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Dow University entrance test & a special child

Ayesha Paracha scores 20 marks in entrance test
Karachi, July 22, 2008: Ayesha Paracha, a special child, scored only 20.5 marks out of 100 in the entrance test for MBBS, a spokesman of Dow University of HealthSciences (DUHS) said on Monday.

Hence, the prospects of her getting admission in the medical college were dimmed.

Ms Paracha said that she was disheartened over the results. "Now I am out of the merit list," she said. It was a "tough paper" for her.

She said that the other five disabled students had taken part in a "normal test" and now the DUHS was saying that her marks would be compared with those candidates, which, she said, was not fair.

"I will consult with lawyers and will seek legal remedies," she said.

She hinted that she might file a petition before the judiciary on Tuesday (today).

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KU team's research on drug for schizophrenia makes headway
Karachi: A professor at the Department of Biochemistry, University of Karachi (KU), has carried out a research on a drug - Buspirone (anxiolytic and anti-depressant) - and found out that if the same drug is used with the conventional Neuroleptics for schizophrenia (such as Haloperidol), then the side effect connected with Neuroleptics could be reversed and eradicated. The side effect is Tardive Dyskinsia, a disabling behaviour.

Dr Darkhshan Jabeen Haleem, former chairman of biochemistry department and also the former Dean Faculty of Science, heads the Neurochemistry and Neuropharmacology unit and has a team of researchers who are working for their PhD degree and are also lecturers in the department. She has a PhD in Neurochemistry and Neuropharmacology from the University of London, the United Kingdom.

Dr Haleem informed that in the past two decades, countless medical studies have shown that the use of Neuroleptic psychiatric drugs (also known as antipsychotic) is associated with structural brain changes, especially when taking high dosages for a long time.

"These brain changes can include actual shrinkage of the higher level parts of the brain. The shrinkage can be seen in brain scans and autopsy studies. In response to industry defenders, who claim that this shrinkage is from 'mental illness', studies show Neuroleptics lead to similar brain changes in animals. While the medical side of large libraries has this information, the public media side of the library does not. In other words, the public, patients and their families are not being informed about what medicine has long been known", she revealed.

Buspirone, according to Dr Haleem, is a generic name and comes in different brands such as Ansial, Ansiced, Anxiron, Axoren, Bespar, Buspar, Buspimen, Buspinol, Buspisal, Narol, Spitomin and Sorbon, is an anxiolytic agent and a serotonin receptor agonist belonging to the azaspirodecanedione class of compounds.

"Tardive dyskinesia (TD), a syndrome of involuntary hyperkinesias in the orofacial region that develops in patients chronically treated with Neuroleptics agents is a major limitation of the therapy. Rats chronically treated with haloperidol exhibit vacuous chewing movements (VCMs) with the twitching of facial musculature and tongue protrusion", Dr Haleem explained.

Erum Shireen, a lecturer and a PhD scholar and one of many in the research team of Dr Haleem, is working on adverse effects related to the motor activity of anti-Psychotics (a group of drugs commonly but not exclusively used to treat psychosis), which is used for the treatment of schizophrenia.

TD is a severe motor side effect produced by the long term treatment with conventional antipsychotics. "We were trying to find out a drug that could provide maximum efficacy for the treatment of Schizophrenia with minimal or no side effects. Mianserin and Buspirone are clinically used as antidepressant and we (our team) discovered that adjunctive treatment of those drugs with conventional antipsychotics produces less or no motor deficits. Our work was conducted on animal specimens", Shireen said.

Asma Khan, also a lecturer and a PhD scholar working with Dr Haleem, is working on the mechanism of tolerance following long term use of anxiolytics, in this case Diazepam, Buspirone and Ondansetron. "Diazepam and Buspirone are clinically used to relieve the symptoms of various anxiety disorders. The work was conducted on animals. Diazepam produces tolerance when used for long term.

However, long term use of Buspirone and Ondansetron retain its effectiveness to produce anxiolytics effects. Our findings proposed that novel compounds can be used as adjunct with diazepam to retain its anxiolytic effects following long term use", Asma elaborated.

The research by Dr Haleem has been noticed by the medical circles in Germany and other Western European countries and she has been invited to attend a medical seminar in Germany. Her research was supported by a grant from the Higher Education Commission (HEC).

A number of other investigations on stress, obesity and anorexia nervosa that were carried out from Biochemical Neuropharmacology have gained global attraction and recognition. The News

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