The Andhra Journal of Industrial News
(An International Electronic Digest Published from the United States of America)
(dedicated to Andhra, My Mother's Homeland)

Chief Editor: Prof. Sreenivasarao Vepachedu
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Issue 60

5110 Kali Era, Sarvadhari Year, Phalguna month
2066 Vikramarka Era, Sarvadhari Year, Phalguna month
1930 Salivahana Era
Sarvadhari Year, Phalguna month
 2009 AD, March





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America’s Brain Drain is World’s Gain
The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation released March 2, 2009 a study that indicates placing limits on foreign workers in the U.S. is not the answer to the country’s rising unemployment rate and may undermine efforts to spur technological innovation.

For the study by Duke professor and Harvard researcher Vivek Wadhwa titled America’s loss is the world’s gain: America’s New Immigrant Entrepreneurs, Part IV, researchers surveyed highly skilled immigrants who had studied and/or worked in the United States and subsequently returned to their home countries.

“A substantial number of highly skilled immigrants have started returning to their home countries in recent years, draining a key source of brain power and innovation,” said Robert E. Litan, vice president of Research and Policy at the Kauffman Foundation. “We wanted to know what is encouraging this much-needed economic growth engine to leave our country, thereby sending entrepreneurship and economic stimulus to places like Bangalore and Beijing.”

This report builds on an earlier Kauffman Foundation report by Wadhwa documenting a queue of 1 million H-1B holders and their families anxiously awaiting longer-term work visas and growing frustrated with the immigration process. Until recently, America has been the prime destination for the world’s best and brightest immigrants.

“Immigrants have made tremendous personal sacrifices,” said Wadhwa. “They would leave behind relatives and friends and accept second-tier status in American society. Now countries like India and China are providing equal career opportunities and a better quality of life. So the most highly educated and skilled are often returning home.”

In the two-year study of 1,203 Indian and Chinese subjects who had studied or worked in the United States for a year or more before returning home, Wadhwa and his team uncovered several trends:

· Most returnees originally came to the Unites States for career and educational opportunities. The majority of returnees cited career and quality of life as primary reasons to return to their home countries.

· The most common professional factor (86.8 percent of Chinese and 79.0 percent of Indians) motivating workers to return home was the growing demand for their skills in their home countries. Returnees also believed that their home countries provided better career opportunities than they could find in America.

· Most respondents (53.5 percent of Indian and 60.7 percent of Chinese) said opportunities to start their own businesses were better in their home countries.

· Most respondents (56.6 percent of Indians and 50.2 percent of Chinese) indicated that they would be likely to start a business in the next five years.

· Being close to family and friends was a significant consideration in the decision to return home, with many returnees considering their opportunities to care for aging parents to be much better in their home countries (89.4 percent of Indians and 78.8 percent of Chinese).

· Most of the Indian and Chinese immigrant subjects who returned to their home countries were relatively young (in their low-thirties) and were very well educated. Nearly 90 percent held master’s and PhD degrees, primarily in management, technology or science.

Immigrants historically have provided one of America’s greatest competitive advantages. Between 1990 and 2007, the proportion of immigrants in the U.S. labor force increased from 9.3 percent to 15.7 percent, and a large and growing proportion of immigrants bring high levels of education and skill to the United States. Immigrants have contributed disproportionately in the most dynamic part of the U.S. economy—the high-tech sector—co-founding firms such as Google, Intel, eBay and Yahoo. In addition, immigrant inventors contributed to more than a quarter of U.S. global patent applications. Immigrant-founded U.S.-based companies employed 450,000 workers and generated $52 billion in revenue in 2006. Said Wadhwa, “Losing these skilled immigrants is an economic catastrophe that will hurt U.S. competitiveness for decades to come.”

Hydrogen Fuel from Wood
Researchers have designed a way to produce hydrogen gas that will be suitable for fuel cells. The research was a cooperative effort between the University of Georgia and the Virginia Tech, Oak Ridge National Laboratory. They wanted to find a way to create useable hydrogen gas from non food sources of cellulose.

They mixed one coenzyme with 14 other enzymes with cellulose materials such as wood chips ands heated the entire mass to 32 degrees Celsius. In this way a significant amount of hydrogen gas was produced that if scaled up could be used on a commercial level.

African Violet May Lead Treatment for Anthrax
Researchers at the University of Warwick have found how a citric acid-based Achilles heel used by a pathogen that attacks the popular African Violet house plant could be exploited not just to save African Violets but also to provide a potentially effective treatment for Anthrax.
The researchers examined how a chemical structure is assembled in a bacterial pathogen called Pectobacterium chrysanthemi (Dickya dadantii) that afflicts plants – particularly the African Violet which often appears in many homes as a decorative houseplant. Like many bacteria Pectobacterium chrysanthemi competes with its host for iron. Without a supply of this essential nutrient the bacterium cannot grow. The University of Warwick researchers Dr Nadia Kadi, Dr Daniel Oves-Costales, Dr Lijiang Song and Professor Gregory Challis worked with colleagues at St Andrews University to examine how a "siderophore", one of the key tools the bacterium uses to harvest iron is assembled. They discovered how an enzyme catalyst in the assembly of this particular siderophore – called achromobactin – binds citric acid, a vital iron-binding component of the structure. Their findings show that this chemical pathway could be blocked or inhibited to prevent the bacterium from harvesting iron, essentially starving it.
While an interesting piece of science in itself and of even more interest to owners of African Violet houseplants the Warwick research team found that this work also has major implications for the treatment of several virulent and even deadly mammalian infections including Anthrax.

A second piece of research conducted by three of the University of Warwick researchers found that the deadly pathogen which causes Anthrax in humans uses an enzyme to incorporate citric acid into another siderophore that is very similar to the one used by the African Violet pathogen. The researchers showed that both enzymes recognise citric acid in the same way. This means a common strategy could be used to block both the Anthrax and African Violet pathogen siderophore synthesis pathways.
Nature Chemical Biology, 2009 and Chemical Communications, 2009

HPV and miRNA
New research shows for the first time that certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV), which cause cervical and some other types of cancer, can inhibit the production of a tiny single-stranded RNA called microRNA 34a, or miR-34a. Because previous research had demonstrated that microRNAs regulate important functions of the cell, the new finding provides insight into the mechanisms by which HPV contributes to the development of cancer and may lead to the development of treatments to counter HPV infection. Currently, such treatments do not exist. The study, appearing online March 3, 2009, and in the April print edition of the journal RNA, was led by researchers at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health.

Besides causing cervical cancer, HPV is a major cause of penile, anal, and vaginal cancers. HPV inhibits natural tumor suppression by inactivating a cellular tumor suppressor protein called p53. The p53 protein regulates the expression of other genes that control the cell cycle, activates the repair of damaged DNA in cells, and, in cases of severe damage, initiates cell death. This protein also stimulates the expression of a group of microRNAs, including miR-34a.

MicroRNAs are short strands of RNA that regulate protein expression by binding to specific messenger RNA molecules and inhibiting them from their normal function, which is to direct the production of proteins. Dysregulation and abnormal expression of microRNA genes are common occurrences in many human cancers, but little is known about the role that microRNAs play in cancer development or the causes leading to their abnormal expression

This new discovery could lead to the design of drugs that might eliminate the anthrax pathogen's ability to harvest iron and stop an infection dead in its tracks. A respiratory anthrax infection is nearly always fatal but this discovery opens new possibilities for combating such infections.

Schizophrenia, characterized by hallucinations, delusions and disordered thinking, is far more common in men than in women and is usually diagnosed in late adolescence or early adulthood. It affects around an estimated one in 100 people.  While anti-psychotic drugs such as AstraZeneca's Seroquel and Eli Lilly and Co's Zyprexa can help, such drugs do not cure the mental illness and can cause unpleasant side-effects, including sometimes dangerous weight gain.

Some research indicates the condition occurs when the brain produces too much of a chemical called dopamine while another theory is that the coat surrounding nerve cells is damaged in people with schizophrenia. A team from Imperial College London and GlaxoSmithKline Plc analyzed brain tissue donated by 23 healthy people and 28 men and women with schizophrenia. Then they compared the samples to a similar sized group in the United States.  This revealed 49 genes that worked differently in the samples of people with schizophrenia, suggesting that abnormalities in the way in which cells signal each other are involved in the disease.  The findings could also lead to new ways, such as blood tests for certain markers or more specific brain imaging, to help doctors diagnose schizophrenia earlier than waiting for a person's behavior to change.

HIV infects 33 million people globally and has killed 25 million. It is transmitted sexually, in blood and breast milk. In Africa and India, it is most commonly passed during heterosexual contact, mostly promiscuity and prostitution. AIDS experts say many victims are married women whose husbands will not use condoms. In other countries, promiscuous homosexual contact is a cause.  A microbicide may be a way to go. 

A compound, called glycerol monolaurate (GML), appears to stop inflammation and helps keep away the cells the AIDS virus usually infects.  While it does not provide 100 percent protection, it might greatly reduce a woman's risk of being infected, and she could use it privately and without hurting her chances of pregnancy, the researchers reported in the journal Nature.  Researchers tested GML, carried in KY jelly, in macaque monkeys. They put the gel into the vaginas of the monkeys and then applied SIV, a monkey version of HIV.  Four out of five monkeys never became infected and tests showed GML affected the immune response.

HIV is particularly hard to fight because it infects the very immune cells the body uses to attack a virus. When HIV infects an area such as the vagina, the CD4 T-cells rush to defend against it. The body sends out signaling chemicals called cytokines to call in more T-cells. GML appears to stop the cytokine call for help and stops so many T-cells from rushing to the area. This in turn reduces the opportunity for HIV to take hold.

GML is being considered as an additive to tampons because it interferes with bacteria, particularly those that can cause a potentially fatal infection called toxic shock syndrome.  If it can be shown to work safely in women, GML might provide the first easy route to a microbicide, a gel or a cream, that women could use vaginally to protect themselves from infection from promiscuous men. HIV can then infect them all and spread through the body

Pfizer Goes Generic
The global non-exclusive market represents about $270 billion with solid oral dose products representing the largest drug category. This category is anticipated to continue its rapid increase in market share and has an estimated growth potential of over $500 billion within the next five years.
Pfizer Inc announced on March 3rd that it has entered into a series of agreements with Aurobindo Pharma Ltd., a pharmaceutical company based in India, to commercialize medicines that are no longer patent protected, and have lost market exclusivity in the United States and Europe, further progressing its Established Products Business Unit strategy. Pfizer said it expectedthe products acquired to deliver more than $200 million in annual revenue in 2013.  Pfizer’s Established Products Business Unit, focused on the commercialization of products where market exclusivity has been lost, was launched in 2008 as part of the Company’s initiative to create smaller, more accountable business units aligned with customer needs. Currently, Pfizer’s Established Products Business Unit has annual sales of $10 billion globally.

Under the terms of the agreements, Pfizer has acquired rights to 39 generic solid oral dose products in the United States and 20 in Europe, plus an additional 11 in France. These medicines cover a broad range of therapeutic areas including cardiovascular disease and Central Nervous System disorders, and will be commercialized in the U.S. through Pfizer’s Greenstone subsidiary.  Pfizer has also acquired rights to 12 sterile injectable products in the United States and Europe. These medicines are antibiotics including penicillins and cephalosporins.

Pfizer is focusing on off-patent medicines as one avenue to spur profits as the drugmaker encounters generic competition that threatens revenue of its own top sellers. Pfizer's current roster drugs that have lost patent protection amounts to $10 billion in annual sales.

Pfizer’s predicament is true for most innovative pharmaceutical companies in the US, as the tide is against innovative expensive drugs development and the hurdles for new drug development are getting higher by the day.   Lack of public understanding of long and arduous process of new drug development is leading to populist policies by politicians, which will drive out all the innovation to India and China.

One Patient Wins Billions Loose
To further increase the cost of new drug development, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the drugmaker Wyeth on March 4th, holding that pharmaceutical companies can be held liable for harm from medicines that carry sufficient and clear warnings approved by federal regulators.

By a 6-to-3 vote in a major defeat for the pharmaceutical industry, the high court ruled that U.S. Food and Drug Administration labeling approvals do not pre-empt state laws and shield companies from damages as part of liability claims.  A Vermont jury awarded $7 million in legal damages to a guitarist, Diana Levine. Part of her arm had to be amputated after she was improperly injected into an artery with the anti-nausea drug Phenergan made by Wyeth as part of treatment for a migraine.  The Phenergan label, which FDA approved, includes a push IV injection as an option for administration but warns about risks associated with the practice, such as gangrene. If a known, disclosed medical risk can still lead to a law suit and $ 7 million award, pharmaceutical companies can literally be sued for anything. 

A Supreme Court ruling that federal approval of a drug is no protection from lawsuits in state courts could make drugmakers more cautious about safety issues and may lead them to halt development of some medicines and even pull others off the market.  Drug industry analysts said the ruling, upholding a $7 million jury award against Wyeth, will make drugmakers scrutinize safety issues of all experimental drugs in development, as well as existing products.  Cost of innovative new drug is bound to increase further. 

Now, the SC decision is like blood in the water for sharks.  The SC said patients can sue drugmakers for failing to provide adequate safety warnings, upholding a $7 million award to a musician, who already received compensation from the clinic. The ruling is a victory for Diana Levine, 63, a former bass guitar player who specialized in children’s music.  Wyeth has clearly warned against the injection to arteries that caused gangrene in her right arm.  Although Phenergan’s two-page label included a clear warning about injection into an artery, it didn’t warn against incapable nurses who may accidentally introduce phenegran into arteries by IV push.

The justices, voting 6-3, said pharmaceutical companies aren’t shielded from suit by the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of a treatment and its packaging information. Injured patients and their families are pressing thousands of suits around the country, seeking billions of dollars in damages from drug companies. The decision might help former users of Wyeth’s Prempro and Premarin menopause drugs and consumers of AstraZeneca Plc’s antipsychotic drug Seroquel.  The decision means that product liability cases that had been delayed while judges waited for the Supreme Court decision can now go forward.

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito dissented. Alito, writing for the three, said state- law product liability suits would interfere with the federal drug-approval system. As a result, pharmaceutical companies have to pay millions of dollars for patients who are injured due to misuse and negligence of nurses and doctors in which any FDA approved product is involved.  This adds to the increasing development costs resulting in more expensive new drugs.

Last year, the Supreme Court agreed with the pre-emption policy in a case involving medical devices, ruling a patient injured by a catheter from Medtronic could not sue under state laws. That case turned on a provision of federal law prohibiting states from imposing their own requirements on the devices. There’s no similar provision for drugs.

Levine's attorney and consumer advocates welcomed the ruling as a win for patients. Is it really? Chief Justice John Roberts and justices Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito dissented. "This case illustrates that tragic facts made bad law," Alito wrote. 

Intranasal Delivery to Cross Blood Brain Barrier
A new treatment method, developed by HealthPartners Research Foundation, is a new therapeutic technology offering hope to the 5.2 million people in the United States living with Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological diseases. A Canadian bio-technology company, Sanomune Inc., licensed the new treatment method that helps drugs to reach the brain unlike any other treatment for neurological diseases.

The intranasal method was developed by William H. Frey II, Ph.D., senior director of HealthPartners Research Foundation’s Alzheimer’s Research Center, and his colleagues. It allows medication to bypass the protective blood-brain barrier and enter the brain directly. Dr. Frey developed a way to bypass the barrier for neurological conditions using intranasal delivery of Deferoximine or SAN-121. SAN-121 has previously been shown when given in twice daily injections to reduce cognitive decline in Alzheimer's patients by 50 percent. However, systemic delivery has unwanted and negative side effects including a drop in blood pressure.

SAN-121 is licensed through Sanomune Inc., a private biotech start-up focused on neurological and autoimmune diseases. One in 10 people over the age of 65 and half of those over 85 have Alzheimer’s disease in the United States.

U.S. Expands Stem Cell Funding
President Barack Hussain Obama announced that the U.S. government will fund research on stem cells derived from embryos. The order reverses the policy of former President Bush. That policy allowed research only on older stem cell lines. The new policy allows research on new stem cell lines, too. Researchers at Harvard University celebrated the decision. Scientists say stem cells could lead to treatments for many diseases.

Molecular Farming
Researchers at the University of Verona have found that they can generically adapt tobacco plants to contain interleukin-10 (IL-10) a diabetes drug that could be used to help patients with insulin-dependent type 1 diabetes and other autoimmune diseases.
This form of molecular farming is potentially much cheaper than traditional factory systems using fermenters, and a number of companies such as Bayer and Syngenta are interested in the technology, and not surprisingly the tobacco company Philip Morris too! Tobacco is apparently a ideal plant for the process.

Molecular farming has yet to yield its first commercial product and progress has been slow, but interest is increasing and Israel's Protalix BioTherapeutics is submitting a "carrot cell" based enzyme treatment for Gaucher disease for regulatory approval in the USA and Israel later this year.

Malaria Treatment
According to Reuters, Merck & Co is donating an experimental anti-malarial medicine to a not-for-profit research organization in the latest example of drugmakers stepping up efforts to address health issues in poor countries.
Companies have come under increasing pressure in recent years to do such deals in order to improve access to modern drugs in the developing world at affordable prices.

Last month, GlaxoSmithKline's chief executive urged the creation of a voluntary patent pool to spark development of new treatments for neglected diseases, including malaria.

Merck said on Wednesday it had granted the Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) an exclusive, royalty-free license to develop a compound discovered by its scientists. Merck will have the option to partner the drug after completion of mid-stage tests.
By donating the new drug to MMV, the U.S. company hopes its clinical development will be accelerated.

Merck and Schering
This time it’s the turn of Merck & Co., Inc. and Schering-Plough Corporation to merge. The new company will operate under the Merck name, with Merck's current Chairman, President and CEO Richard T. Clark at the helm. The deal is worth $41.1 billion, and on completion, Merck shareholders are expected to own approximately 68 percent of the combined company with Schering-Plough shareholders the remaining 32 percent.  The merger will significantly broaden Merck’s portfolio of medicines in cardiovascular, respiratory, oncology, neuroscience, infectious disease, immunology and women’s health. It will also provide increased manufacturing capabilities as well as widening their global presence and revenue base. Merck’s target is to generate more that 50% of its revenue from outside the US.

Source: The primary sources cited above,  BBC News, New York Times (NYT), Washington Post (WP), Mercury News,, Chicago Tribune, CNN, USA Today, Intellihealthnews, Deccan Chronicle (DC), the Hindu, Hindustan Times, Times of India, AP, Reuters, AFP,  Biospace etc.

Notice: The content of the articles is intended to provide general information. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

Copyright ©1998-2009
Vepachedu Educational Foundation, Inc
Copyright Vepachedu Educational Foundation Inc., 2009.  All rights reserved.  All information is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for special medical conditions or any specific health issues or starting a new fitness regimen. Please read disclaimer.

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(Om! Lead the world from wrong path to the right path, from ignorance to knowledge, from mortality to immortality and peace!)
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