Hyderabad team grows miniature eyes using stem cells
June 17, 2017 (Hyderabad)
Researchers at the Hyderabad-based LV Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI) have successfully grown miniature eye-like organs that closely resemble the developing eyes of an early-stage embryo. The miniature eyes were produced using induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells. The iPS cells are produced by genetically manipulating human skin cells to produce embryonic-like stem cells that are capable of forming any cell types of the body.
Small portions of the corneal tissue were separated from the miniature eyes and used for growing corneal epithelial cell sheets in the lab. Such tissue-engineered cell sheets can potentially be used for restoring vision in patients whose limbus region of the cornea is damaged in both the eyes. The limbus region of the cornea contains stem cells, and chemical or thermal damage to this region affects corneal regeneration and results in vision loss.
Stem cells present in the limbus region of a healthy eye have been used for restoring vision when only one eye is damaged. But when the damage is present in both eyes, the only way to restore vision is by using the healthy limbus taken from a related or unrelated donor. Patients have to be on immunosuppressants lifelong when limbus is transplanted from donors. However, immunosuppressants are not required when corneal cells grown using the patient?s own skin cells are used for restoring vision.
Growing eye-like organs
A team led by Dr. Indumathi Mariappan was able to grow complex eye-like organs in the lab by allowing the cells to organise themselves in three dimensions. The miniature eye closely resembles the developing eyes of an early-stage embryo. The eye-like structure consists of miniature forms of retina, cornea and eyelid. The results were published in the journal Development.
"It took about four?six weeks for the eye-like structure to form from iPS cells. We then removed the cornea-like structure for further study," says Dr. Mariappan from the Centre for Ocular Regeneration at the LV Prasad Eye Institute and the corresponding author of the paper.
The cornea has three layers ? epithelium (outer layer), stroma (middle layer) and endothelium (inner layer). "All the three layers of the cornea were observed, indicating that the mini-cornea had developed correctly," she says. "The cornea initially forms as a simple bubble-like structure which is very delicate to handle. It later matures to form a thick cornea-like structure over a period of 10-15 weeks."
The corneal epithelial sheets that would be used for treating the damaged eyes were then grown in the lab using small pieces of the mini-cornea containing the epithelium and a portion of the stroma. The stem cells present in the tissue pieces proliferated and gave rise to a uniform sheet of epithelium of about 2.5 cm by 2.5 cm size.
The team is currently focusing on testing the usefulness of the corneal cells grown from iPS cells in restoring vision in animal models (rats). "We will soon be starting the animal experiments," she says. Trials on human subjects will be considered if the animal experiments turn out to be safe and effective in restoring vision.
In parallel, the researchers are also working on producing mini-retinal tissue and actively exploring iPS cell-derived retinal tissues for treating several retinal diseases such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), retinitis pigmentosa and certain forms of congenital blindness seen in children and young adults.
Already, retinal cells grown using human embryonic stem cells and iPS cells are being tested in clincal trials in a few countries to treat retinal diseases.
CSIR's Ayurvedic drug a boon for diabetic patients
June 15, 2017 (Delhi)
In the wake of an increasing acceptance of Ayurvedic medicines among patients, an anti-diabetic Ayurvedic drug, BGR-34, developed by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) ? the research wing of the Science & Technology Ministry ? is helping patients to control and treat diabetes.
The medicine has found a place among the top 20 recommended drugs in a survey conducted by the All Indian Origin Chemists and Distributors (AIOCD). It is the only Ayurvedic drug to have found a place among these top 20 drugs.
BGR- 34, a low cost anti-diabetic Ayurvedic drug, stands for Blood Glucose Regulator, and the numeral represents 34 vital derivatives found in six herbs ? Daruharidra, Giloy, Vijayar, Gudmar, Majeeth and Methika ? which are used to develop the drug. The AIOCD, which represents over six lakh chemists and druggists across the country, had surveyed 6,367 drugs launched in the last two years from the house of top Indian as well as foreign pharmaceutical companies.
"Patients are extremely happy with the results. People are voluntarily opting for the medicine. Those who are taking it have shared great reports. The sugar levels are going down, they just need to maintain their diet," said Dr Vidula Gujjarwar, Medical Superintendent, Chaudhary Brahm Prakash Ayurved Charak Sansthan, a Delhi government run Ayurvedic clinic in Najafgarh.
Touted as the country's first Ayurvedic drug to treat Type-II diabetes, BGR-34 was jointly developed by two research institutes backed by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) ? National Botanical Research Institute (NBRI) & Central Institute of Medicinal & Aromatic Plants (CIMAP).
The drug, with each tablet that costs Rs 5, is said to have brought about a significant reduction in blood sugar levels in diabetic patients during clinical studies.
A cost-effective toilet that weighs less than 500kg and that has a life of 25-30 years can be made in-situ and even assembled in under five hours. It is one of the prototypes the CSIR-Structural Engineering Research Centre (SERC), Chennai, has developed in the past three months for areas where toilet coverage is still incomplete.
On Saturday, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between CSIR-SERC and M/s. Smart Built Prefab Pvt. Ltd., Hyderabad, for technology transfer for manufacturing textile reinforced concrete (TRC) panels for the construction of such toilets. The TRC panels are manufactured using textile reinforced concrete prototyping technology (TRCPT), an innovative all-in-one technology developed by CSIR-SERC, for which the Indian patent was applied for in 2014.
SERC senior scientist Smitha Gopinath, who is behind the effort, said the same panel can be used as doors, roofing, walls and even flooring. "We use glass textile mesh as reinforcement with a grained cementious binder. It is corrosion-free and depending on how it is fixed, can withstand wind. No mould is required to make these sheets that vary in thickness from 15mm to 25mm. These panels used in the toilets are non-load bearing ones, but load-bearing walls and panels too can be designed," she said.
For now, each toilet costs between ₹12,000 and ₹ 15,000. With buildtex (textile used in building applications) being manufactured in India, the cost is expected to come down further. At present, imported buildtex costs ₹160 per square metre whereas the Indian variant costs ₹55 per square metre.
Buildtex is also being used in roads to prevent water seepage, and for replacing roofing sheets.
The MoU was signed at the foundation day function of CSIR - SERC, which was presided over by Santosh Kapuria, director, CSIR-SERC. T. Ramasami, former secretary, Department of Science and Technology, delivered the memorial lecture on "Founders and Founding Principles ? Their Lasting Impacts."
Jindal Stainless, IMMT in pact for research for better productivity
June 5, 2017 (Bhubaneshwar)
The country's largest stainless steel maker Jindal Stainless Ltd (JSL) entered into a pact with CSIR-Institute of Minerals and Materials Technology (IMMT) on Monday for joint research and development for sharing resource management, environmental sustainability, better productivity and viability.
The MoU was signed between S K Mishra, director of IMMT and Mohan Lal, unit head of JSL's Jajpur operations in the presence of the other senior officials of the two organisations.
The areas of collaboration are recovery of metals from chromite over-burden, fly ash generated at sites of the company, characterisation of organic compounds, characterisation of scale formation in re-heating furnace, agglomeration of chrome ore alternative to briquetting and enhancement of commercial use of steam coal.
"To support the mission of Jindal Stainless in becoming a leading stainless company in the world, the research and development should aim for innovative and high quality solutions for stainless steel endeavours JSL and CSIR-IMMT shall partner to laying such long term vision to reality," stated an official statement.
It will have short-term problem solving, medium-term technology innovation in stainless steel production and long term partnership in making stainless steel a metal of choice, it added.
The Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) has registered the child-friendly HIV drug in oral pellet form, ending months of uncertainty for the HIV community. This has opened up crucial supplies from Cipla Pharmaceuticals, a market leader in the HIV segment, to the National AIDS Control Programme (NACO), which had been struggling to source quality assured paediatric formulations of the drug.
India ran out of Lopinavir syrup, a child-friendly HIV drug, in March after Cipla ? the sole manufacturer of the drug ? stopped production consequent to non-payment by the Health Ministry. The drug's adult version has to be swallowed whole and thus cannot be administered to infants and young children.
In March, over 600 children had written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, asking for a quick resolution to the matter.
On May 25, an expert committee of the CDSCO had permitted the child-friendly and heat-stable pellet formulation of the HIV drug lopinavir/ritonavir (LPV/r) to be registered.
The pellets, which come in capsules and are dosed by weight, can be sprinkled (but not stirred or crushed) over a small amount of soft food. For infants ? who must be able to swallow them ? the pellets can be added to a spoonful of breast milk or put on the infant's tongue.
"The lack of child-friendly HIV formulations is one of the major reasons why there is such a large treatment gap between adults and children, and is also why we consider paediatric HIV to be a 'neglected disease'," said Dr. Suman Rijal, Head, Drugs for Neglected Diseases (DNDi) India.
"The registration of the pellets is a positive sign as the needs of children are being addressed. Children are some of the most vulnerable HIV patients, and we cannot forget their special R&D needs," Dr. Rijal added.
GSLV-Mk III breaks Isro jinx of failed debut rocket launches
June 6, 2017 (N. Delhi)
When the first developmental flight of GSLVMk III pierced through the sky after its launch from the Sriharikota at 5.28pm on Monday , it finally broke Isro's jinx of failing to achieve success in maiden rocket launches.
Isro's 640-tonne 'Fat Boy' ended the phase of uncertainties when it placed the advanced communication satellite Gsat-19 into a geosynchronous transfer orbit around 16 minutes after the launch and helped the space agency achieve a new milestone of launching a four tonne satellite into the geostationary orbit. With this, India has entered the global market of heavy payload launches.
Congratulating Isro scientists for the successful launch, PM Narendra Modi said, "GSLV-MKIII D1Gsat-19 mission takes India closer to the next generation launch vehicle and satellite capability. The nation is proud." A jubilant Isro chief AS Kiran Kumar called it a "historic day". The PM called Kumar and congratulated each member of the Isro team.
Though the US sanctions on India in 1992 prevented the country from getting cryogenic engine technology from Russia, it failed to halt Isro's relentless effort to develop rocket and cryogenic engine technologies.
Starting from the first ex perimental launch of Satellite Launch Vehicle-3 (SLV-3) on August 10, 1979, thereafter the first developmental launch of Augmented Satellite Launch Vehicle (ASLV) on March 24, 1987, and later the developmental launch of Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) on September 20, 1993, Isro failed in all these debut rocket launches.
Overcoming initial hurdles, the PSLV rocket has emerged as the most reliable workhorse launch vehicle with 38 consecutive successful missions since October 1994. The GSLV programme, too, faced many challenges. Despite initial bumps, GSLV Mk II was developed and the rocket had four consecutive successful launches since January 2014.
By mimicking tiny features of insect wings and shark skin, a team from Bengaluru's Indian Institute of Science (IISc) has found a way to prevent bacterial infection on orthopaedic implants without using chemicals.
The team led by Kaushik Chatterjee from the Department of Materials Engineering at IISc relied purely on surface nanostructure to give the titanium metal used in implants the ability to kill bacteria.
Encouraging results were achieved in laboratory studies by making the shiny surface of implants rough through etching. The etched titanium surface is marked by randomly spaced nanopillars of 1 micrometre height and this makes it capable of killing infection-causing bacteria that adhere to the surface. The results were published in the journal Scientific Reports.
The rough surface of titanium was able to mechanically kill, within four hours of contact, nearly 95% of E. coli, 98% of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and 92% of Mycobacterium smegmatis. Though only 22% of Staphylococcus aureus attached to the surface were killed within four hours, the efficiency shot up to 76% at the end of 24 hours.
Research on mechanism
Hospital-based bacterial infections from orthopaedic implants can lead to medical complications.
"We don't know the precise mechanism by which the bacteria get killed. But we think the nanopillar architecture formed by dry etching mechanically ruptures the bacterial cells. Like in the case of the wing surface of cicadas, the bacterial cell membrane might be getting stretched by the nanopillars," says Jafar Hasan from the Department of Materials Engineering at IISc and the first author of the paper.
Bacteria have high motion capability and adhere to the surface to form a biofilm. Since titanium surface is marked by sharp tips, the cell membrane gets mechanically damaged when in contact.
While the disease-causing bacteria get killed, stem cells of the kind that form bone were unaffected by the etched surface.
Unlike bacteria that have rigid membranes, the stem cells are bigger, softer and better able to conform and attach themselves to the rough surface.
"We want to etch actual implants and carry out trials on rats and rabbits to test for bactericidal activity and to understand how the rough implant behaves inside the body and study how the bone attaches itself to the implant and grows," says Dr. Chatterjee, the corresponding author of the paper.
Pune scientists develop new bone graft substitutes
May 19, 2017 (Pune)
Two scientist-entrepreneurs working out of their lab at the Venture Centre of the National Chemical Laboratory (NCL), Pune, have developed two new bone graft substitutes, which will better augment and regenerate bones lost due to any disease or injury. These will also come handy in the case of those with congenital defects.
Doctors that TOI contacted said they were already looking forward to the commercial availability of the products, especially for their near-to-natural composition, porous structure and resorbable feature. And what more! They will be available at a cost lesser than those of the currently-available imported varieties, they said.
It took scientists Nilay Lakhkar and Amol Chaudhari nearly a year to develop the products - PoroSyn and SynOst (bioactive synthetic bone graft granules and putty).
Backed by a financial grant from Biotechnology Industrial Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) for their innovative work in bio-tech products, the scientist-duo have already submitted a provisional patent application for PoroSyn. It has been developed with proprietary technology and is composed of calcium, sodium and phosphorous - three elements naturally found in bones.
They will ensure better uptake of the treatment by the body as well as heal faster.
While the concept has already got the thumbs up at the recent Pitch Fest in the Start Up Bio 2017 event at Bangalore, the process for conducting clinical trials
Tech to keep your vada pav hot and delicious on the street
May 24, 2017 (Bengaluru)
Two years ago, the Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI) organised a training for street food vendors in Mysuru on preparing quality food in hygienic conditions. Not just the vendors, the institute's scientists, too, picked up some useful lessons.
The trainers discovered that the carts the vendors used lacked the infrastructure to prepare hygienic food. The premier laboratory of the publicly funded Council of Scientific and Industrial Research has now come up with a solution -a solar-powered, modular vending cart that seeks to introduce sensors and cloud-based services to the street food business.
The sensors in the Smart Carts will monitor the quality of food by recording the pH levels, the temperatures of raw and cooked food kept in refrigerators and warmers, and the duration of storage.
The data will be transmitted to the CFTRI server, which, in turn, will splash the quality-check numbers on its mobile app that can be downloaded by vendors and consumers.
"Our Smart Cart will lift the quality of street food," said Ram Rajasekharan, director at CFTRI, adding that India has an estimated 10 million street food vendors. The carts, according to him, can also help Indian food entrepreneurs seeking to take their brands to overseas markets where Indian food is popular.
The base price of the carts, which can be customised, is Rs 60,000.
The technology blended into the cart would not only help vendors keep a check on the quality of food he is selling, but also help consumers choose the best available vendor by looking at the data on the app, said V Arun Kumar, the 32-year-old food safety scientist who designed the cart.
CFTRI will cobrand the carts with Bengaluru-based startup Hertz Mechatronics, which has fabricated the cart according to the lab's specifications. "It would take a couple of weeks to produce a cart," said Prabu Kumar M, project manager at the startup.
The cart, the CFTRI director said, includes a restaurant-grade kitchen made with stainless steel, an onboard refrigerator, a food warmer, and a sink with separate tanks for fresh and waste water - helping to create a better culinary experience for consumers. It also comes with a built-in system to hold a gas cylinder and a dustbin.
"The array and design of the units in the Smart Cart can be realigned as desired by the end-user without changing its core features on food safety, operational efficacy and energy efficiency," Rajasekharan said.
CSIR perfects technology for producing diesel from plastic waste at commercial scale
May 23, 2017
The technology developed by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to produce diesel from plastic waste was very close to be used for commercial production. This technology is among a host of other "useful for the common man" technologies the government was focusing on, Minister for Science & Technology and Earth Sciences Dr Harsh Vardhan said here today, at a press conference held here to brief the media on the activities of his Ministry, on three years of the Modi government. The CSIR scientists had scaled up the technology to produce one tonne diesel per day, which was going to be very significant for energy needs at the local levels, and also for solving the problem of disposal of massive plastic was that was being generated everyday in the country. As part of a programme for providing solution to the common man's problems in their day-to-day life, and to make the youth employable, the Ministry had also embarked upon an ambitious project to train one lakh students of science in various skills in the next two years. Dr Vardhan said during the last three years, the efforts of his Ministry had been to take the technology from lab to land and to align the scientific research and development to national priorities. "We are inferior to none. We have taken long strides in weather forecasting, earthquake observation," he said and pointed out that India was also in 88 international scientific research and development collaboration, with very active 40 collaborations.The Minister said science and technology was going to play a very big role in achieving the target of doubling the farm income by 2022.Besides, it was working in a very focused way in helping in the major initiatives of Swachch Bharat, Make in India, Digital India. Dr Vardhan also spoke of the work being done to develop Ocean technology to tap its vast potential in every field, especially in energy security. To inspire the quest for science, the Ministry was soon going to lauch a 'Jigyasa' (curiosity) programme in collaboration with the HRD Ministry, under which school children will come to CSIR labs to see for themselves the work being done there, he said. In reply to a question, he said the CSIR was working on about 140 projects related to the solution of day-to-day needs of the people.
Buyers of Apple iPhone SE could soon find a "Made in India" tag on their devices. Taiwanese contact manufacturer Wistron would be making it at their plant in Bengaluru.
The company recently conducted a trial run at the factory. The few phones made during the trial run will be in stores in two weeks.
Full-scale production will take more time, according to a person familiar with Apple's plans. The global tech major confirmed the production at the sole facility in India.
"We are beginning initial production of a small number of iPhone SEs in Bengaluru. We'll begin shipping to domestic customers this month," Apple said in an email.
Karnataka was quick to claim credit for this. Its Information Technology Minister Priyank Kharge said, "It shows the Bengaluru ecosystem is able to attract the world's best companies. If the Make in India initiative has to work, we need to incentivise manufacturers to gradually increase local sourcing."
Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook visited India last May and met Prime Minister Narendra Modi. They reportedly discussed manufacturing of iPhones in India, for the local market and export. Since then, the government has turned down Apple's demands for tax sops. But, the fast-growing domestic market seems too attractive for the company.
With a dip in iPhone sales in developed markets like the US and China, India is now a major focus for Apple. Since the country's appetite for expensive flagship devices is still small, Apple continues to produce its four-year-old iPhone 5s to compete with Xiaomi, Motorola, Samsung and others in the mid-level market.
Is domestic production going to cut prices? There is no clarity on that yet. Experts said assembling devices locally will help it save 12 per cent in taxes.
One can buy an iPhone SE for Rs 27,200 but on Flipkart and Amazon, it is available for as low as Rs 20,999. Apple is known to maintain price parity across the world. In the US, the iPhone SE starts at $399 (about Rs 25,000).
"Prices might go below Rs 20,000 only in October," said Neil Shah, research director, devices and ecosystems, Counterpoint Research. "At that price it has to compete with Chinese rivals Oppo and Vivo."
For the first time in India, a geopolymer concrete road made of fly ash and other waste materials has been successfully laid at Central Building Research Institute (CBRI), Roorkee. The road was made of fly ash, the ash produced by the burning of powdered coal, from NTPC Dadri.
The road, which is 50m long and 3m wide and has a concrete strength of 40MPa, was made from fly ash, aluminate and silicate-bearing materials. As opposed to conventional cement concrete roads, this road will not need water curing.
This achievement paves the way for large-scale fly ash utilisation, NTPC Dadri officials said. The road has been developed jointly by NTPC Dadri's research and development wing ? NTPC Energy Technology Research Alliance ? and CSIR.
S K Sinha, group general manager, NTPC Dadri said fly ash discharged from the Dadri power station is being used for various purposes, such as landfilling, manufacture of ash bricks, tarring of roads and the creation of an 'ash mound' eco park. "Medicinal and other plants have also been cultivated on the ash mound. Ash utilization has been around 205% this year," Sinha said.
Visual, non-invasive monitoring of body temperature of patients without using a thermometer may become a reality soon, thanks to the work carried out by a team of scientists led by John Philip, head of the smart materials section at the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR), Kalpakkam, near Chennai.
The concept is based on ferrofluid emulsion contained in a thin film that changes colour with rise in temperature within a narrow range ? 30-40° C. The study was published in the journal Optical Materials.
The emulsion has iron oxide nanoparticles containing oil droplets dispersed in water. "Till now ferrofluid was used as a magnetic stimuli-responsive material. We now found that in the presence of a temperature-sensitive polymer ? poly(N-isopropylacrylamide), also known as PNIPAM) ? the ferrofluid emulsion can be used as a thermally tunable grating to produce different colours," says Dr. Philip.
"Recently, we were looking at the interaction forces between droplets covered with thermo-responsive polymers. To our surprise, we found that the adsorbed polymer swells and collapses upon changing the temperature between 32° and 36° C. This change was clearly manifested as colour change. From this observation came the novel idea of using PNIPAM-stabilised emulsions as a multistimulii grating. This is a first of its kind approach where the grating spacing can be tuned either by changing the temperature or by changing the magnetic field strength," says Dr. Philip.
Up to about 34° C, the polymer is highly hydrated and swollen due to repulsive interaction between individual monomer segments.
But when the temperature crosses 34° C, the polymer becomes dehydrated leading to a collapsed state.
The polymer will once again become hydrated and swollen when the temperature falls below 34° C. "By using certain additives, we can tune the collapse of the polymer to higher temperature to reflect fever conditions," clarifies A.W. Zaibudeen, senior research fellow at IGCAR and the first author of the paper.
Using magnetic fields, the scientists first achieved a particular ordering (spacing between the arrays of emulsion droplets) of emulsion and got a particular colour.
When polymer is added as a stabiliser and the temperature is increased, the grating spacing of the polymer changes and gives rise to a different colour or spacing.
"The colour given off at normal temperature can be fixed by changing the emulsion property and magnetic field strength," Dr. Philip says.
If the normal temperature is fixed at yellow, the change will be to green when the temperature increases.
Colour with higher wavelength is produced at lower temperature and colour of lower wavelength at higher temperature.
Govt to revisit strategy to fight tuberculosis, says health minister
April 8, 2017 (Dharamshala)
The government is revisiting its strategy to combat tuberculosis after setting an ambitious target to eradicate the dreaded disease from India by 2025. It will come up with a national plan with an aim to have a ?dynamic strategy? to tackle the problem, according to Union health minister J.P. Nadda.
"We are revisiting our strategy to fight tuberculosis and we are coming with national plan. It is under active consideration and in the next one month we will review it," he told reporters at the TB-Free India Summit in Dharamsala. The country needs to have a dynamic strategy in order to deal with the problem, he added.
Tuberculosis (TB) takes lives of over 4.8 lakh Indians every year. Over 28 lakh TB cases are reported per year in the country. Nadda said India is also moving towards better fund allocations for the health ministry. "In terms of GDP, the funds should be 3 to 4 per cent. Health policy 2017 commits that we will bring it to 2.5 per cent of the GDP and we are moving forward in that direction," the minister said.
The ministry's budget has gone up by over 27% in the current fiscal as compared to the previous financial year, he added. Stating that fund allocation is not a problem, Nadda said the issue is the inability of the states to fully spend their respective budgets. The ministry has identified 175 districts across nine states which would require additional focus in terms of implementation of various health schemes, he added.
Nadda said India has been able to reverse cases of TB, HIV and malaria in the country due to active health programmes. Speaking on the sidelines of the event, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP and former BCCI chief Anurag Thakur said the central government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi is committed to eradicate TB from the country by 2025. "When the head of the government makes a commitment to make country TB free by 2025 that clearly sends the message," he said.
Citing success of Jan Dhan and Ujjwala schemes, the three-time BJP MP said the government was also committed to a TB free India. In order to bring awareness regarding the disease, MPs played a twenty over cricket match with Bollywood celebrities at the HPCA stadium in Dharamsala. MPs team was led by Thakur while Bobby Deol captained the Bollywood team.
The two-day summit is jointly hosted by the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) and the International Union against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (the Union), as a part of a TB-Free India campaign being implemented by Central TB Division, ministry of health & family welfare. The meet is also supported by Challenge TB (the flagship TB control programme of the United States Agency for International Development), the Global Fund and World Health Organization.