Published: Sunday 15 August 1999

anti-hiv drug: Pharmaceutical company Glaxo has added yet another anti-HIV drug to its existing list. With the approval from 15 countries in Europe, the new drug Ziagen is a reverse transcriptase inhibitor, intended to be used as part of a cocktail of anti-retroviral drugs. Though Glaxo is the market leader in Aids drugs, analysts express concerns about the new drug is causing reduction in sales of the older ones. Some feel that the target of the overall group performance sought by the company may not be reached. They also stated that many patients fail to keep the disease at bay because they do not adhere to strict pill regimes.

fast connection: The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has said that access to the Internet is now possible through ordinary telephone subscriber lines. The ITU claims to have set new world standards that provide multi-megabits network access through ordinary telephone subscribers lines using asymmetric digital subscriber line. The system is faster than the present "dial up" modems and provide affordable access to internet, teleworking, distance learning and multi -media service. Peter Wary, chairperson of the group, said that the services would help telecommunications customers get instant access to multimedia information. It will also benefit the telecommunication and computer equipment vendors, service providers and network operators, he said.

leprosy vaccine: Cadila, a pharmaceutical company, has developed a new leprosy vaccine called Leprovac. The technology for this vaccine was developed by the National Institute of Immunology and supported by the department of technology, government of India.

new vaccine: Vaccines can now be used as a prevention against Alzheimer's disease. Evidence to this effect was published in the journal Nature, after a successful test was carried out on transgenic mice by scientists at Elan Pharmaceuticals, an Irish-American drug company. The mice were bred to show the degeneration of the brain, like Alzheimer's in human beings. Vaccination with beta-amyloid protein -- the destructive amyloid plague molecules in Alzheimer's patients -- was found to protect the animals' brains. However, the scientists say it is yet to be seen whether it can be applied to human beings since the mouse used as the model only partially mimics the human disease. Ten per cent of people over the age of 65 and half of the those above 85 are affected by Alzheimer's disease. In the US itself, there are as many as four million people suffering from this disease.

fuel-efficient cars: Automobile giant Honda Motor Co say that they are coming up with the world's most fuel-efficient car and plan to go in for mass production soon. The Insight model hybrid engine vehicle will feature the new technology in its engine and an aluminium body and will meet Japanese fuel efficiency standards, claims Honda. The new model is expected to hit the market this autumn. Insight, a two-door coupe, will use both an electric motor and gasoline engine, though the gasoline engine will be the main source of power. The aluminium frame is 40 per cent lighter than those made of steel. This is expected to lower its fuel consumption. The engine also uses a lean burn catalytic converter which reduces exhaust by 50 per cent.

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