The Compound Eye

Hi Folks, 

This is the 10th edition of The Compound Eye. Thank you so much for your support through the past 3 months! 

This edition is going to recap select news items covered in the past 9 editions and give updates on what is new. 

Please continue reading and do write to me with your feedback. If you have enjoyed reading The Compound Eye, do forward it to your colleagues. 



Policy Focus

DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill, 2018 (Edition 1):

The DNA Bill 2018 aimed to regulate laboratories using  DNA fingerprinting technology and creation of a DNA sequence databank to expedite justice in select judicial matters.

Update: The Bill lapsed with the dissolution of the previous Lok Sabha. Now the reselected Lok Sabha will have to re-initiate the process to pass the Bill. 

Open Access Policy and Plan S (Edition 3):

India announced its proposal to join Plan S, an open access policy initiative wherein research funded by Indian government would have to be published in open access journals at the funder's cost. 

Update: The original Plan S plan was to implement the initiative's provision by January 1, 2020. However, following feedback from funding agencies and public, the plan's implementation has been delayed to January 1, 2021. Further, the Plan has been tweaked as follows:

Plan S funders must enforce their rules on open-access publishing by 1 January 2021 at the latest, rather than 1 January 2020.

Funders won’t now immediately place a cap on the cost of publishing a paper in an open-access journal. But they say journals must be transparent about publishing costs.

Funders have tweaked the rules around hybrid titles and ‘transformative agreements’, which give these partly paywalled journals a route to becoming open access.

Funders pledge to ignore the prestige of journals when making funding decisions.

In some cases, researchers will be able to publish work under more restrictive open licences, when approved by the funder, than was previously allowed.

Clinical Trials Rules in India (Edition 5):

Update: An interactive meet with over 500 participants from over 180 institutions on New Drugs and Clinical Trials Rules 2019 was held by CDSA, THSTI and CDSCO. 

Following regulatory changes were highlighted:

  • Clinical trial fee for orphan drugs have been waived off with a provision of fast track approval.
  • The timelines for drug approval process has been defined as 30 days. If no objection/query is raised by the CDSCO (regulators), then the application will be deemed as ‘approved’.
  • Provision of post trial access was made for patients for whom, the new drug has been found to be effective and there is no alternative. This will be provided free of cost by the sponsor.
  • Any type of study involving human which is not a drug trial under regulation will be governed by the National ethical guidelines for biomedical and health research involving human participants by ICMR. Compensation of any study related serious adverse events will be decided by the Ethics Committee.
  • It is now mandatory that all Ethics Committees must be registered with CDSCO before they can approve any regulatory clinical trial. However, accreditation by NABH, QCI is not mandatory although recommended. For granting approval of non-regulatory trials, there should be Ethics Committee which need to be registered with DHR, Ministry of Health. This will be effective September, 2019.

It's Controversial

The Fate of He Jiankui, Lulu and Nana (Edition 2):

He Jiankui announced the birth of genetically modified babies Lulu and Nana causing outrage amongst scientists worldwide. 

Update: He Jiankui has disappeared from public view since November 2018, reportedly being arrested and held in prison in China. A UC Berkeley study has suggested that the genetic modification he made in Lulu and Nana may lead to shortening of their life span. 

Predatory Journals and Reviewing the Review Process (Edition 4):

Predatory journals subvert the peer-review process in lieu of hefty publication fees. Hyderbad-based publication group OMICS International features in the predatory journal's list maintained by librarian Jeffery Beall. OMICS International has denied the allegations. 

Update: OMICS International, which publishes over 700 “scientific journals”, has been ordered to pay over $50 million to the U.S-based Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for unfair and deceptive business practices. Further the Court also permanently restrained the company from misrepresenting information at conferences they organise. OMICS will appeal the order. 

We need tea cups with built-in thermometers (Edition 5): 

Scientists suggested an optimal temperature to drink tea. 

Update: Move over tea, it is coffee's turn. Headlines buzzed around that drinking 25 cups of coffee everyday is safe. The study in question had reported that drinking up to 25 cups of coffee every day does not increase the likelihood of stiffening arteries. Of course, reports quickly pointed out that this was a one-dimensional approach to studying health and just because arteries are not affected, it may not be completely safe to drink 25 cups of coffee a day. 



Science in India

Fellowship hike: Why blame the icing when the cake is the problem? (Edition 2)

Government announced hikes of 24% in the fellowships of researchers. 

Update: Months after the announcement, only 10 IITs have reported to have disbursed the hiked fellowship. A crowdsourced list suggests that most institutes are yet to pay their researchers the hiked fellowships. 

That is the only update I found: guess science policy in India needs a little less talking and little more action! 

Meanwhile, redefining the normal

It is normal to have mutated cells: A study in Science analysed tissue from 488 healthy subjects and about 95 percent had patches of mutated cells in at least one of the 29 tissues examined, including kidney, muscle and liver

It is normal to be a transgender: WHO will no longer consider being transgender as a mental illness. The topic of transgender has been moved from its chapter on mental illness to the one on sexual health. 

It is normal that there is a large Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo: Yup, you read that right. WHO has warned that the world is entering a new phase and large outbreaks of deadly infectious diseases is going to be the new normal. 

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