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Parkinson’s disease: Why it is striking people under 50

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New Delhi, April 11 (IANS) While advancing age remains a prominent risk factor for Parkinson’s disease, health experts on Thursday expressed concerns over the increasing early onset of the neurodegenerative disease, among people under the age of 50.

According to a 2022 study published in the journal Parkinsonism & Related Disorders, India has an increasing prevalence of Parkinson’s disease, with the average age of onset almost a decade younger in comparison to other countries.

“The prevailing myth that Parkinson’s primarily afflicts older individuals is rapidly dissipating in light of evolving epidemiological trends and clinical observations. The recent surge in early-onset Parkinson’s cases, particularly in countries like India where a significant proportion of patients experience motor symptoms before the age of 50, challenges this misconception,” Dr Aashka Ponda, Consultant Neuro-physician, Bhailal Amin General Hospital, Vadodara, told IANS.

Even though age continues to be the major risk factor, emerging evidence highlights the role of environmental toxins, genetic predispositions, and lifestyle factors in precipitating Parkinson’s onset at younger ages.

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“Factors such as exposure to pesticides, air pollution, and dietary habits intersect with genetic susceptibilities to shape the disease trajectory, challenging the notion of Parkinson’s as an exclusive affliction of the elderly,” the doctor said.

Characterised by symptoms such as reduced movement speed, stiffness, tremors, and impaired balance or posture, Parkinson’s can substantially disrupt daily activities and mobility, leading to distress.

Parkinson’s disease patients contend not only with motor symptoms like tremors, slowness, stiffness, and postural instability but also grapple with often overlooked non-motor manifestations such as sleep disturbances, anxiety, depression, and cognitive impairments.

“With a substantial portion of Parkinson’s patients falling within the younger age bracket, it’s imperative to recognise that this neurological disorder does not discriminate solely based on age. Instead, a multifaceted interplay of genetic predispositions, environmental exposures, and comorbidities underscore the complexity of Parkinson’s aetiology,” Dr. Aashka said.

“Early detection and effective management of Parkinson’s disease play a pivotal role in enhancing symptom management, slowing down disease advancement, and averting complications, thereby enhancing the patient’s overall quality of life,” added Dr. Sanjay Pandey, HoD, Neurology and Stroke Medicine, Amrita Hospital, Faridabad.

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–IANS

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WIPO treaty a huge win for India, Global South: Ministry

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New Delhi, May 26 (IANS) The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) treaty on intellectual property, Genetic resources (GRs) and associated traditional knowledge (ATK), is a significant win for countries of the Global South and for India, Ministry of Commerce & Industry said on Sunday.

The treaty marks the start of the journey to achieve collective growth and deliver the promise of a sustainable future, a cause which India has championed for centuries, the ministry said in a statement.

“For the first time the connection between local communities and their GRs and ATK is recognised in the global IP community,” it added.

The treaty will not only safeguard and protect biodiversity but will increase transparency in the patent system and strengthen innovation.

Through this treaty, the IP system can continue to incentivise innovation while evolving in a more inclusive way, responding to the needs of all countries and their communities.

The treaty also marks a big win for India and the global south which has for long been a proponent of this instrument.

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After two decades of negotiations and with collective support this treaty has been adopted at the multilateral fora, with a consensus among more than 150 countries.

“The treaty on ratification and entry into force will require contracting parties to put In place, mandatory disclosure obligations for patent applicants to disclose the country of origin or source of the genetic resources when the claimed invention is based on genetic resources or associated traditional knowledge,” the ministry elaborated.

At present, only 35 countries have some form of disclosure obligations, most of which are not mandatory and do not have appropriate sanctions or remedies in place for effective implementation.

“This treaty will require contracting parties, including the developed world, to bring changes in their existing legal framework for enforcing disclosure of origin obligations on patent applicants,” the ministry noted.

–IANS

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Doctors extract needle embedded deep for 3 years in hip muscle of woman

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New Delhi, May 26 (IANS) In a rare and complex case, doctors here extracted a needle, embedded deep for three long years, in the hip muscles of a 49-year-old woman, Rambha Devi.

Three years ago, the needle stuck in the patient’s hip while sewing.

Deeply engrossed in her sewing, she placed her needle on the bed for a moment. Distracted, she stood up to attend to something else, and then she suddenly slipped and fell back onto the bed.

The Delhi-based homemaker felt a sharp pain and found a broken needle on the bed. She thought the other half must’ve been broken off somewhere in the room.

For days, she searched for the missing piece of the needle, convinced it had fallen out. Unable to find it, she eventually gave up and went on with her life, though she constantly felt discomfort in her hips, which kept increasing over the years.

When the pain became unbearable, she finally decided to seek medical help. An X-ray revealed the lost ‘needle’ lodged deep in her hip muscle.

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However, due to the complexity of the case, several doctors denied her surgery.

At Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, Rambha underwent imaging with an X-ray and CT scan pre-operatively.

For the surgery, the hospital especially got a C- Arm machine- an advanced medical imaging device based on X-ray technology.

“After taking the incision and starting dissection, it was very difficult to locate the needle. Multiple X-rays had to be taken intraoperatively to precisely locate the needle, and finally, the team found the needle and extracted it in one piece without breaking it. It was a highly complex task,” said Tarun Mittal, Senior Consultant in Dept of General Surgery at the hospital.

“This extraordinary story gives the lesson to always seek timely medical attention for unusual injuries and never ignore persistent discomfort. It also stands as a testament to the medical dedication and the unexpected turns life can take,” the doctor said.

The patient is doing well now, the doctor said.

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–IANS

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CSIR-CMERI launches new electric tiller for small and marginal farmers

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New Delhi, May 26 (IANS) The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the Central Mechanical Engineering Research Institute (CMERI) launched an electric tiller, to help small and marginal farmers with sustainable and efficient farming, the Ministry of Science & Technology said on Sunday.

“The Electric Tiller boasts enhanced torque and field efficiency, while also prioritising user comfort and environmental sustainability. It significantly reduces hand-arm vibration, operates quietly, and produces zero exhaust emissions compared to traditional ICE tillers,” the ministry said.

The CSIR-CMERI’s innovative technology was launched on Saturday by N. Kalaiselvi, CSIR Director General and Secretary, Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR) in Durgapur.

The electric tiller may help small to marginal farmers — typically with land holdings of less than 2 hectares — who constitute over 80 per cent of India’s farming community with substantially reduced operational costs.

Furthermore, it will also help the country bolster net-zero emissions and promote environmentally friendly farming practices.

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“With the potential to decrease operational costs by up to 85 per cent, its user-friendly design supports battery pack swapping and offers multiple charging options, including AC and Solar DC charging,” the ministry said.

The tiller also seamlessly integrates with a wide array of standard agricultural attachments such as ridgers, ploughs, iron wheels, and cultivators.

It comes equipped with a 2-inch water pump and a trolley attachment capable of carrying up to 500 kg, further enhancing its versatility. Featuring electronic controls and ergonomic handling, operators can navigate fields with ease, minimising fatigue and maximising productivity.

–IANS

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Homegrown HireMee helps 7 lakh small-town youth receive talent assessment for free

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Bengaluru, May 26 (IANS) Indian edtech platform HireMee has helped over 7,00,000 talented small-town youth get assessed at no cost by assessing them free of cost and connecting them with potential employers, the company said on Sunday.

Moreover, nearly 60 per cent of 2,70,000 interview opportunities created by HireMee since its inception in 2017 have gone to students from tier 3 and 4 towns, “with almost half of these opportunities for women candidates,” said Venkatraman Umakanth, Senior VP and Business Head at the firm.

The talent assessment platform enables equal access to opportunities for small-town youth in the country, by connecting them with employers.

It has just won the Global Impact Sourcing Award (GISA) from IAOP, the premier global organisation dedicated to shaping the future of business.

“HireMee’s dedication to impact sourcing has produced genuine, enduring benefits for both individuals and their communities,” said Debi Hamill, CEO of IAOP.

The company provides AI-driven assessment, covering seven sections including core domain for students pursuing their diploma, undergraduate and postgraduate studies.

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The assessment scores of test takers are shared with companies listed on the HireMee platform without any fee.

HireMee platform has worked with nearly 7,000 colleges accredited by AICTE; National Career Service of the Union Ministry of Labour and Employment; Tamil Nadu government’s upskilling programme ‘Naan Mudhalvan’ and Karnataka government’s Digital Economy Mission and over 2,000 companies.

–IANS

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South Korea's new space agency to help compete in global space race

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Seoul, May 26 (IANS) With the opening of the nation’s full-fledged space agency, South Korea is set to make its mark on the global space stage, aiming to transform into a powerhouse and join the elite space race led by the private industry.

The Korea AeroSpace Administration (KASA) will open its doors on Monday, focusing on fostering local companies that can play key roles in space development projects and helping the country develop a global-level space industry and space economy, Yonhap news agency reported on Sunday.

“Until now, the country’s space development projects have been led by the government,” Yoon Young-bin, KASA’s inaugural chief, said earlier.

“The most important role of the space agency will be supporting the private sector to lead space development.”

He pointed out that the world’s space industry is moving toward the so-called “new space” era, where private companies are actively leading innovation in space technologies with more economic feasibility.

“The global paradigm is shifting,” Yoon said, noting that top space companies, such as SpaceX, have developed reusable space rockets and launched a group of small satellites with capabilities similar to medium- and large-sized satellites.

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To keep up with this trend, South Korea established KASA, the Korean version of the US NASA space agency, located in Sacheon, approximately 300 kilometres south of Seoul.

The 293-member agency will lead the nation’s space programs, such as the moon and Mars exploration, and bolster South Korean companies’ competitiveness in the global space industry.

Two years ago, the South Korean government announced its plan to land a homegrown spacecraft on the moon in 2032 and Mars in 2045 as part of efforts to become one of the top-five global space powers.

South Korea was a latecomer in the highly advanced industry but is currently considered the seventh-strongest space power after having successfully developed the 200-ton space rocket Nuri in recent years.

The country also plans to develop a next-generation rocket, KSLV-III, and make three launches in 2030, 2031, and 2032, with the third launch carrying a moon spacecraft aboard.

Experts at home and abroad welcomed the establishment of KASA, expecting the agency to help South Korea make a significant leap in the space sector and participate more in international cooperative research projects.

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“It is difficult to have international competitiveness in the space industry without technological development in various related fields,” Kim Seung-jo, former chief of the Korea Aerospace Research Institute, said. “But South Korea has the world-best level of cutting-edge technologies in most of the fields.”

He called on KASA to set future-oriented goals for space projects that need patience and passion from a long-term perspective.

Earlier this month, NASA officials also expressed expectations for expanded space cooperation with Seoul following the establishment of KASA, underscoring the importance of South Korea’s expertise for international space projects.

They also advised KASA to “learn lessons” from failures.

To leverage expertise and experience from the world’s top space power, KASA has named John Lee, a retired senior executive from NASA, as its deputy administrator in charge of space missions and policies, the second-highest position at the new institution.

John Lee said he would work to adapt the US space agency’s strengths to KASA in a Korean context and align Korea’s space projects with international standards, Yonhap news agency reported.

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Meanwhile, the local space industry voiced hopes for KASA, asking it to provide more consistent support to big and small companies and facilitate their participation in international space projects.

“The country’s space projects have been centred around the government and big companies until now, but I hope KASA can also support smaller-sized companies that have been overlooked,” said Park Jae-pil, the founder of space startup Nara Space.

“There are many Korean companies with space technologies that can contribute to international projects, and I believe KASA will open a channel for that,” he added.

KASA aims to foster more than 2,000 space-related companies and create about 5,00,000 new jobs in the field.

–IANS

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