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Scientists developing female condom that’ll dissolve inside the body

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A team of scientists at the University Of Washington are developing a product that women can use to protect themselves from HIV infection and unintended pregnancy.

The only way to protect against HIV and unintended pregnancy today is the condom. It’s an effective technology, but not appropriate or popular in all situations.

A University of Washington team has developed a versatile platform to simultaneously offer contraception and prevent HIV. Electrically spun cloth with nanometer-sized fibers can dissolve to release drugs, providing a platform for cheap, discrete and reversible protection.

The research was published this week in the Public Library of Science’s open-access journal PLoS One. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation last month awarded the UW researchers almost $1 million to pursue the technology.

“Our dream is to create a product women can use to protect themselves from HIV infection and unintended pregnancy,” said corresponding author Kim Woodrow, a UW assistant professor of bioengineering. “We have the drugs to do that. It’s really about delivering them in a way that makes them more potent, and allows a woman to want to use it.”

Electrospinning uses an electric field to catapult a charged fluid jet through air to create very fine, nanometer-scale fibers. The fibers can be manipulated to control the material’s solubility, strength and even geometry. Because of this versatility, fibers may be better at delivering medicine than existing technologies such as gels, tablets or pills. No high temperatures are involved, so the method is suitable for heat-sensitive molecules. The fabric can also incorporate large molecules, such as proteins and antibodies, that are hard to deliver through other methods.

At a lab meeting last year, Woodrow presented the concept, and co-authors Emily Krogstad and Cameron Ball, both first-year graduate students, pursued the idea.

They first dissolved polymers approved by the Food and Drug Administration and antiretroviral drugs used to treat HIV to create a gooey solution that passes through a syringe. As the stream encounters the electric field it stretches to create thin fibers measuring 100 to several thousand nanometers that whip through the air and eventually stick to a collecting plate (one nanometer is about one 25-millionth of an inch). The final material is a stretchy fabric that can physically block sperm or release chemical contraceptives and antivirals.

fibers

“This method allows controlled release of multiple compounds,” Ball said. “We were able to tune the fibers to have different release properties.”

One of the fabrics they made dissolves within minutes, potentially offering users immediate, discrete protection against unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

Another dissolves gradually over a few days, providing an option for sustained delivery, more like the birth-control pill, to provide contraception and guard against HIV.

The fabric could incorporate many fibers to guard against many different sexually transmitted infections, or include more than one anti-HIV drug to protect against drug-resistant strains (and discourage drug-resistant strains from emerging). Mixed fibers could be designed to release drugs at different times to increase their potency, like the prime-boost method used in vaccines.

The electrospun cloth could be inserted directly in the body or be used as a coating on vaginal rings or other products.

Electrospinning has existed for decades, but it’s only recently been automated to make it practical for applications such as filtration and tissue engineering. This is the first study to use nanofibers for vaginal drug delivery.

While this technology is more discrete than a condom, and potentially more versatile than pills or plastic or rubber devices, researchers say there is no single right answer.

“At the time of sex, are people going to actually use it? That’s where having multiple options really comes into play,” Krogstad said. “Depending on cultural background and personal preferences, certain populations may differ in terms of what form of technology makes the most sense for them.”

The team is focusing on places like Africa where HIV is most common, but the technology could be used in the U.S. or other countries to offer birth control while also preventing one or more sexually transmitted diseases.

The research to date was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the UW’s Center for AIDS Research. The other co-author on the paper is Thanyanan Chaowanachan, a UW postdoctoral researcher and longtime HIV expert.

The team will use the new Gates Foundation grant to evaluate the versatility and feasibility of their system. The group will hire more research staff and buy an electrospinning machine to make butcher-paper sized sheets. The expanded team will spend a year testing combinations that deliver two antiretroviral drugs used to treat HIV and a hormonal contraceptive, and then six months scaling up production of the most promising materials.

Source: News Release University of Washington

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MIS for processing grade mangoes approved, would open 34 fruit collection centres: Govt

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Shimla: The Himachal Pradesh Government has given approval for implementation of the Market Intervention Scheme (MIS) for Mango procurement of processing grade mangoes in the State during the year 2018.

Under the scheme, 250 metric tonne fruit of seedling, 200 metric tonnes of grafted and 50 metric tonnes of unripe Achari varieties of mangoes will be procured at the rate of Rs. 6.00 per kg Rs. 7.00 per kg. and Rs. 6.00 per kg. respectively.

A Spokesman of the State Government today said that procurement would be done through HPMC and HIMFED in crates and these agencies would be allowed handling charges at Rs. 1.30 per kg. Like the previous year, average sale returns from the fruits have been assessed as Rs. 2000, Rs. 3000, Rs. 2000 per metric tonnes for fruits of seedling, grafted and unripe Achari mango varieties respectively.

He said that 34 fruit collection centres will be opened under the scheme for which HPMC and HIMFED would coordinate on the basis of procurement data for the last three to five years.

These centres would be opened by the procurement agencies in case of need and would be manned and operative by HPMC and HIMFED with their own staff.

Under the scheme, 2.5% extra fruit (by weight) will be procured from those farmers/orchardists who possess horticulture cards and who own ten bighas or less land under mango cultivation. As such, no fruit would be procured from the contractors.

He said that this scheme would be implemented in the State with immediate effect till August 15, 2018.

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Industrial units seeking expansion will have to employ 80% Himachalis: Govt

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Employment to himachalis in industries

Shimla: The Himachal Pradesh Government today said it has made amendments in the provisions of Rules regarding grant of incentives, concession, and facilities to the industrial units of the state.

As per the new notification of the State government, all existing industrial units (as on April 1, 2018) set up in the state which seek to undertake expansion will have to employ at least 80 percent bonafide Himachalis, informed a spokesperson of the Industries department.

The hiring could be undertaken on regular/contractual/Sub-contractual/daily basis or any other mode of employment including the persons hired through a contractor or through outsourcing agencies against the additional manpower which may be generated as a result of the substantial expansion, it was informed.

This condition would also apply to the new units to be established in the State after 1 April 2018.

Only those industries, which undertake substantial expansion, have to abide by this Rule. Hence, the existing industries, which are not going to undertake substantial expansion, are not bound by the amended/notified provision of this Rule.

He said there is no shortage of trained technical manpower in the State now, therefore, the condition of 80 percent employment of Himachalis has been incorporated in the Rules.

There are around 250 ITIs, 30 Polytechnics Institutes and around 40 Engineering Colleges and Universities in the State and thousands of technically qualified persons are completing their courses and coming out from these institutes in search of jobs.

New trades as per the demand of the industries are also being included in the courses of ITIs, Polytechnics and Engineering Colleges, the spokesperson said.

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Rs. 423 crore HP Mushroom Development project will help in women empowerment: Govt

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Shimla:
The Indian Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance has approved Rs. 1131.87 crore projects for Himachal Pradesh.

These include Rs. 708.87 crore for Water Conservation Project for the Department of Irrigation and Public Health and Rs. 423 crore Himachal Pradesh Integrated Mushroom Development project for the Department of Horticulture.

As per the Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur, an Rs. 423 crore integrated mushroom development project would help to double the income of farmers and provide employment and self-employment opportunities to youth.

The government also expects the project would boost mushroom cultivation in the State. All varieties of mushroom would be cultivated under the project besides importing technical knowledge for cultivating mushroom, which would give a fillip in increasing the income of the farmers, said the government.

The Chief Minister said that this project would also provide an opportunity to the growers of the state to diversify their farming pattern and go for viable and profitable farming avocation.

The mushroom cultivation would also help in women empowerment as more and more women would be motivated to go for mushroom cultivation for increasing their income, thereby making them self-dependent since mushroom cultivation is an indoor activity.

He said the demand for mushrooms is increasing within the state as well as outside the state including export, and it offers better prospects for enterprising growers to take up cultivation on large scale. He announced that modern infrastructure will be developed under the proposed project for controlled cultivation of mushroom round the year.

Further, it was informed that the first phase of the Rs. 4751.24 crore water conservation project worth Rs 708.87 crore will include construction of check dams, ponds, Kuhl’s and other water harvesting structures.

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