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May 2020 Defence, Science and Technology




  • JNCASR scientists fabricate energy-efficient photodetector for security application
    Scientists from Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR) have fabricated an economical and energy-efficient wafer-scale photodetector using gold–silicon interface.

    The thin slice-based device can be used for security applications. The photodetector will detect weak scattered light as an indication of unwanted activity.

    Highlights:
    The gold (Au)-silicon (n-Si) interface shows high sensitivity towards light demonstrating the photodetection action. The method is highly economical and enables large-area fabrication without compromising the detector response.

    The process of fabrication is quick and takes only minutes to fabricate a detector of any arbitrary area.

    The detector exhibits a rapid response of 40 microseconds and can detect low light intensities. The device covers a broad spectral range from Ultraviolet to Infrared. The detector operates in the self-powered mode so that it does not require external power for its operation and makes it energy efficient.

    The device is also environmentally stable and can be used under harsh conditions for several days.





  • World’s Fastest Internet Data Speed achieved by Australia
    In a major breakthrough, the researchers from Monash, Swinburne, and RMIT universities of Australia have successfully tested and recorded the world’s fastest internet data speed.

    It is the first time any micro-comb has been used in a field trial and possesses the highest amount of data produced from a single optical chip.

    How did Australia achieved World’s fastest internet speed?
    The researchers achieved this from a single optical chip – capable of downloading 1000 high definition movies in a split second.

    The researchers were able to achieve a data speed of 44.2 Terabits per second (Tbps) from a single light source.

    This technology has the capacity to support the high-speed internet connections of 1.8 million households in Melbourne.

    This can also address the problem of virtual jams across the world during peak periods.

    They used a new device called micro-comb that replaces 80 lasers, which is smaller and lighter than existing telecommunications hardware.

    What you need to know about Micro-combs?
    Optical frequency combs based on micro-resonators, or micro-combs, represent an exceptionally active field of research that has only developed in the last ten years.

    This has been motivated by the prospect of creating compact and efficient multi-wavelength sources that are able to replace the very bulky and power-hungry bulk or table-top optical sources, used in many applications, with an ultra-compact and energy-efficient device.

    An important property of optical micro-resonators is their ability to efficiently store and enhance the optical field.

    For this reason, nonlinear optical phenomena that, typically, require very high-power optical pump sources can be observed in micro-resonators at extremely low powers.





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





  • IASST develops electrochemical sensing platform for detecting carcinogenic and mutagenic compounds in food
    Institute of Advanced Study in Science and Technology (IASST), Guwahati, developed an electrochemical sensing platform. It will detect carcinogenic or mutagenic compound N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) and N-nitrosodiethanolamine (NDEA) that are 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 Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA).

    Highlights:
    People 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 DNA. Hence it is important to develop detection techniques to detect them.

    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 sensor, the electrode was developed by depositing carbon dots (carbon nanoparticles) and then immobilizing bacterial DNA on them.

    The new electrode system measures the current peak. Both NDMA and NDEA alters the chemical structure of DNA present in the electrode, making it more conducting. This will result in an increased current peak.

    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 thus formed remain electrochemically active. This leads to an increase in peak current in electrochemical set-up, helping in the detection of the chemicals.




  • Magnetic field of the Earth is gradually weakening between Africa and South America, causing technical disturbances in some satellites orbiting the planet, scientists at the European Space Agency observe.

    Key Takeaways
    The magnetic field of the Earth is due to the metallic and liquid outer core of the planet, around 3,000 km below our feet.

    The magnetic field of Earth protects the life of Earth from the harmful cosmic radiation and charged particles emitted from the Sun.

    Why there is a weakening in the Earth’s Magnetic Field?
    There is no evidence as to why this weakening of the Earth’s Magnetic Field is happening as the scientists feel that the reversal of a magnetic field takes tens of thousands of years of occurring, the exact cause for the weakening of the geomagnetic field is for now another of Earth’s mysteries which is yet to be ascertained.

    Possible Reasons
    According to the scientists, changes in the flow of molten material in the Earth’s interior have changed the strength of the negative magnetic flux. This change in the pattern of flow has weakened the patch under Canada and ever so slightly increased the strength of the patch under Siberia.

    This is why the North Pole has left its historic position over the Canadian Arctic and crossed over the International Date Line.

    As per the European Space Agency, another possible reason, could be that the Earth’s magnetic field is reversing i.e. the North and the South Poles may be switching.

    Such geomagnetic reversals happen roughly every 2,50,000 years and given the last one took place 7,80,000 years ago, it was long overdue.





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





  • Scientists identify 2 bacterial secreted proteins effective in inactivating coronavirus
    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.





  • Researchers discovered a new possibility to improve rice productivity
    Researchers have identified a region in the genome of 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.





  • VAMS SafeGuard, World’s 1st Contactless Visitor Management Software
    With the help of AI (Artificial Intelligence), the software enables entry of visitors, who are only complying to all coronavirus (COVID) protection measures.

    It scans and records one person at a time from a distance of 18? in less than 3-5 seconds.

    VAMS (Visitor Authentication & Management Systems) Global, a Mumbai based startup offering specialized solutions for Corporates & Commercial Buildings, has developed world’s 1st contactless Visitor Management Software called ‘VAMS SafeGuard’.

    The software checks body temperature, scans faces with mask compliance & monitors social distancing on the premise.

    It scans and records one person at a time from a distance of 18 inches in less than 3-5 seconds.

    BACKGROUND:
    With the help of AI (Artificial Intelligence),the software enables entry of visitors, who are only complying to all coronavirus (COVID) protection measures.

    The embedded face & palm recognition sensors equipped in the software provide 100 % hands-free user authentication for various uses including time and attendance, access control, visitor management, event management, contractor module along with others.

    In addition, it has also tasked with monitoring visitors, contractors, pre appointments, Aarogya Setu Declaration, customised questionnaire for visitors for traceability and emergency notification in order to ensure the compliance of social distancing.

    What are the benefits associated with VAMS SafeGuard?

    The software can be deployed in pharmaceuticals, hospitality, manufacturing, transportation and logistics, educational institutions, commercial and residential buildings.





  • “FAITH” Trials by Glenmark Pharmaceuticals Ltd
    Keeping an eye on the rising number of COVID-19 patients in India, Glenmark Pharmaceuticals Ltd. will conduct ‘FAITH’ trials to test combined efficacy of two antiviral drugs — Favipiravir and Umifenovir — as potential COVID-19 treatment strategy.

    BACKGROUND
    The new combination clinical trial will be called FAITH – (FA vipiravir plus Um I fenovir (efficacy and safety) Trial in Indian Hospital setting.

    The two antiviral drugs have different mechanisms of action, and their combination may demonstrate improved treatment efficacy by effectively tackling high viral loads in patients during early stages of the disease.

    As many as 158 hospitalised patients of moderate COVID-19 infection will be enrolled in the combination study and randomised in two groups.

    Both the Favipiravir and Umifenovir inhibited virus infection in vitro and have shown efficacy in COVID-19 trials.

    The current study will examine whether early administration of a combination of Favipiravir and Umifenovir enhances anti-viral efficacy on COVID-19 patients.

    Hence, a combined use of Favipiravir and Umifenovir acting on different mechanisms offers a comprehensive antiviral cover on pre-entry and post-entry life-cycle of the SARS-COV-2 virus.

    FAVIPIRAVIR
    Favipiravir, sold under the brand name Avigan, is an antiviral medication used to treat influenza in Japan. It is also being studied to treat a number of other viral infections.

    It is being developed and manufactured by Toyama Chemical (Fujifilm group) and was approved for medical use in Japan in 2014.

    In 2016, Fujifilm licensend API for it to Zhejiang Hisun Pharmaceutical Co. of China.

    It became a generic drug in 2019.

    In February 2020, favipiravir was being studied in China for experimental treatment of the emergent COVID-19.

    The drug has been approved for use in clinical trials of coronavirus disease 2019 in China.

    In March 2020, Italy approved the drug for experimental use against COVID-19 and has begun conducting trials in three regions most affected by the disease.

    UMIFENOVIR
    Umifenovir sold under brand name Arbidol is an antiviral treatment for influenza infection used in Russia and China.

    The drug is manufactured by Pharmstandard.

    It is not approved by the US FDA for the treatment or prevention of influenza.

    The drug is claimed to inhibit viral entry into target cells and stimulate the immune response.

    Interest in the drug has been renewed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.





  • NASA released an image of a spiral galaxy, NGC 3895
    NASA’s Hubble telescope released an image of a spiral galaxy, NGC 3895, that, in colour and shape, resembles a coffee made by a barista.

    BACKGROUND:
    The galaxy’s existence was known earlier as well and it has been captured by the telescope in the past as well. However, the current image is trending online for its aesthetic beauty.

    The Hubble Space Telescope released the image under the title “One Large Stellar Latte To Go”.

    The galaxy, located at a distance of over 161 million light-years, is a part of Ursa Major.

    It was discovered by German-born British astronomer William Herschel on March 18, 1790.

    The galaxy has a diameter of approximately 45,000 light-years.

    Spiral Galaxy
    Most spiral galaxies consist of a flat, rotating disk containing stars, gas and dust, and a central concentration of stars known as the bulge.

    These are often surrounded by a much fainter halo of stars, many of which reside in globular clusters.

    Together with irregular galaxies, spiral galaxies make up approximately 60% of galaxies in today’s universe.

    They are mostly found in low-density regions and are rare in the centers of galaxy clusters.





  • China’s First Mars Mission – TIANWEN-1
    China has planned to launch its first Mars mission, the ‘Tianwen-1’, in July, which is expected to land on the Red Planet’s surface in the first quarter of 2021.

    BACKGROUND:
    Tianwen-1 is an all-in-one orbiter, lander and rover which will search the Martian surface for water, ice, investigate soil characteristics, and study the atmosphere, among completing other objectives.

    The name “Tianwen”, which means Heavenly Questions or Questions to Heaven, comes from the long poem of the same name written by Qu Yuan (about 340-278 BC), one of the greatest poets of ancient China.

    The Tianwen-1 mission will lift off on a Long March 5 rocket. The success of the mission will make China the third country to achieve a Mars landing after the USSR and the United States.

    The Chinese mission is expected to take off in late July, around the same time when NASA is launching its own Mars mission– the ambitious ‘Perseverance’ which aims to collect Martian samples and bring them back to Earth in a two-part campaign.

    This Chinese mission will be the first to place a ground-penetrating radar on the Martian surface, which will be able to study local geology, as well as rock, ice, and dirt distribution. Two candidate landing sites have been identified, one of them being Utopia Planitia.

    China’s previous ‘Yinghuo-1’ Mars mission, which had launched on a Russian spacecraft, had failed after it could not leave the Earth’s orbit and disintegrated over the Pacific Ocean in 2012.





  • Antarctic Impulsive Transient Antenna (ANITA)
    Researchers using NASA’s ANITA have succeeded in finding “a fountain of high-energy particles is erupting from the ice” in Antarctica which according to the researchers could be proof of a parallel universe.

    New findings
    According to a recent experiment, the team of NASA researchers found high energy particles which seemed to come up out of Earth.

    The experiment was done to identify high energy particles using NASA’s Antarctic Impulsive Transient Antenna (ANITA), a balloon that can carry delicate electronic antennas above the frozen wastes of Antarctica.

    The high-energy particles detected by device can only come “down” from space. However, the particles detected by ANITA seem to be travelling up.

    This indicates that the particles are travelling back in time suggesting the existence of a parallel universe that travels back in time.

    According to the report, the only way for a particle to behave this way is if it had changed its nature before entering the Earth and then changed back again.





  • Cosmic Ring of Fire found 10.8 billion light-years away
    Recently, astronomers have discovered an extremely rare ‘cosmic ring of fire’ located 10.8 billion light-years away from the Earth.

    The image of the ‘cosmic ring of fire’ was captured by astronomers from Australia’s ARC Centre for Excellence for All Sky Astrophysics in Three Dimensions.

    BACKGROUND:
    As observed by the scientists, the galaxy is approximately 11 billion light-years away from the solar system and is two billion times longer than the distance between the Earth and the Sun.

    It is a “collisional ring galaxy” and this is the first time that such a galaxy has been located.

    Furthermore, it makes stars at 50 times the rate of the Milky Way.

    Further clarified by the report of CNN, the hole which is located at the centre of the galaxy has a diameter two billion times longer than the distance between Earth and the sun.





  • WFIRST Telescope of NASA renamed
    In a recent move, NASA has renamed its Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope or WFIRST Telescope in honor of Nancy Grace Roman, NASA’s first chief of astronomer, who paved the way for space telescopes focused on the broader universe.

    WFIRST Telescope is a next-generation space telescope set to launch in 2025.

    BACKGROUND:
    The WFIRST Telescope is now newly named Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope or Roman Space Telescope.

    It will investigate long-standing astronomical mysteries such as the force behind the universe’s expansion, and search for distant planets beyond our solar system.

    It is a NASA infrared space observatory which is currently under development and is set to launch in 2025.

    Science Objectives
    The science objectives of Roman aim to address cutting-edge questions in cosmology andexoplanet research, including:

    Answering basic questions about dark energy, complementary to the ESA EUCLID mission.

    Completing a census of exoplanets to help answer new questions about the potential for life in the universe.

    Establishing a guest investigator mode, enabling survey investigations to answer diverse questions about our galaxy and the universe.

    Providing a coronagraph for exoplanet direct imaging that will provide the first direct images and spectra of planets around our nearest neighbors similar to our own giant planets.





  • Very Large Telescope | Formation of Planet recorded
    The recent image captured by the SPHERE Instrument on the Very Large Telescope (VLT) signals the birth of a new planet in the AB Aurigae star system.

    Key Details about the birth of new planet
    For the first time in the history of human evolution, astronomers were witness to the birth of a new planet.

    This was depicted by the recent image released by the European Southern Observatory (ESO) which depicts the orange mass of gas showing the cosmic matter of the universe at a gravitational tipping point which the sign of a star system being born.

    The planet is forming around a young star called AB Aurigae around 520 light-years from the Earth.

    The spiral formation captured by the VLT signals the presence of the baby planet.

    The distance between AB Aurigae and the new planet is approximately the same as the distance between Neptune and the Sun i.e., around 4.5 billion km.

    BACKGROUND:
    Very Large Telescope (VLT)
    The Very Large Telescope (VLT) is a telescope facility operated by the European Southern Observatory on Cerro Paranal in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile.

    The VLT consists of four individual telescopes, each with a primary mirror 8.2 m across, which are generally used separately but can be used together to achieve very high angular resolution.

    The four separate optical telescopes are known as Antu, Kueyen, Melipal, and Yepun, which are all words for astronomical objects in the Mapuche language ( Mapuche or Mapudungun is spoken in south-central Chile and west central Argentina by the Mapuche people.)

    The VLT operates at visible and infrared wavelengths.

    Each individual telescope can detect objects roughly four billion times fainter than can be detected with the naked eye.

    When all the telescopes are combined, the facility can achieve an angular resolution of about 0.002 arc-second.

    In 2018, the VLT helped to perform the first successful test of Einstein’s General Relativity on the motion of a star passing through the extreme gravitational field near the supermassive black hole that is the gravitational redshift.

    Gravitational redshift refers to the shift of wavelength of a photon to longer wavelength (the red side in an optical spectrum) when observed from a point at a higher gravitational potential. OR SIMPLY,

    Clocks deeper in a gravitational well tick slower when observed from outside the well.





  • New Trojan Asteroid discovered near Jupiter
    A very rare type of space object, which is something between an asteroid and a comet, has been discovered by astronomers. It has been called an Active Asteroid.

    This is the first Jupiter Trojan astronomers have ever seen spewing out gas as a comet would.

    New Trojan Asteroid near Jupiter
    The newly discovered asteroid named 2019 LD2 has an orbit like an asteroid but the tail of a comet.

    While not entirely unknown, what makes 2019 LD2 special is that it shares Jupiter’s orbit in an asteroid swarm known as the Jupiter Trojans.

    The newly discovered trojan asteroid has been called an active asteroid.

    What are Active Asteroids?
    Active asteroids are small Solar System bodies that have asteroid-like orbits but show comet-like visual characteristics i.e., they show comae, tails, or other visual evidence of mass-loss (like a comet), but their orbit remains within Jupiter’s orbit (like an asteroid).

    The first active asteroid discovered is 7968 Elst–Pizarro.

    Unlike comets, which spend most of their orbit at Jupiter-like or greater distances from the Sun, active asteroids follow orbits within the orbit of Jupiter that are often indistinguishable from the orbits of standard asteroids.

    Some active asteroids show signs that they are icy in composition like a traditional comet, while others are known to be rocky like an asteroid.





  • Indian Army Officer Major Suman Gawani received UN Award
    Major Suman Gawani, an Indian Army officer is awarded the prestigious "United Nations Military Gender Advocate of the Year Award'' on 29 May 2020. She served as a women peacekeeper with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) in 2019.

    She will receive the award from the UN Secretary-General Mr. Antonio Guterres during an online ceremony being organized at the UN Headquarters, New York on the occasion of International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers.

    Major Suman will receive the UN award along with a Brazilian Naval Officer Commander Carla Monteiro de Castro Araujo.

    Highlights:
    Major Suman served as a Military observer in UNMISS from November 2018 to December 2019.

    She was the principal focal point of contact for gender issues for Military Observers in the mission.

    She encouraged participation in joint military patrols to maintain gender balance, irrespective of the hardships under extreme field conditions. She visited various mission team sites across South Sudan to integrate a gender perspective into the planning and military activity in the mission.

    The officer was selected to attend specialized training on Conflict-Related Sexual Violence (CRSV) at Nairobi and participated in various UN forums to demonstrate how a gender perspective can help in protecting civilians, especially from conflict-related sexual violence.

    She trained the South Sudan government forces on CRSV related aspects.

    She also commended the UN Peacekeepers Day Parade organized at UNMISS, where she commanded twelve contingents of UNPOL, Military, and Civilians.





  • Mood Of India Portal Developed by IIT-Tirupati
    The Indian Institute of Technology-Tirupati (IIT-T) has developed an interactive web portal that can gauge the prevailing mood of any region in the country based on real-time analysis of Twitter data.

    MoodOfIndia Portal
    The portal — https://moodofindia.herokuapp.com — has been built by the Research and Intelligent Software and Human Analytics (RISHA) Lab of IIT-Tirupati.

    Users can log on to the portal and select a location and particular date and see the prevailing mood in that region, based on tweets made using a set of hashtags.

    Based on the tweets, results are classified into seven categories — six basic emotions and one ‘neutral’ category.

    As per the professors of IIT-T, “across India, 4,64,933 tweets were posted during March 14 to May 9 under the hashtags #Indiafightscorona, #Covid19, #coronavirus and #lockdown, of which 29% sounded positive, 20% were sad, 11% expressed surprise, 5% anger, 2% fear and 1% disgust, while 35% remained neutral.”

    A list of ‘trigger events’ such as the announcement of the Janata Curfew in March, extension of the lockdown, Prime Minister’s call for lighting lamps, and lifting of the ban on the export on hydroxychloroquine, among others, has been specified, which allows users to view the country’s reaction to specific events during the COVID-19 situation.

    The portal will continue to gauge the public mood as long as the fight against COVID-19 is on.





  • ARCI, SCTIMST scientists develop next-generation biodegradable metal implants
    Scientists from the International Advanced Research Centre for Powder Metallurgy and New Materials (ARCI) and Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute of Medical Sciences (SCTIMST), Thiruvananthapuram, under the Department of Science & Technology (DST) jointly developed new generation Iron-Manganese based alloys for biodegradable metal implants for use in humans.

    Highlights:
    The newly developed alloys are suitable for biodegradable stent and orthopedic implant applications.

    Iron-Manganese based alloy Fe-Mn is a biodegradable metallic implant that exhibits a single austenitic phase with MRI compatibility.

    The biodegradable materials like Fe, Mg, Zn, and polymer, can participate in the healing process and then degrade gradually by maintaining the mechanical integrity without leaving any implant residues in the human body. These are better alternatives to currently used metallic implants that remain permanently in the human body and can cause long-term side effects like systemic toxicity, chronic inflammation, and thrombosis.

    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.





  • NIPER-Guwahati developed innovative 3D products to contain COVID-19 spread
    National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research-Guwahati (NIPER-G) has developed two products, 3D-printed hands-free object & 3D-printed antimicrobial face-shield, to help in the fight against the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    The devices are expected to play a key role in containing the transmission of coronavirus from one person to another through bare hand contacts or contaminated surface source.

    3D-printed hands-free object:
    The 3D-printed hands-free object can be used to help open or close doors, windows, drawers, and refrigerator handle, or press elevator buttons, and laptop/desktop keyboards, including turning the switch buttons on/off.

    The object was developed after detailed analyses of several resources for risk measurement and on how viruses spread through bare hands.

    3D-printed antimicrobial face-shield:
    The second product is a 3D-printed antimicrobial face-shield to control the spread COVID-19. It was designed after a thorough study to understand how viruses spread through oral, ophthalmic, olfactory, and other body cavities.

    The face shield is also easy to design and it is possible to have rapid development of prototypes. It is also low cost, easy to wear, has good chemical stability, non-fragile, and is easy to clean with the existing sanitizers or any alcoholic disinfectant.





  • CSIR develops mobile indoor disinfection sprayer to combat COVID-19 spread
    Scientists at CSIR-Central Mechanical Engineering Research Institute (CMERI), Durgapur, have developed two mobile indoor Disinfection Sprayer units, Battery Powered Disinfectant Sprayer (BPDS) and Pneumatically Operated Mobile Indoor Disinfection (POMID).

    These disinfection units can be used for cleaning and disinfecting pathogenic micro-organisms effectively, especially in hospitals.

    Highlights:
    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.

    The objective of the device is to minimize the risk of transmitting coronavirus to people who inadvertently come in contact with those surfaces.

    These sprayers are equipped with mopping features and extendable arms to reach hidden areas and clean comprehensively.

    The sprayer systems 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.

    The disinfectant Sprayer has an industrial variant for heavy usage and to cover a larger area.

    The technology is expected to have relevance even beyond the current COVID-19 crisis.





  • Sikkim celebrated 45th State Day on 16 May
    Sikkim celebrated 45th State Day on 16 May 2020. It was celebrated in a brief function held at Chintan Bhawan premises, Gangtok. The function was graced by Governor of Sikkim Shri Ganga Prasad and Chief Minister Shri Prem Singh Tamang amid lockdown.

    History:
    In the 17th Century, Sikkim was founded by the Namgyal dynasty. In 1980, it became a princely state of British India. In 1947, after India became independent, Sikkim continued to enjoy the protectorate status with the Republic of India. However, in 1973, anti-royalist took place and the Chogyal's monarchy was deposed. In 1975, Sikkim joined India as its 22nd state.





  • ISRO directs startups to build local tech for Gaganyaan mission
    India's space agency Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has directed the startups to develop tools and machines for its maiden human space flight Gaganyaan-1 mission. ISRO focuses to potentially help them build products and solutions that they can exploit commercially. The move is expected to open up opportunities for new types of companies to come up in India

    Highlights:
    Amid lockdown, ISRO has identified a set of 17 technologies that to develop locally at lower costs for use in its Gaganyaan missions.

    ISRO has opened up its facilities to companies like Larson & Toubro and HAL to build its polar satellite launch vehicle (PSLV).

    The startups will develop food and medicines for astronauts, better tools to access machines in a spacecraft, green engines, life support systems including a spacesuit, anti-radiation and thermal protection technologies for spacecraft which will bring the astronauts back to earth safely, and inflatable habitats that are required for the mission.

    ISRO will share its intellectual property for the technologies, except for those that are very strategic, to any private entity that develops them.





  • ESDS launched AA plus COVID-19 testing solution to detect coronavirus
    IT solutions provider ESDS Software Solution has developed AA+ COVID-19 Testing Solution, a rapid COVID-19 detection solution powered by Deepiotics. The solution is an AI-enabled tool that detects COVID-19 from Chest X-rays (CXRs).

    AA+ COVID-19 Testing Solution:
    AA+ COVID-19 Testing Solution has been designed in a way that it can indicate whether the patient is suffering from COVID-19 in less than 5 minutes.

    The solution is a complete contactless testing procedure.

    In this method, the health officials can collect the Chest X-ray reports, upload them on a web browser, and click on the submit button. Upon submission, the device will quickly indicate whether the patient is suffering from COVID-19 or not.

    The rapid COVID-19 testing solution has scanned over 1000s' of CXRs obtained from countries, including the US, UK and Italy, and India.





  • Antimicrobial composite materials and Testing Protocols for PPEs developed by IISC
    A team of researchers from IISc Bengaluru has developed a three-layered antimicrobial composite material of low-cost for making masks.

    Another team is involved in testing of masks and developing a way of recycling them.

    Anti-microbial composite materials
    The material of the mask consists of 3 layers.

    The outermost layer is made of polyester fabric with polymeric nanofibre deposited on it to make it water repelant.

    The middle layer is also a polyester fabric on both sides of which polymeric nanofibres containing antiviral and antibacterial agents are deposited.

    This layer inactivates both bacteria and virus when it comes into contact with it.

    The middle layer also has positively charged polymer (polycations) which inactivate the microbes that come in contact with this layer

    The innermost layer is a comfort layer consisting of cotton fabric.





  • Ashwagandha against Covid-19
    Researchers of IIT-Delhi in collaboration with Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) have recently found that the ayurvedic herb Ashwagandha has “therapeutic and preventive value” against Covid-19 infection.

    Ashwagandha against COVID-19
    Drug designing, devising and development using informatics and experimental tools across the world has been triggered by the publication of the coronavirus genome and structure.

    Researchers from IIT-Delhi and AIST have used Ashwagandha and propolis based compounds in order to target the main enzyme of coronavirus, known as the Main protease or Mpro.

    Main protease or Mpro plays a key role in mediating viral replication.

    Enzymes are biological molecules (typically proteins) that regulate the rate of virtually all of the chemical reactions that take place within living organisms. E.g digestion.

    Replication is the process by which a DNA molecule is copied to produce two identical DNA molecules.

    In replication whenever a cell divides, the two new daughter cells contain the same genetic information, or DNA, as the parent cell.

    The researchers have found that Withanone (Wi-N), a natural compound derived from Ashwagandha and Caffeic Acid Phenethyl Ester (CAPE), an active ingredient of New Zealand propolis, have the potential to interact with and block the activity of Mpro.

    Recently, the Indian government has also set up a task force to launch its clinical research studies on some Ayurvedic medicines that can be used to boost the immune system and control coronavirus.

    The government has also launched the ‘AYUSH Sanjivani’ App.

    The app intends to generate data on usage of AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, Sowa-rigpa and Homoeopathy) advocacies and measures among the population and its impact in prevention of Covid-19.





  • ICMR Clinical Trials begins on BCG Vaccine to treat Coronavirus infected patients
    Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) is to conduct a 10-month trial on the Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine. The trial is to find a vaccine to prevent COVID-19.

    BCG vaccine:
    BCG vaccine is derived from an isolate of Mycobacterium Bovis. It uses a live attenuated strain where the potency of the pathogen is artificially disabled, but identifying characters are retained. This method is used across the world, including in India for decades, against tuberculosis (TB).

    ICMR's Trial:
    The trial conducted by the ICMR will focus on the vaccine's potential in reducing the chance of COVID-19 death, especially among those who are above age 60. With new finalized details of this study, results could be seen as early as March 2021. The study covers over 1,450 elderly people in six red and orange zones across the country.




  • COVID-19 RNA Extraction Kit | Agappe Chitra Magna
    The commercial launch of COVID-19 RNA Extraction Kit known as the “Agappe Chitra Magna” has been organized by the SCTIMST in collaboration with Agappe Diagnostics Ltd.

    What you need to know about “Agappe Chitra Magna”?
    The RNA Extraction Kit, the “Agappe Chitra Magna“, has been developed by the Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST) – Trivandrum, an Institute of National Importance of the Department of Science and Technology (DST) along with Agappe Diagnostics Ltd, which is an in-vitro diagnostics manufacturing company based in Cochin.

    After this launch, the Chitra Magna, an innovative RNA extraction kit, will now be available in the market as Agappe Chitra Magna RNA Isolation Kit.

    The kit has been independently validated at National Institute of Virology for Covid19 RNA isolation.

    The country’s drug regulatory authority, Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO), has given approval for the commercialization of this kit.

    The application of the kit can be seen in RNA extraction for RT-LAMP, RT-qPCR, RT-PCR and other isothermal and PCR based protocols for the detection of SARS-COV-2.

    Significant for India
    According to an estimation, there would be a requirement of about 8 lakh RNA extraction kits in India per month during the next six months.

    Owing to this fact, Agappe Chitra Magna RNA Isolation Kit, which is priced around Rs. 150 per kit is expected to reduce the cost of testing and the also the dependence of the country on imported kits which cost around Rs 300.




  • Platform for detecting Carcinogenic compounds in food
    Institute of Advanced Study in Science and Technology (IASST), Guwahati, has developed an electrochemical sensing platform for detecting carcinogenic or mutagenic compounds found in food.

    Carcinogenic compounds in food?
    The study is for the detection of 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.

    Most of the techniques used for detection of Nitrosamine have detection limits in µM. In this study published, the detection limit was determined to be 9.9×10-9 M and 9.6×10-9 M for NDMA and NDEA, respectively.

    Working of the Platform
    The electrochemical biosensor platform was developed using the ability of NDMA and NDEA, to alter the DNA. The 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 carbon dots.

    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.





  • IIT-Guwahati scientists discover new ways to prevent memory loss due to Alzheimer
    Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Guwahati have discovered a new method to help prevent or reduce short-term memory losses associated with Alzheimer's disease.

    In this method, the researchers used 'Trojan peptides' to arrest the aggregation of the neurotoxic molecules.

    Highlights:
    The idea of using 'Trojan peptide' was initiated from the mythological "Trojan Horse" used as subterfuge by the Greeks in the battle of Troy.

    The researchers have designed Trojan peptides by adopting a similar approach of deceit to impede the aggregation of the amyloid peptide. It will arrest the formation of toxic fibrillar assemblies and reduce the poisoning of nerve cells that leads to memory loss.

    This new method is expected to extend the onset of Alzheimer's disease.

    It will be tested in animal models and clinical trials. After a successful trial, it will be brought in such new therapeutic approaches into human treatment.

    In 2019, IIT-Guwahati scientists discovered that a low-voltage, safe electrical field that can reduce the formation and accumulation of toxic neurodegenerative molecules that cause short-term memory loss in Alzheimer's disease. They also found that the external electric and magnetic field modulates the structure of these peptide molecules. Upon exposure to the electric field, the degeneration of nerve cells could extent 17-35%. Objectively, the method will translate to about a 10 years delay in the onset of the disease.





  • CSIR approves project to neutralize SARS-CoV-2 in COVID-19 patients
    CSIR through the New Millennium Indian Technology Leadership Initiative (NMITLI) program approved a project towards the development of human monoclonal antibodies (hmAbs) that can neutralize SARS-CoV-2 in coronavirus infected patients.

    hmAbs:
    The project on the generation of neutralizing human monoclonal antibodies as a therapeutic strategy will be implemented by a multi-institutional and multi-disciplinary team.

    The team comprises academic institutes and industry with participants from NCCS, IIT-Indore, PredOmix Technologies Pvt. Ltd. and Bharat Biotech International Ltd (BBIL).

    The project aims to generate hmAbs to SARS-CoV-2 from the convalescent phase of COVID-19 patients and select high affinity and neutralizing antibodies.

    The project will also anticipate future adaptation of the virus and generate hmAbs clones that can neutralize the mutated virus so that could be readily used for combating future SARS-CoV infections.

    BBIL is the commercial partner of the project and is responsible for subsequent development and commercialization of the hmAbs generated.

    CSIR is leading the fight against COVID-19 using a multi-pronged approach and multiple models of engagement.

    CSIR is also supporting new ideas and projects from other academics and industries through its flagship NMITLI program.




  • China successfully launched Long March-5B, its most powerful rocket into orbit
    China successfully launched its most powerful rocket "Long March-5B" on its maiden voyage into orbit on 5 May. The rocket was blasted off from the Wenchang Space Launch Center in Hainan, China.

    Long March-5B:
    Long March-5B is a 176-foot-long rocket. It has been designed to shuttle astronauts to low-Earth orbit or even around the moon.

    The new-generation spacecraft was developed for the operation of China's space station and manned space exploration.

    The spacecraft will be reusable.

    The Chinese rocket is powered by a pair of hydrogen-fueled YF-77 core stage engines and 8 kerosene-fueled booster engines. It can haul up a 55,000 pound payload into orbit with almost 2.4 million pounds of thrust.

    Long March-5B rocket hoisted a massive, 67-foot-long prototype capsule designed to carry a crew of six into space.




  • Scientists found a seasonal advancement in 220 surge-type glaciers in the Karakoram Range
    Scientists from Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology (WIHG), Dehradun have found a seasonal advancement in 220 surge-type glaciers in the Karakoram Range of Ladakh through a detailed assessment of some major surging glaciers of the Karakoram range using satellite images and thermal data.

    The scientist carried out a detailed assessment of some major surging glaciers of the Karakoram range using multi-temporal and multi-sensor satellite images including Landsat 8 OLI, ASTER and Sentinel-2, Digital Elevation Models (DEM) and thermal data.

    Surging or Surge-type glaciers are a certain type of glaciers that have shown advancement in volume and length over a period of time.

    Highlights:
    The study will help to understand the diversity of glacial behaviour and help make accurate assessments of individual glacier mass balances for disaster planning and management.

    The behaviour of Surging glaciers representing 40% of the total glaciated area of the Karakoram goes against the normal trend of considerable reduction in volume and length of most glaciers in the Himalaya in recent decades.

    The scientist inferred that surge during winter is more hydrologically controlled due to staggered subglacial flow and low amount of meltwater. The surging terminates in summer due to channelized flow of meltwater and considerable heterogeneity in movement is also observed during summer and springtimes.





  • DCGI approved drug trial of phytopharmaceutical, favipiravir to treat COVID-19 patient
    The Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) approved the clinical trials of the drugs namely, phytopharmaceutical and favipiravir for the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).

    Highlights:
    With this approval, CSIR will begin the clinical trial of two drugs to treat COVID-19 patients. The drug trial will begin soon. CSIR has already been working with pharmaceutical companies for the solution to control COVID-19.

    Favipiravir is a proven anti-influenza drug used in Japan, China, and other countries.

    CSIR is also exploring a native herb as a biological medicine or phytopharmaceutical. It is already being tested as medicine for dengue for its efficacy to combat COVID-19. It is a herbal medicine extracted from plants.





  • ICMR-NIV develops COVID KAVACH ELISA for antibody detection for COVID-19 infection
    Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)-National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune has developed and validated the indigenous IgG ELISA test 'COVID KAVACH ELISA' for antibody detection for COVID-19.

    COVID KAVACH ELISA:
    The robust indigenous IgG ELISA test has been named as “COVID KAVACH ELISA” in line with the Make in India initiative in record time.

    The IgG ELISA test will play a critical role in surveillance of the proportion of population exposed to SARS-CoV-2 Coronavirus infection.

    Scientific team of NIV has successfully isolated the SARS-CoV-2 virus from laboratory confirmed patients in India. This has led to the development of indigenous diagnostics for SARS-CoV-2.

    For this purpose, ICMR has partnered with Zydus Cadila for mass-scale production of the ELISA test kits.

    After developing the test at ICMR-NIV, the technology has been transferred for mass-scale production to Zydus Cadila, which is an innovation-driven global healthcare company.





  • RCI develops DRUVS, automated UV system to sanitise electronic gadgets
    Hyderabad based Research Centre Imarat (RCI), Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) premier lab, has developed Defence Research Ultraviolet Sanitiser (DRUVS), an automated contactless ultraviolet C (UVC) sanitisation cabinet.

    DRUVS cabinet:
    The cabinet has been designed to sanitise mobile phones, iPads, laptops, currency notes, cheque leafs, challans, passbooks, paper, envelopes, etc.

    The DRUVS cabinet has a contactless operation, which is very important to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

    The operation is made automatic and contactless as the proximity sensor switches are clubbed with a drawer opening and closing mechanism.

    It provides 360-degree exposure of UVC to the objects placed inside the cabinet. After sanitizing it, the system goes into sleep mode, and hence the operator need not wait or stand near the device.

    NOTESCLEAN:
    In another development, RCI has developed an automated UVC currency sanitising device, called NOTESCLEAN. Bundles of currency notes can be sanitised using DRUVS. Disinfection of each currency note using it will be a time-consuming process. For that purpose, a sanitising technique has been developed, where one has to just place the loose currency notes at the input slot of the device. It picks the notes one by one and makes them pass through a series of UVC lamps for complete disinfection.





  • DBT-BIRAC approves funding for 70 Proposals for funding in Vaccines, Diagnostics
    Department of Biotechnology and Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) had invited applications for COVID-19 Research Consortium to urgently develop safe and effective Biomedical solutions against SARS CoV-2. The move aims to provide an accelerator approach for vaccine development.

    Highlights:
    Under the research consortium, DBT and BIRAC evaluated applications with an intent to support Industry/ Academia and Jointly Academia & Industry for developing Diagnostics, Vaccines, Novel Therapeutics, Repurposing of Drugs or any other intervention for control of COVID-19.

    Under the move, 70 proposals of devices, diagnostics, vaccine candidates, therapeutics, and other interventions have been recommended for receiving financial support.

    The shortlisted proposals include 10 Vaccines candidates, 34 Diagnostics products or scale-up facilities, 10 Therapeutics options, 2 proposals on Drug Repurposing, and 14 projects which are categorized as preventive interventions.

    The participating candidates have been enhanced by providing support for the development of the Next-generation mRNA vaccine for a lipid encapsulated mRNA based vaccine.

    In order to ensure complete indigenization of COVID diagnostics, DBT BIRAC has already provided support to the companies conducting research to scale-up the production of RT PCR kits.

    BIRAC has created a provision to fund COVID-19 solutions that are ready for immediate deployment under a 'Fast Track Review Process'.

    DBT has also launched a National Biomedical Resource Indigenization Consortium (NBRIC) in a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model to foster indigenous innovation focused on developing reagents and resources for diagnostics, vaccines, and therapeutics for COVID19 which is in partnership with ABLE and CII and is being hosted by C-CAMP.





  • ICMR to participate in Solidarity trial by WHO for COVID-19 treatment
    The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) participated in the launch of the global 'Solidarity' trial by the World Health Organisation (WHO). The aim of the trial is to help find an effective treatment for COVID-19.

    Highlights:
    The international clinical trial 'Solidarity' compares four treatment options against the standard of care to assess their relative effectiveness against COVID-19.

    Four potential anti-viral agents, Remdesivir, Chloroquine/Hydroxychloroquine, and Lopinavir-Ritonavir with Interferon will be evaluated in the trial.

    The solidarity trial focuses to discover whether any of the drugs slow the disease's progression or improve survival, by enrolling patients in multiple countries. This special feature of the initiative is it provides both speed and scale.

    ICMR-National AIDS Research Institute (NARI) is the national coordination site for the trial in India.





  • Low cost PPE developed by Indian Navy for rapid mass production to be patented
    Intellectual Property Facilitation Cell (IPFC) of Ministry of Defence, in association with National Research Development Corporation (NRDC), has filed a patent for the low-cost Medical Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) developed by Indian Navy. The aim is to initiate a rapid mass production.

    Low cost PPE:
    The PPE is made of a special fabric that affords a high level of protection along with high breathability as against other PPEs available in the market. The PPE will be suitable for use in hot and humid weather conditions as prevalent in India.

    The technology has been tested, validated, and approved by ICMR approved Testing Lab. A pilot batch of PPEs has already been produced at Naval Dockyard Mumbai.

    The commencement of low-cost PPE for mass production is to be done by a core team of the Indian Navy, IPFC, and NRDC. Also, eligible firms will be identified by NRDC for taking up licensed production of the PPEs on a fast track.





  • ARI develops novel process for synthesis of Quantum Dots used in photographing cellular organelles
    Researchers from Agharkar Research Institute (ARI), Pune developed a new process for the synthesis of quantum efficient and biocompatible quantum dots (QDs). It can be used in capturing images of cellular organelles and processes within the visible wavelength ranges across the electromagnetic spectrum.

    Highlights:
    Bioimaging applications such as visualization of cellular organelles, tracking cellular processes, etc. rely on the traditional fluorophores which are fluorescent chemical compounds that can re-emit light upon excitation.

    The sefluorophores are vulnerable to photobleaching, have low signal intensity, and overlapping spectra which restrict their use, particularly in multispectral bioimaging.

    Quantum Dots overcomes the issues faced in traditional fluorophores.

    The synthesized QDs were rendered biocompatible by coating with silicone. The coating provides biocompatibility, enhanced quantum efficiency, and photostability.

    The method could make industry viable by automation and could be scaled-up in the future.

    This will pave the way for cost-efficient production of monodispersed, quantum efficient, photostable, and biocompatible quantum dots, that might serve as an excellent alternative to traditional fluorophores.





  • Men are more vulnerable to coronavirus than women
    Researchers have found that men seem to be more vulnerable to COVID-19 than women. It suggested the reason might be related to the concentration of the enzyme Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2 (ACE2) in the blood of men and women.

    Key Findings:
    The ACE2 enzyme in blood responds to the novel coronavirus and enables it to infect the human cell.

    ACE2 is also a receptor present on the surface of healthy cells. The SARS-CoV-2 virus uses this receptor to enter inside cells. ACE2 receptors are present in abundance in the lungs, heart, kidneys, and testes.

    The study found men have higher concentrations of ACE2 in their blood than women. It also showed heart failure patients who are taking a certain class of drugs, called RAAS inhibitors, did not have higher concentrations of ACE2 in their blood. ut, some studies suggested RAAS inhibitors might increase ACE2 concentrations in blood plasma, which in turn increases the risk of COVID-19 infection for cardiovascular patients taking these drugs.





  • DST INSPIRE develops lightweight carbon foam that can replace lead batteries
    INSPIRE under the Department of Science & Technology (DST), Government of India has developed porous carbon materials that have the potential to replace the lead grid in lead-acid batteries.

    The carbon foam was developed by Dr. Rajeev Kumar from CSIR-Advanced Materials and Processes Research Institute, Bhopal, a recipient of the INSPIRE Faculty Award.

    Highlights:
    The carbon foams are non-toxic, easy to fabricate, affordable, and insoluble in water.

    It is cost-effective for the removal of arsenic, oil, and other metals from contaminated water.

    It can be used for heat sinks in power electronics, electromagnetic interference shielding in aerospace, hydrogen storage, and electrode for lead-acid batteries and water purification systems.

    The carbon foam has been developed with a density of less than 0.3g/cc, high porosity of over 85%, good mechanical strength.

    The foam is highly resistant to corrosion. It has good electrical and thermal conductivity with the high surface area.

    The carbon foams have recently attracted a lot of attention owing to their potential applications in various fields.





  • JNCASR develop injectable Silk Fibroin-based hydrogel for sustained Insulin delivery in diabetic patients
    Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR) has developed an injectable Silk fibroin-based hydrogel for sustained insulin delivery in diabetic patients.

    Highlights:
    The injectable Silk fibroin-based hydrogel is developed using the biocompatible additives, The injectable SF hydrogel (iSFH) can ease insulin delivery in diabetic patients.

    The injection was tested on diabetic rats.

    The injection of insulin with-iSFH formed an active depot under the skin from which the insulin trickled out slowly and restored the physiological glucose homeostasis for a prolonged period of 4 days with no risks of low blood sugar through sudden bursts of high concentration of insulin into the blood.

    The iSFH is expected to be an effective insulin delivery tool for diabetic patients with excellent mechanical strength, biocompatibility, encapsulation, storage, and demonstration of its sustained delivery of active insulin in the diabetic animal.





  • NASA partners with private companies for Moon-to-Mars campaign
    The US space agency NASA has partnered with SpaceX, Blue Origin and Dynetics to build lunar landing systems that can carry astronauts to the moon by 2024. The mission is accelerated under the space agency's Moon-to-Mars campaign.

    Moon-to-Mars campaign:
    NASA is planning for a long-term presence on Moon so that it will eventually enable humans to reach Mars. For this campaign, NASA is leaning heavily on private companies built around shared visions for space exploration.

    In 2019, Jeff Bezos unveiled Blue Origin's design for the lunar lander, Blue Moon.

    SpaceX is on the verge of launching its first manned mission for NASA in June 2020. The company also plans to develop its Starship landing system to send a crew and up to 100 pounds of cargo to the moon.

    For this project, the three companies will share $967 million from NASA.





  • Jadavpur University students develop device that analyzes if a coughing person is a COVID-19 carrier
    Students from Jadavpur University, Kolkata have developed an intelligent device that will analyze if a coughing person is a COVID-19 carrier. The two undergraduate students are from the Department of Electronics and Telecommunication Engineering of the University.

    Highlights:
    The device can track a coughing person and analyze if the same person is a possible suspect of COVID-19.

    The device can be used in the first level of the screening system. It will identify the COVID-19 carrier with available data. It will help to contain the spread of the disease.

    The non-contact device has embedded images and sound sensors.

    The device will work even if the person is away from the device and can even identify multiple coughing persons at the same time.

    The device can be used in quarantine centres, office- spaces, classrooms, or built-up areas with gatherings for monitoring the people present there.

    The device can also be used in drones to identify COVID-19 suspects in public places in the open.

    The device received a positive response from the ICMR Kolkata.





  • CRRI developed Kisan Sabha App to connect farmers
    CSIR-Central Road Research Institute (CSIR-CRRI), New Delhi developed Kisan Sabha App to connect farmers to supply chain and freight transportation management systems. The app was remotely launched on 1 May by DG, ICAR, and Secretary DARE, Dr. Trilochan Mohapatra. The portal aims to act as a one-stop solution for farmers, transporters, and other entities engaged in the agriculture Industry.

    Aim:
    Kisan Sabha aims to provide the most economical and timely logistics support to the farmers and increase their profit margins by minimizing the interference of middlemen and directly connecting with the institutional buyers. It will provide the best market rates of crops by comparing the nearest mandis, booking freight vehicles at the cheapest cost thereby giving maximum benefit to the farmers.

    KisanSabha App:
    Kisan Sabha provides a platform for people who want to buy directly from the farmers.

    The portal connects the farmers, transporters, Service providers including pesticides and fertilizer dealers, cold store and warehouse owner, mandi dealers, customers, and other related entities for timely and effective solutions.

    The portal acts as a single stop for every entity related to agriculture, be they a farmer who needs better price for the crops or mandi dealer who wants to connect to more farmers or truckers who invariably go empty from the mandis.

    Kisan Sabha also works for people in the agriculture services sector such as dealers of fertilizers and pesticides, who can reach out to more farmers for their services.

    It would also prove to be useful for those associated with cold stores or godowns.

    Kisan Sabha has 6 major modules taking care of Farmers, Mandi, Dealers, Mandi Board Members, Service Providers, and Consumers.




  • DRDO developed UV Disinfection Tower
    Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) developed 'UV blaster,' an Ultra Violet (UV) Disinfection Tower for rapid and chemical-free disinfection of high infection prone areas.

    UV blaster:
    UV blaster is a UV based area sanitizer designed and developed by Laser Science & Technology Centre (LASTEC), the Delhi based premier laboratory of DRDO with the help of M/s New Age Instruments and Materials Private Limited, Gurugram.

    The UV Blaster can be used for high tech surfaces like electronic equipment, computers, and other gadgets in laboratories and offices that are not suitable for disinfection with chemical methods. The device is also effective for areas with a large flow of people such as airports, shopping malls, metros, hotels, factories, offices, etc.

    The UV based area sanitizer may be used by remote operation through laptop/mobile phone using wifi link. The equipment has six lamps each with 43 watts of UV-C power at 254 nm wavelength for 360-degree illumination. For a room of about 12 x 12 feet dimension, the disinfection time is about 10 minutes and 30 minutes for 400 square feet area by positioning the equipment at different places within the room.

    This sanitizer switches off on the accidental opening of the room or human intervention.





  • NIAB develops eCovSens, a tool to detect coronavirus infection
    Researchers from Hyderabad-based National Institute of Animal Biotechnology (NIAB) developed a portable device 'eCovSens'. It can be used as a diagnostic tool for the detection of COVID-19 antigens.

    eCoVSens:
    eCoVSens will detect novel coronavirus antigens in human saliva within 30 seconds.The portable bio-sensor device can be connected to a computer or a cell phone via Bluetooth. It will help in boosting the country's efforts to fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

    The biosensor device can directly detect a specific protein of the SARS-CoV-2, even when the proteins are present in low concentrations in the human saliva.

    In subsequent tests, the device has proved itself to be stable and quite efficient in detecting the virus. The device will do early detection of coronavirus which is crucial to help and manage the coronavirus outbreak.




  • Russia to launch the first Arktika-M satellite in 2020 December
    Russia announced that it is to launch the country's first Arktika-M satellite from the Baikonur space center on 9 December 2020 at the end of 2020. The announcement was made by the General Director of the Lavochkin aerospace company Vladimir Kolmykov.

    Arktika-M satellite:
    The number one Arktika-M spacecraft which has been developed is undergoing radio-electronic testing.

    The satellite will be used for monitoring the Arctic climate and the environment.

    The satellite will be launched using a Soyuz-2.Ib carrier rocket with the Fregat booster.

    Russia's Arktika-M remote-sensing and emergency communications satellite will gather meteorological data in the polar regions of the Earth.

    The data collected will allow improving weather forecasts and will enable scientists to better study climate change.

    The 2nd Arktika-M satellite is still under development and will be launched in 2023.





  • CSIR-IGIB, TATA Sons sign MoU for licensing KNOWHOW for FELUDA for rapid and COVID-19 diagnosis
    CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (CSIR-IGIB) and TATA Sons signed anMoU for licensing of KNOWHOW for FNCAS9 Editor Linked Uniform Detection Assay (FELUDA) for rapid diagnosis of COVID-19.

    Highlights:
    The license includes the transfer of the knowledge for scaling up the KNOWHOW in the form of a kit that can be deployed for COVID-19 testing on ground in May 2020.

    A completely indigenous scientific invention, FELUDA for COVID-19 was designed for mitigating the ongoing COVID-19 situation and cater to mass testing. The technology is highly affordable, relative ease of use, and non-dependency on expensive Q-PCR machines.

    CSIR IGIB and TATA Sons will work together to bring for widespread use on the development and commercialization of Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR) based technology for COVID-19 detection.

    This innovative test uses cutting edge CRISPR technology for the detection of the genomic sequence of the novel coronavirus.

    It uses a simple test protocol to administer and interpret which also enables results to be made available to the medical fraternity in relatively lesser time, as compared to other test protocols.

    The technology was initiated and developed at CSIR IGIB under sickle cell mission and utilizes an indigenously developed cutting edge CRISPR Cas9 technology to specifically recognize the COVID-19 sequence in the given sample.

    The new technology will help to rapidly assess and establish the presence of viral infection in a sample.

    novel nanostructures of carbon and metal dichalcogenides semiconductors for photodetection and Surface-Enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS).

    The carbon and metal dichalcogenides (MoS2, MoSe2, etc.) nanomaterials based supercapacitors have the ability to achieve high energy density and power density of supercapacitors.

    The development of energy and optoelectronics devices paves the way for the development of cost-effective and efficient devices, which can be used for energy storage applications.

    The SERS can help detect harmful molecules present in water at ultra-low concentrations.

    The novel nanostructures of carbon will make way for materials that can be used as advanced photodetectors and also be used as optical sensors for water pollution control.



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