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May 23, 2020 (N. Delhi)
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) is likely to replace hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) with anti-HIV drugs to improve immunity and possibly reduce viral replication, in the revised protocol. However, the chemicals in Kangra tea could also be effective in boosting immunity as they can block coronavirus activity better than anti-HIV drugs, said Dr Sanjay Kumar, Director, Institute of Himalayan Bioresource Technology (IHBT), based in Palampur, Himachal Pradesh. Dr Kumar has revealed this fact during a webinar organized at IHBT on the occasion of the International Tea Day.
In his lecture, Dr Kumar discussed the benefits of Kangra tea for society and industry, medicinal properties of tea for human health and the technologies developed and transferred by IHBT for combating COVID-19 disease. "Using computer-based models, the scientists 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", said Dr Kumar.
IHBT, a constituent of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), has also produced and supplied the alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing tea extract and natural aromatic oils through its technology partners. The Institute has developed herbal soap with tea extract, natural saponins and without SLES (sodium laureth sulphate), SDS (sodium dodecyl sulphate) and mineral oil. This soap provides anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, cleansing and moisturizing benefits. The soap is being produced and marketed by two companies based in Himachal Pradesh.
"Tea catechins production process which has been transferred to M/s Baijnath Pharmaceuticals, and Ready to Serve Teas and Tea wines which could be game changer for Kangra tea", added Dr Kumar. Catechins are natural antioxidants that help prevent cell damage and provide other benefits.
On this occasion, Tea vinegar technology has been transferred to a company based in Dharmshala. Tea vinegar has anti-obesity properties. Also Herbal Green and Black Teas blended with AYUSH-recommended herbs were launched. These products could be very useful for boosting immunity against COVID-19, say IHBT scientists.
May 23, 2020 (N. Delhi)
A team of researchers at Centre for Nano and Soft Matter Sciences (CeNS), Bangalore, an autonomous institute of the Department of Science and Technology, have developed a cup-shaped design (patent filed) of the mask that helps to create enough space in front of the mouth while speaking. It has been transferred to a Bangalore based company for mass production.
This snug fit mask causes no speech distortion, no fogging on glasses, and indeed, packs well all around, leaving practically no room for leakage while breathing. Another important advantage is its high breathability allowing one to wear it without any discomfort. Further, 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. These advanced-level tests are being carried out.
"While an ergonomic design for COVID-19 protection mask is essential for its ease of use for long hours, it is often not paid much attention beyond a few standard designs. A good design should minimize the feeling of intrusion and leakage around the edges, but maximize the ease of breathing and talking while holding its place," said Prof Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary, DST.
With the increase of active COVID cases in India and other countries, usage of face masks has been advised for the general public. While the healthcare professionals can use the special and high technical quality medical masks, for the general public, a mask with moderate filtering efficiency should suffice. It should be comfortable to wear to encourage public to wear it for long hours.
CeNS has transferred this technology to Camellia Clothing Ltd., a Bangalore based garment company, established a couple of decades ago. The company wishes to produce and sell around one lakh mask per day through different distribution channels throughout India.
May 24, 2020 (N. Delhi)
Institute of Advanced Study in Science and Technology (IASST), Guwahati, has developed an electrochemical sensing platform for detecting carcinogenic or mutagenic compound N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) and N-nitrosodiethanolamine (NDEA) sometimes found in food items like cured meat, bacon, some cheese, and low-fat milk. It was achieved by developing a modified electrode by immobilizing carbon nanomaterials (carbon dots) in DNA.
The scientists pointed out that with changing food habits of urban Indians, they are exposed to harmful chemicals belonging to Nitrosamine family in cured meats, bacon, some cheese, low-fat dry milk, and fish. Such chemicals include carcinogenic ones like NDMA and NDEA, which may also alter the chemical composition of our DNA. Hence it is important to develop detection techniques to detect them.
Most of the techniques used for detection of Nitrosamine have detection limits in μM. In this study published in the journal ACS Appl. Bio Mater, the scientists, have fabricated an electrochemical biosensor using DNA immobilized on the surface of carbon dots for sensitive and selective detection of N-nitrosamine. The detection limit was determined to be 9.9×10−9 M and 9.6×10−9 M for NDMA and NDEA, respectively.
The electrochemical biosensor platform was developed using the ability of NDMA and NDEA, to alter the DNA. Carbon dots (CDs), a carbon-based nanomaterial, was used, which is already established as a biocompatible and environmentally friendly material. Naturally derived chitosan, (natural biopolymer obtained from the shells of shrimp, lobster, and crabs) is an environment-friendly sustainable material that was used to synthesize CDs.
As this is an electrochemical sensor, electrode was developed by depositing carbon dots (carbon nanoparticles) and then immobilizing bacterial DNA on them. This electrode system was used to measure the current peak. Both NDMA and NDEA alters the chemical structure of DNA present in the electrode, making it more conducting, which ultimately results in the increased current peak.
The scientists took advantage of the fact that out of the base pairs A, T, G, C, Guanine (G) is electrochemically active. In the presence of NDMA, guanine is modified to 6-Omethylguanine or 7-methyl guanine and with NDEA guanine changes to 8-oxoguanine to form DNA adducts. The DNA adducts formed are electrochemically active, which ultimately leads to an increase in peak current in electrochemical set-up, helping in the detection of the chemicals.
Some other structurally similar chemical compounds were also added to check if they can interfere with the system. But as these chemicals cannot alter the DNA sequence, hence they do not affect the system.
(Publication link: https://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acsabm.0c00073.)
May 17, 2020 (N. Delhi)
Technology Development Board (TDB), a statutory body of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), is proactively supporting the efforts of the scientists, technologists, entrepreneurs, and industrialists towards preventing and containing the spread of the COVID 19 pandemic by providing financial support for commercialization of these technologies. In addition, TDB is also scouting for novel solutions for supporting the country?s efforts in tackling the health care emergency that the world is facing.
In the last few weeks, TDB, through its evaluation process, has processed a large number of applications under various domains. Till date, TDB has approved six projects towards commercialization, which include thermal scanners, medical devices, masks, and diagnostic kits.
Hand-held thermometers, used in checking temperature, a common test for screening symptoms of virus infection, exposes security personnel and health workers to infection. Removal of current restrictions, due to lockdown, will increase this risk.
Therefore, it becomes imperative to have non-intrusive technologies for monitoring body temperature from a distance and in the crowd. TDB has approved financial assistance to two Bangalore based companies, Cocoslabs Innovation Solutions Private Limited, & Advance Mechanical Services Private limited, which are poised to provide these solutions.
Cocoslabs Innovation Solutions Private Limited plans to commercialize a low-cost solution to identify persons with abnormal body temperature in a crowd and, at the same time, provide an alert system to notify about identified persons to authorities on their phones and laptops. An artificial intelligence software solution for real-time detection using video analytics platform for real-time alerts combined with a low-cost thermal camera (basic camera with only thermal image capture capability), & GPU servers are used for real-time abnormal temperature detection, of multiple people at a given time in crowded public places.
The product includes features such as detection & tracking a person with and without mask, prediction of age, gender, race, temperature readings (fever detection), and facial recognition in a single product that can track multiple people in a real-time environment.
Advance Mechanical Services Private limited plans to commercialize Infrared Thermography-based Temperature Scanner for Rapid Measurement and Real-Time Decision Making using an uncooled microbolometer and video analytics platform. This has been indigenously developed, providing real-time alerts and analytics using AI and IIOT (Industrial Internet of Things). The product design, imaging processing software, AI protocols development, and configuring of IIOT solutions has been developed in-house with due considerations for ruggedness, reliability & affordability. The company has also developed server technology, which is value-added feature to the IIOT systems.
TDB approved financial assistance to Latome Electric India Private Limited, Coimbatore. The company envisages commercialization of battery-powered portable X-ray machines with digital display as standalone medical radiography equipment suitable for ICU & Isolation Wards. The device is portable and can be taken to the patient's bedside, thereby reducing the exposure of infection to the medical staff involved in the process. The battery back-up option is useful for a wireless workflow and continuous operation without power mains. Portable X-Rays with Digital Imaging and Battery Back-Up can be used in the isolation wards and Intensive Care Units of the COVID19 management set-up.
Financial support has been provided to Thincr Technologies India Pvt. Ltd, Pune, which is providing coating and 3D printing of anti-viral agents on the masks as a preventive measure against COVID-19. Sodium Olefin Sulfonate based mixture is used for coating on the mask. It is a soap forming agent with hydrophilic and hydrophobic properties. In contact with enveloped viruses, it disrupts the outer membrane of the latter. The ingredients used are stable at room temperature and are widely used in cosmetics.
Medzome Life Sciencez, New Delhi currently manufactures rapid diagnostic kits for Malaria, Dengue, Pregnancy, Typhoid, etc. and intends to manufacture fluorescence-based Rapid COVID-19 Detection Kit. It targets to deploy them commercially in 2-3 months. The fluorescence-based diagnostic kits are reported to be several-fold sensitive and shall be able to provide quantitative results.
Earlier, TDB had approved funding of Mylab Discovery Solutions, Pune, the first indigenous company to develop real-time PCR based molecular diagnostic kit that screens and detects samples of people who display flu-like symptoms.
"The time of COVID-19 has shown us many paths to commercialization of indigenous technologies and products by seamlessly connecting the push of knowledge from academia and research labs to the pull of market with a clear purpose, relevance, need, ease of support, transparency, dedication, cooperation and accountability. The speed and scale of TDB support are some of the compelling examples of our new normal that would continue to serve in the Mission Swavalamban-- Self-sufficient India." said Prof Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary, DST.
For further details, please contact: Cdr Navneet Kaushik, Sc 'E', Technology Development Board, email@example.com, Mob:+91- 9560611391
May 16, 2020 (N. Delhi)
Scientists at CSIR-Central Mechanical Engineering Research Institute (CMERI), Durgapur, have developed two mobile indoor Disinfection Sprayer units. These units can be used for cleaning and disinfecting pathogenic micro-organism effectively, especially in hospitals.
Called Battery Powered Disinfectant Sprayer (BPDS) and Pneumatically Operated Mobile Indoor Disinfection (POMID), these units can be used to clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces such as tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, sinks, and cardboards. Intermittent usage of these disinfecting units can help minimize the risk of transmitting coronavirus to people who inadvertently come in contact with those surfaces.
The sprayer systems in both BPDS and POMID are designed with two-stage spraying units and separate storage tanks to clean and disinfect the indoor areas by the numbers of fixed and flexible nozzles set in the lower and upper tiers. There is also an industrial variant of the Disinfectant Sprayer for heavy usage and to cover a larger area.
POMID mobile indoor disinfectant unit is made by steel frames mounted on four wheels. This system comprises compressors, piping and fittings and spray nozzles. The hand-held flexible spray arm can be used in any direction as per requirement. POMID unit has two storage tanks each with a capacity of 10 litres. BPDS unit is a cordless machine with a two-nozzle spray system and an extended arm spray unit. It has a storage capacity of 20 litres and a battery back-up time of 4 hours in a single charge. The gross weight of the system is (empty tank) 25 kg.
"Most of the disinfectant sprayers prevalent in the market are based either on cleaning or disinfecting using a single chamber storage for the liquid and are pump-based. The droplets produced by a pump sprayer are much larger in size and the effective coverage of surface is lesser. However, the CSIR-CMERI developed indoor sprayer systems consists of dual-chamber storage for disinfectants and cleaning and have better nozzle design, better arrangement of nozzles and lesser droplet sizes. The sprayed disinfectant can thus cover a greater surface area for the specified volume of liquid", said Prof. Harish Hirani, Director, CSIR-CMERI.
"The particle size and the number of particles of disinfectant are two important parameters in determining the effectiveness of the sprayed disinfectant. CSIR-CMERI is consistently focussed upon developing efficient and effective technologies to contain the spread of COVID-19. The next stage of development for the devices would be to incorporate 360-degree coverage for disinfectants and cleaning spray as well as to make it compact and autonomous for usage in schools and homes", added Prof. Hirani.
These sprayers are also equipped with mopping features and extendable arms to reach hidden area and clean comprehensively. This technology will have relevance even beyond the current COVID-19 crisis, since viruses have been existent throughout and a substantial number of cases of such influenza has been spreading throughout the globe every year. Hence, Dr. Hirani has urged the MSMEs of the nation to come forward and invest in this technology, keeping in mind the future orientation of hygiene and healthcare devices. The technology for BPDS is transferred to Power Tech Mining Pvt. Ltd. on the same day for commercialization.
May 16, 2020 (N. Delhi)
Scientists at the International Advanced Research Centre for Powder Metallurgy and New Materials (ARCI) and Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute of Medical Sciences, Thiruvananthapuram both autonomous institutes under the Department of Science & Technology (DST) have jointly developed new generation Iron-Manganese based alloys for biodegradable metal implants for use in humans.
Biodegradable materials (Fe, Mg, Zn, and polymer), which can participate in the healing process and then degrade gradually by maintaining the mechanical integrity without leaving any implant residues in the human body are better alternatives to currently used metallic implants which remain permanently in the human body and can cause long-term side effects like systemic toxicity, chronic inflammation, and thrombosis.
The ARCI team employed both conventional melting and powder metallurgy techniques in manufacturing of the new Fe-Mn based biodegradable alloys and stent having dimensions as Diameter:2 mm, Length:12 mm and Wall thickness:175 µm.
Iron-Manganese based alloy Fe-Mn (having Mn composition of more than 29% by weight) is a promising biodegradable metallic implant which exhibits single austenitic phase (non-magnetic form of iron) with MRI compatibility.
The Fe-Mn alloy produced at ARCI exhibited 99% density with impressive mechanical properties and behaved as a nonmagnetic material even under a strong magnetic field of 20 Tesla. These properties are comparable to presently used permanent Titanium (Ti) and stainless-steel metallic implants. The alloy also showed a degradation rate in the range of 0.14-0.026 mm per year in the simulated body fluid, which means that the Fe-Mn alloy exhibits mechanical integrity for 3-6 months and completely disappears from the body in 12-24 months.
During the degradation process, calcium phosphate deposits on the implant due to local alkalization and saturation of calcium and phosphate, allow cells to adhere onto the surface to form tissues.
The team is making further efforts to achieve control in corrosion rates through alloying addition and surface engineering and to employ advanced manufacturing processes like additive manufacturing to realize complicated shapes.
Based on the impressive results, the ARCI team is certain that the newly developed Fe-Mn based alloys are suitable for biodegradable stent and orthopedic implant applications. Invivo and in-vitro studies are being planned at Sri Chitra Tirunal Institute of Medical Sciences by the team.
May 15, 2020 (N. Delhi)
Dr. Rajeev Kumar from CSIR-Advanced Materials and Processes Research Institute, Bhopal, a recipient of the INSPIRE Faculty award instituted by the Department of Science &Technology, Govt. of India, is developing porous carbon materials which have the potential to replace lead grid in lead-acid batteries.
It can also be useful for heat sinks in power electronics, electromagnetic interference shielding in aerospace, hydrogen storage and electrode for lead-acid batteries and water purification systems.
The present grid-scale energy-storage sector is dominated by lithium-ion batteries, because of their higher energy density & specific power and long cycle life. However, there are some serious concerns regarding Li-ion batteries, such as safety risk, limited resource supply, high cost, and lack of recycling infrastructure. This necessitates the development of an alternative battery system with lower environmental concerns, economic and higher energy density. As a result, lead-acid batteries are still one of the most reliable, economical, and environmentally friendly options. However, electrodes in the lead-acid batteries suffer from the problem of heavyweight, corrosion, poor thermal stability, and diffusion of electrolytes in one dimension, which ultimately affects the output power.
Recently, Dr. Rajeev, along with his research group, have developed lightweight carbon foam with a density of less than 0.3g/cc, high porosity of over 85%, good mechanical strength. His group has published about 16 papers on carbon foam in highly reputed Scientific journals since 2016 (after joining as inspire faculty). The foam is highly resistive to corrosion, has good electrical and thermal conductivity with high surface area, and have recently attracted a lot of attention owing to their potential applications in various field.
"Through this fellowship, we have developed carbon foam with improved properties. We strongly depend on the energy storage system, such as lead-acid batteries used in automobiles and households. The lightweight carbon foam can replace the lead-acid batteries, which are heavy, corrosive, and have poor thermal stability. Dr. Rajeev Kumar explained."
The carbon foam developed under the INSPIRE fellowship will also be cost-effective for the removal of arsenic, oil, and other metals from contaminated water. These carbon foams are non-toxic, easy to fabricate, affordable, and insoluble in water. The raw material for the fabrication of carbon foam is easily available everywhere, and there is no requirement of any costly equipment for the fabrication of carbon foam and filtration. Such materials can be safely used in remote areas where power supply is scarce.
May 15, 2020 (N. Delhi)
Indian National Academy of Engineering (INAE), Gurgaon, an autonomous institute of the Department of Science & Technology (DST), has invited nominations for INAE Young Entrepreneur Award 2020. The award would carry a citation and a cash prize of Rs 2 lakhs to the selected individual candidate or to be shared by the group of individuals not exceeding three persons.
The award presented to upto two candidates in a year has been instituted to encourage and recognize innovation and entrepreneurship among young engineers. Engineering innovations and concepts that have been actually realized and implemented in the industry either in new processes or products are preferred, and Indian citizens not older than 45 years as on 1st of January 2020 are eligible for consideration.
Both innovation and entrepreneurship together would be considered important and young innovators from academia/research organization or industry whose novel engineering/technology ideas have been translated into successful start-up enterprises would be given preference.
The institute has sent a letter seeking nominations for INAE Young Entrepreneur Award 2020 to INAE Fellows. In addition, nominations have also been invited from 372 Incubation Centres and Start-ups all over India supported by various Government agencies, besides 29 IIT Research Parks, like incubators supported by DST, incubators under National Science and Technology Entrepreneurship Development Board (NSTEDB) supported by DST, Science & Technology Entrepreneurship Park (STEP) supported by DST, incubators supported by Department of Biotechnology (DBT), incubators supported by Department of Electronics & Information Technology (DeitY), Incubators under Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) and Incubators supported by Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD). Apart from seeking nominations, an advertisement has also been published in CII Communique issue for May 2020.
The nominations have been launched at INAE website, and last date of receipt of nominations is June 30, 2020. Interested candidates can visit www.inae.infor further details.
May 13, 2020 (N. Delhi)
Parkinson's disease is a common neurodegenerative disease thathas no cure. It is believed that an aggregation of a protein called alpha synuclein (ASyn) plays a crucial role in the pathology of the disease. The aggregation is found in abundance in what is called the substantia nigra portion in the midbrain of patients suffering from Parkinson's disease.
Many researchers from acrossthe world are studying the mechanism of how the proteinforms the aggregates, and how the aggregation results in the death of neuronal cells observed in Parkinson's disease. They believe that once these mysteries are uncovered, it could help develop a drug for the disease, which is badly needed and has been long overdue.
Unfortunately, the aggregation of ASyn is not something that is easy to understand. The end point of the aggregation is the formation of small slender fibres or 'fibrils', in which the protein has a structure type, what is called a cross beta fold. The fibrils are well studied thanks to a dye, Thioflavin T, which binds to the cross-beta structure and emits fluorescence. Scientists have solved the three-dimensional structures of the fibrils and have also learnt how to develop drugs to target them. However, these drugs do not work in the clinical trials.
These failures have made the scientists to think that perhaps they need to understand not only the fibrilsbut also the variety of intermediates that form early in the aggregation process. Unfortunately, the structure of these intermediates could not be solved yet and hence it is difficult to target them using a drug delivery technique. Also, scientists have not been able to come up with a way by which a single technique could monitor both the early intermediate species and the fibrils, which form at the end.
Recently, scientists from IIT (ISM) Dhanbad and CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Biology,Kolkata, teamed up to find a solution to this issue. The leader of the IIT (ISM) team Dr. UmakantaTripathy, who is a physicist, studies nonlinear behaviour of biomaterials using Z-scan technique, a machine that he himself built at his home institute. Dr. Krishnananda Chattopadhyay of CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Biology, on the other hand, is a biophysicist who has been working to understand ASyn aggregation and its implications in Parkinson's disease.
The team found that the Z-scan method is really a technique they have been looking for. It could help in monitoring both the early and late stages of the aggregation of ASyn nicely. They found that the protein possesses nonlinearity starting from its monomeric state to the fibrillar structure. They made three particularly interesting observations: first, the strength of nonlinearity is relatively stronger in the case of fibrils when compared to other conformations of the protein, and second, each of the different conformers populated in the different stages of the aggregation landscape seems to have a specific nonlinear property that could be targeted. The third and the most important result was a switch in the sign of nonlinearitywhen the late oligomers form at around 24 hours.
The team is excited about this observation because these late oligomers are supposed to be the most toxic species of ASyn and a method - which monitors these conveniently-can be really useful for both pharmaceutical and clinical research.
Asked about the next action, Dr. Chattopadhyay said, "myself and my team at CSIR-IICB are exploring ways to use the Z-scan method to study ASyn aggregates ex vivo using a suitable animal Parkinson's disease model, while Dr. Tripathy and his team planned to extend this method to other proteins and peptides to detect structures or conformations by systematic monitoring of their nonlinear values".
The study team included Sumanta Ghosh, Sakshi, Bikash Chandra Swain, and Ritobrita Chakraborty. They have submitted a research paper on their work to ACS Chemical Neuroscience. The journal has accepted to publish it.