Blood that infuses new hope


TEM cells are set to take root in the Indian drug market. They will be launched as a constituent of umbilical cord blood (UCB) to help treat fatal diseases such as thalassemia, anaemia and leukemia. Reliance Life Sciences (RLS), a subsidiary of the Reliance group of Industries, has become the first Indian Company to be given permission to market the UCB. 

          To be called ‘ReliCord’, the product consists of residual blood in the umbilical cord of baby, which is generally discarded. This blood is rich in stem cells. Stem cells are the ‘master cells’ of human body that have the potential to develop into almost every other type of cell .The samples will be classified on the basis of specific proteins present in them and will be stored at –1960C.

         As ReliCord can help in the production of red blood cells, it will particularly benefit those whose bone marrow is damaged. Reliance’s new product will thus replace bone marrow transplants, where non -compatibility of tissue of the donor and the recipient is a major stumbling block. ReliCord can also be used after aggressive chemotherapy in cancer where the bone marrow is damaged.

To ensure the safety of the product, the cord blood is collected and processed under the most stringent quality control measures. It will be mandatory for ReliCord to follow all the safety pre-requisites like screening for HIV ,Hepatitis B and C.


 September 30, 2023 Down To Earth


Multiple Gene Defects Found in Clones

Amid hints by some doctors that at least one cloned baby is well on its way to birth, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have published a study showing that in cloned mice, defects can be found throughout the genome. The work adds to evidence that cloning to produce a baby is “completely unsafe and unethical,” they say. “Most if not all would be expected to be abnormal,” says study leader Rudolf Jaenisch. The scientists compared 10,000 genes from placentas and livers of newborn clones with those of normal mice. At least 4% were functioning incorrectly, they repot in the 9 September online edition of the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences

 Research has already demonstrated a number of abnormalities in cloned mice, including obesity, pneumonia, liver failure, and pre-mature death. Hans Scholer, a molecular biologist at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Kennett Square, who earlier this year reported that most clones have defected in a major gene involved in development, say’s it’s clear that visible symptoms are only the tip of the iceberg.

The MIT group emphasizes, however, that nuclear transfer is a safe way to cultivate genetically matched tissue for patients suffering from degenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s.

September 20,2002 SCIENCE  Vol.297


Cancer cure for sure


or the first time, cancer has been successfully treated by removing an organ from the body, giving it radiography and then re-implanting it. The out-of-body operation allows doctors to administrate high doses of radiation to widespread tumours without affecting other organs.

Doctors in Italy recently announced that they have used the  technique to treat a 48–year-old man with multiple tumours in his liver. One year after the operation, which took 21 hours, the man is alive and well. The team of surgeons at the Italy -based San Matteo Hospital and physicists from National Institute of Nuclear physics, is now waiting for approval to treat another six patients with multiple liver tumours.

The patient they treated had a colon tumour removed, but the cancer spread to his liver. Scans revealed no fewer than 14 tumours in his liver. The tumours proved resistant to chemotherapy, or conventional radiotherapy.

So doctors decided to try boron neutron capture therapy, in which boron atoms are attached to the amino acid phenylalanine and injected into a patient. Because they grow quickly, tumours take up more of the compound than normal cells. Two or four hours later, a low energy neutron beam is directed at the organ, splitting the boron into high-energy particles that mainly kill the cancer cells. But to ensure that all cancerous cells are destroyed, an even dose of neutrons has to be given to the entire organ. That’s not easy to do in the body, where obstructions such as bones block the neutron beam.

What the surgeons did was remove the entire liver. The organ was placed in a Teflon bag, irradiated and then reimplanted, “ By explanting the organ, we could give a high and uniform dose to all the liver says Tazio Pinelli. The technique is dubbed TAORMINA, Italian for “Advanced treatment of organs by means of neutrons irradiation and auto-transplant”. But with only one person treated so far, it is too early to judge how safe and effective it is.

January 31, 2003  Down To Earth  



Dexamethasone improves outcome in pneumococcal meningitis



examethasone significantly reduces the risk of an unfavorable outcome in adults with acute bacterial  meningitis, a new study (N Engl J Med 2002;347:1549-56) shows, and patients with pnemococcal meningitis benefited most.

In a multicentre study in Europe, 301 adults with suspected bacterial meningitis (cloudy cerebrospinal fluid [CSF], bacteria in CSF, or a CSF leucocyte count above 1000/ mL) were given intravenous dexamethasone (10 mg every 6 h for 4 days) or placebo, starting just before or with antibacterial treatment. 8 weeks after the start of treatment the overall reduction in risk of unfavorable outcome (eg, death, focal neurological abnormalities and gastrointestinal bleeding) was reduced by about 40% in dexamethasone-treated patients compared with the placebo group.

Dexamethasone halved the risk of unfavorable outcome in patients with meningitis due to the Streptococcus pneumoniae but did not significantly improve the outcome in patients with meningitis due to Neisseria meningitidis. Lead author Jan de Gans (University of Amsterdam, Netherlands) says, “We conclude that adjunctive dexamethasone therapy should be given to all adults with acute bacterial meningitis and should be started before or with the first dose of antibiotics”.

January 2003,The Lancet Vol. 3



Fasting – Nature’s  Oldest and Best Remedy

4    People eat till they are sick, they should fast till they become well.

4    Every disease has only one cause and one remedy. The cause is improper eating and remedy is fasting and proper eating.

The very old saying “Langanam paramaushadham” (Fasting is the best medicine) reveals the significance of fasting.

Eating and non-eating are like waking & sleeping, tension & relaxation; the two poles between which we live our daily lives. Eating by day and fasting by night belong so naturally to the rhythm of life that we take their existence for granted. But, if we happen to eat later than we usually do in the evening, we may notice the next morning that we are not hungry. This is the body’s way of saying that the fasting time is not yet over.

The first meal of the day is called “break-fast”, because it is literally the breaking of a night of fasting. A normal adult needs 12-14 hours each day to work, eat and interact with others, that leaves 12-14 hours for the body to recharge it’s batteries, for waste to be broken down and energy to build up. During the night of fasting the human body looks after it’s self; rest, comfort and warmth helps it to live on its own resources.

Thus, in day-to-day life fasting helps to maintain one’s health.

Fasting According To Pioneers

Gandhiji, the pioneer naturopath explains fasting in accordance with “Aakasha Tatthva”. He says, we must not fill up our digestive tract with unnecessary foodstuffs, we should eat only as much as we need and no more.

Dr.Shelton who has written detailed books on fasting, explains fasting as an essential factor element in a total pattern of life that when considered in its wholeness is the only valid means of restoring, as it is the only means of preserving health. 

The Synonym of Fasting: The word FASTING is taken from old English faestan –which means to make fast, observe, be strict. According to dictionary, fasting is defined as “complete or partial abstinence from food”. According to most of religions, fasting is abstinence from prescribed foods is all that is meant.

In fasting, we intentionally abstain from food, for maintaining our health or as a therapeutic regimen. During fast the body is given a physiological rest so that its impaired functions are set right and efficiency improved.


January 2003, Nisargopchar varta


High-tech malaria vaccine


r. Tony Holder  and his team at the Medical Research Council’s National Institute for Medical Research in North London, the United Kingdom, have developed a technique for strengthening the human immune response to the vaccine they are developing and for overcoming some tricks that the malarial parasite uses to evade immune response. The outcome is first vaccine capable of offering ample protection against malaria. Dr.Holder’s group has identified part of a parasite surface protein as a good vaccine candidate. The team has strengthened the immune response against the protein by using genetic engineering to remove part of the protein that stimulate an immune response to produce antibodies that protect the parasite against further attack, rather than destroying it. Removal of the parts of the protein involved prevents the production of such antibodies and thus makes the vaccine more effective. The technology, called ‘Immudaptin’, works by stimulating part of the human  immune system known as complement system that helps B-cells to recognize foreign antigens (protein) on the surface of the parasites. After B-cells have recognized foreign antigens, the cells proliferate and produce more and more antibodies  that bind to the same  antigens and begin the process of killing the parasites

July-August 2002, VATIS UPDATE: Biotechnology





f a person eats too much and does not do any physical exercise, or consumes a lot of fatty and starchy food, sweets, oily things, and too much sugar, the body weight will increase. Obesity is also due to the improper functioning of thyroid and pituitary glands, it may some times be due to hereditary factors. It is also caused by menstrual disorders in the case of women. In obese persons, there is excessive burden on the heart, respiratory system and kidney. This will result in heart trouble, blood pressure, asthma, diabetes, general weakness and so on. The over weight person has a lower life expectancy. Abnormal fatness should therefore, be reduced to avoid the above difficulties.

Treatment: Fasting, correct food habits, and exercise keeps the body in a normal form and in a healthy condition. Treatment like steam bath, sun bath, and hot water hip bath will be very helpful. Steam bath is particularly very helpful and effective in treatment of obesity and it may be taken either daily or on alternative days. However persons suffering from high blood pressure and heart troubles should not take steam bath. Obese person should take cold water bath twice a day as this will also help to eliminate the fat contents of the body.

During the period of fasting which may last ten or more days under the supervision of a specialist in 

Naturopathy, the obese patient should be given lemon juice plus honey, 4 or 5 times per day once in 3 hours. He has to take plenty of water in between. Rest and relaxation are very much needed during fasting. After breaking the fast, the obese patient should be given juicy fruits like mosambi, orange, grapes etc., for as many days as possible and thereafter, he can have cooked food like wheat sukha chapathis and raw vegetables like greens and water vegetables such as cucumber, gourds etc. After the fast is broken, one should do exercises for at least half an hour per day. Yogasanas, Suryanamaskaras and walking are the best exercises.

Exercises not only reduce the weight but also help in improving the general health, improving the blood circulation, by toning up the muscular and nervous systems. Reduction in weight will take off the excessive load on the feet, reduce breathlessness, and also save the heart muscles from overwork.

The best season to start the above treatment is the summer, during which period the appetite is reduced, and there is also a natural propensity to lose fat.

November 2002, Nisargopachar varta


Energised !


UMAN bodies could energise their electronic implants in the very near future. Chemists from Austin-based University of Texas have developed a miniature battery that converts energy produced during metabolism into electricity. It could be inserted very easily next to glucose-containing body fluids found, for instance, under the skin or in the spinal cord.

The chemists claim their battery is medically useful, as it is tiny, produces adequate amount of power (same as the wristwatch battery-about 1.9 microwatts ), and can operate at a temperature and alkalinity close to that of blood:             37 0C and pH 7.2.

The chemists claim their battery could drive a miniature glucose sensor for monitoring diabetes. However, it would not be able to power an artificial heart. Its best use would be as research tools: it could power tracking devices attached to insects or animals over the course of a few days.

December 31, 2002 Down To Earth



Indian biotech breakthroughs


hree breakthrough projects in medical biotechnology, developed by leading institutions of India, are ready for commercialization. The three projects are: diagnostic tests for tuberculosis, based on polymerase chain reaction (PCR), developed by All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, and Central Drug Research Institute (CDRI), Lucknow; peptide-based enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) system for HIV-I and II detection, devised by Delhi-based National Institute of Immunology; and malaria tests based on lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), developed by CDRI.

The PCR-based technology can identify Mycobacterium tuberculosis within 48 hours of sample submission as compared with 6-12 weeks in conventional techniques. The tests has a higher sensitivity of detection, and is also specific to M. tuberculosis complex, unlike conventional techniques where non-tuberculosis mycobacteria may also get identified. The second technology uses simple ELISA for the estimation of HIV-I and HIV-II antibodies in serum. The Biotech Consortium India Limited (BCIL), a body promoted by Department of Biotechnology, is negotiating with leading biotech and pharmaceutical companies and identifying suitable industries for the technology transfer of these projects.

Jul-Aug 2002, VATIS UPDATE: Biotechnology



Nature cure for sinusitis


inusitis refers to an inflammation of the mucous membrane lining the paranasal sinuses.

        The sinuses consist of cavities or chambers contained in the bones situated in the head and face and region. Symptoms: The symptoms of sinusitis are excessive constant sneezing, a running nose, blockage of one or both nostrils, headaches and pressure around the head, eyes and face. The patient may suffer from a low grade fever, lack of appetite and toothache.

Causes: Sinusitis results from the congestion of the sinus passages due to catarrh or by over secretion of mucus in the membranes lining the nose, throat and head. 

Treatments: Correcting the faulty diet is of most importance in the treatment of sinusitis. The diet should be more of alkaline nature. The intake of salt should be reduced to the minimum as salt leads to accumulation of water in the tissues and expels calcium from the body. In acute stage of the disease, when fever is present, the patient should abstain from all solid foods and only drink fresh fruit and vegetable juices diluted with water on 50:50 basis.

        After the acute symptoms are over, the patient may gradually embark upon a well-balanced diet of three basic food groups, namely seeds, nuts and grains; vegetables and fruits.

        Those suffering from sinusitis should completely avoid fried and starchy foods, white sugar, white flour, rice, macaroni products, pie, cakes and candies. They should also avoid strong spices, meat and meat products. Butter and ghee should be used sparingly. Honey should be used for sweetening. Vegetables should be taken in liberal quantities. All kinds of fruits can be taken, with the exception of those belonging to citrus group such as lemon, lime, orange and grapefruit. Milk should be taken in liberal quantities as it contains calcium, which has a marked affect in overcoming inflammation of the tissues.

         A diet rich in vitamin A is the best insurance against cold and sinus trouble. Vitamin A is the “membrane conditioner” and it helps build healthy mucous membranes in the head and throat.

September 2002, Nisargopachar Varta


Sweet Remedy

Honey could treat wounds that refuse to heal


esearchers seeking scientific support for honey’s legendary medicinal properties have found that it stops bacteria from growing – even strains that are resistant to some potent antibiotics. Until recently it was believed that honey’s consistency kept air out of wounds, and its high sugar content slowed bacterial growth.

A new study by researchers from Cardiff-based University indicates that honey has other properties that kill bacteria. Compared with an artificial honey solution of the same thickness and sugar concentration, natural honey kills bacteria three times more effectively, says Rose Cooper, the lead author of the study.

However, they are not sure what the active ingredients of honey are. Some types of honey, when diluted, form hydrogen peroxide, which kills bacteria and can be used to clean wounds But Cooper’s team rules out the possibility that hydrogen peroxide is the only force at play. Cooper says honey may be antimicrobial because of enzymes secreted by the bees.

However, Cooper is careful to add a warning: “We’re not suggesting that anyone should rush out and buy honey in supermarkets to treats wounds. People having a stubborn wound should seek professional treatment”. Honey brought from the shops may not be very effective as heating (done for preservation purposes) destroys its anti-bacterial properties, she  adds.

December 31, 2023 Down To Earth


  First stem cell transplant for diabetes treatment


ndia’s first transplant of human embryonic stem (ES) cells for treating diabetes will be started by Reliance Life Sciences Private Limited. Mumbai, India. According to Satish Totey, a senior scientist and head of Reliance’s ES cell research, the trial will be done on diabetic mice to see how the transplant works in animals.

Being the mother cell from which all other cells evolve, the ES cells can be potentially used to correct genetic disorders and regenerate tissues for organs damaged in disease. Totey’s group has now characterized 10 ES lines and was able to coax one of the cell lines into becoming the so-called pancreatic ‘islet’ cells that secrete insulin. Laboratory study has shown that the islet cell obtained from the ES cell line produce insulin when challenged with glucose.

Jul-Aug 2002, VATIS UPDATE: Biotechnology


Soya prevents cancer


everal recent scientific studies have shown that a regular intake of traditional soy foods may help to prevent breast cancer, prostate cancer and colon cancer. Soya products were found significantly protective with an effect size per kilocalorie at least four times as large as that of any other dietary factor. Soya act against cancer growth by safeguarding the endogenous oxidant defense system and by excreting the radioactive compounds and heavy metals which are carcinogenic. Isoflavones naturally present in soybean reduce prostate and the breast cancer risks. Isoflavones also play an important role to protect the human body from various types of cancer, cardio vascular diseases.

Helps to prevent heart disease

There is some research that suggests that soya foods may help to prevent heart disease by reducing total cholesterol, low density lipoprotein cholesterol, blood pressure and possibly preventing plaque buildup in the arteries (atherosclerosis).

January 17, 2024 Science Tech Entrepreneur


Honey as antioxidant


on’t like spinach? Try honey. It contains about the same level of plaque-fighting antioxidants as the leafy green stuff, And according to research presented at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society at Boston, the range of antioxidants in honey is comparable to that in apples, bananas, oranges and strawberries. 

A five week study of blood from 25 men between the ages of 18-68 indicates that drinking a mixture of water and honey, about four tablespoons per 16 ounce glass, improved the antioxidants levels in the men’s blood. Nicki Engeseth of the University of Urbana-Champaign, who conducted the study, says this means the sweet stuff may have the potential to protect against heart disease. 

Engeseth’s research group is now in the middle of a 12-week study with rabbits to determine if honey has an inhibitory effect on atherosclerosis.  

To get some amount of antioxidants from honey that you would from some fruits and vegetables, you would have to eat an equivalent per weight amount of honey, Engeseth pointed out. As that might be excessive, she noted, “People could incorporate more honey in places where they might be using some sort of sweetening  agent, like sugar, and this might contribute a significant amount of dietary  phenolics.” Phenolics are chemical compounds that inhibit oxidation. Higher phenolic contents in food tend to generate higher antioxidants levels. 

November 2002, Nisargopachar varta


Beneficial agrotechnique for Shankhapushpi cultivation


ncreasing demand for raw materials of important medicinal plants led to development of new agrotechniques for enhancing growth of wildly available plants also. The ancient drug, Shankhapushpi,  Evolvulus alsinoides (Linn.) Linn., used for memory boosting is found throughout India during rainy season on rocky habitats, gardens, lawns, agricultural fields and roadsides. However, for sustainable supply cultivation of this plant may be taken up. Field experiments were conducted by scientists of Jai Narain Vyas University, Jodhpur to find out optimum requirements of spacing and fertilizer levels on various growth parameters and biomass yield under field conditions. Results revealed that growth parameters were enhanced significantly after application of FYM, NPK + FYM and NPK with 25 cm spacing. Harvest Index is increased with the application of Hexameal and FYM over control.

July-August 2002, Natural Product Radiance 



Treatment of hiccups in the Home

¨      Carbon dioxide inhibits hiccups and simply holding the breath several times will allow carbondioxide to build up in the body.

¨      Breathing in and out of a paper bag works the same way. Do not use a plastic bag as this may fatally obstruct respiration. Most other successful home remedies act by making the patient hold his breath.

¨      Sucking drinking water slowly inducing vomiting and pulling on the tongue are ways of trying to stop hiccups.

September 2002, Health Action