VIAGRA IN INDIA: The much hyped wonder pill Viagra will be launched by the Delhi-based Ranbaxy Laboratories Limited. Clinical trials will be held across the country, including the historical King Georges Medical College (KGMC) in Lucknow. The company is awaiting clearance from the Drug Controller of India. Viagra will be available only on prescription. According to the head of the urology department of the KGMC, K M Singh, clinical trials will be carried out through out the country on 300 volunteers before the pill hits the market.

DENTAL PILL: A US pharmaceutical firm has developed a pill that can help halt the progression of gum disease. Instead of attacking the bacteria that causes the disease, the drug works by blocking an enzyme that destroys gum tissues- Lorne Golub, from the State University of New York, said that antibiotics used to control plaque in laboratory rats not only controlled bacteria but also suppressed the enzyme which destroys gum tissue. The drug, Periostat, has been developed by CollaGenex Pharmaceuticals and is based on a weakened form of the antibiotic doxycycline.

NEWS FOR DIABETICS: Diabetic patients have reason to cheer. A new chemical, DRF 2725, has been developed to treat diabetes. According to the Hyderabad-based Reddy's Foundation, which developed the chemical, it belongs to a new class of compounds known as insulin sensitisers. They play an important role in the treatment of type-22 diabetes (non-insulin dependent diabetes) and related disorders. It lowers blood glucose and acts on the process of fat fractions in blood, contributing to a favourable lipid profile.

ROBOT SOLDIERS: DO not be surprised if you see robots in place of soldiers a few years from now. According to a US-based journal, Science Daily, National Aeronautics and Space Research's Jet Propulsion Laboratory is developing a miniature mobile robot for urban and military use. The technology is a variation of the robotics technology developed for the space programme. The robots will be small in size (under 40 cm in length), light-weight and manoeuvrable. They will be small enough to be carried and deployed by a single soldier, and will be strong enough to survive impacts.

PROMOTING MEDICINAL PLANTS: With the assistance from United Nations Development Programme, US-based Ford Foundation and the Indian herbal medicine industry, a group of companies plan to set up a consortium on medicinal plants. Dabur, Himalaya Drug Co and Natural Remedies have agreed in principle on a Rs 10 crore-corpus for the consortium. The consortium will promote micro enterprises in growing, harvesting and semi-processing the products. A design group, which includes members from industries, government and the local communities, will meet soon to evolve strategies on how to operationalise the consortium.

GREEN LUBRICANT: A new lubricant, Mobil Coolant Plus, has been launched by Indo Mobil. The lubricant can be applied to all types of passenger and commercial vehicles. According to the company, the 'eco-friendly' product will be marketed in 500 ml and one litre bottles. Mobil is the most easily available lubricant and the new product will be available at over 4,500 service stations all over India.

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