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`New concepts needed to eradicate parasitic diseases'

By Our Staff Correspondent

MYSORE, JAN. 23. V. Prakash, Director of the Central Food Technological Research Institute, said here on Friday that India and other countries rich in venomous species could put them to good use.

Dr. Prakash was delivering the keynote address on "The future of venoms and toxins — India's leadership" during the third national symposium on venoms and toxins organised here by the Department of Studies in Biochemistry at the University of Mysore.

He said the country had nearly 52 poisonous species, and this and similar treasures in Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and Australia offered good opportunities. India had 21 per cent of the bacteria of the world, 16 per cent of the algae, 20 per cent of the fungi, and eight per cent of the reptiles. The treasure of information on venoms and toxins as well as their biodiversity had to be conserved. The country had an opportunity to leverage these species to its advantage. Malaria and other parasitic diseases had to be eradicated in developing nations through innovative concepts.

He said the environmental policy should help retain reptiles and microbes to conserve toxins and venoms for developing more ideal drugs and vaccines. These drugs and vaccines would be in demand globally and, perhaps, India could take the lead in developing them.

Dr. Prakash suggested that the university create a database on venoms and toxins. This, along with the knowledge of ancient medicinal systems, could benefit society. Modern science had proved that antivenin and botulism toxin could be used for treating cerebral palsy and for cosmetic surgery. The question was how to convert venoms and toxins into drugs and vaccines, and this was where scientists made a difference.

He said it was important to look at the environment as a place of peaceful coexistence between man, animal, and microbe. This was especially applicable in the conversion of venoms and toxins into drugs and immuno-modulators. Such peaceful coexistence would give a clear picture of agrarian biodiversity in the country.

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