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HEALTH

MIDDLE EASTERN (H)

Travel chaos in France as snow blankets Paris

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  • Scores missing after deadly Taiwan quake

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  • Eiffel Tower forced to close as snow blankets Paris

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  • SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket blasts off for Mars

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  • Islamic scholar denied bail after rape charges

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  • Macron vows to keep Corsica French

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  • British judge upholds Assange warrant

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  • S. Africa postpones Zuma’s speech amid political crisis

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  • Polish president to sign controversial Holocaust bill

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  • Hong Kong court quashes democracy activists’ jail terms

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  • Asian, European markets join global stock tumble

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  • Maldives declares state of emergency, ex-leader arrested

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    INDIAN (H)

    China's Ping An Ventures to raise up to $1.3 billion for healthcare investments: source

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    China's Ping An Ventures to raise up to $1.3 billion for healthcare investments: source

    By Julie Zhu

    HONG KONG – The venture capital arm of China’s largest insurer, Ping An, is targeting raising up to $1.3 billion in two healthcare-focused funds that will seek growth-stage and pre-IPO investments, said a person with direct knowledge of the matter.

    Ping An Ventures, set up in 2012, focused on early-stage investments in its first few years. The new funds will deepen the group’s push into the healthcare sector and build up its firepower for later-stage investments, at a time when valuations in the fast-growing tech and healthcare industries have spiked.

    The venture capital firm aims to raise $300 million to $500 million in a dollar-denominated fund and 4 billion yuan to 5 billion yuan ($640 million-$800 million) in a yuan fund, the person said. They would be Ping An Ventures’ biggest dollar and yuan funds so far and would primarily invest in healthcare start-ups at home and overseas, the person added.

    Ping An Ventures, whose investments include ride-hailing firm Didi Chuxing, has tapped prospective investors, including wealth management firms and institutional investors, for the new funds, the person said. The fundraising is expected to be completed within this year, the source added.

    Ping An didn’t respond to requests for comment. The person declined to be named as the information was confidential.

    The fundraising plans come as the average value of late-stage investments globally surged 40 percent last year, according to data provider Preqin. Investments of $100 million-plus made up more than half of all global VC fundraising by value in 2017, versus barely 8 percent in 2007, Preqin data showed.

    The plans also come as Ping An Insurance Group Co of China, China’s largest insurer by market value, is looking to boost its direct investments and expertise in the healthcare industry.

    Two Ping An healthcare-related units plan to go public in Hong Kong this year – Ping An Good Doctor, an online medical platform which allows users to consult doctors for diagnosis, and Ping An Healthcare Technology, a medical data collection and analysis business.

    The latter last week completed a $1.15 billion pre-IPO fundraising round, Ping An said. That valued it at about $8.8 billion, according to sources.

    Last year Shenzhen-based Ping An launched a Hong Kong-based $1 billion fund, called Global Voyager, to scout for healthcare and fintech assets in the United States, Israel and Singapore.

    Ping An Ventures operates separately from Global Voyager, and apart from generating returns, seeks to use the acquired technology and know-how to help its parent develop its business in China.

    It has more than 100 portfolio investments including domestic on-demand services provider Meituan-Dianping, New York-based Oscar Health Insurance and online payment platform Payoneer and Philadelphia-headquartered biotherapeutics firm Tmunity Therapeutics.

    ($1 = 6.2829 Chinese yuan renminbi)

    (Reporting by Julie ZhuEditing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)



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    HEALTH

    India officials investigate if fake doctor spread HIV

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    1. India officials investigate if fake doctor spread HIV  BBC News
    2. An unlicensed doctor with a dirty syringe infected dozens with HIV in India, officials say  Washington Post
    3. Fake Doctor in India Suspected of Infecting Dozens With HIV  New York Times
    4. World AIDS Day 2017: Important facts you should know [VIDEO]  International Business Times, India Edition
    5. In Uttar Pradesh, 33 test HIV-positive after fake doctor uses single syringe  The Indian Express
    6. Full coverage



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    INDIAN (H)

    Three more hospitals get approval for anti-TB wonder drug treatment

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    Representative image
    Representative image

    A year after the successful trial of a wonder drug used in the treatment of drug-resistant Tuberculosis, the health ministry has given its approval to three more centres in the city to conduct the procedure.

    Till now, 180 test subjects have responded well to the Bedaquiline treatment regimen. As a result, under the revised national tuberculosis control program (RNTCP), the health ministry gave its go-ahead to three more centres in Mumbai apart from KEM Hospital.

    Now, Nair hospital in Byculla, LTMG Sion hospital, Shatabdi hospital in Govandi have been authorised for the wonder drug treatment.

    The medication will be administered to a select group of patients – those diagnosed with multi-drug resistant (MDR) and extensively drug-resistant (XDR) strains of the bacteria.

    Bedaquiline, manufactured by Belgian pharma major Janssen, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, received safety and effectiveness clearances from US Food and Drug Administration in December 2014 after multiple trails worldwide and is recognised by the World Health Organisation as an “essential drug” in treating TB. A sixmonth course of the medication will cost the government Rs 2 lakh per patient.

    In 2016, under the RNTCP programme the health ministry had started Bedaquiline trials at six public health facilities — namely the National Institute of Research in Tuberculosis (NIRT), Chennai; the National Institute of TB and Respiratory Diseases (NITRD), New Delhi; Rajan Babu Institute for Pulmonary Medicine and Tuberculosis, New Delhi; Sewri Hospital, Mumbai; BJ Medical College & Hospital, Ahmedabad and Government Medical College, Guwahati to treat 600 patients.

    In Mumbai, so far, 180 drug resistance patients have benefited under the supervision of KEM Hospital doctors.

    Elaborating on the course, Dr Daksha Shah, head of the city’s TB control programme said. “We have already permitted the new centres to identify the patients eligible for Bedaquiline regimen and registered them under RNTCP. Those selected will be treated with a combination of Bedaquiline and other medications.”

    She said reports detailing the medical history and documents related to the pathology of the strain of TB affecting the patients have been dispatched to the central TB division in Delhi.

    “We are using the guidelines recommended by the WHO in determining the course of treatment.” Dr Shah said adding that pregnant women and children will not be part of the target recipients.

    According to a recent WHO estimate, up to half a million new cases of MDR TB are reported worldwide each year. The existing treatment regimen lasts up to 20 months or more and requires daily doses of medication that is deemed “more toxic, less effective and far more expensive” when compared to Bedaquiline. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, in its national strategic plan, proposes to eliminate tuberculosis by 2025.

    Dr Vikas Oswal, who has treated thousands of drug-resistant cases in Govandi, Mankhurd and Shivaji Nagar, told Mirror, “Earlier we used to refer the patients to KEM Hospital for Bedaquiline treatments. Now, I am glad that we can treat them in Govandi Shatabdi Hospital itself.”



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    INDIAN (H)

    Baldness may soon be a thing of past

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    Representational Image
    Representational Image

    TOKYO: Polished pates and thinning thatches may one day be a thing of the past, thanks to Japanese scientists who have developed a way to grow hair follicles at a record rate.

    The study used two kinds of cells placed in silicone containers to cultivate “hair follicle germs” — the sources of the tiny organs that grow and sustain hair.

    Led by professor Junji Fukuda at the Yokohama National University, the team managed to cultivate 5,000 within just a few days, enough to replenish hair.

    The method is a massive step up from existing laborious techniques that can create just 50 or so “germs” at once.

    While human tests might not be on the cards for another five years, ultimately researchers believe the technique could be used to generate luscious new locks.

    The technology could also help cancer patients and others with medical conditions that cause hair loss, said Fukuda, whose research was published in the journal Biomaterials.

    “Beauty clinics currently often use hair from the occipital region [back of the head] and plant them to frontal areas with hair loss. A problem with this is that it doesn’t increase the total volume of hair,” Fukuda said.

    Existing medication can slow hair loss, but it does not necessarily reverse the problem, he added.

    New treatment using the technique may be available in 10 years, the professor said.

    While the study offers hope for the hairless, Fukuda debunked some rather optimistic reports suggesting McDonald’s fries could help cure baldness.

    The silicone used in his study, dimethylpolysiloxane, is reportedly used by the fast food giant in its oil fryers, but consuming the substance alone offers no fringe benefits.

    Fukuda said he was baffled by the readers’ misinterpretation of his research.

    “I have seen online comments asking, ‘how many fries would I have to eat to grow my hair?'” he told AFP.

    “I’d feel bad if people think eating something would do that!”



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