New vaccines can change India’s health battles: Melinda Gates

Introduction of four new vaccines in India’s national immunisation programme by the new government can bring immense change in the country’s major health battles and reduce the child mortality rate, Melinda Gates said.


On a visit to the capital, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and his wife Melinda, who represent the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, were in conversation with celebrated author Chetan Bhagat on the topic “All Loves Have Equal Value”. Replying to a question what their expectations were from the Narendra Modi government, Melinda Gates said: “We are very enthused with the government that has come to power.

“I think in a couple of years, especially in the health sector, there will be optimism. For instance, the fact that they are keen to roll out four key new vaccines across India, is absolutely huge.” “We also see their (Modi’s government) commitment to newborns and also towards sanitation that will help reduce diarrhoeal infections and make sure that children get nutritional diet in schools,” she added.

Bill Gates, however, quickly added that it won’t be an easy task for the government. “Take the economy as a whole. It seems some unpopular things need to be done. Are they willing to do things that are good for the country, but that they can’t immediately embrace,” he asked.

Melinda Gates was referring to the introduction of four new vaccines, including one for Japanese Encephalitis, in the national immunisation programme, which will provide free vaccines against 13 life-threatening diseases to 27 million children annually. Vaccines for rotavirus, rubella and polio (injectable) were also introduced as part of the universal immunisation programme in July.

Bill Gates, one of the richest men in the world, became involved in philanthropic work with the creation of the foundation in 2001. It aims to help people lead healthy lives and use technology and research to find solutions to health and preventive issues. They launched their foundation in India in 2003 with an HIV/AIDS prevention programme known as the Avahan initiative.

Melinda Gates also said she feels “outraged” whenever she sees a woman being illtreated in any part of the world, including her own country. “I get very outraged to see domestic violence. But I try to find ways to empowering these women. We need to understand their culture and break down social structures that confine them. I think of ways to empower these women,” she said.

Source: UCAN

New affordable way to stabilize haemoglobin discovered

A research team has found a way to stabilize hemoglobin, the oxygen carrier protein in the blood, a discovery that could lead to the development of stable vaccines and affordable artificial blood substitutes.

The new approach by UConn research team involves wrapping the polymer poly (acrylic acid) around hemoglobin, protecting it from the intense heat used in sterilization and allowing it to maintain its biological function and structural integrity.

In addition to having potential applications in the stabilization of vaccines and development of inexpensive artificial blood, the stabilizing polymer also allows vaccines and other biomedical products to be stored for longer periods without refrigeration. It could also have applications in biomaterials, biosensors, and biofuels.

‘Protein stability is a major issue in biotechnology,’ says Challa V. Kumar, UConn professor of chemistry and biochemistry and the primary investigator on the project. ‘What we’ve done is taken this protein molecule and wrapped it up in a polymer chain in order to stabilize it. In thermodynamics terms, we have restricted the entropy of the denatured state of the protein and stabilized it beyond our expectations.’

‘The system also exhibits a high degree of reversibility. The protein can be denatured and renatured many, many times. This is the very first example of its kind in the literature of all protein science. No one has ever been able to achieve this kind of stability for proteins.’

As part of its research, the team chose to examine the feasibility of using hemoglobin as an artificial blood substitute. Hemoglobin, when extracted from blood, breaks down and is toxic in its pure form.

Since hemoglobin is the critical oxygen carrier protein in blood, Kumar and his team are looking at ways of stabilizing hemoglobin in its natural form so that it retains its activity and stays harmless when administered as a transfusion agent. This could lead to a new substitute for human blood, which is frequently in short supply. Blood shortages are expected to get worse in coming years, as more and more people in the world are likely to need blood transfusions, Kumar said

Source: Health India