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India and Africa are the next Destination for Malaria Parasites: Study

Sri Lanka is supposed to be malaria-free and it too should start worrying.

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Bengaluru, Feb 3, 2017: Detection of malaria parasites resistant to the front line artemisinin (ART) combination therapy in some south Asian countries should worry India, Govindarajan Padmanabhan a top biochemist and malaria researcher at the Indian Institute of Science here has warned.

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Africa and India can as well be the superbug’s next destination and, if it spreads, this will pose a disaster, Padmanabhan told this correspondent, adding: Sri Lanka is supposed to be malaria-free and it too should start worrying.

The British journal Lancet Infectious Diseases had recently reported that P. falciparum malaria parasites resistant to both ART and its widely used partner drug, piperaquine, are now spreading quickly throughout western Cambodia, southern Laos and northeastern Thailand.

The study, by researchers at Mahidol University in Thailand and Oxford University, warned that the consequences of resistance spreading further into India and Africa could be grave if drug resistance is not tackled from a global public health emergency perspective.

Artemisinin, also known as qinghaosu — extracted from the Artemisia annua plant — is a powerful and perhaps the only really effective anti-malarial at present. But because ART has a very short half-life, the World Health Organisation had insisted that it should only be used as a combination with another long-acting anti-malarial.

Thus came the combination therapies: ART-lumefantrine, ART-meflaquine, ART- Sulfadoxine/pyrimethamine (ART-SP) and Dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine (DHA-PPQ).

Padmanabhan said that over the years, the malaria parasite had developed resistance even to many combination therapies, except DHA-PPQ, that had remained very effective.

Now the recent report of the parasite’s resistance to this combination also is really worrisome.

The spread of resistance will be a huge challenge to health workers, he said. This challenge will always go on and that is why I really want to try ART-curcumin combination, which may be an answer to resistance development, the scientist noted.

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Curcumin, is the compound that gives turmeric (haldi) its trademark bright yellow colour.

The ART-curcumin combination is unique, with potential advantages over the known combination therapies, Padmanabhan said. In trials carried out on mice, three oral doses of curcumin following a single injection of artemisinin to infected mice were able to ensure almost 100 per cent survival of the animals.

In addition to having a direct killing effect as an anti-malarial, curcumin is also able to prime the immune system against malaria parasites in mice rendering the combination to act like a therapeutic vaccine, Padmanabhan said.

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Thus, this combination has unique potential to prevent parasite recrudescence and relapse. Besides it is cheap and no resistance against it is known since it is a dietary supplement.

Padmanaban and his team are hoping to start human trials of an artemisinin-curcumin combination therapy in both simple malaria cases and in the treatment of the deadly cerebral malaria. He said regulatory clearances are awaited.

(IANS)

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Oracle Witnessing Double-Digit Growth in India For Past 3 Years

The Oracle Autonomous Database now has the capability to automatically scan for security threats and apply security updates while running to help prevent cyberattacks and data theft

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Cloud major Oracle, which is seeing high demand in the Banking, Financial Services and Insurance (BFSI), telecom and manufacturing sectors in India, has witnessed double-digit growth in the country for the past three years, a top company executive has said.

Start-ups and small and medium businesses (SMBs) are fast adopting Oracle’s Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) in the country.

“We are seeing double-digit growth (on an average) in the country. In fact, that’s both in our NetSuite business as well as our enterprise business.

“The India Cloud business is really booming. Overall, the double-digit growth has been there for the last three years in the country, which has been the best-performing region in the Asia-Pacific for us,” Shaakun Khanna, India SaaS GTM Lead, Oracle, told IANS in an interview.

The company competes with major Cloud players like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure and provides services such as SaaS, Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Data-as-a-Service (DaaS).

According to Oracle, as a corporation, the firm is on track to become the top SaaS company in the world.

The company offers innovative and proven Cloud suite of SaaS applications that enable customers to transform their business with the latest intelligent technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML).

“From a perspective of completeness of our enterprise applications, there’s no one who can compare with us. So, that’s pretty much our objective and vision in India as well,” Khanna added.

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Witnessing double-digit growth in India for past 3 years: Oracle. IANS

According to the company, going “autonomous” gave it an edge over rivals in the country.

Larry Ellison, Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of Oracle, in October unveiled the second generation Oracle Cloud with autonomous capabilities, improved security and upgrades for enterprises at the company’s annual user conference “Oracle Open World 2018” in San Francisco.

According to Khanna, autonomous is probably the biggest thing because, with autonomous, the ability to engage technologies like AI, ML, UI-UX, is there.

“I think the other advantage is our diversity, because if you look at it, we are the only company of our stature in the world that has everything — it’s not just the applications that are ours, the hardware, the infrastructure, the database, everything is Oracle,” Khanna noted.

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The Oracle Autonomous Database now has the capability to automatically scan for security threats and apply security updates while running to help prevent cyberattacks and data theft.

“If you look at the way Oracle built its first set of Cloud infrastructure is very similar to how Google built it, how Amazon built it, how Microsoft built it, almost everyone built it and we are doing exactly the same.

“Larry and the other founders who started Oracle — they were working for a CIA project and then they came out and started Oracle. So we understand security from our DNA,” said Mitesh Agarwal, Vice President, Key Accounts, Oracle India.

“Almost all of our competitors have never managed to move an enterprise workload to the Cloud — not a single one of them. They all have peripheral applications that have moved to the Cloud. That’s still only about 5-6 per cent of the workloads in the world,” Agarwal informed. (IANS)