Medical Science Current Affairs - 2019

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ICMR, Health Ministry ink MoU with IVI for vaccine R&D

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and Ministry of Health inked Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the International Vaccine Institute (IVI) to collaborate on vaccine research and development.

The signing of the MoU is a continuation of India’s partnership with IVI to provide safe, effective and affordable vaccines for people around the world. With this partnership, India is committing an annual contribution of US $5,00,000 to IVI.

Background

India is a vaccine industry powerhouse that supplies 60% of the world’s vaccines. India has with a long history of scientific collaboration with IVI. IVI has been partnering with Indian vaccine manufacturers, research institutes, government, and public health agencies on vaccine R&D. One of the most successful collaboration of IVI was with India’s Shantha Biotech on development of Shanchol, world’s first low-cost oral cholera vaccine. The vaccine was licensed in India in 2009 and WHO-prequalified in 2011.

International Vaccine Institute (IVI)

IVI is Seoul (South Korea) based international nonprofit organization devoted to developing and introducing new and improved vaccines to protect the people, especially children, against deadly infectious diseases. It was established in 1997 on the initiatives of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Its work is exclusively on vaccine development and introduction specifically for people in developing countries, with a focus on neglected diseases affecting these regions. Currently, IVI has 40 countries and the World Health Organization (WHO) as signatories to its Establishment Agreement. India officially became a signatory to the IVI in 2012.

Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)

The ICMR is India’s apex scientific body for the formulation, coordination and promotion of biomedical research. It was established in 1911 as Indian Research Fund Association (IRFA) making it one of the oldest and largest medical research bodies in the world. The ICMR functions under the Department of Health Research, Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

Scientists develops artificial womb to save premature babies

Scientists have developed an artificial womb that can be used in future to save the lives of extremely premature human babies. It was successfully used to incubate healthy baby lambs for a week.

The research showed that preterm lambs were successfully maintained in a healthy, infection-free condition with significant growth, for a period of one week using ex-vivo uterine environment (EVE) therapy.

Key Facts

The artificial womb is a high-tech amniotic fluid bath combined with an artificial placenta. To mimic a womb, researchers had created a temperature-controlled bag filled with electrolyte solution as a substitute for amniotic fluid that lambs swallow and take into their lungs. They had attached the umbilical cord of preterm lamb to the device that exchanges carbon dioxide in blood with oxygen. In early-stage animal testing, the lamb appeared to grow normally inside the system.

Significance

The artificial wombs can facilitate development of premature babies in a uterus-like environment. Further development, EVE therapy can prevent the severe morbidity suffered by extremely premature infants. It can potentially offer a medical technology that does not currently exist.