The Compound Eye – Drinking Tea The Correct Way and Prioritising Science for the Nation

Clinical Trials Rules in India: 

India accounts for nearly 16.0% of the population worldwide and nearly 20% of the disease burden across the globe, yet less than around 1.4% of total global clinical trials are conducted in the country. Clinical trials are important: not only for testing if new drugs work on Indian population, but also as a source of revenue. Clinical trials if correctly developed would be an additional services revenue to boost our GDP and economy.

This week has been a mixed bag for clinical trials in India. In one set of rules, new drugs approved for use in select developed markets will be automatically allowed in India if the global trials included Indian patients. These markets include US, UK, EU, Japan and Australia. However, the clinical trials would need to have included Indians. The purpose of these rules is to expedite the availability of drugs validated in other markets. This is excellent news for patients, particularly for those who require orphan drugs. However, a key question that remains is whether presence of Indian individuals in foreign market trials is sufficient to represent the drug response in such a heterogenous population. (Read more)

We need tea cups with built-in thermometers

The news headline that made a splash on 20th March: Drinking hot tea doubles risk of cancer, study finds.

Now the co-relation of consuming a hot beverage and increased risk to oesophageal cancer has been long known. This study, based in Iran, delved into the exact temperature at which tea could be suspected of causing the cancer. The authors conducted a retrospective study of 50,000 individuals looking at their tea drinking habit and incidence of oesophageal cancer. To judge preference, individuals had to sip tea at differing temperatures (65 C, 60 C and lower) and identify the temperature closest to the one they usually had. Mind you, this is black and green tea which is the most-consumed beverage in the area. Now based on this data, the authors presented findings on cancer incidence in the group drinking tea at very temperature (>65C) and cooler tea (<60 C). As the Daily Mail reported it – drinking hot tea increases risk by 90% or doubles it according to CNN. And that sounds scary! (Read more)

Prioritizing Science for the Nation 

Recently, the academic community was surprised by a circular from the University of Kerala informing that research were to be curtailed to areas of national priorities and faculty were to prepare a shelf of projects for PhD students. A private company is within in rights to control the research areas it funds. So what justifies the uproar if the government decides to interfere in the research it funds?

The CompoundTake: The fundamental question is: who decides what is national priority? Is enabling an Indian scientist to win the Nobel Prize in the next 25 years a national priority? Is tackling waste management a national priority? Is creating excellent PhD students who can improve science and technology in India and inspire the next generation of scientists a national priority? Is improving S & T contribution to GDP a national priority? The benefits of a thriving S & T community are not limited to publications or commercial solutions, but expand to inculcate scientific thinking, promote intellectual thought and to act as a bridge between society and government on select matters. How then does a government or university decide on what definitively serves national interest? (Read more)

Meanwhile, here is some CRISPR news

Electronic detection of Unamplified Target Genes: Kiana Aran and colleagues immobilised CRISPR complexes on the surface of graphene-based transistors. When the complex recognises and binds to the target DNA, there is a change in the conductivity of the graphene material in the transistor. This change can be detected using a handheld device and thus target genes can be identified without the need for any amplification. (Read more)