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US lawmakers host reception for Indian Envoy

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Washington: In an unusual gesture, the powerful House Foreign Affairs Committee held a Congressional reception to welcome India’s new ambassador, Arun K. Singh at Capitol Hill, the seat of US legislature.

A number of lawmakers attended the reception on Wednesday, which was organised in association with the bipartisan Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, the largest country-specific caucus in the US congress.

The committee’s Republican Chairman, Ed Royce, its top Democrat member, Elliot Engel, together with co-chairs of the caucus – Democrat Ami Bera and Republican George Holding co-hosted the event.

Leaders of the Indian American community from across the US a well as the think tank community and academia also attended the event.

In their welcome remarks, both Royce and Engel spoke warmly of Singh’s contribution in promoting India-US relations.

Welcoming Singh, who has previously served as deputy chief of mission here, back to Washington DC, Royce reiterated his commitment to promoting India-US ties. Engel called India and US as ‘natural partners’ with common strategic and geo-political outlook.

Holding called the India-US relationship as the founding relationship of 21st century and advocated strengthening bilateral economic ties.

The lone Indian Congressman, Bera called the relationship ‘non partisan’ and recognized, that the diaspora brings vibrancy to the bilateral ties.

Singh, thanking the leadership of the House committee and the Caucus on India and Indian Americans, noted the important contributions made by the Caucus to bring the people and governments of the two countries closer.

He described the bipartisan support for India-US relations in the US Congress as a source of strength for the India-US strategic partnership, that now spans across almost all dimensions of human endeavour.

Founded in 1993 by Frank Pallone and Bill McCollum, the bipartisan Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, is the largest single country caucus in the House of Representatives. (IANS)

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Cepheid to Establish Manufacturing Unit for TB Diagnostics in India

Rifampicin is a drug commonly used in treating TB bacteria in first line of treatment

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The GeneXpert Edge is developed specifically for near-patient testing, to help support a one visit test-and-treat approach.
The GeneXpert Edge is developed specifically for near-patient testing, to help support a one visit test-and-treat approach. (IANS)

Expanding its footprint in India, US-based molecular diagnostics company Cepheid Inc on Thursday announced its plans to establish a manufacturing unit in the country to improve Tuberculosis (TB) diagnostics.

Cepheid’s GeneXpert MTB/RIF test is a closed-cartridge-based system that is easy to operate by minimally trained staff and gives results in approximately two hours, speeding the conventional backlog that used to exist in traditional diagnostic methods.

The new manufacturing unit would produce MTB/RIF test cartridges, contribute to the government’s “Make in India” initiative and thus bringing the company’s global expertise in TB diagnostics to India, the company said in a statement.

As part of the plan, Cepheid also unveiled its latest portable, easy-to-use TB-testing system — the GeneXpert Edge — which is expected to be available in India later this year, the company said.

The GeneXpert Edge is developed specifically for near-patient testing, to help support a one visit test-and-treat approach.

“Cepheid recognises the need for technological advancement and is committed to contributing significantly to India’s goal of TB eradication,” said Peter Farrell, Executive Vice President, Worldwide Commercial Operations, Cepheid.

Cepheid's Xpert MTB/RIF test has the potential to detect Mycobacterium tuberculosis(MTB)
Cepheid’s Xpert MTB/RIF test has the potential to detect Mycobacterium tuberculosis(MTB).

“We are hopeful that GeneXpert Edge will help eliminate delays in TB diagnostics by providing definitive results within hours and facilitating fast and easy last-mile delivery even in the remote villages of India,” he added.

India has nearly one-fourth of the global TB patients and an estimated 4.8 lakh lives are lost every year due to delayed diagnosis and inadequate treatment and there are above 2.5 million new cases of TB every year. The country aims to eradicate TB by 2025.

Approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2010, more than 1,200 Cepheid’s GeneXpert Systems have been installed in the last two years at various Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme (RNTCP) sites in the country and more than 2.5 million cartridges were supplied last year at various centres of Central TB Division (CTD).

Also Read: Fruit Bats Identified As Source Of Nipah Virus Outbreak in Kerala

Cepheid’s Xpert MTB/RIF test has the potential to detect Mycobacterium tuberculosis(MTB) and rifampicin-resistance mutations, which are markers for MDR-TB strains in under two hours.

Rifampicin is a drug commonly used in treating TB bacteria in first line of treatment.

Xpert MTB/RIF tests also have excellent negative predictive value, which allows clinicians to manage TB-negative patients more effectively to prevent unnecessary and costly respiratory isolations. (IANS)