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June 20, 2018 (Mumbai)
Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IIT Bombay) have developed a new life-saving device that can detect heart attacks early on using a smartphone. The innovative sensor, conceptualised by students Debasmita Mondal and Sourabh Agrawal, and guided by Prof. Soumyo Mukherji, won the recently presented 2018 Gandhian Young Technological Innovation award recently.
The device can detect cardiac biomarkers-chemicals released during a heart attack-using a tiny sensor, whose values can be read with a smartphone. The researchers hope that this breakthrough could potentially save many lives in our country where cardiovascular disease is one of the leading causes of death.
In India, the number of deaths from heart-related diseases has jumped from 17% to 23% in just a decade (between 2003 and 2013) and is predicted to increase in the coming years. While an early diagnosis of heart-related ailments can help, it is difficult as symptoms of chest pain are qualitative. Devices like electrocardiograms, though are promising, are not sensitive enough to measure small changes in the heartbeat. Hence, testing for biomarker proteins like myoglobin and myeloperoxidase in patient's blood is thought to be the more reliable.
Myoglobin is an iron-containing protein released into the bloodstream soon after myocardial infarction?the sudden reduction or blockage of blood flow to the heart that leads to cardiac arrest. While a healthy person has about 25-72 ng/mL of myoglobin in blood, this level could shoot up 4-8 times (to 200 ng/ml), and sometimes as high as 100 times (to 900 ng/ml), within an hour of myocardial infarction, thus indicating a cardiac arrest.
Myeloperoxidase is an enzyme produced in our white blood cells and released when blood vessels are injured or become inflamed. It is now recognised as an indicator of an acute coronary syndrome (ACS)-a condition where there is decreased blood flow to the heart. Higher levels of this enzyme indicate a higher risk of cardiac diseases.
The device developed by the researchers contains a filter paper sensor coated with a conducting polymer called polyaniline. Antibodies that can bind to myoglobin and myeloperoxidase are embedded on its surface. When the blood of a patient who has suffered a cardiac arrest comes in contact with the sensor, these two proteins bind to the sensor, they hinder the flow of current through the sensor, and the impedance is measured across different frequencies of the input voltage.
The best part about the device is that the sensor connects to a module in the smartphone through the audio jack (where you put in the headphones) that stores the measured impedance data on the phone. It is powered by the phone, making it portable and small enough to be carried in the pocket for use. It sends the impedance data as a function of frequency from the sensor to the smartphone in the audio range of 10Hz to 10kHz. These results are then displayed on the smartphone screen, making the device easy to use without the help of a trained technician.
So how does one use this device? The device needs only the sensor cartridge to be changed after every use. A small needle-prick extracts a drop of blood (a few microliters) which is then used for testing. The device can detect the concentration of the two cardiac biomarkers within a time span of twenty minutes and can also accurately diagnose cardiac disease in an early stage. It might end the queues at the ECG machines in hospitals and increase the survival chances of cardiac arrest patients by speeding up the prognosis time, say the researchers.
"A quick measurement of the myeloperoxidase levels in a person's blood would provide them with ample time for taking precautionary steps regarding their lifestyle, medications, etc. to prevent suffering from myocardial infarction in future. Chances of having a heart attack can be predicted almost 3 to 6 months in advance. Increased levels of myoglobin indicate the onset of a heart attack and early diagnosis would help in contacting a professional for the proper course of treatment", explains Ms. Mondal.
Since the researchers have used inexpensive materials, the device costs about INR 5,500 at the research level. The researchers hope that when the device is produced at a commercial scale, the cost could come down to just Rs 1500, making it affordable for countries where access to medical amenities is challenging to come by and medical aid hard to reach. Also, since the sensor is biodegradable, it can also be disposed of without harming the environment.
June 18, 2018 (New Delhi)
Army to acquire 114 in four years
The indigenously upgraded artillery gun Dhanush has successfully completed final user trials and is ready for induction into the Army. Dhanush is an upgraded version of the Swedish Bofors gun procured by India in the mid-1980s.
"This was the third and final phase of user exploitation firings in which six Dhanush guns were fired in battery formation from May 31 to June 7, 2018 at the Pokhran field firing range. A total of 301 rounds were fired from the six guns, including burst fire," said Dr. Uddipan Mukherjee, public relations officer of the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), in response to a questionnaire from this newspaper.
The first phase of trials were conducted between July and September 2016 at the Pokhran and Babina ranges and the second phase was conducted between October and December 2016 at the Siachen base camp with three guns. A total of 1,520 rounds have been fired in all the three phases.
Tested in all terrains
During the trials, the guns travelled extensively in towed/ self-propelled mode in desert and high-altitude terrains with each gun clocking over 1,000 km demonstrating their mobility.
Dr. Mukherjee said the next step was completion of general staff (GS) evaluation after which Bulk Production Clearance (BPC) will be accorded. The OFB already has an indent from the Army for 114 guns and will start supplying the guns on receipt of the BPC. "The OFB has already supplied six guns for battery firing during the user trials. Another 12 guns will be issued within a year on receipt of the BPC," he stated.
The entire order of 114 guns is to be delivered within four years. To meet the requirement, the Board has undertaken capacity augmentation to manufacture over 400 barrels and 250 ordnances for large-calibre weapon systems, Dr. Mukherjee said, adding that the OFB was confident of producing eight to 10 guns per month within two to three years. As of now, the gun has over 80% indigenous content. The imported systems include the power pack, parts of the electronic suite, and some seals and bearings.
June 18, 2018
Proteins from the Moringa oleifera plant, a tree native to India can help effectively purify water in developing nations at a low cost, say scientists.
The plant commonly known as the drumstick tree is cultivated for food and natural oils, and the seeds are already used for a type of rudimentary water purification. However, this traditional means of purification leaves behind high amounts of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) from the seeds, allowing bacteria to regrow after just 24 hours. This leaves only a short window in which the water is drinkable.
Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University in the US used sand and plant materials to create a cheap and effective water filtration medium, termed "f-sand."
F-sand was created by extracting the seed proteins from the Moringa oleifera plant, and adhering them to the surface of silica particles, the principal component of sand.
It kills microorganisms and reduces turbidity, adhering to particulate and organic matter. These undesirable contaminants and DOC can then be washed out, leaving the water clean for longer, and the f-sand ready for reuse.
According to the United Nations, 2.1 billion people lack access to safely managed drinking water services, the majority of whom live in developing nations. The Moringa oleifera plant tree is native to India and grows well in tropical and subtropical climates.
June 13, 2018
Continuing towards digitalization and moving towards becoming a cashless economy, the initiative of faster and more techno-advanced transactions in Indian Railways is being taken up, the Centre for Railway Information System (CRIS) has developed a mobile based application 'utsonmobile'. This application has the following features:
June 13, 2018 (New Delhi)
The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has been apprised of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which was signed in March, 2018 between the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the Institut National de la Santeet de la RechercheMedicale (INSERM), France.
The MoU aims at cooperation in areas of common interest within the medical, life sciences and health research fields. Based on scientific excellence on both sides, the parties have agreed to have a specific focus upon:
Any other areas of mutual interest can be considered after discussions between the two sides.
The MoU will further strengthen relations between ICMR and INSERM within the framework of international scientific and technological cooperation in fields of mutual interest. The scientific excellence on two sides will help to successfully work on health research in specified areas.
June 04, 2018
India's first indigenous, long-range artillery gun "Dhanush" has passed its final test at Pokhran, paving the way for its induction into the Army, a senior official said on Friday.
Between June 2-6, fifty rounds of shells each were fired from six Dhanush guns, Gun Carriage Factory (GCF) Senior General Manager SK Singh told reporters in Jabalpur on Friday.
Dhanush, the first indigeous long range artllery gun
Dhanush is a 155mm x 45mm calibre artillery gun and is also called the "desi Bofors".
He said that the GCF got the Dhanush project in October 2011 and the first prototype was made in 2014. Later, 11 more prototypes were made from which 4,200 rounds were fired.
June 08, 2018 (Agara)
Agra students develop solar car to protect Taj Mahal from pollution.
A four-seater solar car that can attain a top speed of 30 kmph has been developed by students of an engineering college here to protect the Taj Mahal which, as per some reports, is slowly turning brownish-yellow due to rising air pollution in the city.
A four-seater solar car that can attain a top speed of 30 kmph has been developed by students of an engineering college here to protect the Taj Mahal which, as per some reports, is slowly turning brownish-yellow due to rising air pollution in the city. Priced at Rs 50,000, the car named 'Nexgen' has been created by students of ACE college of engineering and management, Agra using recycled and and scrap materials. However, the vehicle is sturdy enough to be used ion rural areas, Sanjay Garg, Chairman of the college told PTI.
With petrol and diesel vehicles contributing overwhelmingly to the city's already polluted skyline, the zero-fumes solar car can help clean up the air, Garg said. "Our solar car can help a lot in bringing down pollution levels. It can be used in the night as well as a battery has been provided," said Sanyam Agarwal, project director.
"India has enough sunlight round the year. It can be widely used even in rural areas," Agarwal added. The students said solar cars for one or two people have been developed abroad, but theirs can easily seat four. The maximum speed is 30 kmph, more than enough for cities like Agra with perpetual traffic snarls, the students said.
The operational costs and the maintenance expenses are low and the spare parts are easily available, they added. ?If solar cars become popular, our dependence on petrol and diesel will reduce and emissions will remain under control,? Akash Gupta, team leader said.
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June 11, 2018 (Bengaluru)
Two leading Indian scientific institutions have come together with a private partner to launch a new high tech device to ensure that the growing popularity of sanitary napkins do not end up becoming an environmental nightmare.
Called GreenDispo, the device has been designed in such that it will incinerate the sanitary napkins completely with minimal flue gas emission. It is estimated that 432 million pads are already been disposed off every month in the country and this is expected to grow multifold in the coming years.
Inappropriate handling of the used pads is already posing a major challenge as the pads grow harmful pathogens causing serious health and environmental hazards. In addition, blocking of drainage paths due to the disposed napkins is becoming a critical issue.
The new device combines the expertise of the Hyderabad-based International Advanced Research Centre for Powder Metallurgy (ARCI) in the area of processing and shaping of ceramics, the knowledge of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research's Nagpur-based National Environmental Engineering Research Institute in flue gas emission control, and the skill of Secunderabad-based Sowbal Aerothermics in energy efficient designing and manufacturing.
Launching the product, NEERI Director, Rakesh Kumar, said the specially designed heaters of the device generated a temperature of more than 800 degrees Celsius, which helped in complete combustion of the used pad. It also had a secondary heating chamber with a temperature of 1050 degrees Celsius to take care of any hazardous emissions from the incinerator.
ARCI Director, Dr. G. Padmanabhan, noted that ARCI experts have designed special ceramic holders for the device to ensure that the heat is channelized most effectively. The concentration of heat to the pads not only provide reduced ignition time, higher peak temperature, increased life expectancy of the heater element and reduced power consumption.
Mr. V.V.S.Rao of Sowbal Aerothermics said that the device will be available with a power rating of 800 and 1,000 watts and a unit size of two to three cubic feet volume. It is a batch type incinerator suitable for use anywhere including rural areas, colleges, schools, hostels, offices and public places. It has been tested for emissions and reliability of performance through field trials under practical conditions. It will be marketed by Messrs Girl Care under the name of Pad Burn".
June 8, 2018
It is a silent change which has been occurring over the past one decade. The schemes launched to reverse the process of infamous ?brain drain? have finally started yielding results. The number of young scientists returning to do scientific research in India and taking up positions in research and academic institutions is steadily rising. The quality of research output of these returnees is also very high.
This was reflected in the data presented at the first joint conclave of India's top three science fellowships ? Ramanujan Fellowship of the Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB), Ramalingaswami Re-entry Fellowship of the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and INSPIRE Faculty Fellowship of the Department of Science and Technology (DST) - which cover all major disciplines.
"It is a historic opportunity that Fellows of these three programmes are coming together for the first time. It is necessary for young scientists from diverse disciplines to interact and work together because new and significant problems occur at boundaries of disciplines," Prof Ashutosh Sharma, DST secretary, said while addressing the conclave. He announced that DST will fund new ideas and projects if fellows from the three programmes come together to work on projects to solve significant problems.
The Ramanujan Fellowship is meant for brilliant scientists from all over the world to take up scientific research positions in India. The Fellows could work in any of the scientific institutions and universities in the country. The value of the fellowship is Rs one lakh per month and each Fellow receives grant of Rs.7 lakh every year to attending conferences and other research expenses. From one fellow in 2006, the number has gone up to 40 in 2017.
Most of the scientists availing the fellowship are Indians coming from America. A survey of the Fellows has shown that 69.7% are given permanent positions in host institutions after two years of joining. Ramanujan Fellows have also published more papers and got more projects than scientists working in host institutions.
"The scheme has been able to achieve reverse brain drain and has produced quality research. It is helping in changing the landscape of Indian S & T and is supporting excellence in scientific research in the country", pointed out S S Kohli, advisor, SERB. Some Fellows have helped create new centres. For example, Dr Sandeep Shukla has set up Interdisciplinary Centre for Cyber Security and Cyber Defense of Critical Infrastructures at IIT Kanpur with an outlay of Rs.15.5 crore.
Dr Meenakshi Munshi, adviser, DBT, said the Ramalingaswami Re-entry Faculty Fellowship of DBT was meant to bring back Indian scientists working abroad so that they can pursue their research interests of national relevance. Since the scheme started in 2007, a total of 312 scientists have returned to India and of them 203 have been absorbed as faculty. They have published over 800 papers, developed 46 technologies and got 24 patents. A couple of startups have also been floated by the fellows.
The INSPIRE Faculty Scheme, started in 2011, has benefited over 1000 young scientists and over 450 have been absorbed as faculty in various institutions. "It is an attractive opportunity for young achievers for developing independent scientific profiles and launch themselves in fulfilling long-term careers. The scheme provides a research career opportunity for five years but not guarantee for a job after completion of this period," said Dr Umesh K Sharma of DST.
SERB Secretary Dr Rajiv Sharma said the fellowships have attracted a number of scientists and produced quality science. Dr L S Shashidhara of IISER Pune said "the conclave of young scientists has been designed to serve as a platform for mentorship and experience sharing and not just routine evaluation of fellows." The three-day conclave is being attended by young scientists, science managers, industry representatives and university vice chancellors. Chief Secretary of Rajasthan, Mr D B Gupta inaugurated the conclave.