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July 4, 2020 (N Delhi)
Stevioside (STE), isolated from the leaves of Honey yerba and widely used as the non-caloric natural sweeteners, can sweeten our lives in more ways than one, say scientists.
Researchers at the Institute of Nano Science & Technology an autonomous institute of Department of Science and Technology (INST), Government of India in their recent study have found that stevioside, a natural plant-based glycoside found in leaves of Honey yerba ('Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni') when coated on nanoparticles can increase the efficiency of Magnetic hyperthermia-mediated cancer therapy (MHCT).
MHCT method of cancer therapy is based on heating the tumor tissues using magnetic nanoparticles in comparison to the routinely used surfactant moieties (oleic acid and polysorbate-80) and is based on generation of localised heat at the tumour site on exposure to AMF (alternating magnetic field) in the presence of magnetic nanoparticles.
Ruby Gupta and Deepika Sharma in their research published in the International Journal of Hyperthermia showed that coating the nanoparticles with the stevioside, a biosurfactant not only improved the cellular uptake of the nano-magnets in glioma C6 cancer cells (one of the most common and aggressive form of glial cancer cells) but also enhanced its retention time. The researchers have modified the stevioside structure to make it more effective as a biosurfactant for magnetic nanoclusters synthesized in the Lab. The Manuscript related to the same was submitted to the Journal of ACS Molecular Pharmaceutics.
The stevioside coating exhibited significant improvement in the calorimetric hyperthermia activity, through particle size reduction of magnetic nanoparticles, thereby intensifying the magnetic hyperthermia-mediated cancer therapy. Exposure of magnetic nanoparticles to alternating magnetic field leads to temperature rise from 37 to 42−45°C inducing tumour cell death by triggering activation of certain intracellular and extracellular degradation mechanisms.
Controlling the magnetic properties of a nanoparticle efficiently via its particle size to achieve optimized heat under AMF is the critical point for magnetic hyperthermia-mediated cancer therapy. The INST team has shown that the use of stevioside as a promising biosurfactant controls the magnetic properties of Fe3O4 nanoparticles by controlling the particle size.
The hyperthermia output measured in terms of specific absorption rate (SAR), defined as the power dissipation per unit mass of magnetic content (W/g), for stevioside-coated nanoparticles obtained was 3913.55 W/g Fe which was significantly higher than those for other existing nanosystems at a field strength of 405 kHz and 168 Oe. Stevioside coating increases the switching speed of magnetic spin of synthesized nanomaterial, increasing the thermal fluctuations and resulting in a higher amount of heat generated in comparison to other nanosystems.
Hyperthermia output of nano-magnets reduces dramatically on the agglomeration of nanoparticles. Hence, the INST team developed water-stable nanomaterial with a biomolecule as the surfactant to address two of the main concerns regarding translation of nanotechnology-based strategies to clinical applications -- biocompatibility of the material used and therapeutic response of these nano-systems. Stevioside stands out for being antihyperglycemic, immunomodulatory, and sports antitumor action. Therefore, surface modification of magnetite nanoparticles with stevioside may provide dual targeting of cancer cells, namely with magnetite nanoparticles based cancer therapy and antitumor effect of the stevioside coating onto the particles.
Stevioside-coated nanoparticles also demonstrated successful uptake and highest cellular persistence inside the glioma cells upto 72 h. Thus the research suggests that the nano-magnets are capable of being available inside the cells for a sufficient period (upto at least 72 h) during which further treatment strategies can be employed for cancer therapy, this avoiding the need to re-administer the nanomaterials.
June 30, 2020 (N. Delhi)
Scientists at CSIR have designed an oxygen enrichment unit that can be used in homes, hospitals and remote rural areas and can prove to be very important in COVID-19 times, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Monday.
He said the unit can help reduce the demand for oxygen cylinders and ventilators.
"Scientists at the CSIR (Council of Scientific & Industrial Research)-National Chemical Laboratory, Pune have designed an oxygen enrichment unit that can be used when needed in homes, hospitals and remote rural areas. This can prove to be very important in the COVID times," he said in a tweet.
"One of its features is that it does not require #oxygen cylinder. This unit may help reduce the demand for oxygen cylinders and ventilators. If #COVID19 patients get oxygen initially, they do not need ventilators later. @IndiaDST," Vardhan said in another tweet.
June 24, 2020 (N. delhi)
Indian National Academy of Engineering (INAE), an autonomous institute of the Department of Science & Technology, Govt. of India, has invited nominations for the Innovative Student Projects Award 2020. The nominations are invited for the Innovative Student Projects Award 2020. Projects of students from three categories are eligible for participation -- Final Year (4th year) B.E, B.Tech or B.Sc. (Engg) projects completed up to July 31, 2020, for the academic year 2019-2020, M.E. or M.Tech, M.Sc. (Engg) thesis examined from July 1, 2019, up to July 31, 2020, during the academic year 2019-2020 and Ph.D. thesis examined and accepted/recommended for Award from June 1, 2019, up to May 31, 2020.
INAE instituted the Innovative Student Projects award in 1998 to identify innovative and creative research projects undertaken by the students at any of the three stages of tertiary engineering education, namely undergraduate, post-graduate and doctoral levels in engineering institutions. The award particularly encourages joint projects among industry, research laboratories, and academic institutions. The endeavour is meant to encourage young talent and accord recognition and incentives to them. Though the response to the award during the last twenty-two years has been quite encouraging, the Academy earnestly wishes to reach out to a wider cross-section of the community and profession.
The nominations are required to be sent by Principal, Deans, Heads, Registrar or Director of Engineering College or Institution where the candidate has carried out his project/thesis for the award of degree and not through the organization where the candidate is presently working. The nominations are invited for project/thesis pertaining to the Bachelors's, Masters or Doctoral level from the engineering College/Institutions. The last date for the receipt of nominations is August 31, 2020.
(For further details, interested candidates can visit INAE website www.inae.in and can download nomination forms from the link https://www.inae.in/innovative-student-projects-award/ )
June 19, 2020 (N. delhi)
Accurate testing is important to get out of the clutches of novel coronavirus. Stepping up efforts in this regard, the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Guwahati, in association with RR Animal Healthcare Ltd and Guwahati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH), has developed low-cost diagnostic kits. These are Viral Transport Media (VTM) kits, RT-PCR kits, and RNA isolation kits.
The VTM kits are the first-stop source 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, if present, in the sample specimens should 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.
"To bring down the cost of kits, we have used material that are available in the local market and they are as per the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendation. We have handed over two batches of these kits to the National Health Mission, Assam, and GMCH. We are making them in bulk to make it available to larger population," said Prof. Parameswar Krishnan Iyer, lead researcher, IIT Guwahati.
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 is suitable for the collection, transport, maintenance, and long-term freezer storage of viral specimens. The unique formulation of the transport medium helps in preserving the viability of viruses for up to 72 hours (at refrigerated temperatures).
The swabs have been designed ergonomically with a pre-molded breakpoint on their shaft for enabling secure sampling. 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. "These kits will spur development of affordable and high-quality healthcare products in Assam and provide access to world-class kits and career opportunities to healthcare professionals and students," said Prof Iyer.
In addition to the sterile VTM kits, the Institute has also developed RNA isolation kits and RT-PCR kits jointly with RR Animal Healthcare Ltd. The isolated and purified RNA is then converted to DNA by an enzyme Reverse Transcriptase (RT), which is used to confirm the presence or absence of COVID-19. The large-scale production of all these kits has commenced to meet the requirement of Assam and will be made available across the country soon.
June 18, 2020 (N. delhi)
National Research Development Corporation (NRDC) has licensed the manufacturing know-how of a PPE Suit being named as NavRakshak to five MSME clients: M/s Greenfield Vintrade Pvt Ltd (Kolkata), M/s Vaishnavi Global Pvt Ltd (Mumbai), M/s Bharat Silks (Bangalore), M/s Sure Safety (India) Ltd (Vadodara) and M/s Swaps Couture (Mumbai) to meet the ongoing country wide demand of quality PPE kits. These five manufacturers put together are planning to mass produce more than 10 million PPEs per year.
The manufacturing know-how of NavRakshak PPE has been developed at the Innovation Cell of the Institute of Naval Medicine, INHS Asvini Hospital (Mumbai) of the Indian Navy from where the name ?NavRakshak? is derived. The PPE has been tested and certified at the INMAS, DRDO which is one of the nine NABL accredited labs authorised by Ministry of Textile currently in India for PPE prototype sample testing as per the prevailing ISO standards and Ministry of Health & Family Welfare/Ministry of Textile guidelines and has been found to meet the synthetic blood penetration resistance criteria for both the fabric, suit, and seam. It is cost effective as it does not require any major capital investment and can be adopted even by gown manufacturing units using basic stitching expertise. The technology and quality of fabric is so superior that there is no need of sealing around the seam of the PPE suit, thus eliminating the need of importing costly sealing machines and tapes. The PPE fabric even does not require any lamination with polymer or plastic-like film. This enables the PPE to permeate heat and moisture from the skin of the user. It gives protection but does not compromise on comfort. This uniqueness of the PPE makes it way different from the existing PPEs which are being used during the ongoing COVID pandemic.
The PPE suit is available in single-ply as well as double-ply versions as per the need of the end use conditions. It also comes with a head gear; face mask and shoe cover up to the mid-thigh level.
With the country significantly ramping up the production of PPE suits to end its import dependence, there has been several news reports mentioning the flooding of market with dubious-quality PPE kits. While there has been a clarion call to strictly implement the testing and certification standards for manufacturers, a quality product is also the need of the hour. NavRakshak has been designed by a Naval doctor incorporating personal experience in using the PPE for the comfort and protection of the doctors. The enhanced breathability factor in the PPE suit makes it an attractive proposition to be used by the frontline health workers who are required to wear these suits for long hours and face extreme discomfort while working.
Intellectual Property Facilitation Cell of Directorate General of Quality Assurance (DGQA), Department Of Defence Production, Ministry of Defence along with Indian Navy and NRDC partnered in protecting the IP and its commercialisation. Since the concept of using uncoated, unlaminated or untapped PPE has been provided for the first time, and using such PPE was not practised at all, there was a need to protect the IP rights of this innovation. A patent application has been filed for the NavRakshak PPE by the inventors through NRDC. This technology can resolve many issues at one go. It makes manufacturing easy without requiring big capital investment. It does not require coating and taping related equipment. Therefore, foreign import and costly machines are not required. It gives protection as well as comfort to the user. Above all, it gives self-sustainability to the country. In future, it may so happen that this simple yet highly effective PPE suit may become the benchmark standard of PPEs.
June 9, 2020 (N. Delhi)
An agreement has been signed between Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), an autonomous institute of the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and Breathe Applied Sciences, a company incubated at JNCASR for transfer of technology based on lab-scale research on reducing CO2 to methanol and other useful chemicals and fuels.
The research was carried out by Prof. Sebastian C Peter and his group from the New Chemistry Unit at JNCASR. The startup company Breathe was started from the generous funding from DST Nano Mission Project and will focus on scaling up the technology to the pilot level and then commercialization.
While signing the MoU on the occasion of world environment day Prof. G. U. Kulkarni, President, JNCASR said that the institute was happy to incubate the startup in its new campus, Chamundi. ?The Breathe team(Prof. Sebastian Peter, Prof. Umesh Waghmare and Dr Rakshith Raghavan) over the last few years has undertaken several translational activities, participated in global competitions, and has several accomplishments to its credit. I wish all success to the startup," he added.
Prof. Sebastian C. Peter, one of the Founder Director, Breathe Applied Sciences Pvt. Ltd said that the milestone has been achieved from the initial research activities on the CO2 reduction and with the guidance and encouragement received from Prof. C. N. R. Rao, generous funding of Technical Research Centre, JNCASRand various schemes of the DST includingSwarnajayanti Fellowship as well as funds received under Nano Mission project.
"In the pilot mode, the current capacity of CO2 conversion is 300 kg per day, which can be scaled upto 500 tons in an industrial scale. It will take almost a year to reach the level of industrial production. Companies like Tata Steel, and Coal India Limited are in discussion with us for potential use of our developed technology soon," he added.
The event was attended by Bharat Ratna Prof. C. N. R. Rao, Prof. G. U. Kulkarni, President, JNCASR, Prof. Chandrabhas Narayana, Dean, Rand D, Mr. Joydeep Deb, Administrative Officer, JNCASR, Founding Directors - Prof. Sebastian C. Peter and Prof. Umesh V. Waghmare and Members of Technical Research Centre, Faculty of New Chemistry Unit and other staff and officers from JNCASR.
The MOU will help in smooth translation of the research in the area of CO2 reduction to useful chemicals and fuels from the laboratory scale to pilot scale economically. It will highlight the scientific contribution of a research institute translating to the industry to solve the problems associated with renewable energy and environmental pollution. It will also help in developing an indigenous technology in line with government policy.
"Conversion of CO2 to clean fuels such as methanol and other useful chemicals on scale with cost-effectiveness is the holy grail of science to address sustainable development, environmental and climate. The developments at JNCASR is an extraordinary example of converting cutting-edge science into technological opportunities," said Prof Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary, DST.
The scientific activities which have been agreed upon as part of the MoU are the development of efficient catalysts for the conversion of CO2 to methanol and other chemicals, improvisation of the process engineering to enhance the production of chemicals and fuels from anthropogenic CO2 generated from various sources including coal and natural gas power generation sectors, steel industry, cement industry, and chemical industries and integrating multiple components involved in the CCUS (Carbon capture, utilization, and sequestration) to develop a complete solution for the environmental issues due to global warming.
June 8, 2020 (N. Delhi)
International Advanced Research Centre for Powder Metallurgy and New Materials (ARCI), an autonomous R&D Centre of Department of Science and Technology (DST), Govt. of India and MEKINS Industries have co-developed a UVC-based Cabinet for disinfecting non-critical hospital items, laboratory wear, and PPEs in the research laboratories to prevent surface contamination of COVID 19.
It can also be used to disinfect items exhibited to customers in commercial establishments and several domestic items.
India was successful in controlling the spread of COVID 19 caused by the SARS COV2 virus during the first few phases of lockdown due to strict implementation of COVID 19 guidelines. But, with relaxation of the lockdown, there is a chance of slow spread of disease due to the movement of people across the country, and this is predicted to continue for some time. Transmission through surface contamination is an unpredictable risk in which common utilities play a key role.
The best way to deal with this transmission is by a dry and chemical-free rapid disinfection through exposure to UVC light. UVC irradiation with 254 nm is strongly absorbed by RNA part of COVID-19, leading to molecular structural damage via a photodimerization process and thus inactivating it. UVC exposure is the best known among the methods to disinfect virus-prone objects, including stethoscopes, blood pressure measuring equipment, patient care items, mobile phones, wallets, laptops, reusable laboratory gloves, lab coats, micropipettes, smaller measurement equipment, papers and so on. As the extent of disinfection is proportional to the UVC dose received by a contaminated surface, designing a UVC system with proper engineering is very critical to get the best results.
"Safe and effective strategies, technologies and products for disinfecting spaces, surfaces and various objects become increasingly critical in breaking the chain of virus transmission in the post-lockdown times. Simple, safe and cost-effective solutions based on UV light, thermal treatments, and aerosol mists of acceptable non-chlorine based disinfectants will thus be increasingly pressed in service", said Prof Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary,DST.
A compact UVC disinfection cabinet co-developed by ARCI and MEKINS, a Hyderabad based company, consists of 4 UVC lamps of 30W (on sides) and 2 lamps of 15 W (top and bottom). It gives 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 10minutes. The partition frames in the cabinet are removable so that even bigger objects like lab coats, blazers, suits can be disinfected when required. The UVC cabinet is multifunctional and very promising for establishments including research and academic institutes, corporate offices, hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, hotels, restaurants, commercial outlets and domestic usage for fighting COVID 19.
June 8, 2020 (N. Delhi)
The National Council for Science & Technology Communication (NCSTC), Department of Science & Technology (DST) has released an information brochure for a recently launched programme on health and risk communication 'Year of Awareness on Science & Health (YASH) with focus on COVID-19'. The brochure carries information on the genesis and need of such a mega programme in the country to address the issues of risks, crises, disasters, and uncertainties especially posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The programme focuses on enhancing public understanding and awareness on science and health for better preparedness to cope up with the present and future challenges.
Prof. Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary, Dept. of Science & Technology said that a wide array of programmes and activities built around awareness and outreach have been envisaged involving print, electronic, digital, folk and interactive media to reach out to large cross-sections of the society under the campaign. He added that the logo of the YASH programme given on the brochure has been designed to create a wave of peace and bliss and depicts a sense of overcoming the situation at large and would act as a harbinger of taking forward the messages of science, health, risk and awareness.
In view of providing authentic information in an interesting and interactive manner at the grass-root level, a comprehensive programme on health and risk communication with a focus on COVID 19 has been launched. The National Health & Risk Communication programme has been planned and being implemented in a big way with a mechanism of PAN India presence and reach. State Councils of Science & Technology have been involved. The three major ingredients of the programme include software/ content development, capacity development, and dissemination and outreach.
The activities are spread over six regions, East, West, North, South, Central and Northeast. Special communication modules are developed depending upon especially marked zones, and networking and training of communicators and volunteers for activities related to community health would be an advantage. The current scenario of the pandemic caused by COVID-19 has posed concerns and challenges all around where scientific awareness and health preparedness can play a significant role to help combat the situation with translation and usage of authentic scientific information and to convey the risks involved and facilitate the communities to overcome the situation.
The information brochure highlights a comprehensive and effective science and health communication effort for promoting grass-root level appreciation and response on health and saving and shaping the lives of people at large, as well as building confidence, inculcating scientific temper and promoting health consciousness among them. The brochure can be downloaded from www.dst.gov.in.
June 7, 2020 (N. Delhi)
Scientists at the Institute of Advanced Study in Science and Technology (IASST), Guwahati, an autonomous institute of the Department of Science & Technology, Govt of India, have developed an artificial intelligence (AI) based algorithms as an aid to rapid diagnosis and prediction of oral squamous cell carcinoma.
The framework developed by the research group at the Central Computational and Numerical Sciences Division, IASST led by Dr. Lipi B Mahanta, will also help grading of oral squamous cell carcinoma.
An indigenous dataset was developed by the scientists through collaborations to make for the unavailability of any benchmark oral cancer dataset for the study. Exploring different state-of-the-art AI techniques and playing with their proposed method, the scientists have gained unprecedented accuracy in oral cancer grading. The study was conducted applying two approaches through the application of transfer learning using a pre-trained deep convolutional neural network (CNN).
Four candidate pre-trained models, namely Alexnet, VGG-16, VGG-19, and Resnet-50, were chosen to find the most suitable model for the classification problem, and a proposed CNN model developed to fit the problem. Although the highest classification accuracy of 92.15% was achieved by the Resnet-50 model, the experimental findings highlight that the proposed CNN model outperformed the transfer learning approaches displaying accuracy of 97.5%. The work has been published in the journal Neural Networks.
As of now, the group is set for converting the algorithm into proper software to move on to carry out field trials. This is the next challenge that the group is prepared to meet, considering the ever-present gap between the health and IT sectors. Dr. Mahanta aspires for all the advanced infrastructural support to meet these challenges and feels that the software needs to be actively tested in hospitals, to make it truly robust, more accurate, and real-time worthy.
Around 16.1% of all cancers amongst men and 10.4% amongst women are oral cancer, and the picture is all the more alarming in NE India. Oral cavity cancers are also known to have a high recurrence rate compared to other cancers due to the high consumption of betel nut and tobacco.
This cancer group is characterized by epithelial squamous tissue differentiation and aggressive tumour growth, disrupting the basement membrane of the inner cheek region and thus can be graded by Broder?s histopathological system as well-differentiated SCC (WDSCC), moderately differentiated SCC (MDSCC) and poorly differentiated SCC (PDSCC). The cellular morphometry highlighting the tumour growth displays a very minute histological difference separating the three classes, which are very hard to capture by the human eye. It has remained elusive due to its highly similar histological features, which even pathologists find difficult to classify.
The advent of deep learning in AI holds an extraordinary prospect in digital image analysis to serve as a computational aid in the diagnosis of cancer, thus providing help in timely and effective prognosis and multi-modal treatment protocols for cancer patients and reducing the operational workload of pathologists while enhancing management of the disease.