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CANBERRA – A drug that successfully prevented kidney disease in diabetic mice will undergo world-first human trials in Australia, it was announced Wednesday, China\’s Xinhua news agency reported.

More than 140 Australians suffering from type 1 or 2 diabetes will participate in the study, run by the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute, which will begin in September.

A drug developed by researchers at Monash University that blocks a pathway through which NOX enzymes cause damage to the kidneys will be tested in the trial.

Monash’s Mark Cooper said that blocking the pathway in mice had prevented kidney damage and the drug, the rights to which are owned by Swiss pharmaceutical company Genkyotex, has shown promise in repairing eye and heart damage related to diabetes.

“In the diabetic kidney three things happen: it scars, it gets inflamed, and it leaks the protein albumin,” Cooper told Australian media on Wednesday.

“We were able to show this drug stopped the protein leaking, stopped the inflammation, and stopped the scarring. It’s the scarring, particularly, that causes kidney failure.”

The 142 study participants will have their urine tested for albumin and then be administered the NOX-inhibitor or a placebo for 12 months.

Diabetes affects 250,000 Australians and Cooper said kidney disease is one of the most common causes of death associated with the disease.

“If we can slow down kidney disease, and also reduce heart and eye disease in the diabetes population, it will dramatically improve lifespan and quality of life,” he said.

“These people (sufferers of both type 1 and 2 diabetes) can avoid dialysis, have fewer heart attacks, and suffer less blindness.”


GEORGE TOWN – Police have obtained a remand order against a woman who allegedly tried to pass a bag of drugs to her brother at the Penang Court Complex yesterday.

Court Assistant Registrar Ahmad Tajudin Zain granted a four day remand order, which lasts until Sunday, against the 32-year-old after police made the application yesterday.

Police had brought her to be remanded about 10.45am while a man, a woman and a child, who are believed to be her husband and mother, were waiting for her.

They were seen following her to the court room and speaking to her in Tamil.

She cupped her hands over her face to hide her identity after spotting reporters and photographers.

The man told off journalists and demanded them to be respectful and considerate.

The woman landed herself in hot soup after allegedly passing a bag containing heroin and cannabis to her brother at court to be remanded for a drug trafficking case.

She was instead caught red-handed by alert policemen with another female relative during the 10.30am incident.

The relative, in her 30s, was later released. -TheSunDaily

PEKAN – The police detained 43 men on suspicion of being involved in drugs in the operation codenamed ‘Ops Sarang Khas’ carried out for two days beginning Thursday on drug dens around Felda Chini and Felcra Sri Makmur, here.

Pekan District Police chief Supt Amran Sidek said the suspects, aged between 30 and 60, including an Orang Asli and an Indonesian citizen, were detained at several locations, including oil palm plantations.

“Thirty-two suspects were arrested in Felda Chini, while 11 others were arrested at Felcra Sri Makmur. Police also seized 182.5gm of heroin and 0.87gm of syabu worth RM1,000 during the operation.

“Of those arrested, five suspects would be investigated under section 39B of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 for suspected involvement in distributing heroin, four under section 12 (2) and the rest under section 15 (1) (A) of the same Act,” he told a press conference at the Pekan District Police Headquarters (IPD) here, today.

Amran added that all suspects had past drug-related offences on record, and the police had received a remand order against them until tomorrow.

In addition, Amran said IPD Pekan had conducted four operations between January and July, to eradicate drug dens in the district.

“The statistics for arrests under Section 39B of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 during the period is 26 people, with 193.05gm of heroin seized, worth RM11,600.

“The police will continue to conduct further investigations to identify the distributors involved, and hope the public can channel information if they know of such activities taking place,” he added. – BERNAMA

PUTRAJAYA – Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi today called for the immediate implementation of more comprehensive measures to combat drug abuse which he described as a growing concern in society.

Ahmad Zahid, who is also Home Minister, said latest statistics showed that 56 per cent of all prisoners in the country were serving time for drug-related crimes and this phenomenon should be given serious attention by all quarters.

“It’s a pretty disturbing scenario. We cannot just leave it to the police and the National Anti-Drugs Agency to deal with the problem,” he said to reporters here.

Ahmad Zahid was asked to comment on a newspaper report today that drug abuse among Malaysians was not only not reducing but was taking on alarming proportions.

The daily quoted statistics of the Prisons Department showing that 56 per cent of all prisoners in the country had been convicted of drug-related offences, some 33,500 of the total 59,600 prisoners.

Ahmad Zahid said that besides undertaking enforcement against drug kingpins, traffickers and manufacturers through the Narcotics CID and arrests and rehabilitation through the National Anti-Drugs Agency, the government took a more holistic approach through other relevant agencies.

Collaboration was also forged with the Royal Customs Department and the Border Control Agency to prevent drugs from being smuggled into the country across the borders, he said.

Ahmad Zahid said cooperation was also established with the Chemistry Department and Forensics Department to determine the evidence pertinent to the enforcement.

“We also hope that society as a whole can help these agencies to ensure that drug abuse and distribution are eliminated,” he said. – BERNAMA

BANGKOK – A drug smuggler thought he could successfully trafficked 306 kilogrammes of cannabis to Hatyai in southern Thailand from the northeastern part of the country by hiding the drug in a pickup truck laden with hundreds of the ‘King of Fruits’, the durian.

The 30-year-old man from Umnartjaroen province who was nabbed in Hatyai yesterday, thought the durian’s pungent smell would discourage the authorities from conducting a thorough inspection of his truck and its load.

“But when the pickup truck was stopped by police, the man acted suspiciously when questioned by our officers which ultimately blew his cover and led to our discovery of the cannabis, which was stacked below the durians,” Hatyai police chief, Col Kittichai Sangkhataworn told Bernama today.

The man has since been taken in by police for further questioning, with the authorities believing that the 306 kg of cannabis discovered in the truck were to be smuggled into Malaysia, either for domestic consumption or for re-export to a third country.

According to Sangkhataworn, the consignment of cannabis seized yesterday was estimated to be worth around 5 million Baht (about RM625,000) and was well-packaged which indicated that it was destined for the foreign market.

The man confessed during the initial police investigation that after arriving in Hatyai with the load, the drug would then be smuggled across the border for re-export to a third country.

“He also disclosed that it was his second attempt in transporting drugs to southern Thailand,” said the Hatyai police chief, adding that the man’s first attempt was a success, which prompted him to undertake the second trip.

Sangkhataworn said drug smugglers nowadays used numerous tactics and methods to hide their drug smuggling activities from the authorities.

“This time they (drug smugglers) use durians as their disguise,” he said. – BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR – Police detained an Argentinian man and seized drug, believed to be cocaine, weighing 4.8 kilogrammes and worth RM1.2 million, at the KL International Airport in Sepang, Selangor, last Monday.

Bukit Aman Narcotic Criminal Investigation Department director Datuk Seri Mohd Mokhtar Mohd Shariff said the man, aged 48, who arrived from Singapore, was arrested by the Special Tactical Intelligence Narcotics Group (Sting) at about 6 pm after the drug was found in a bag he was carrying.

“Four packets of the drug were found hidden at the side of the bag carried by the man, who is believed to be a drug mule for an international syndicate,” he told reporters here today.

He said the man was on transit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and Singapore, from Brazil, before arriving in Malaysia.

Police also seized RM4,400 from him, he added.

Mohd Mokhtar attributed the success to cooperation from the Sao Paulo Airport Police in Brazil.

He said the suspect was in remand until June 12 for investigation under Section 39B of the Dangerous Drugs Act for drug trafficking.

In a related development, he said seven people, believed to be drug mules, had been arrested in the country this year, 15 in 2015 and 22 in 2016.

He said 81,245 people had been arrested for various drug-related offences between January and June 5 this year and drugs worth RM105.2 million seized. – BERNAMA

KOTA BHARU – The Kelantan government today agreed to cooperate with the federal government in dealing with drug-related problems in the state, said Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

Ahmad Zahid, who is also Home Minister, said a discussion with Kelantan Menteri Besar Datuk Ahmad Yakob at his office in Kota Darul Naim Complex here, came to the conclusion that there were three main solutions to reduce drug-related problems in the state.

“(Firstly,) we’re going to use the ‘Inabah’ (religious) approach, whereby the state government has agreed to set up a rehabilitation centre (for drug addicts) and it will be a joint programme between the state government and the National Anti-Drugs Agency.

“We are confident that this approach will help the rehabilitation programme achieve optimal results,” he said after the closed-door meeting.

The meeting which lasted about an hour was also attended by International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed, who is also Kelantan Federal Action Council (MTPNK) chairman, Kelantan Deputy Menteri Besar Datuk Mohd Amar Nik Abdullah, State Human Development, Education and Higher Education Committee chairman Datuk Dr Fadzli Hassan, and Kelantan acting police chief SAC Din Ahmad.

Ahmad Zahid said the state government also agreed to participate in the rehabilitation programme for prisoners at Pengkalan Chepa Prison here.

“The approach is no longer confined to visits from members of the visitors’ board, but we’ll also focus on improving the (inmates’) ‘qiraat’ (recitation of the Quran), and on prayers and other Islamic religious matters.

“In addition, we have also requested the state government to continue cooperating with the police and relevant agencies, as part of the government’s efforts to reduce crime in Kelantan,” he said.

The deputy prime minister said the federal government was accommodative in establishing closer cooperation with Kelantan for the success of the programmes.

He said the federal government would also hold in-depth discussions with the state government on Thailand’s move to bar entry without documentation at the border.

“We will discuss this matter as well as other issues such as the construction of a permanent wall at the Malaysia-Thailand border in Kelantan (in the future),” he said.

Meanwhile, Ahmad Zahid said the state government would set up a centre known as ‘Baiti Taubah’ in Pasir Puteh for the implementation of the Inabah programme, and it would also provide manpower in terms of experienced religious teachers, to help rehabilitate inmates at Pengkalan Chepa Prison.

“The (state) government is concerned about the problems of the community, and all parties should be responsible (in tackling drug-related problems).

“It is as though we have been attacked by this phenomenon, and we need to sit together and find ways to prevent people from being engulfed with this problem,” he said. – BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR – Police arrested four individuals and seized drugs from them during raids conducted at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA), Sepang and in Sungai Besi, here, last night.

Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said 24 kilogrammes of syabu and 3.3 kilogrammes of cocaine were seized in the operations by Bukit Aman’s Special Tactical Intelligence Narcotics Group (STING).

“Congratulations again STING @PDRMsia last night, arrested three people in the Sungai Besi area and seized 24 kg of syabu . @GoPDRMGo.

“Congratulaitons again STING @PDRMsia, arrested one man and seized 3.3 kg of cocaine at KLIA Sepang. @GoPDRMGo,” he posted on his official Twitter account.

Two photos of the STING team’s raid success were also uploaded by Khalid onto his Twitter account. – BERNAMA

BUKIT KAYU HITAM – The Kedah Customs Department has made what is believed to be the biggest drug haul so far this year with the seizure of 198kg of assorted drugs with an estimated street value of RM18.3mil.

Customs deputy director-general Datuk Zulkifli Yahya said a team of officers from the Vehicles Inspection Branch and Enforcement Unit foiled an attempt to smuggle the drugs into the country on Tuesday.

“They stopped a white Proton Iswara driven by a 26-year-old Malaysian at the inspection lane of the Immigration, Customs, Quarantine and Security Complex here,” Zulkifli told a press conference at the complex on Friday.

“The driver of the car was ordered to open the boot for inspection.

“The boot of the car was covered with plywood and what looked like a speaker and audio system.

“Through gaps in the plywood, the officers spotted suspicious objects.”

Upon closer inspection, the officers found a number of square yellow slabs, black plastic packets and green bags, he said.

The driver and his car with the seized drugs inside were brought back to the Bukit Kayu Hitam’s Customs Enforcement Office for further inspection, Zulkifli added.

The officers recovered a total of 154kg of heroin, 38kg of methamphetamine and 6kg of ketamine from the car.

According to Zulkifli, the driver’s travel documents showed that he travelled frequently to a neighbouring country.

“Another local man, aged 36, was arrested in Alor Setar later. He is believed to be from the same syndicate. Both men have been remanded until June 5 for further investigations,” he said.

The case is being investigated under Section 39B of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952, which carries a mandatory death sentence by hanging upon conviction.

Zulkifli said the seizure was the biggest for Kedah Customs and the biggest in the country so far this year. – The Star Online

SHAH ALAM – Police detained five suspects including a government servant who worked as general clerk and seized ganja worth RM107,000 in three separate raids in the Klang Valley, on Thursday and Friday (May 18 and 19).

Selangor Narcotics Crime Investigation Division chief ACP Amarjit Singh Cher Singh said the male clerk, in his 20s, was arrested while driving a Myvi car, in a raid in Serdang, around 9.30pm, on Friday.

“We found two blocks of compressed dried leaves believed to be ganja weighing 1,971.3g and worth RM6,000.

“Initial investigation also revealed that the clerk distributed drugs for the local market,” he said in a press conference at the state police contingent headquarters here today.

He said following interrogation of the first suspect, police arrested a woman, in her 20s, and confiscated 34 slabs as well as four plastic packets of ganja leaves, weighing 29kg and valued at RM90,000, in a raid on a condominium unit in Seri Kembangan, on the same day. – BERNAMA