakeholders. Shri Nadda administered the #IPledgeFor9 Pledge for urging all to support this programme. The Health Minister appealed to the private sector doctors to provide voluntary services to supplement the efforts of the Government. “I call upon all stakeholders to be a part of this national movement and work towards reduction in maternal and infant mortality”, he stated.


The Health Minister pointed out that India is poised to work towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in maternal and child healthcare. He added that India has made substantial progress on several indicators in the recent years and stated that its national health indicators like Infant Mortality Rate (IMR), Maternal Maternity Rate (MMR), Total Fertility Rate (TFR) and under five mortality are declining faster a than the world pace. “With Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Abhiyan (PMSMA) the Ministry aims take this forward and improve upon the quality and coverage of health facilities,” Shri Nadda elaborated.


Addressing the gathering, Shri Faggan Singh Kulaste, Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare said that this is a significant step towards reducing maternal mortality in India. We are targeting women who have not received or dropped out of ANC check-ups and a minimum package of investigations and medicines such as IFA and calcium supplements, would be provided to all pregnant women attending the PMSMA clinics. Apart from diagnostic and treatment services, counselling pregnant women is critical — especially in cases of high-risk pregnancies, he stated. Shri Kulaste further added that support from state governments, apex bodies like the IMA and the FOGSI, Lions and Rotary clubs as well as development partners, have been important in getting the campaign off the ground.


Highlighting the importance of this initiative, Shri C K Mishra, Secretary (HFW) said that while much progress has been made in reducing maternal and neonatal mortality, the PMSMA programme is based on the premise that if each and every pregnant woman in India is examined by a physician and appropriately investigated at least once during the pregnancy and then appropriately followed up, the Abhiyan can avoid many preventable deaths.


At the function Shri J P Nadda also launched the PSMA Web Portal & a Mobile Application along with the 360 degree communication package to raise awareness about the campaign.


Dr S S Agarwal, National President, IMA; Dr. Alka Kriplani, President FOGSI and several doctors from FOGSI, IMA and Rotary International were also present at the function. FOGSI and IMA iterated their commitment of support to the programme.

Independent People’s movement HAWA BADLO supported by GAIL ( India ) limited

HAWA BADLO is a collective measure against air pollution, an initiative to spread awareness about towering air pollution and hazardous drop in air quality index and the measures to fight the same. With the intention to make the country’s air more breathable, this initiative has been taken by independent people’s movement supported by GAIL ( India ) limited to help the group, in building a sustainable environment for the young India.

In order to motivate the people to give up on fossil fuels and commit to air-friendly habits like switching to CNG/electric vehicles, carpooling, and use of public transport, the campaign has come out with a video titled TIME BOMB conceptualised by Nipun Arora, “With raised voice we want to push Government, Policy Influencers /Makers and other important commercial stakeholders to come together and be the nation’s voice against pollution “   says the Founder Nipun Arora

Video : Hawa Badlo

The Video serves a platform for individuals, brands and policy influencers to ideate, connect and share sustainable solutions to #ChangeTheAir.

The movement aims at spreading awareness and motivating people to commit towards Air friendly habits at micro level which collectively yields measurable affect to Air Quality Index at macro level.

A unique campaign for Tata Salt Plus to drive away the menace of anaemia

This festival season, the people of Kolkata and Delhi celebrated the victory of good over evil, albeit in a different manner. In both the cities, as the magnificent festivities of Durga Puja and Dusshera respectively hit a crescendo, a campaign by The Brand Brewery (TBB) — a leading experiential marketing agency – became the talk of the town.

The campaign aptly christened Sehat-ki-Goonj was conceived and executed by TBB for India’s first iron fortified salt brand Tata Salt Plus. The inimitable initiative aimed at creating awareness about anaemia which is highly prevalent among women as well as children in India.

In Kolkata, TBB chose the setting of Durga Puja to spread the message of health because the festival that pans over four days is one of the most opulent celebrations in the City of Joy and sees lakhs of enthusiasts participate in the revelry. The brilliantly accomplished campaign centred around a simple premise that Bengalis, especially women, follow as a tradition – that blowing a conch will eradicate all negative energies and usher in wellbeing before the start of something new or auspicious.

In tandem with this thought, TBB envisaged the maverick campaign by connecting it with the aspect of health. As part ofSehat-ki-Goonj, a massive conch was placed at the FD Block Salt Lake City pandal. Women were then invited to blow the conch and the decibel units that they produced while blowing it for over 15 to 20 seconds were recorded. Every participant was gifted a free hamper which included a one kg Tata Salt Plus pack while those who won or crossed the set decibel were given a bigger hamper.

It is a known fact that blowing a conch requires enough strength and stamina. Through Sehat-ki-Goonj, TBB cracked upon the idea of using the conch as a medium to spread awareness for the campaign and bank upon the tradition of blowing a conch to eliminate evil.

Said Mr Pradyumn Tandon, Founder and Director, TBB, “About 55% of women and 73% of children in India are iron deficient, which makes us one of the worst-hit anaemic countries in the world. We felt that in a city like Kolkata, Durga Puja celebrations are the best way to reach out to women especially since the festival also symbolises the power of a goddess.”

The campaign was popularly referred to as ‘Swasther Protidhwani’ in Kolkata. A special Sehat-ki-Goonj tune was also recorded for the occasion based on the ragas ShuddhaKalyan and Bhairav– both known for celebrating good health and end of evil.

Meanwhile in Delhi, as large crowds participated in achieving proverbial victory by celebrating the burning of Ravaanat the iconic Ramlila Maidan, team TBB preferred to focus upon their health. A similar conch was also placed at the venue where women were invited to blow it and the decibel levels were checked. While it was Durga Puja in Kolkata to reach out to a larger demographic, in Delhi it had to be Dusshera celebrations. It is the day when millions relive mythology and rejoice the victory of good over evil as they witness the enactment of Rama killing Ravana.

Added Tandon, “In Delhi, we thought Dusshera was the best occasion since that is when huge crowds throng this venue to participate in Ravaandahan. Tata Salt also looks at anaemia as an evil that needs to be wiped out of our country. Hence it was a perfect opportunity to reach out to people, especially women and talk about the menace.”

During the campaigns, 950 kg of Tata Salt Plus was distributed in Kolkata and 580 kg of Tata Salt Plus was distributed in Delhi.

TBB has successfully conceived and executed several other campaigns for Tata Salt during festivities which provide the perfect setting to reach out to more and more people. The campaigns have helped in projecting the brand as the official health keeper of the nation with its purest form of salt.  The Sehat ki Goonj campaign was an extension to this thought especially with the Tata Salt Plus variant that is India’s first iron fortified iodised salt that is known to provide up to 50% of the Recommended Daily Allowance of iron.

LactoClave 2016 3rd Edition organized by Medela India

Medela India, the world’s leading global producer of breast pumps and nursing accessories, will be hosting the third edition of LactoClave on 20th October. The topic for the discussion will be‘#FeedToDefeat: Level- up the Fight against Breast Cancer by Breastfeeding’. The number of breast cancer patients in India is gradually increasing over the years. Studies have shown time and again that there is a crucial link between breast cancer prevention and breastfeeding. Owing to busy lifestyles, late motherhood trends and succumbing to social and professional stress women generally tend to avoid breastfeeding, making them vulnerable to breast cancer. Therefore, the objective of this panel discussion is to create awareness on the occurrence, early diagnosis, treatment, effects of breast cancer and highlight the link between breastfeeding and breast cancer.


Breast cancer accounts for 25%-32% of all cancer in females.  A recent cancer statistics study conducted by World Cancer Research Fund highlights that women who breastfeed for at least a year are 5% less likely to develop breast cancer.  Therefore, there is a dire need to spread awareness on the occurrence of breast cancer and how early intervention of breastfeeding can help in reducing this dangerous disease.


LactoClave 3rd edition will be a webinar which will take place October 20th from 12:00 to 1:00 pm. The panel discussion will comprise renowned and experienced experts. The panelists will include Dr Sidharth Sahni, Senior Consultant Breast and Oncoplastic Surgeon at Apollo Indraprastha Hospital, Dr Ruchika Nagrath, Lamaze certified child birth educator, Victoria Kumar, Education Manager and In-House Lactation Consultant, Medela India and Priya Chadha who is a breast cancer survivor.