Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Sriharshita Musunuri Wins Siemens Scholarship For Her Research On Sepsis

Sriharshita Musunuri from Mill Creek has won a prestigious $25,000 dollar scholarship in the Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology. Sriharshita Musunuri’s research focuses on sepsis, which is one of the leading causes of death in U.S. hospitals.

Sepsis is when your body has an overactive response to infection. It can lead to organ failure. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a quarter million Americans die every year from sepsis.

Musunuri, a student at Henry M. Jackson High School, got interested in doing this research after reading that horseshoe crab blood is used to detect a bacterial toxin that can cause sepsis. She said horseshoe crab blood can cost $15,000 per quart. So Musunuri created a tiny synthetic particle that could be used to detect and quantify the toxin.

“There’s still a lot of work to be done to get it to the stage where you’d be able to implement it within a hospital, but working with the results that I have now, that’s hopefully the path that I’m headed on,” she said.

Musunuri initially started her work with the University of Washington and then continued with Seattle’s Institute for Systems Biology. She plans to continue working on her nanoparticle with the hopes of eventually finding a commercial application for it.

“I’m hoping that if we can actually quantify the concentration of this toxin within a couple minutes, rather than having to wait for a blood test, which would take several hours, then we could potentially improve patient outcomes,” she said.

She presented her results at the national Siemens Competition in Washington, D.C. She said she hopes to study either chemical biological engineering or materials sciences in college.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Apex Frozen Foods stock has jumped 400% from IPO price in just 4 months of listing

Amid the ongoing euphoria in the Indian stock markets, there is one such stock which had grown nearly 5 times from its issue price within just 4 months of listing.

Indian stock markets have been rallying for the last one year with the key benchmark indices Sensex and Nifty returning about 24%. There are several blue-chip stocks which even beaten the stellar performance of domestic equities while a couple of small caps have more than doubled in the same period. In 2017, the IPO (initial public offering) market has also received a much decent response from almost all the investor classes, be it institutional or the retail buyers. More than Rs 65,000 crore has already been raised through the IPOs so far out of which five big insurers alone have lapped up about Rs 43,800 crore which includes General Insurance Corporation Rs 11,370 crore, The New India Assurance Company Rs 9,600 crore, HDFC Standard Life Rs 8,700 crore.

Amid the ongoing euphoria in the stock markets, there is one such stock which had grown nearly 5 times from its issue price within just 4 months of listing. Shares of Apex Frozen Foods ( CMD Karuturi Subrahmanya Chowdary) which got a bumper stock market debut on 4 September 2017 have gained 400% to Rs 900 on BSE in a 4-month period from its listing. The stock of Apex Frozen Foods rose as much as 5% on Wednesday to a lifetime high of Rs 900 and was locked in the upper circuit while it advanced 5% to Rs 902 on NSE. Shares of Apex Frozen Foods have been rising continuously after getting listed with a major upside achieved in last month only.

Market Capitalization of Apex Frozen Foods as on 6 December 2017 is 2.813 crores.

Shares of Apex Frozen Foods surged more than 20% on their stock market debut on 4 September in less than an hour of listing. Apex Frozen Foods rose 21% intraday to Rs 212.5 after opening 15.42% premium at Rs 202 from its issue price of Rs 175. On BSE the shares listed with an upside of 14.23% at Rs 199.9. The company raised Rs 152 crore from its three-day share sale between 22 August and 24 August which got subscribed 6.14 times. The issue comprised of fresh issue of 72.5 lakh shares and an offer for sale of 14.5 shares.

Apex Frozen Foods Ltd (AFFL) is an integrated producer and exporter of shelf-stable quality aquaculture products. It supplies ready-to-cook products to a diversified customer base consisting of food companies, retail chains, restaurants, club stores and distributors spread across the developed markets of USA, UK and various European countries. The company sells its products under the brands Bay fresh, Bay Harvest and Bay Premium.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Laurus labs is ready to flood the US with cheap HIV drugs

Among the coconut plantations and beaches of South India, a factory the size of 35 football fields is preparing to churn out billions of generic pills for HIV patients and flood the US market with the low-cost copycat medicines.

US patents on key components for some important HIV therapies are poised to expire starting in December and Laurus Labs -- the Hyderabad, India-based company which owns the facility -- is gearing up to cash in.

Laurus is one of the world’s biggest suppliers of ingredients used in anti-retrovirals, thanks to novel chemistry that delivers cheaper production costs than anyone else. Now, its chief executive officer, Satyanarayana Chava, wants to use the same strategy selling his own finished drugs in the U.S. and Europe. He predicts some generics that Laurus produces will eventually sell for 90 percent less than branded HIV drugs in the U.S., slashing expenditures for a disease that’s among the costliest for many insurers.

"The savings for U.S. payers will be so huge when these generic combination drugs are available in the U.S.," he said in an interview at the factory outside the Southern Indian city of Visakhapatnam. Payers will save "billions of dollars," he said.

In the U.S., Laurus will be going up against much larger companies like Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. -- the world’s biggest generic drug company -- which will beat it to market on generic Viread and so be the first to slash prices and lock down customers. Other generic companies, both from India and elsewhere, many of whom are customers of Laurus, are expected to enter the market too.

Meanwhile, the companies that hold the original patents, like Foster City, California-based Gilead, have also been successful at switching patients to their newer therapies to limit the impact of generic competition on the old ones, according to Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Asthika Goonewardene. He doesn’t predict a big impact from generic competition to the $2.6 billion Gilead gets from HIV drugs.

Cost savings that were an advantage in the developing world, may also prove less useful in a less price sensitive market like the U.S. Between government programs providing treatment for the uninsured, and drug company funded ones helping the insured with their co-pays, HIV patients in the U.S. are often sheltered from the full cost of their medicines.

So patients themselves may have little incentive to switch to cheaper alternatives, said Tim Horn, the New York-based deputy executive director of Treatment Action Group, an AIDS policy think tank. Newer drugs offer medical advantages to the ones going off patent, including fewer side effects, and the switch from one daily brand name pill to a mix of two or three may feel like a step back for many, he said.

For his part, Chava maintains he will eventually be able to undercut bigger rivals like Teva on price, and the magnitude of savings offered to insurers from generics will prove irresistible -- particularly as more components of the older combinations go off patent in the next three years.

"We believe we’ll be able to bring cost effective generic alternatives to the U.S. market," he said. "We have the scale."
That willingness to compete on cost has made Laurus a bright spot in India’s pharmaceutical industry in a year when the U.S. generics market has been rocked by a protracted price war. Laurus’s stock has risen about 23 percent since its public market debut in 2016. Analysts are forecasting that its revenue will rise to about $339 million in the current fiscal year from $279 million in the previous year.

Laurus controls about 66 percent of the global market for efavirenz, the chemical name for Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Sustiva, and 33 percent for tenofovir, the chemical name for Gilead’s Viread, according to a report earlier this year by investment bank Jefferies Group LLC.
A compact man of 54 with a trim mustache and rimless glasses, CEO Chava laughs enthusiastically as he recounts the scientific discoveries that helped give Laurus its edge. A chemist by training, he left his job as a C-suite executive at another Indian pharma company to found Laurus in 2005. He quickly saw an opportunity to improve the production process for efavirenz, which Indian generic firms were already producing in bulk for the developing world.

The key ingredient of efavirenz was a compound called diethylzinc, which had to be imported from Europe, and has a propensity for bursting into flames upon contact with water, or even humid air. So Chava and his team eventually found an alternative in the combination of two chemicals easily had nearby.

Where diethylzinc cost $80 per kilo -- plus all the precautions needed to keep it from exploding -- the two replacement chemicals together cost $5 per kilo. A similar innovation reducing the production cost of tenofovir by 75 percent followed, he said.

For now, Chava’s new factory is only producing test batches as it seeks to win regulatory approval to enter the U.S. It is meant to eventually produce as many as 5 billion tablets annually. On Nov. 30, the company said it had received tentative approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to sell tenofovir.

He expects his company could be in the market with its version of tenofovir in three months or so, in partnership with another Indian company with a U.S. distribution network. While that timeline could mean being beaten to market by some of his competitors, he says he’s not worried.

"We don’t mind not being the first one," Chava says. "But we want to be the last one standing."

Monday, December 4, 2017

Gadde Ruthvika Shivani wins TATA open women’s title

In a 37-minute exciting women’s final, Ruthvika Shivani Gadde got the better of a very crafty Riya Mukerjee in straight games.

Ruthvika Shivani Gadde continued with her impressive form in the last month by winning the Tata Open India International Challenge in Mumbai on Sunday. After giving Olympic silver medallist PV Sindhu a run for her money in the semi-finals of the senior national championship in November, Gadde powered past Riya Mukherjee 21-12, 23-21 in 40 minutes to win the title.

Ruthvika Shivani Gadde won the opening game 21-12, and then saved three game points in the second before putting it across a younger and fighting opponent.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Liberian President Sirleaf Admits Dr. Rao into The Order of The Star of Africa with the Grade of Commander

President Sirleaf Admits Dr. Rao into The Order of The Star of Africa with the Grade of Commander. 

The Liberian leader commended Gullapalli Nageswara Rao for what she called his exceptional performance and contributions to Liberia.

According to an Executive Mansion release, President Sirleaf made the commendation last Friday, November 24, 2017 in the C. Cecil Dennis Auditorium at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, when she, as Grand Master of the Order of Distinction of the Republic of Liberia, admitted Dr. Gullapalli N. Rao into the Order of the Star of Africa, with the Grade of Commander. Born of Indian-descent, Dr. Rao is Founder of the L.V. Prasad Eye Institute, which has already operated on and improved the eye sights of about 6,000 patients in the country.

“You and your team from India that have established this Branch of the L.V Prasad Eye Institute here in Liberia have been doing so exceptionally; working with doctors and medical personnel at the John F. Kennedy Medical Center to meet and treat the number of eye patients currently benefitting from your service in Liberia,” President Sirleaf stressed in her opening statement.

President Sirleaf commended Dr. Rao and his team for responding to the Government of Liberia’s call at quick notice to extend the operations of the L.V. Prasad Eye Institute to Liberia some three years ago. The L.V. Prasad Eye Institute’s rapid response was accompanied by the some of the best state of the art medical equipment to the country.

President Sirleaf praised Dr. Rao thanked he and his men’s for working with various group, including those from the civil society, local and international partners in exploring other avenues; giving special care and attention to children with eye-related problems and the manufacturing of special eye glasses for them in a bid to save them from early blindness. “Your commitment has been tremendous,” President Sirleaf told the Indian Doctor and his compatriots.

President Sirleaf said since coming to power on Monday, January 16th, 2006, her administration has always strived to make sure that the health sector is improved for the well-being of the Liberian people. She said one area where much attention has not been given is the eye care sector to save Liberians from unnecessary blindness and curable eye diseases.

The Liberian leader said it was predicated upon this need that about three years ago, while on a State visit to India, she was fortunate to come into direct contact with Dr. Rao; and during their interaction, the need for expanding operations of his Eye Institute to Liberia was expressed. She said few months later, the request was reciprocated as a result of Dr. Rao and team bringing into the country - some of the most sophisticated eye medical equipment that have been installed at the John Kennedy Medical Center.

She said since the eye center was opened to the Liberian public during this year’s July 26th celebrations, about 6,000 patients have been treated at the facility with various eye problems from across the 15 counties.

Responding, Dr. Gullapalli N. Rao recounted that about three years ago while catering to a Liberian girl with some eye problem in India, President Sirleaf was also in India on a State visit, and during their interactions, the issue of extending the L.V. Prasad Eye Institute’s services to Liberia was discussed.

Dr. Rao noted that following successful operations on the eyes of the Liberian girl who was taken to India, he and some members of team decided to extend the facility to Liberia in honor of President Sirleaf’s request.

He narrated that since arrival in Liberia with a view to setting up a Branch of the L.V. Eyes Institute at the John F. Kennedy Medical Center Compound, the eye center has since treated over 6,000 patients, with various degrees of eye problems.

Dr. Rao noted that during the dedicatory ceremony in July of this year, he assured Liberians that as long as the facility is here, by the year 2030, “no Liberian will go needlessly blind, like it was in the past, when the L.V. Parsat Eyes Institute was not in the country.

Similarly, Dr. Rao again assured Liberians that while his facility has also been catering to about 6,000 patients over the last five months, carrying on Cornea transplants; the next focus of the Eye Institute will be to cater to cataract patients. He said by the year 2020 the facility should be able to treat at least 20,000 Cataract patients across Liberia and in the sub-region.

The ceremony was graced by several senior government officials, including Justice Minister, Cllr. Frederick D. Cherue, Information Minister, Lenn Eugene Nagbe, National Security Advisor, C. Clarence Massaquoi, Madam Winnie Scott MacDonald, Administrator of the John F. Kennedy Medical Center, the Doyen and Members of the diplomatic corps, among others.