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Last Updated: August 3, 2020 1 day ago

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  • JNCASR scientists devise an adaptive model to estimate critical resources in pandemic

    1 day ago
    Scientists from Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), under Department of Science & Technology, Government of India, and Indian Institute of Science (IISc), have developed a model to scale up the novel tests using an adaptive strategy and the early phase of COVID-19 as an example. Highlights: ♦ The new model can be utilized to estimate the key aspects of medical inventory requirements which are required to scale up both the testing capabilities and the critical care facilities.  ♦ The model is extremely relevant for COVID-19, as the disease character and the behavioral patterns of the people change. ♦ The model reduces errors by letting one understand the range of variation of the predicted infections. ♦ This new approach allows for planning of requirements for critical resources such as ICUs, Personal protective equipment (PPEs) during the COVID-19 pandemic.  ♦ The new model is designed for simplicity of interpretation, and adaptability over time.

    SNBNCBS develops a No-touch and Painless device for non-invasive screening of bilirubin level in new-borns

    5 days ago
    S.N. Bose National Centre For Basic Sciences (SNBNCBS), Kolkata, an autonomous research Institute under the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India has developed “AJO-Neo”, a No-touch and Painless device for non-invasive screening of bilirubin level in new-borns. SNBNCBS hosted a Technical Research Centres (TRC) funded by DST and in scientific collaboration with Nil-Ratan Sircar (NRS) Medical College and Hospital, Kolkata.  AJO-Neo: ♦ AJO-Neo is based on non-contact and non-invasive spectrometry-based techniques for the measurement of neonatal bilirubin level as an alternative of total serum bilirubin (TSB) test without limitations of other available bilirubin meters. ♦ The device is reliable in measuring bilirubin levels in preterm, and term neonates irrespective of gestational or postnatal age, sex, risk factors, feeding behavior, or skin color.  ♦ The device is found to deliver an almost instantaneous report (about 10 seconds) to a concerned doctor, who is sitting 10,000 km away from the point of care.  ♦ The new methods has showed improved output when compared to the conventional “blood test” method, which takes more than 4 hours to generate the report.  ♦ AJO-Neo has been transferred by the National Research Development Corporation (NRDC), an enterprise of DSIR, Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India in the presence of Prof. Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary, DST to a Vijayawada based company, M/s Zyna Medtech Private Limited.

    Hetero group launched Favipiravir in India to treat Covid-19 infected patients

    6 days ago
    Hetero group has launched the generic Favipiravir in India under the brand ‘Favivir’. The company received approvals from the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) to manufacture and market the generic drug. The drug, Favivir, is used to treat mild to moderate COVID-19. Favivir: ♦ Favivir will improve treatment accessibility to a significant amount of the COVID-19 patient population, which usually sustains mild to moderate symptoms. ♦ The generic favipiravir drug is priced at Rs.59 per tablet.  ♦ The drug is being marketed and distributed by Hetero Healthcare. ♦ The product is made available at all retail medical outlets and hospital pharmacies across India to be sold on prescription. ♦ Favivir is prepared at a world-class formulation facility, which was approved by USFDA and the EU. ♦ Favivir is the second drug developed by Hetero. Earlier, the company launched Covifor, the generic version of Remdesivir injection to be administered intravenously in a hospital to traet severe COVID-19 infection.

    Acculi Labs to launch mobile app for detection & risk assessment of COVID 19 infected individuals

    6 days ago
    Bangalore based startup Acculi Labs has been selected the Centre for Augmenting WAR with COVID-19 Health Crisis (CAWACH), an initiative by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) to develop a COVID risk assessment profile called Lyfas COVID score.  Lyfas: ♦ Lyfas is an Android application. ♦ In this application, one can keep the index finger on the rear phone camera of a mobile phone for 5 minutes. It will capture the capillary pulse and blood volume change and derive 95 biomarkers with proprietary algorithms and signal processing techniques.  ♦ The app uses the power of smartphone processor and smartphone sensors to capture a bunch of body signals.  ♦ The signals are subsequently processed on the principle of Photoplethysmography (PPG), Photo Chromatography (PCG), Arterial Photoplethysmography (APPG), mobile spirometry, and Pulse Rate Variability (PRV). ♦ It also provides cardiovascular, hematology, hemorheology, cardio-respiratory, neurology based parameters that are capable of tracking minute pathophysiological changes in the body. They are further profiled into organ system-wide response. ♦ Acculi Labs' Lyfas is a clinical-grade, non-invasive, digital functional biomarker smartphone tool for screening, early detection, root cause analysis, acute event risk assessment, prognosis, and home monitoring of chronic diseases which they have repurposed to Lyfas COVID score. CAWACH: ♦ CAWACH is an initiative launched by the National Science & Technology Entrepreneurship Development Board (NSTEDB), DST, Government of India. ♦ The initiative is aimed to support market-ready innovations for the control of COVID-19 and startup ideas to address associated challenges. 

    India to take up clinical trials of OXFORD Vaccine COVISHIELD

    8 days ago
    University of Oxford and AstraZeneca have shown successful clinical trials on the COVID-19 vaccine, COVISHIELD. World Health Organization (WHO) stated that the first use of the vaccine is expected in early 2021.  Highlights: ♦ The initial results of the first two-phase trials of the vaccine that are conducted in five trial sites in the UK showed the acceptable safety profile and homologous boosting increased antibody responses. ♦ Serum Institute of India (SII) has sought permission from the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) to conduce phase II/III human clinical trials of the potential vaccine. ♦ Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) also announced that it will conduct clinical trials of the COVID-19 vaccine, COVISHIELD.

    DBT provides seed funding for HGCO19, novel mRNA based COVID-19 Vaccine candidate

    11 days ago
    Department of Biotechnology (DBT)-Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) has facilitated the establishment of a first-of-its-kind mRNA-based vaccine manufacturing platform in India. DBT is providing seed funding for the development of Gennova’s novel self-amplifying mRNA-based vaccine candidate for COVID-19. Highlights: ♦ BIRAC in collaboration with HDT Biotech Corporation, Seattle, USA, Gennova has developed an mRNA vaccine candidate (HGCO19). ♦ It has been demonstrated with safety, immunogenicity, neutralization antibody activity in rodent and non-human primate models.  ♦ The company is working aggressively to ensure the first human injection by the end of the year, subject to Indian regulatory approvals. ♦ The diseases emanating from unknown and new pathogens require novel ideas for effective mitigation.  ♦ Gennova's m-RNA platform supported by DBT utilizes the advances in nucleic acid vaccine and delivery systems.  ♦ The vaccine candidate that makes use of nanotechnology has shown promise to be effective in animal models.  ♦ The vaccine candidate can be rapidly scaled up, once proven effective in human clinical trials.

    China successfully launched a rover to Mars

    12 days ago
    China successfully launched a rover to Mars on 23 July 2020, which is another milestone for its space programme.  Highlights: ♦ China's Mars probe was launched from the southern island of Hainan, China. ♦ The Mars mission was named Tianwen-1 meaning "Questions to Heaven" in a nod to a classical Chinese poem that has verses about the cosmos. ♦ Under the mission, the probe aims to go enter into Martian orbit. It will land on the planet Mars and release a small rover to conduct research on its surface. ♦ It is expected to reach the planet in February 2021.  ♦ The spacecraft will travel at least 55 million kilometres to reach its destination. ♦ In its earlier attempt in 2011, China's partnership with Russia failed because the Russian launcher was unable to get the craft into a transfer orbit to slingshot towards Mars.

    SNBNCBS has developed an active respirator mask and Nano-sanitizer to fight COVID-19 spread

    12 days ago
    S.N. Bose National Centre For Basic Sciences (SNBNCBS), Kolkata, has developed an active respirator mask with attached exhalation valve and suspended particulate matter filter for comfortable and hygienic breathing while wearing masks. Active Respirator mask: ♦ The Active Respirator mask which was developed by SNBNCBS is an innovative solution to the rebreathing of carbon dioxide to solve exhaled moisture and sweaty and hot environment inside the mask. ♦ The respirator will also improve the clarity of speech of a person with a face mask and assures comfortable, hygienic breathing to protect the wearer from exposure to airborne contaminants. Nano-sanitizer: ♦ The Institute has also developed Nano-sanitizer has a Dispensing Antimicrobial Layer.  ♦ The Long-Lasting Nano-sanitiser innovation is a solution to the problems caused by the use of the general sanitizers like dehydration of skin due to frequent use, and nature of instantaneous antimicrobial action of common sanitizers without protective role.  ♦ This innovative sanitizer technology assures comfortable and hygienic hand sanitization for a longer duration.

    UAE launched mission to Mars

    15 days ago
    The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has launched its first mission to Mars on 20th July 2020. The UAE is striving to develop its scientific and technology capabilities and move away from its reliance on oil. Highlights: ♦ The first Arab (UAE) mission to Mars was initially planned to be launched on 14 July, but got delayed twice due to bad weather. ♦ The Hope Probe was launched from Japan's Tanegashima Space Center on 20 July for a seven-month journey to Mars. ♦ The satellite will orbit around Mars and send back data about the atmosphere. ♦ The total cost of the Emirates Mars Mission is $200 million. ♦ The Hope Probe was developed by the Emiratis and Dubai's Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) worked with U.S. educational institutions. ♦ The UAE has an ambitious plan for a Mars settlement by 2117. ♦ At present, there are 8 active missions exploring Mars. Of the 8 missions, some satellites orbit the planet and some satellites have landed on the surface of Mars planet. China and the United States, currently, each plan to send another this year.

    NABL accredits CIPET for testing and Certification of PPE kit

    15 days ago
    Central Institute of Petrochemicals Engineering & Technology (CIPET) under the Department of Chemicals & Petrochemicals, Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers, has been accredited by National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) for Testing & Certification of Personal protective equipment (PPE) Kit. Highlights: ♦ The move by CIPET is to tackle COVID- 19 Pandemic and a step forward towards 'Atmanirbhar Bharat'. ♦ The accredited PPE kit includes Coverall, Gloves, Face Shield & Goggles, and Triple Layer Medical masks, etc in line with International Standards. ♦ After developing facility of testing PPE kit, IPT Centre Bhubaneshwar, had submitted an application to NABL for accreditation.  ♦ After an online audit of its testing facility, NABL granted accreditation to CIPET- Centre Bhubaneshwar. ♦ CIPET has taken up the R&D initiatives in the areas of Health Care as per WHO/ISO guidelines.

    CSIR-CMERI unveiled the COVID Protection System for Workplace

    15 days ago
    Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR)-Central Mechanical Engineering Research Institute (CMERI), Durgapur, unveiled the COVID Protection System (COPS) for Workplace to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. Apart from the Healthcare Workers, the frontline Security Guards of any organisation are very vulnerable to COVID-19 through infected individuals and contaminated objects. CSIR-CMERI, has announced that it is to develop a Digital Entry Management Systems in which the workflow will be automated and based upon Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT).  Highlights: ♦ Solar Based Intelligent Mask Automated Dispensing Unit cum Thermal Scanner (IntelliMAST) is an Intelligent surveillance kiosk that identifies the body temperature and whether an individual is wearing Face Mask or not through customised Software solutions.  ♦ Touchless Faucet (TouF) is launched for households and Office Spaces. The system dispenses Liquid Soap and Water from the same Faucet with a time-gap of 30 seconds, which is as per the latest Government guidelines. ♦ 360° Car Flusher is a Sodium Hypochlorite Water Screen which uses specialised Nozzle Design to ensure that the Sanitizer Diffused Water is evenly spread over and under the Car Body/Wheels with adequate Water Force and coverage. ♦ The COPS for Workplace will include contactless Solar Based Intelligent Mask Automated Dispensing Unit cum Thermal Scanner (IntelliMAST), Touchless Faucet (TouF) and 360° Car Flusher are now available for Technology Transfers and Product Orders. ♦ CSIR-CMERI aims to support the Start-Ups and Entrepreneurs while developing its technologies to give boost to their aspirations and give them a platform to showcase their Innovative potential.  ♦ CSIR-CMERI also focused upon developing products Made in India, which will consequently boost the Atma-Nirbhar Bharat flagship initiative of the Government of India.

    ARCI, Vehant Technologies develop UV System for baggage Scan Disinfection to curb COVID-19 spread

    17 days ago
    International Advanced Research Centre for Powder Metallurgy and New Materials (ARCI), Hyderabad, and Vehant Technologies, Noida has jointly developed KritiScan UV Baggage Disinfection System. The device has been designed to control the spread of infection through baggage. Kritiscan UV advanced baggage disinfecting system: ♦ The compact Ultraviolet C (UVC) conveyor system is capable to efficiently disinfect the baggage passing through the conveyor within a few seconds. ♦ Kritiscan UV advanced baggage disinfecting system has a specially designed motorized conveyor to guide the baggage into the disinfection tunnel, which uses UVC light (254 nm) with appropriate irradiance to inactivate microbes and viruses.  ♦ The UV-C lamps used in the system shielded in a manner that poses no harm to staff or passengers in the vicinity of the system. Nemce, human intervention is strongly advised against when the UVC sources are on. ♦ The system can be used in airports, railway and bus stations, hotels, commercial and private establishments for the rapid disinfection of baggage.

    DBT supported COVID-19 Vaccine ZyCoV-D to begin Adaptive Phase I, II clinical trials

    19 days ago
    Vaccine Discovery Programme supported by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Government of India, under the National Biopharma Mission, and implemented by Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) is to begin clinical trials. The study is aimed to assess the safety, tolerability, and immunogenicity of the vaccine Highlights: ♦ BIRAC announced that ZyCoV-D, the plasmid DNA vaccine designed and developed by Zydus and partially funded by the DBT has initiated Phase I/ II clinical trials in healthy subjects. ♦ This will be the first indigenously developed vaccine for COVID-19 to be administered in humans in India. ♦ The adaptive Phase I/ II dose-escalation, the multi-centric study will assess the safety, tolerability, and immunogenicity of the vaccine.  ♦ The human dosing of the vaccine marks a key milestone since the launching of the accelerated vaccine development programme for COVID-19 in February 2020. ♦ This will help the country to develop preventive strategies for future disease outbreaks and exemplifies the government’s focus on creating an ecosystem that nurtures.  ♦ It will also encourage new product innovation to make real and measurable changes to issues most relevant to society.

    HRD Minister launches Corosure, worlds most affordable COVID-19 test kit developed by IIT-Delhi

    20 days ago
    Shri Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, the Union Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister and Sanjay Dhotre, Minister of State HRD launched a low-cost COVID-19 test "Corosure" developed by Indian Institute of Technology Delhi (IIT-Delhi).  Highlight: ♦ Corosure is billed as the world’s most affordable probe free Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) based on the COVID-19 diagnostic kit.  ♦ Corosure is approved by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI). ♦ The kit uses an alternative testing method for testing COVID-19 samples and is launched by the company Newtech Medical. ♦ The total cost of the kit is around Rs.650. It can do two million tests per month. ♦ The kit is very affordable as compared to other probe tests that are being imported from other countries. ♦ This test kit is expected to change the paradigm of COVID-19 testing in India, both in terms of scale and cost. 

    Worlds First Reusable PPE Kits by Indian Manufacturing Company

    23 days ago
    World’s First Reusable PPE Kits with Triple Viral Shield Technology launched Indian Manufacturing Company- Loyal Textile Mills launched the first of its kind in the world-wide reusable PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) kits on 9th July 2020. Along with reusable PPE kits, Loyal Textile Mills also unveiled reusable garments and face masks with zero virus penetration. The reusable masks, clothing and PPE kits were introduced by Loyal Textile Mills in partnership with the textile manufacturing company headquartered in Reliance Industries Limited and Switzerland- HeiQ Materials AG. The 3 items will be available on the market under the Loyal Textile Mills name 'Supera Shield.' Contents [hide] Triple Viral Shield Reusable Masks, Garments, and Kits Number of Tmes Reusable Triple Viral Shield Reusable Masks, Garments, and PPE Kits Technology 1. The reusable masks, garments, and PPE kits are made with the Viroblock Technology of HeiQ Materials AG. 2. The fiber used for making the reusable masks, garments, and PPE kits was 'R ELAN Fibre' of Reliance Industries Limited. R ELAN Fiber inhibits bacterial and viral growth. 3. Viral Barrier PU film Lamination: The fabric in the reusable mask and PPE kit has been engineered with viral barrier PU film lamination imported from the Republic of China (Taiwan). Number of Times Reusable As per Loyal Textile Mills, the garments and masks can be washed for up to 25 times for reuse while the PPE kit can be washed up to 10 times for reuse.

    NITI Aayog Launches ATL App Development Modules

    24 days ago
    ATL App Development Modules On July 10, 2020, 'ATL App Development Modules' was launched for school children across the country in line with the Aatmanirbhar Bharat initiative to transform school students from smartphone-based applications users into innovative smartphone-based applications developers. The 'ATL Device Development Modules' are launched by NITI Aayog's Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) under its Atal Tinkering Labs (ATL) initiative, in partnership with Plezmo- a mobile application(lndian Startup Company-Gunakar Private Limited). Modules for the Development The Modules are part of an online course that is available to everyone at no cost. The online course consists of a total of 6 project-based learning modules which allow school children to learn how to create mobile apps. Virtual mentoring sessions will be given to the kids during the Modules learning course. In addition, in order to build capacity and acuity in school teachers about app development, the periodic training for school teachers will be conducted through the 'AIM App Development Course.' You can access the ATL App Development Modules at-'

    CSIR, Laxai Sciences seek regulatory approval to undertake clinical trials on Covid-19 patients, phase III clinical trial

    27 days ago
    Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR), in collaboration with Laxai Life Sciences Pvt. Ltd. Hyderabad has sought regulatory approval to undertake 'MUCOVIN', a four-arm randomized controlled phase III clinical trial. The study is to combine and repurpose antivirals and host-directed therapies (HDTs) to address the disease-spread and pathology simultaneously. Highlights: ♦ The unique combinatorial strategy, antivirals, and HDTs, with repurposed drugs having a complementary, additive, and synergistic role, has been adopted to increase therapeutic options for Covid-19 treatment and help recover patients faster. ♦ The trial will determine the safety and efficacy of the three combination drugs and a control arm with the standard of care in COVID-19 patients.  ♦ The 3 combination drugs are Favipiravir+Colchicine, Umifenovir+Colchicine and Nafamostat+5-ALA. ♦ The clinical trial will be carried out in partnership with Medanta Medicity. ♦ The trial will include a total of 300 patients in four different groups of 75 patients in the trials to be carried for 17 to 21 days including screening and treatment. ♦ The study aims to target viral proteins essential for its replication and host factors that play a crucial role in the viral life cycle and contribute to the cytokine storm.

    MOM captured image of Phobos, the biggest moon of Mars

    31 days ago
    The Mars Colour Camera (MCC) onboard ISRO's Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) has captured the image of Phobos, the closest and biggest moon of Mars. The image was taken on 1st July when MOM was about 7,200 km from Mars and 4,200 km from Phobos. Highlights: ♦ The image is a composite image generated from 6 MCC frames with a Spatial resolution of the image is 210 m. ♦ The colour if the image has been corrected. ♦ In the image, 4 craters namely Stickney, Shklovsky, Roche & Grildrig are seen. Stickney is the largest crater on Phobos. Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM): ♦ Mars Orbiter Mission is also known as Mangalyaan. Initially, it was meant to last for six months. But then it had enough fuel to last for many years.  ♦ MOM was launched on 24 September 2014. It cost Rs.450 crore. ♦ The MOM spacecraft was successfully launched in the orbit of the planet Mars. ♦ MOM mission aims to study the Martian surface and mineral composition and scan its atmosphere for methane which is an indicator of life on Mars. ♦ Mars Orbiter has 5 scientific instruments namely: Lyman Alpha Photometer (LAP) Methane Sensor for Mars (MSM) Mars Exospheric Neutral Composition Analyser (MENCA) Mars Colour Camera (MCC) Thermal Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (TIS)

    DCGI approved Zydus Healthcare's COVID-19 vaccine for human clinical trials

    32 days ago
    Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) approved a potential COVID-19 vaccine indigenously developed by the Ahmedabad-based Zydus Cadila Healthcare Ltd. The vaccine will be used for human clinical trials. Highlights: ♦ The approval process was fast-tracked after the recommendation by the subject expert committee on COVID-19. It considered the emergency medical need during the COVID-19 pandemic. ♦ DCGI has approved for the phase I and II clinical trials on humans of the potential novel coronavirus vaccine after its animal studies were found to be successful. ♦ The vaccine candidate was found to be successful with respect to safety and immunogenicity. ♦ Phase I & II trials will take around three months to be completed. ♦ Also, the country’s ‘first’ indigenous COVID-19 vaccine candidate Covaxin had recently got approval for human clinical trials from the DCGI. It was developed by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research and National Institute of Virology (NIV).

    Centre launched Drug Discovery Hackathon for supporting drug discovery process

    32 days ago
    Centre launched Drug Discovery Hackathon on 2 July 2020 in the presence of Union Minister for Science and Technology Dr. Harsh Vardhan and Union Minister for Human Resource Development Shri Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’.  Drug Discovery Hackathon: ♦ Drug Discovery Hackathon is a joint initiative of the Ministry for Human Resource Development (MHRD’s) Innovation Cell (MIC), All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), and Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). It is supported by the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC), MyGov, and other private players. ♦ MIC & AICTE will focus on identifying potential drug molecules through the Hackathon. And CSIR will take the identified molecules forward for synthesis and laboratory testing for efficacy, toxicity, sensitivity, and specificity. ♦ in-silico drug discovery methods, which utilize Computational methods such as Machine Learning (ML), AI and Big Data, will help to accelerate this process. ♦ The initiative is open for all researchers/faculty across the globe as it attracts international talent to join and support our efforts. Highlights: ♦ The Hackathon will consist of many challenges that are based on specific drug discovery topics which, are open to the participants to solve. ♦ Under the Hackathon, around 29 Problem Statements (PS) were identified. ♦ MyGov portal is used and any Indian student can participate. ♦ The Hackathon will have three Tracks. Track 1 will primarily deal with drug design for anti-COVID-19 hit/lead generation: this is done using tools such as molecular modelling, pharmacophore optimization, molecular docking, hit/lead optimization, etc. Track 2 deals with designing/optimizing new tools and algorithms which will have an immense impact on expediting the process of in silico drug discovery. Track 3 which is called “Moon shot" will allow for working on problems which are ‘out of the box’ nature.

    RMRC lab, Assam becomes 4th to isolate COVID-19 virus strain in India

    33 days ago
    Indian Council of Medical Research’s (ICMR) Regional Medical Research Centre (RMRC) located in Lahowal in Dibrugarh district of Assam has successfully isolated the SARS-CoV-2, COVID-19, virus becoming the fourth such facility in the country to achieve the feat. The other 3 hospitals that isolated the virus were: National Institute of Virology, Pune Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad Bharat Biotech, Hyderabad Highlights: ♦ The significance of isolation of the COVID-19 virus by RMRC is live and viable SARS-CoV-2 virus can now be produced in abundance in the lab as and when required. ♦ Isolation of the COVID-19 virus is important to develop inactivated COVID-19 vaccine where virus grown in laboratory are inactivated by heat or chemical and purified for use as vaccines after pre-clinical and clinical trials. ♦ Some other uses of the SARS-CoV-2 virus culture are that it can be used for drug screening for potential drugs or drug candidates against the virus, testing the effectiveness of disinfectants, use in the development of therapeutic antibodies, etc. ♦ Scientists at RMRC stated that all strains of SARS-CoV-2 were L-type and not S-type, which is slowly disappearing across the world.

    Scientists synthesize inorganic-organic hybrid compound that can inhibit breast, lung, liver cancer cells

    35 days ago
    Scientists from the Institute of Nano Science & Technology (INST), Mohali, have synthesized a novel inorganic-organic hybrid compound that can inhibit breast, lung, and liver cancer cells. It is expected that this will open up new possibilities for metallodrugs. Highlights: ♦ The solid compound is based on phosphomolybdate cluster, an inorganic salt of phosphomolybdic acid. The compound belongs to the Polyoxometalates (POMs) family, which had earlier been identified to have antitumor potential.  ♦ Scientists have recently figured out the mechanism by which the compound kills the cancer cells.  ♦ POMs are an evolving class of inorganic metal oxides. ♦ The scientists ♦ probed into the mechanism of how the cancer cells are attacked by the compound, the team synthesized it by hydrothermal method. ♦ The results showed that the hybrid solid is less toxic towards normal cells, and its antitumor activity was also found to be comparable with that of a routinely used chemotherapeutic agent. So far, POMs have evolved as a promising candidate for future metallodrugs for combating cancer.

    Indian Garment Company bagged NRDC license for manufacturing NavRakshak PPEs

    36 days ago
    The National Research Development Cooperation (NRDC) has signed a technology licensing agreement with an Agra-based apparel manufacturing entity, the Indian Garment Company. The agreement aims to manufacture know-how of a Personal protective equipment (PPE) Suit named NavRakshak. Highlights: ♦ NavRakshak PPE was principally developed by Dr. Arnab Ghosh, a Naval Doctor.  ♦ The PPEs were made considering the comfort and protection of the doctors.  ♦ The PPE is incorporated with superior quality breathable fabric to make the PPE suit and the design innovation eliminates the need for costly taping and sealing of the seam which is otherwise needed in other PPEs available in the market.  ♦ The fabric, suit, and seam have been found to meet the synthetic blood penetration resistance criteria comfortably. ♦ The prototype development took place earlier at the Naval Dockyard, Mumbai. ♦ It was tested and certified at the Institute of Nuclear Medicine & Allied Sciences (INMAS), Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), which is an accredited lab authorized by the Ministry of Textile for PPE prototype sample testing as per the prevailing ISO standards and guidelines of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the Ministry of Textile. Indian Garment Company: Indian Garment Company is a registered micro-enterprise under the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Act. Indian Garment Company is already manufacturing PPE kits in and around Agra and supplying to various hospitals and has now proposed an annual production target of over one million PPE kits using the licensed know-how of NavRakshak to meet the increased requirement of PPEs enforced by COVID crisis. 

    Gravel geometry of the Indus river unravel its paleoclimatic history

    39 days ago
    Researchers from the Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology (WIHG), Dehradun, have traced the paleoclimatic history of the Indus River in Ladakh Himalaya. It was traced with the help of geometric data from overlapping gravels of channel fills.  Highlights: ♦ The researchers studied the discharge during periods in which the river experienced an increase in land elevation, due to the deposition of sediment and its incision. ♦ River Terraces are part of valley-wide aggradations, which has been studied extensively in Himalaya to understand the processes driving such a periodic increase in river valley land elevation and incision. ♦ The researchers studied the discharge during periods of established river aggradation and incision of the Indus River, Ladakh Himalaya over late Quaternary.  ♦ The researchers used the geometric data from overlapping gravels of channel fills to calculate paleo discharges during net river aggradation at 47–23 ka (thousand years), and preserved slack water deposits (SWDs) at 14–10 ka to constrain paleo discharges that occurred during net river incision. ♦ The researchers also observed that the aggradation in the Himalayan rivers occurred in glacial-interglacial transient warm climatic conditions (33–21 ka and 17–14 ka) when the sediment budget in the rivers increased just after the glacial events. ♦ The recent study showed that aggradation took place in the Indus River when sediment to water ratio was higher during MIS-3 (Marine isotope stages (MIS).  ♦ Marine oxygen-isotope stages are alternating warm and cool periods in the Earth's paleoclimate, deduced from oxygen isotope data reflecting changes in temperature derived from data from deep-sea core samples) and incision initiated when sediment to water ratio reduced during post-glacial climatically wet phase (early Holocene).

    Researchers finds new biomolecules to fight drug resistance in Kala-azar

    40 days ago
    Researchers at the Department of Biotechnology’s National Centre for Cell Science (DBT-NCCS) in Pune discovered new biomolecules to fight drug resistance in Kala-azar exploring ways to tackle miltefosine resistance.  Highlights: ♦ The researchers worked with one of the species of Leishmania that causes infection, called Leishmania major. The researchers manipulated the transporter proteins in the species in a manner that would result in increased uptake of the drug and decrease in its being thrown out of the parasite’s body. ♦ The researcher used a computational method to design small molecules, called peptides, that could very specifically interact with the transporter proteins of L. major alone, and not interfere with human proteins in any way.  ♦ The peptides were designed to modulate the transporter proteins “allosterically”, that is, by interacting with the protein molecule at a location other than the specific location where miltefosine binds to it. ♦ Teh outcomes of the research indicated that this approach could prove useful in the long run to develop novel therapeutics against drug-resistant Leishmania parasites. Background: Leishmaniasis is a tropical disease affecting almost 100 countries including India. It is caused by a parasite called Leishmania. It is transmitted through the bite of sandflies. There are three main forms of leishmaniasis are: visceral, which affects multiple organs and is the most serious form of the disease cutaneous causes skin sores and is the most common form mucocutaneous causes skin and mucosal lesion Visceral leishmaniasis is commonly known as Kala-azar in India. It is fatal in over 95% of the cases if left untreated. The only drug available against leishmaniasis is miltefosine. This drug is rapidly losing its effectiveness because of emerging resistance to this drug due to a decrease in its accumulation inside the parasite, which is necessary for the drug to kill the parasite. Specific types of protein molecules called transporter proteins to play a major role in carrying miltefosine into and out of the parasite’s body, which comprises a single cell. A protein called ‘P4ATPase-CDC50’ is responsible for the intake of the drug by the parasite, and another protein, called ‘P-glycoprotein’, is responsible for throwing this drug out from within the parasite’s body.

    Ciplas antiviral drug Cipremi to be used to treat COVID-19 infection

    42 days ago
    Cipla Ltd has announced the launch of its generic version of antiviral drug Remdesivir for emergency use in the treatment of the COVID-19 patients. The new drug will be sold under the brand name Cipremi. Cipla’s antiviral drug Cipremi will join Glenmark’s Fabiflu and Hetero’s Covifor to treat the COVID-19 patients in India. Highlights: ♦ Cipla was granted regulatory approval by the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) for restricted emergency use in the country in order to accelerate the approval process considering the urgent medical need with a surge in COVID-19 cases in India, which have crossed the 4,00,000-mark. ♦ The price of the drug is yet to be announced by Cipla. ♦ Cipla will provide training on the use of the drug, inform patients for consent documents, conduct post-marketing surveillance as well as to conduct a Phase-IV clinical trial on Indian patients. ♦ Remdesivir is the only USFDA approved Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA) treatment for adults and children hospitalized with suspected or laboratory-confirmed coronavirus infection. Background: Recently, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare included the use of antiviral drug Remdesivir as part of “investigational therapy” in India. The drug will be used only for restricted emergency-use in its updated Clinical Management Protocol for COVID-19 patients. The Ministry of Health also approved the off-label application of immunomodulator tocilizumab and convalescent plasma therapy for treating coronavirus patients in a moderate stage of criticality.

    IIT-Guwahati develops affordable diagnostic kits for COVID-19 pandemic

    46 days ago
    The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Guwahati in association with RR Animal Healthcare Ltd and Guwahati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) developed low-cost diagnostic kits. These are Viral Transport Media (VTM) kits, RT-PCR kits, and RNA isolation kits. VTM kits: ♦ The VTM kits are used to collect nasal and oral swab specimens from an individual source to a laboratory safely for culture and testing. ♦ During this period, the virus in the sample specimens will remain intact until the testing procedure is completed.  ♦ The kit consists of a comprehensive solution specially formulated for the collection and transport of SARS-CoV-2. ♦ These kits comprise two transport media, one for nasopharyngeal and the other for oropharyngeal specimen collection swabs.  ♦ Both of these are safe to use as they are recommended and validated by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well.  ♦ The complete package of the VTM Kits will be suitable for the collection, transport, maintenance, and long-term freezer storage of viral specimens.  ♦ The unique formulation of the transport medium will help to preserve the viability of viruses for up to 72 hours, at refrigerated temperatures. ♦ These sterile VTM kits comply with the CDC-recommended configurations for viral specimen collection for COVID-19 and are packed in user-friendly individual packs.

    CSIR-CDRIs candidate drug Umifenovir secures DCGI approval for Phase III Clinical Trial against COVID-19 disease

    46 days ago
    CSIR-Central Drug Research Institute (CDRI) Lucknow received permission to carry out Phase III randomized, Double-blind, Placebo-controlled trial of efficacy, safety, and tolerability of antiviral drugs Umifenovir. The Phase III Clinical Trials will be carried out at King George's Medical University (KGMU), Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia Institute of Medical Sciences (RMLIMS), and ERA's Lucknow Medical College & Hospital, Lucknow. Umifenovir Clinical Trial: ♦ Umifenovir drug has a good safety profile. It prevents the entry of the virus into human cells and also by priming the immune system.  ♦ Umifenovir is used to treat influenza. ♦ The drug is available in China and Russia. The drug has recently come into prominence due to its potential use for COVID-19 patients.  ♦ CSIR-CDRI is to conduct a clinical trial to evaluate its efficacy in Indian patients.  ♦ CSIR-CDRI developed the process technology for Umifenovir in record time. It has also licensed the economical process technology for manufacturing and marketing the drug to M/s. Medizest Pharmaceuticals Private Ltd. Goa, who have already received a test license from Drug Controller General of India (DCGI). ♦ The clinical trial was successful and Umifenovir can be a safe, efficacious, affordable drug against COVID-19 and can be part of the National Program against COVID-19. ♦ The clinical trial application was processed on high priority as per the DCGIs initiative against COVID-19.  ♦ The next steps of the trial are being fast-tracked to enable the availability of the drug to Indian patients as soon as possible.

    Dr. Harsh Vardhan launched DBTAMTZ Mobile Diagnostic Unit for COVID Testing I-Lab

    46 days ago
    Union Minister for Science & Technology Dr. Harsh Vardhan inaugurated and flagged off India’s first Infectious disease diagnostic lab (I-Lab) for COVID-19 testing in rural and inaccessible areas of India. I-Lab: ♦ The infectious disease diagnostic laboratory is a mobile testing facility that was dedicated to providing COVID-19 testing access to rural India.  ♦ India’s first I-lab has been built at AMTZ in the record time of 8 days from the date of receipt of Automotive Chassis, from Bharat Benz. ♦ This mobile testing facility will be deployed through the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) testing hubs to remote regions of the country for COVID-19 testing.  ♦ The I-lab is a BSL-2 facility with on-site ELISA, RT-PCR, Biochemistry analyzers. ♦ It can run 50 RT-PCR reactions and about 200 ELISA in a day. Double set of Machines can help increase the capacity to about 500 per day in 8 hours shift. ♦ The BSL-2 Lab is as per NABL specifications and is being attached to DBT’s certified Testing centres. ♦ The I-lab will be deployed through the DBT-AMTZ COMManD [COVID Medtech Manufacturing Development] Consortia. DBT-AMTZ COMManD aims to address the shortage of critical healthcare technologies in India and move progressively towards a stage of self-sufficiency. ♦ Around 20 hubs with 100 testing laboratories are there in India. These have tested more than 2,60,000 samples.

    Kerala Startup partners with SCTIMST to launch IoT based used mask disposal smart bin and UV light-based disinfection device

    53 days ago
    Cochin-based startup VST Mobility Solutions has launched an automated mask disposal machine, named BIN-19, as part of efforts to develop products helping to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. The disposal device developed using Chitra UV based face mask disposal bin technology from the Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST) was formally launched. VST Mobility Solutions also launched UV SPOT, a UV light-based multipurpose disinfector, to combat the COVID-19.   BIN-19: ♦ The Internet of Things (IoT)-based BIN-19 can be used to collect and disinfect Used Face-Mask.  ♦ The device has been successfully tested under microbiological tests by Sree Chitra Lab.  ♦ The used masks will be dropped inside a container of the bin will be first disinfected by a process.  ♦ The disinfected masks which are dropped in the BIN-19 will be transferred to another container inside the Bin. ♦ The person dropping the mask can sanitize their hands with the help of the automatic sanitizer dispenser attached to the Bin-19.  ♦ The user does not need to touch/operate any switches in the Bin. The functions of the BIN-19 are automated in the hands-free equipment for the safety of users and health workers. ♦ The IoT Features of BIN-19 are: Auto Sanitizer Dispenser Mobile Application to navigate/find Bin-19 Web Portal for Status Alerts Power ON/OFF alerts Box open alerts UV SPOT: ♦ UV SPOT is a multipurpose disinfector device with ultraviolet (UV) disinfection lamps. With the internal reflective surfaces and UVC Lamp, the device disinfects a board range of microorganisms. ♦ The device will be used to dispose of the contaminated or used face-mask and for reusing the UVC stable metallic products.  ♦ The device is proven under a microbiological test conducted by Sree Chitra Lab. ♦ SCTIMST is a testing agency for UV-based devices in the country according to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) guidelines.

    CCMB researchers develop new low-cost novel coronavirus

    54 days ago
    Researchers at the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) have developed a new low-cost and low-tech required test for the COVID-19 testing. This test is known as Reverse Transcription nested PCR (RT-nPCR) test. Highlights: ♦ The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has recommended only a reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) test for novel coronavirus testing. ♦ The newly developed RT-nPCR test does not require real-time quantitative RT-qPCR.  ♦ The researchers reported that the RT-nPCR test has shown comparable performance to the standard RT-qPCR test.  ♦ The nested PCR (RT-nPCR) approach does not depend on RT-qPCR but uses standard RT-PCR as part of an endpoint assay. ♦ During the trial, the RT-nPCR test was able to identify 90% of the detected samples as positive by RT-qPCR.

    DIAT develops nano-technology based disinfectant spray to combat COVID-19

    54 days ago
    The Defence Institute of Advanced Technology (DIAT), Pune has developed a nano-technology based disinfectant spray to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. The formulation has been named Ananya. Ananya: ♦ Ananya disinfectant spray is effective in disinfecting all types of surfaces. ♦ The spray can be used on masks, Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), hospital linens, and other likely contaminated surfaces like medical instruments, elevator buttons, doorknobs, corridors, and rooms. ♦ The material is developed by synthesizing silver nanoparticles and a commercially available drug, Ampicillin. ♦ Ananya has been tested by the Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy and Infrared Spectroscopy methods. ♦ The silver nano-particles has the ability to neutralize the outer protein and can rupture the membrane of the virus, thereby making it ineffective. ♦ The water-based spray will be effective for more than 24 hours. ♦ The spray adheres very effectively to fabric, plastic and metallic objects, and its toxicity to humans is negligible.

    Titan drifts away from Saturn 100 times faster than expected

    54 days ago
    A new study stated that Saturn's largest moon Titan is now expanding from Saturn at a rate 100 times faster than scientists had previously predicted. This speed of drifting is about 4 inches every year.  Highlights: ♦ Titan was born close to the planet. But over the course of 4.5 billion years, Titan has migrated out to where it orbits currently, approximately 746,000 miles (1.2 million km) away from the planet.  ♦ The reason for the moon to drift away from their host planets is because as the moon's orbit, their gravitational pull on the planet creates a temporary bulge on the planet. This will increase the energy exerted by the planet on its moon. ♦ Saturn has a total of 82 moons and the planet has the biggest moon 'Titan'.

    IIT-BHU researchers develops face mask to annihilate pathogenic microorganisms

    54 days ago
    Researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT-BHU) have developed an anti-microbial five-layered face mask. The face mask was aimed to address a few issues to combat novel coronavirus.  Disadvantage of common facemask: The common face mask that is available in the market currently acts as a filter to stop the entry of microbes to oral and nasal airways but does not have any effect on the microbe stuck to the mask surface. This disadvantage of masks could be dangerous for medical and paramedical staff due to the presence of higher viral or bacterial load on their outer surface. Highlight: ♦ This newly designed face mask can annihilate pathogenic microorganisms that are stuck to its outer surface. It will also limit the spread of secondary infections.  ♦ The new face mask is stacked by different layers of nanometal conjugated with a protonated amine matrix. ♦ The anti-microbial face mask has 5 layers: The first layer of the mask can degrade any type of Ribonucleic acid (RNA)  the second layer is anti-microbial the third one is for air filtration the fourth and fifth layers are comfortable layers, which will remain close to the nose and mouth.  ♦ Copper and silver are de-transition elements that can degrade coronavirus and all the other members of the SARS virus. The mask is made with a combination of copper, copper oxides, silver, and activated charged silver, which can help degrade RNA. ♦ The mask has a hydrophobic surface on the outer layer to deflect water droplets containing the viruses.

    IIT Mandi researchers develop make high efficiency masks from waste plastic bottles

    55 days ago
    Indian Institute of Technology Mandi researchers claims to have developed a technology for making high-efficiency masks using waste pet bottles. The researchers have filed a patent for the waste plastic bottles derived filter membrane technology based on electrospinning. Highlights: ♦ The waste plastic bottles were used to develop a single thin layer of the nano-nonwoven membrane. It provides desirable particle filtration efficiency which is equal to the N95 respirator and a medical mask. ♦ The waste plastic bottles are dissolved using a combination of solvents and extruded nanofibres from the solution. ♦ The masks that are made out of the waste plastic bottles have more breathability than commercially available masks. This ultrafine fibres in the mask will allow less resistance in airflow due to a unique phenomenon called 'slip flow' which improves breathability. ♦ It can also be washed and reused up to 30 times.

    CSIR-IIIM received IND approval for anti-cancer drug clinical trial

    56 days ago
    CSIR-Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine (IIIM) Jammu received IND approval from the New Drugs Division of Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) for a potent anti-cancer, New Chemical Entity (NCE) effective against pancreatic cancer. The approval comes after the successful completion of preclinical development and the Investigational New Drug (IND) submission.  Highlights: ♦ The proposed clinical trial will pave the way for CSIR-IIIM to conduct the clinical trial of the important drug candidate IIIM-290 in pancreatic cancer patients.  ♦ It is also aimed to assess the safety, tolerability, and exposure of the compound in humans along with the early efficacy indicators in pancreatic cancer patients.  ♦ The drug IIIM-290 was discovered and developed at the natural-products driven drug discovery program of CSIR-IIIM. ♦ The drug candidate IIIM-290 showed excellent pharmacokinetics, oral bioavailability and potent anticancer activity in a number of animal xenograft models, with the best activity against the pancreatic cancer model. Background: Pancreatic cancer, currently, ranks 12th among the most common cancers in the world. But it stands as the 4th leading cause of cancer-related deaths. The cases of pancreatic cancer in India is 0.5 - 2.4 per 100,000 men and 0.2-1.8 per 100,000 women. The disease causes more than a quarter of a million deaths every year. It is considered as one of the untreatable cancer types, because of its very late diagnosis and therefore there is a huge scarcity of drugs for the treatment of this cancer.

    ARCI, Mekins develop UVC-based multipurpose disinfection cabinet to contain surface contamination of Coronavirus

    57 days ago
    International Advanced Research Centre for Powder Metallurgy and New Materials (ARCI) and MEKINS Industries have jointly developed a UVC-based Cabinet. The device will disinfect non-critical hospital items, laboratory wear, and PPEs in the research laboratories to prevent surface contamination of COVID-19. Highlights: ♦ It can also be used to disinfect items exhibited to customers in commercial establishments and several domestic items. ♦ The invention comes amid the transmission through surface contamination is an unpredictable risk in which common utilities play a key role in spreading the coronavirus.  ♦ The device consists of 4 UVC lamps of 30W on sides and 2 lamps of 15 W on top and bottom.  ♦ It will give a flux sufficient to disinfect articles of various dimensions placed in shelves separated by metal grilled frames to allow sufficient light from all sides.  ♦ For the safety consideration and to avoid direct exposure of UVC light to the user, the lamps switch on only when the door is locked.  ♦ The irradiance intensity is measured at various points within the box to assure sufficient radiation to disinfect all the placed articles within 10 minutes.  ♦ The partition frames in the cabinet are removable so that even bigger objects like lab coats, blazers, suits can be disinfected when required.

    CeNS develops low-cost catalyst for hydrogen generation from water

    59 days ago
    Centre for Nano and Soft Matter Sciences (CeNS) scientist has discovered that a low cost and efficient way to generate hydrogen from water using Molybdenum dioxide as a catalyst. They have found that Molybdenum dioxide (MoO2) nanomaterials annealed in hydrogen atmosphere can act as efficient catalysts. Using this, Hydrogen can be generated from water and produces water on energy generation without any carbon footprint. Highlights: ♦ MoO2 (Molybdenum dioxide) can replace the currently employed catalyst Pt, which is expensive and has limited resources.  ♦ It can act as an efficient catalyst to reduce the energy input to bring about water splitting with great efficiency.  ♦ Hydrogen can be generated by the Electrolytic splitting of water. But it requires energy input that can be brought down in the presence of a catalyst. ♦ The metal oxide nanomaterial is a cheaper alternative to the precious noble metal catalysts such as Platinum, presently employed in industry for water electrolysis.  ♦ The catalyst is highly stable for a longer duration of reaction with sustained hydrogen evolution from water.  ♦ About 80% efficient conversion of electrical energy into hydrogen has been achieved using this catalyst.

    NCVTC to develop host-directed antivirals for COVID-19 disease

    60 days ago
    The Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB) has approved support for the research and study done by the National Centre for Veterinary Type Cultures (NCVTC), ICAR-NRC from Hisar in Haryana. The researchers will screen the library of 94 small molecule chemical inhibitors for antivirals against coronaviruses. Highlights: ♦ The small molecule chemical inhibitors are known to inhibit cellular kinases, phosphatases, and epigenetic regulators like histone methyltransferase, histone deacetylase, and DNA methyltransferase.  ♦ The researchers are exploring alternative strategies to target such cellular proteins, protein-protein (virus-host) interaction, or epigenetic regulators called host-directed antiviral therapy. ♦ The host-directed antivirals will have fewer tendencies in inducing drug resistance because it is not possible for the virus to easily change missing cellular functions by mutations.  ♦ Also, host-directed antiviral agents will exert broad-spectrum antiviral effects because the requirement of host factors by viruses is usually conserved across the members of a particular virus family or sometimes even across the members of different virus families.  ♦ The antiviral weapon will target cellular proteins, protein-protein (virus-host) interaction, or epigenetic regulators for COVID-19.

    CSIR-CMERI developed new indigenous ventilator

    61 days ago
    Researchers at Durgapur-based CSIR-Central Mechanical Engineering Research Institute (CMERI) have indigenously developed a ventilator to provide help and support to the COVID-19 patients. Highlights: ♦ The ventilator was developed by CSIR-CMERI, in coordination with critical care experts of the Health care professionals. ♦ The design, controllers, and embedded electronics have been customized to ensure price efficacy and to meet the requirements of the relevant industries.  ♦ The ventilator was tested under multiple technical and design changes after adopting critical feedbacks from healthcare professionals. ♦ The cost of the ventilator is around Rs.80,000-90,000.  ♦ The ventilator will be further upgraded to meet the requirements of various other patient's parameters. ♦ The ventilator is expected to help massive substitution of import dollars by strengthening the medical care manufacturing landscape of the country. ♦ It will upgrade the tertiary healthcare infrastructure. ♦ The newly developed ventilator will ensure the availability of these ventilators in makeshift hospitals, basic hospitals, and other healthcare facilities.

    IIT BHU to re-purpose approved drugs from DrugBank database to treat COVID-19 disease

    63 days ago
    The Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB) has approved support for research at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) (BHU) Varanasi to identify lead compounds from available and approved drugs for anti-SARS-CoV-2 drug molecules. Highlights: ♦ Currently, the available treatments are focused only on symptomatic relief to help the patient overcome the infection.  ♦ It is expected that the repurposing of pre-existing drugs to help circumvent both the time and money required to find an effective cure. ♦ The IIT (BHU) researchers are working on developing new drug candidates against SARS-CoV-2 by exploring DrugBank. ♦ DrugBank is a database of US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved drug compounds.  ♦ This database will be used for searching drugs against SARS-CoV-2 database compounds as an inhibitor of SARS-CoV-2 main protease, a key enzyme required for SARS-CoV-2 assembly and multiplication.  ♦ Extensive computational and experimental studies will be carried out to identify an inhibitor of SARS-CoV-2 main protease. ♦ From the available crystal structure of the SARS-CoV-2 main protease, a structure-based inhibitor design will be done by the researchers. ♦ The researchers will experimentally validate the designed inhibitor(s) on recombinant SARS-CoV-2 Mpro Protein will be carried out.  ♦ Various inhibitor parameters will be calculated to establish the effectiveness of the inhibition of the SARS-CoV-2 Mpro enzyme function.  ♦ The study is based on the fact that the enzyme SARS-CoV-2 Mpro is key for processing and polyprotein for virus assembly, the inhibition of this key protein can have an anti-viral effect.

    Active asteroid discovered near Jupiters Orbit for the first time in billion years

    64 days ago
    Astronomers have discovered a rare kind of space object. It is described as something between an asteroid and a comet. The object has been called an active asteroid. The celestial body was first noticed by the astronomers in June 2019 when the University of Hawaii’s Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System (ATLAS) detected a faint new signal that appeared to be an asteroid in the Trojan group. 2019 LD2: ♦ The newly discovered asteroid is named 2019 LD2. ♦ 2019 LD2 has an orbit like an asteroid but the tail of a comet.  ♦ The specialty of 2019 LD2 special is that the active asteroid shares Jupiter’s orbit in an asteroid swarm known as the Jupiter Trojans. ♦ This is the first Jupiter Trojan that the astronomers have come across. ♦ These asteroids follow the same orbit like that of a planet. But. it remains 60 degrees ahead of or behind along the orbit.  ♦ The Jupiter Trojan asteroids orbit the Sun in two huge swarms, one swarm orbiting ahead of the planet, where 2019 LD2 is present, and the other swarm orbiting behind it ♦ It is suspected that the Trojan asteroids have been captured into these orbits by Jupiter's strong gravity.  ♦ 2019 LD2 is a first-of-its-kind active asteroid because most Jupiter Trojans were captured billions of years ago. ♦ Other planets on the Solar system like Earth, Neptune, and Jupiter have more than one Trojan asteroids.

    Centre undertakes Hackathon for computational COVID-19 drug discovery

    67 days ago
    GoI stated that in order to succeed against the COVID-19 pandemic, a large number of parallel efforts are being taken. The move is being done globally and nationally. Indian start-ups are working on COVID-19 vaccine candidates in the very strong Indian vaccine industry. The information was passed by Dr. Vinod Paul, Member NITI Aayog, and Prof. K. Vijay Raghavan, Principal Scientific Adviser to the GoI. Highlights: ♦ In the step to find vaccines for COVID-19, there are three kinds of attempts being made.  The first attempt is the indigenous efforts.  The second is globally collaborative efforts where Indian organizations are taking a lead role The third one is Indian participation in global efforts.  ♦ The Indian scientists are making efforts at risk-mitigation for manufacturing and stockpiling. ♦ Also on drug discovery, the scientific efforts take three approaches. The first method is the repurposing of extant drugs to see how effective they are against the virus and in mitigating the consequences of the disease.  Secondly, the Phyto-pharmaceuticals and extracts from medicinal plants are being tested.  In the third method, new drug discovery includes a 'Hackathon' for computational drug discovery is being undertaken. ♦ A conglomeration of research efforts has resulted in new tests and testing kits. ♦ These include new tests for the detection of the virus and also for antibody detection. The latter is being used for serological studies, ♦ The regulatory system has been closely engaged, combining speed with quality.

    Researchers discovered a new possibility to improve rice productivity

    69 days ago
    Researchers have identified a region in the genome of a rice, which seems to have the potential for improving productivity. The study was conducted jointly by the Department of Biotechnology’s National Institute of Plant Genome Research (DBT-NIPGR), ICAR-Indian Agricultural Research Institute (ICAR-IARI), ICAR-National Rice Research Institute (ICAR-NRRI), Cuttack and University of Delhi South Campus (UDSC). Highlights: ♦ Rice, being main staple foods across the world, suffers from a problem of low productivity. ♦ To meet the demand of the growing population of India and the world, the production of rice needs to increase significantly by about 50% of current productivity. ♦ The study included sequencing the genomes of four Indian genotypes namely LGR, PB 1121, Sonasal, and Bindli. ♦ The study showed contrasting phenotypes in seed size/weight. The results revealed that the Indian rice germplasms had much more genomic diversity than the estimated so far. ♦ They identified one long (~6 Mb) genomic region, which had an unusually suppressed nucleotide diversity region across the centromere of chromosome 5. They named it a `"low diversity region" or LDR in short. ♦ The region revealed that it had played an important role during the domestication of rice varieties as it was present in most of the cultivated rice genotypes and absent in wild varieties.  ♦ It was observed that LDR had played an important role during the domestication of rice varieties as it was present in most of the cultivated rice genotypes and absent in wild varieties.

    Scientists identify 2 bacterial secreted proteins effective in inactivating coronavirus

    69 days ago
    Researchers from Tsinghua University, China and the University of Connecticut in the US have jointly discovered two bacterial secreted proteins that can effectively inactivate a series of viruses, including the novel coronavirus, dengue, and the HIV.  Highlights: ♦ Initially, the researchers identified a soil bacterium from the gut of Aedes aegymosquitoes.  ♦ The whole bacterial genome was sequenced to characterize the bacterium and the scientists identified two proteins that can effectively impair a series of viruses, including dengue virus, HIV, and the novel coronavirus. ♦ The two proteins contain a lipase domain.  ♦ The study indicated that certain lipases present a potent antiviral activity. ♦ Previous studies showed either lipoprotein lipase or hepatic triglyceride lipase can impair (Hepatitis C) virus infection. ♦ This invention will lead to the development of broad-spectrum antiviral drugs that might reduce the clinical burden caused by emerging viral diseases.

    CSIR-IIIM, RIL to develop RT-LAMP based test for Coronavirus

    70 days ago
    CSIR-IIIM, Jammu a constituent laboratory of CSIR signed MoU with Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) to develop and scale-up a new Reverse Transcriptase-Loop Mediated Isothermal Amplification (RT-LAMP) based COVID-19 diagnostic kit. The partnership comes as testing is a vital component in COIVD-19 mitigation. Highlights: ♦ For this project, CSIR has formed five verticals to coordinate various research activities into Digital and Molecular Surveillance, Drugs & Vaccines, Rapid and Economical Diagnostics, Hospital Assistive Devices & PPEs, and Supply Chain and Logistics.  COVID-19 RT-LAMP test is a nucleic acid-based test carried out from a nasal/throat swab sample from patients.  ♦ The test recipe has been developed and successfully demonstrated using synthetic templates.  ♦ It is rapid (45-60 min), cost-effective and accurate test.   ♦ It has been tested with a small number of patients samples and validating the kit on more number of patient samples is planned and will be done together with RIL.

    WHO announced Human Challenge Trials for Vaccine Development

    70 days ago
    World Health Organization (WHO) announced that it had selected 8 people out of the several people who step forward to participate in human challenge trials to develop new vaccines for COVID-19. Highlights: ♦ Human challenge trials are trials in which participants are intentionally challenged (whether or not they have been vaccinated) with an infectious disease organism.  ♦ As per the announcement, the trials will be announced in three phases.  ♦ In the first phase, a small group of people will receive the vaccination. ♦ In the second phase, Vaccine is given to people whose characteristics are similar to those for whom the new vaccine is intended. ♦ In the third phase, the trial vaccine will be given to several thousand to test the safety and efficacy.  

    ICMR to use Kangra Tea to lower coronavirus activity better than HCQ

    73 days ago
    The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has announced that it is to replace hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) with Kangra tea to improve immunity and possibly reduce viral replication, in the revised protocol.  Highlights: ♦ The chemicals in Kangra tea will be effective in boosting immunity as they can block coronavirus activity better than anti-HIV drugs. ♦ Using computer-based models, the scientists have screened 65 bioactive chemicals or polyphenols that could bind to a specific viral protein more efficiently than commercially available anti-HIV drugs approved for treating COVID-19 patients. ♦ These chemicals might block the activity of the viral protein that helps the virus to thrive inside human cells. ♦ The Chemicals in Kangra tea is believed to be effective in boosting immunity as they can block coronavirus activity better than anti-HIV drugs. ♦ Apart from this, IHBT, CSIR has developed herbal soap with tea extract, natural saponins, and without SLES (sodium laureth sulphate), sodium dodecyl sulphate (SDS) and mineral oil. 

    CeNS develops cup-shaped design mask to tackle COVID-19 spread

    73 days ago
    Researchers at Centre for Nano and Soft Matter Sciences (CeNS), Bangalore developed a cup-shaped design mask that helps to create enough space in front of the mouth while speaking to tackle COVID-19. It has been transferred to a Bangalore based company for mass production. Highlights: ♦ The newly developed snug fit mask causes no speech distortion, no fogging on glasses, and indeed, packs well all around. It is designed in a way that the mask leaves practically no room for leakage while breathing.  ♦ The high breathability feature of the mask allows one to wear it without any discomfort.  ♦ The researchers have chosen the fabric layers such that there is a possibility of deactivating pathogens sheerly by the electric charges that may prevail under mild friction due to the triboelectric nature of the fabric. ♦ Also, it uses an ergonomic design for the COVID-19 protection mask, which is essential for its ease of use for long hours. ♦ The company has planned to produce and sell around one lakh mask per day through different distribution channels throughout India.

    IIT-M developed Parabolic Trough Collector to help manufacturers in solar energy devices

    73 days ago
    Indian Institute of Madras (IIT-M) developed 'Parabolic Trough Collector', a new trough collector equipped with enhanced energy to serve industries. The discovery is expected to pave the way for sustainable energy solutions in agriculture and industrial process heat sectors. It has been designed in a way to help manufacturers in solar energy devices. Parabolic Trough Collector: ♦ The Collector is a lightweight and low-cost system with high energy efficiency and can operate under the country's varied climatic conditions. ♦ Trough Collector will focus on sunlight on a small area where it is absorbed. It is then utilized for heating and subsequently into energy generation. ♦ The system can help to develop solar energy devices with higher efficiency.  ♦ This is in line with the Centre's National Solar Mission which has set a target of providing 20,000 MW solar power by 2022. ♦ As solar energy remains a higher priority in the energy domain, the concentrated solar power technology will meet thermal and electrical energy demands due to its high dispatchability and reliability.

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