no more sleepiness: Modafinil, a drug that keeps people with debilitating sleepiness awake and attentive, has been approved by the US Food and Administrative Department (FDA). The drug will be marketed by Pennsylvania-based company Cephalon. Modafinil will help people suffering from serious a sleep disorder called narcolepsy, characterised by a sudden wave of intense sleepiness. According to the Cephalon president, Frank Baldino, the drug will have very few side-effects associated with caffeine, amphetamines and other commonly used stimulants. The drug will be available only by prescription under the brand name of Provigil and will be regulated more tightly than most drugs, said an FDA official.
new fuel cell: Researchers from three companies -- Shell Chemicals in The Netherlands, Ballard in Canada and Dalmier Benz in Germany -- are working on a new kind of fuel cell. The cell will be different from the earlier ones because an easily available liquid hydrocarbon like diesel or benzene can be used as a feed stock to provide hydrogen required for the cell. These fuel cells will directly accept the liquid hydrocarbon while being attached to an automobile, said Ian Maxwell, technology manager at Shell Research Centre.
gene therapy: Gene therapy, a process in which defective genes are replaced with healthy ones in human cells, emerged as a promising medical advance in the early 1990s. Despite initial enthusiasm, the technology has proved difficult to manage. Now, a US-based biotechnology company, Ariad, has claimed a new application for gene therapy. While the new technique can be applied to a number of diseases, initial experiments done on primates have focused on anaemia.
glide gold: Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) has launched Glide Gold, semi-synthetic 2T oil for two-stroke engines. The oil is formulated from carefully selected base oils. According to a BPCL spokesperson, Glide Gold reduces smoke levels and spark plug fouling. Regular use of this lubricant can result in substantial reduction in exhaust port deposits, friction and wear and tear. This will lead to better fuel economy, longer engine life and reduced environmental pollution.
recycling plastic: Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries of Japan has developed a processing system that turns plastics in shredder dust into gases and carbides through a carbonisation process. The system breaks shredder dust at about 450C. The plastics are removed as they become gases and carbides. As a result, metals contained in the shredder dust can be collected more easily after processing.
fighting hepatitis b: China has one of the highest incidence of the hepatitis B, a fatal liver disease which affects 350 million people all over the world. After getting clearance from Chinese government, US-based company Glaxo Wellcome has stated construction of a US $85 million plant in China to manufacture lamivudine, an oral treatment for hepatitis B. Even though nearly a 10th of the China's population is affected by hepatitis B, many in the rural areas have little or no access to medicines. Before Glaxo can launch lamivudine, which will be marketed as Heptodin, it will need a drug import permit from the Chinese authorities.
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