September 10th, 2019
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Scientists Convert Smartphone Into Fluorescence Microscope
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Chance to Meet Nobel Prize Winners – Sponsored by DST | Applications Invited Exclusive opportunity for young students and researchers to attend meetings include lectures, panel/ round-table discussions with Nobel Laureates in Germany. VERY YEAR APPLICATIONS ARE INVITED BY DEPARTMENT OF SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY, INDIA. INTERESTED INDIAN NATIONALS CAN CHECK OUT ALL OF THE DETAILS ON THE SAME BELOW: By Diluxi Arya
DEPARTMENT OF SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY (DST) DST-DFG AWARDS FOR PARTICIPATION IN THE 70th MEETING OF NOBEL LAUREATES & STUDENTS Lindau, Germany during 28 June–3 July 2020 Each year since 1951, Nobel Prize winners in Chemistry, Physics, Physiology or Medicine have been meeting in Lindau, Germany, to discuss major issues of importance to their fields with students from around the world. The meetings include lectures, panel/ round-table discussions on interdisciplinary topics and informal smallgroup meetings with the Nobel Prize winners. The DST has been sending a group of students / young researchers to these meetings, since 2001. It intended to send a group of Indian Students /young researchers to the 70th Meeting of Nobel Laureates & Students during 28 June–3 July 2020, which is dedicated to multi-disciplinary subjects viz., Physics, Chemistry and Medicine/Physiology. Applications are invited from bright and young students and researchers in the above disciplines for availing this award. The lectures and discussions are at a level appropriate for students/ researchers in their early research careers. More details of the meeting can be seen at www.lindau-nobel.de Terms of Award:
team of selected students shall leave for Lindau from Delhi (after briefing meeting) and shall return back to Delhi after the completion of the Nobel laureates meeting and the post Lindau Week. Personal or other visits by candidates to institutes other than the scheduled programme during the above period will not be entertained. The selected candidates will have to make their own arrangements for accommodation and transportation in Delhi for attending the briefing meeting at DST prior to the departure to Germany. The charges for accommodation in Delhi and 2nd AC train tickets from the nearest railway station from their places of residence to New Delhi and back will be reimbursed by DST on submission of the receipts/ train tickets as per the DST norms. It is mandatory that the selected candidates should submit the reports to DST on the Lindau meetings after completion of the programmes and any information document as and when required by DST within the time frame. No escorts/ accompanying persons will be allowed with the participants and no request for personalized programme during this period would be considered in any case. The applicants would also not be allowed to withdraw the nomination after selection.
The selected participants will be provided with International travel-related expenses, local transportation, lodging (twin-sharing basis) and boarding for attending the Meeting. It is mandatory for the selected students to attend the complete full Eligibility: week programme in Germany as well as briefing meeting in Delhi prior to i. Only Indian science students (by departure to Germany. The Indian citizenship) studying/ working/ affil-
iated to research Institutes/ universities in India are eligible. ii. Engineering /Tech. students are not eligible. iii. Indian students studying and doing post-doc/internship/or staying in Germany / abroad are also not eligible for this award. There are three categories of participants to be nominated: A. Master Students B. Doctoral Students and C. Young Post-doctoral researcher below the age of 35 years All selected participants shall: • show a genuine interest in science and research • show a strong commitment to their principal field of studies and to the interdisciplinary work • receive the strong support of their application by their academic advisor and/or by internationally renowned scientists, through a detailed letter of recommendations • The recommendation letter should highlight the overall personality of the candidate, not just merit only. • be fluent in English, capable of an active participant in discussions • belong to the top five of their class in the order of merit • not already have a permanent position (Scientist and researchers with • permanent/ regular position-
• • •
particular at lecturer/ professor level (adhoc and/or permanent) will, in general, not be admitted to the meetings) not older than 35 years of age as on 28 June 2020 not have participated in the previous Lindau Meetings deliver fully completed applications to DST and after shortlisting by DST, the online application to Lindau website (incomplete applications shall be outright rejected) Commit themselves to be present for the full duration of the meeting.
Additional eligibility requirements in each category are: Category-A: who
• show excellent academic accomplishments and • have already produced excellent research work, e.g. documented by publications, conference presentations, • and/or research awards/prizes. • Should be among top few in the order of merit in the class for 1st year of MSc or in 4th year of 5-year integrated master’s programme. Rank certificate from the Head of the Department is to be provided with the application. Category-B: Doctoral Students,
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who: • show excellent academic accomplishments and • have already produced excellent research work, e.g. documented by publications, conference presentations, • and/or research awards/prizes. • Must have completed two years from the date of registration for PhD. Category-C: Postdoctoral scientists, who: • have up to 5 years of postdoctoral experience (optimum about 2-3 years after the doctoral degree),
• have published excellent results, preferably of own scientific research in refereed journals and as first or last and/or the corresponding author, • have presented their work at international scientific meetings, preferably as (invited) lecturers.
awards/certificates substantiating the information provided in the application duly attested. b) At least one letter of reference from an academician or acquainted with the applicant; c) Soft copy of the application form Application process: in PDF format may also be submitted by email to email@example.com. The softcopy will A complete application consists of: be used only for the evaluation pura) One complete set of original ap- pose. plication duly forwarded by Head of d) However, applications received the Institute, by post on or before the last date will in the prescribed format (Annex- only be considered. ure-I) along with one set of photocop- e) Applications by hand at DST will not be entertained. ies of the
The hardcopy of the completed applications must be submitted latest by 17.00 Hrs on 15th October 2019 to: Dr. Chadaram Sivaji Scientist-F International Bilateral Cooperation Division R.No-19A, S&T Block-1 Department of Science and Technology Technology Bhawan, New Mehrauli Road, New Delhi-110016.
CRISPR Technology Basics Certification Course
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World’s First CRISPR Edited ReptileAn Albino Lizard The world’s first CRISPR edited reptile the tiny albino lizards have been created by A team of scientists from the University of Georgia, U.S in a DNA breakthrough. THIS METHOD HAS PREVIOUSLY BEEN USED TO CHANGE THE DNA OF MAMMALS, FISH, BIRDS, AND AMPHIBIANS – BUT THIS IS THE FIRST TIME IT HAS BEEN USED WITH REPTILES. By Rahul Mishra
It was previously thought to be impossible to use the technique on reptiles because, unlike other animals, they fertilize their eggs at unpredictable times. In a paper published in the Journal Cell Reports, Douglas B. Menke and his colleagues described how they made an albino version of the brown anole (Anolis sagrei), a species of lizard native to Cuba and the Bahamas. The creature, which is the size of a human index finger, was made using a controversial gene-editing technique called CRISPR-Cas9.
tilized eggs, they thought that they Procedure, Department of Cellular would only be able to perform gene Biology, University of Georgia editing using CRISPR Cas9 on the alProfessor Doug Menke added that leles inherited from the mother. 6% of success rate seems to be low Scientists from the University of when scientists have managed to Georgia waited three months for the achieve efficiencies up to 80% or lizards to hatch. Between 6 and 9% of higher in the different model system. Scientists can use CRISPR Cas9 to the oocytes produced offspring with But none of the researchers has been able to do these sorts of manipulaedit a gene that is causing problems or gene-edited traits. tions in reptiles before. insert a gene that is needed. The techCredits: Demonstration of Lizard nique could lead to curing incurable Surgery and Oocyte Microinjection Researchers decided to make the diseases, extending human lifespan. It was previously thought to be impossible to use the technique on reptiles. This was because, unlike other animals, they fertilize their eggs at unpredictable times. At the same time, embryos are hard to transfer from a female lizard, making it more difficult to manipulate them in a lab as has been done with other animals. In this latest research, Scientists from the University of Georgia injected CRISPR reagents into unfertilized eggs in lizard ovaries for the first time. When the eggs hatched, about 50% of the mutant lizards had inherited edited genes on DNA from both their mothers and fathers. This study proves that CRISPR components stay active for several days or even weeks within an unfertilized egg. Doug Menke, an associate professor at the University of Georgia and the lead author of the paper said that his team has been brainstorming on how to modify reptile genomes and manipulate genes in reptiles. Since scientists were injecting unfer-
lizards albino because humans with albinism often have vision problems. Scientists hope to use the lizards to study how the loss of this gene affects the development of the retina. The scientists now hope to use this gene-editing technique on other animals in a hope to discover more methods of gene editing using CRISPR Cas9 technique.
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Scientists Convert Smartphone Into Fluorescence Microscope! Researchers from the U.S. and China have developed a method to transform a smartphone into a fluorescence microscope. IT IS CALLED AS THE HANDHELD SMARTPHONE-FLUORESCENCE MICROSCOPE (HSFM). THIS DEVICE ALLOWS COMPLEX BIOMEDICAL ANALYSES BOTH RAPIDLY AND IS COST-EFFECTIVE. By Rahul Mishra
The Conventional fluorescence microscopes play an essential role to detect different cells and proteins, but they are bulky and inconvenient for point-of-care diagnoses. Bo Dai and a team of interdisciplinary research scientists made the use of liquid polymers to create mini two-droplet lenses dyed with colored solvents. The lenses are compatible across different smartphone devices. The low-cost, equipment allowed them to observe and count cells, monitor the expression of fluorescently tagged genes, and distinguish between healthy tissues and tumors. What is Fluorescence Microscopy? Fluorescence microscopy is a crucial technique in multiple disciplines of Life Sciences. These include cell and molecular biology, environmental monitoring, the healthcare industry. In biomedicine and clinical applications, fluorescent imaging techniques can detect and track cells, proteins, and other molecules of interest with very high sensitivity and precision. Portable microscopes are an essential development on an ideal smartphone platform for mobility and accessibility to a range of users. The fundamental problem faced by the researches is due to the various models of smartphones currently available in the market for users. Scientists aim to develop an attachment for smartphone-based microscopy whose design is independent of a specific phone model. To address this challenge, Dai and team, the team of researchers, developed a low-cost handheld smartphone fluorescence microscope- (HFSM) in a portable size. The HRSM uses a single compact and multifunctional color lens to convert any smartphone model
into a fluorescence microscope. This is done without modifying the attachment design between phones. This experiment was designed to reduced the HRFM device complexity and allowed its adoption across a variety of smartphones. The research team used the tool to demonstrate bright field and fluorescent imaging in various bioanalytical applications within cells, including the tissues.
the HSFM with a green lens to monitor transfection and the expression of enhanced green fluorescent protein within a plasmid. They transfected the GFP tagged human NLRP3 gene into a 293T human embryonic kidney cell line. After this, the researchers excited the transfected cells with a 480 nm blue light for bright green fluorescence emission. The excitation light filtered through the green lens for fluorescence emission, which Dai et al. captured as green spots using the smartphone. The results correlated well for both lens models (model I and II) relative to values measured using a conventional Fluorescence Microscope.
orescence microscopy using a lensbased smartphone. The setup captured images at cellular resolution and a field of view (FOV) on a tissue-wide scale. The capabilities relied on the pixel and image sensor size within the smartphone; a technology which continues to evolve.
The research team was inspired by preceding research work on a smartphone lens named the DOTlens developed elsewhere. The work presented here can serve as next-generation multifunctional lens modules for field-portable smartphone microscopes. Dai et al. believe the observed applications are merely the tip of the Dai and team subsequently used iceberg with more potential for future the setup to quantify superoxide pro- requests with the HSFM device. duction; a physiological marker of cardiovascular and neurodegener- They expect to develop the color ative disease. For this, they stained compound lenses for additional fluan HBEC3-KT human bronchial ep- orescent channels to enhance the ithelial cell line with MitoSox Red, capabilities of the cost-effective mia fluorogenic probe that can high- croscope significantly. The scientists ly selectively detect superoxide, envision the mass manufacture of which they produced by interacting low-cost, simple HFSM devices for HBEC3-KT cells with lipopolysac- mobile and customized healthcare apcharides (LPS) in this work. The team plications at the point of care. observed a consistent increase in the mean fluorescence intensity of MitoSox Red to support the enhanced production of superoxide after LPS triggering.
For the HFSM module, Dai and team included a color compound lens for imaging as well as light filtering. They developed a mini lens using two high refractive-index (RI) droplets. One of them inside another dyed with colored solvents to transmit the desired emission light to the imaging sensor. During the cell counting experiments, Dai and co-workers clearly distinguished the individual cells and calculated the cell concentration. This agreed accurately with the results obtained from a commercial cell counter to validate the HSFM device. Scientists incubated human liver tissues with fluorescently tagged antibodies to detect regular or defective features of the tissue using the lowcost handheld smartphone fluorescence microscope- (HFSM) equipped with a green lens. Using the smartphone microscope, researchers accurately identified images of healthy tissues, para-tumor tissues, and cancerous tissues. For example, a higher Smartphone Converted into Fluexpression of bright green fluores- orescence Microscope- Advantages cence confirmed the presence of ab- of this Equipment normal, diseased tissue. Bo Dai and co-workers provided a The team of researchers then used compact, affordable platform for flu-
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First-Ever 3D Genome Created For Understanding Genes St Judeâ€™s researchers create a first-ever 3D genome for understanding genes JUST LIKE THE PIRATES ON A TREASURE HUNT, NOW ST. JUDE CHILDRENâ€™S RESEARCH HOSPITAL RESEARCHERS HAVE CREATED THE FIRST-EVER 3D MAP OF A MOUSE GENOME AND USED THIS TO DISCOVER SCIENTIFIC GOLD! By Ria Roy
This scientific gold includes insight from machine learning into the genomic organization as well as the function during development. The research study on 3D genome for understanding genes appears today in Dyer added. the journal Neuron. Michael Dyer, Ph.D., the chair of the St. Jude Department of Developmental Neurobiology and Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, said that understanding the way cells organize their genomes during development will help the researchers to understand their ability to respond to stress, injury, and disease. Dyer and Xiang Chen, Ph.D., assistant member of the St. Jude Department of Computational Biology, are the corresponding authors of the research study published. The research study focused on light-sensing rod cells in the retina of the mouse. More than eight thousand genes are turned on or off during retinal development. And thousands of regulatory regions across the genome also play a crucial role in this. Scientists used a technology called ultra-deep chromosome conformation capture or the Hi-C analysis to map those interactions in mouse rod cells.
Researchers also tracked changes in genome organization during develDyer and his colleagues have now opment. That included the first use of used the same approach to create a machine learning to gauge how easily 3D genome of the mouse cerebel- accessible genes are for transcription. lum. This is a brain structure where Chen led the machine-learning effort. medulloblastoma can develop. And medulloblastoma is one of the most Additional highlights common malignant pediatric brain tumors. The study also included the first report of a powerful regulator of gene Packaging expression, a super-enhancer, which worked in a specific cell at a specifAs we know the human genome is ic stage of development. The finding encoded in the three billion chem- is important because super-enhancical bases of human DNA. The first ers can be hijacked in developmental human genome was completely se- cancers of the brain and other organs. quenced in the year 2003. Since then scientists have used the technology to identify and also to study inherited or acquired genomic alterations that can lead to cancer and other diseases.
Stretched its entire length, DNA from a single human cell measures about 6 feet long. To function, the DNA is packaged into a microscopic bundle that fits into the nucleus of cells. The resulting DNA loops can bring together otherwise distant Formerly, 3D genomics has focused regions of the genome. Key details, primarily on understanding the regu- including a 3D map of loops and the lation of specific genes and worked interactions they fostered, were largewith cells growing in the laboratory. ly a mystery. Using an integrated analysis of data from a variety of sources and even machine learning, investigators showed that the genomic organization changed in surprising ways at different stages of development. And these changes are not random, but a part of the developmental program of cells,
3D genome The current study captured long-distance interactions between promoters (DNA regions that promote gene expression) and enhancers (regions that increase gene expression) at different stages of retinal development.
In this study on 3D genome for understanding genes, the scientists determined that when a core regulatory circuit super-enhancer for the Vsx2 gene was deleted, an entire class of neurons (bipolar neurons) was eliminated. No other defects were identified. Deletion of the Vsx2 gene causes many more defects in retinal development so the super-enhancer is highly specific to bipolar neurons. Scientists developed a genetic mouse model of the defect that scientists are using to study neural circuits in the retina.
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Plants Species Going Extinct 350 Times Faster Than Ever Before Previously this year a United Nations report predicted that up to one million species, as well as fifty percent of all plant on earth, maybe extinct by the end of the century. FURTHERMORE, CURRENT RESEARCH RECORDED THAT 571 PLANT VARIETIES HAVE ACTUALLY VANISHED OVER THE PREVIOUS 250 YEARS. By Ria Roy
Now, a new research study shows that plants have been shed at a rate that is 350 times above the average rate of plant extinctions observed in the fossil record. Although plant extinctions have been common in Earth’s history, human impacts appear to be the main driving force for many contemporary ones. When the data around the globe is considered, in South Africa alone, nearly 80 plant species gone extinct have been declared over the past three centuries. The key drivers behind this loss of plant life are thought to be agriculture, urbanization, as well as the spread of invasive species.
verse flora occurs there out of which 80 percent of which are unique to Madagascar. In contrast to this, some places like England are described as “coldspots”. This is because these places house fewer species overall and have very few unique species which is only 4 percent.
sidered the underlying causes for the same. The research study predicts that biodiversity hotspots are expected to see more plant species extinctions at a faster rate, but when it comes to cold spots, they will lose a greater proportion of species unique to their region. The study additionally found that plant extinctions can largely be relatPlants Species are oftentimes uneThis study on plant species going ed and attributed to the habitat loss venly distributed. Madagascar which extinct examined nearly about 300 from urbanization and agriculture. is considered as the “biodiversity hotmodern plant extinctions and conspots” because a high density of di-
The major problem faced here is in order to accurately determine whether or not a plant is extinct is difficult. For example, data is unavailable for many plant species in our planet and, because most of the plants are longlived like the bristlecone pine trees which can live for up to 5,000 years, we may not be able to document their extinction in our lifetimes. Nevertheless, our sustained actions may contribute to their demise.
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“Pelargonidin” In Strawberries – Key For Developing Insulin Pills According to the recent survey, more than thirty million Americans suffer from diabetes and they have to inject themselves with insulin at least two to four times daily. SCIENTISTS HAVE BEEN LOOKING FOR THE WAYS TO ADMINISTER THE MEDICATIONS ORALLY, AND SCIENTISTS AT CARNEGIE MELLON UNIVERSITY HAVE NOW SHOWN THAT SUCH A FEAT IS POSSIBLE WITH A NOVEL “STRAWBERRY TECHNOLOGY INSULIN PILL”. By Ria Roy
Professor Kathryn Whitehead, Chemical Engineering Associate, and her research team said the secret lies in an unlikely place: The strawberries and “strawberry technology insulin pill”. Nicholas Lamson, the research assistant said that the problem with insulin is that it is a protein. Combining this molecule with an And our human stomach is very adept encapsulated insulin package and at breaking down these proteins the voilà — an insulin pill which can help diabetic patients manage their blood same as like with our food. sugar without any negative side efFor insulin protein to be therapeutic, fects. it needs to be absorbed intact by our small intestine. Scientists have devel- The research team has proven the inoped the number of ways to encapsu- sulin pill’s efficacy in mice, but they late these protein insulin molecules believe that there is still a long way to so that these proteins can make it go before this insulin pill with strawthrough the stomach to our small in- berry chemical is made available to testine. The problem here was, what the human diabetic patients. to do with them once the pill is there has been the biggest sticking point. Lamson said that a number of chalAllowing these proteins to pass into lenges must still be addressed, and the small intestine fully undigested one of the biggest among them is bemeans the insulin molecule is too ing the necessity of variable dosage. large to be absorbed through our in- Diabetic patients must test their blood testine and then into the bloodstream. sugar throughout the day and also adAnd when compounds already exist minister an insulin dose appropriate that can open the pores of the small for their blood sugar levels by the paintestine, few can do it without lasting tients. And it is a fact that this is easy any damages. The new “strawberry to do with an injection, but it is much technology insulin pill” is one of that more difficult to do with a pill, Lamson added. kind. Whitehead said that they took around 110 fruits and vegetables and they were screened for an ability to open up those gaps between the cells of the intestine wide enough to allow this insulin to pass through it. Here is where strawberries and “strawberry technology insulin pill”come in. The same chemical that makes strawberries red — pelargonidin — which can dilate the intestinal pores in a non-toxic way that later allows them to shrink back to the normal.
Whitehead’s lab has plans to extend its strawberry pigment technology to proteins other than insulin. This means the strawberry technology can potentially be used with other protein therapies too, many of which are used to treat disease conditions like leukemia, osteoporosis and even autoimmune disease. Undoubtedly, such an advance would revolutionize healthcare by removing the pain of injections and improving the daily lives of millions of patients.
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IIT-Guwahati Researchers Develop Eco-friendly Lab-Grown Artificial Meat Here comes good news for all those non-vegetarians who are constantly looking out for meat from cruelty-free food sources or say without killing animals. SOME RESEARCHERS FROM THE INDIAN INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY, GUWAHATI (IIT-G) HAVE RECENTLY DEVELOPED LAB-GROWN ARTIFICIAL MEAT AS AN ALTERNATIVE TO TRADITIONAL MEAT, WHICH IS A GREAT BOON TO SAVE ANIMALS THAT ARE MOSTLY KILLED FOR MEAT PRODUCTION. By Ria Roy
Apart from being environment-friendly and cruelty-free, labgrown artificial meat such as the ones produced by the IIT researchers, who have devised a way to produce tis- increase the nutritional content of the sue-engineered meat is, also totally meat product. customizable since they are ‘bred’ usMandal added that tissue-engineered ing tissue culture. meat production can yield a hundred The development of lab-grown meat chickens from approximately one has been made by researchers of the chicken. He also hoped that the new biomaterial and tissue engineering form of lab-grown artificial meat laboratory who took different kinds of developed in the institute will attain cells from animals through biopsies. high sales figures in both national and Certain cells such as muscle progeni- international markets tor cells, fat cells, bone cells or cartilage cells were then grown in separate Dr. Mandal expressed his concerns about the immense pressure faced layers that had been developed. by the meat industry amid a growing Dr. Biman B Mandal, Associate population. In a 2010 United Nations Professor, Department of Biosci- report it was stated that our meat and ence and Bioengineering said that dairy demands will be unsustainable the lab-grown artificial meat will be by the year 2050. Mandal, speaking comparable to that of the raw meat about the livestock industry’s conin terms of its nutritional value and tribution to waste-water, added that taste and this is “completely natural”. it takes 4,000L of water to produce Researchers from IIT-G have now ap- about 1kg of chicken meat and more plied for a patent for this lab-grown than 8,000L of water is required to produce 1 kg of mutton. artificial meat. Apart from a large number of animals being killed for their meat, water is also wasted in large quantities for livestock production so this kind of tissue-engineered lab-grown artificial meat is indeed an excellent way of solving the problems faced during The most fascinating aspect of the livestock production in addition to lab-grown artificial meat is how the providing meat as per the customer’s meat can be made lean or fatty by needs and demands. manipulating the production method. The lab-grown artificial meat can Will India Adopt Lab-Grown Aralso be converted into solid dry meat tificial Meat? products in various shapes and sizes. Mandal also mentioned that the daily For Indian biotechnology as well as edible components are being used to food technology startups, a research make the support matrix in order to study in these areas can be the dawn He added that usage of external chemicals like hormones, animal serum, growth factors or antibiotics have been restricted in this preparation for meat, hence it is very safe on ethical concerns.
of a brave world of development in the food market. Actually, startups need to consider leveraging such research and also bringing it to market with their business acumen. There’s not much private innovation happening in this space amongst Indian startups as the research study itself is ex-
tremely cost-intensive. Which is why the requirement of the hour for startups aiming to disrupt this space is to tie-up with the academic community and also public-sector research study laboratories to locate means to bring new-age food to the marketplace.
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Researchers Create Super-Mice That Can See Infrared! Supermice that can see Infrared- Researchers used a nanoparticle solution to grant ordinary mice the ability to see in near-infrared.
MOST MAMMALS, INCLUDING HUMANS, CAN ONLY SEE IN A NARROW RANGE OF THE ELECTROMAGNETIC SPECTRUM, CALLED VISIBLE RAYS. By Rahul Mishra
The visible spectrum ranges from 380 nanometers to 740 nanometers, which is outside the infrared spectrum whose wavelengths extend from 800 nanometers to one millimeter. Gang Han, the study’s principal investigator and a researcher at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, said Humans could only see visible light. Having the ability to see Infrared would enable humans to have night vision without the use of bulky equipment. Human Beings can see visible light due to unique structures present in the eyes known as rods and cones. They are photoreceptor cells in the retina that absorb photons of light and send corresponding electric signals to the brain. But not all light is absorbed since some wavelengths are too short or too long. As on now, we use specialized equipment’s such as telescopes or thermal cameras to see objects that give off infrared light. Thermal Cameras are equipped with detectors that translate IR radiation by assigning each temperature a shade of a color. Colder temperatures are often given a shade of blue, purple, or green. The warmer temperatures can be assigned a shade of red, orange, or yellow. Supermice that can see InfraredProcedure Involved to Create the mice Han and colleagues injected a particular type of nanoparticles called upconversion nanoparticles (UCNPs) into the eyes of ordinary mice. The nanoparticle solution contains elements such as erbium and ytterbium. These can convert low-energy infrared photons into higher-energy green light that is visible. To test whether the mice could indeed detect infrared, the researchers devised a series of physiological and behavioral tests. During one such test, the mice were placed in a Y-shaped tank of water. Here one of the branches had an opening through which the rodents could escape. The
escape route was marked with visible light in the shape of a triangle, while the other blocked end was marked with a similarly lit circle. After various rounds of training, the visible light was replaced with near-infrared. Hans said that the mice with the particle injection could see the triangle clearly and swim to it each time, but the mice without the dose could not see or tell the difference between the two shapes. Single-dose of nanoparticles in the eyes of the mice gave them infrared vision (IR) for up to 10 weeks. Although there was a minor side effect. The cloudy cornea was seen though it disappeared in a week’s time. Tests found no damage to the retina’s structure, suggesting that the procedure was safe. However, before the same could be done to humans, there’s still a lot of work to do. For one, there are biocompatibility uncertainties since the UCNPs are inorganic. Han and team would like to replace them with organic dyes instead of rare-earth elements. Besides enabling human beings to see beyond our natural capabilities, the procedure could be useful in medicine to correct human red color vision deficits or to trigger drug release upon contact with infrared light.
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Startup – Insilico Medicine Designs a Drug In 21 Days Using AI Hong Kong-based Insilico Medicine published a research study on using AI to design a drug shows that its deep learning system could identify potential treatments for fibrosis. THAT DEEP LEARNING SYSTEM CALLED GENERATIVE TENSORIAL REINFORCEMENT LEARNING, OR GENTRL FOR SHORT, WAS SUCCESSFULLY ABLE TO FIND SIX PROMISING TREATMENTS IN JUST 21 DAYS, WHERE ONE OF THE TREATMENT SHOWED PROMISING RESULTS IN AN EXPERIMENT INVOLVING MICE. By Ria Roy
The research study on this has been published in Nature Biotechnology and the code for the model has been made available on Github. Researchers have got an AI strategy combined with AI imagination said Insilico CEO Alex Zhavoronkov, who compares the operation of generative tensorial reinforcement learning (GENTRL) to the AlphaGo machine learning system that Google’s Deepmind developed to challenge champion Go players. Alex Zhavoronkov established the business in 2014. His original background was in computer technology. He spent numerous years working at ATI until it was obtained by AMD in 2006. At that point, he changed gears and decided to go into the biotechnology research field, with an interest in research into slowing down the aging process. He got his Masters from Johns Hopkins and afterward got a Ph.D. from Moscow State University, where his studies concentrated on making use of machine learning to check out the physics of molecular interactions in organic systems. Zhavoronkov then worked for a number of companies however after that returned to Baltimore to found Insilico. Insilico Medicine published a research study on using AI to design a drug on Monday in Nature Biotechnology. The Insilico’s original philosophy was about using deep learning to train neural networks to go through large libraries of molecules to find out the drug targets. Then shortly after founding the company, however, Zhavoronkov became fascinated with Ian Goodfellow’s work in machine learning and decided to switch course.
He said that his initial thought was on whether it is possible to make machines imagine new molecules with particular properties of interest instead of screening large vendor libraries. Screening molecules is how they do it in the traditional drug discovery world, but Zhavoronkov wanted to check if this type of machine learning could do things even more quickly.
hibitors. Insilico company used GENTRL to design new drug candidates. These molecules were then synthesized and a leading candidate was successfully tested in mice. For the AI system to design drug molecules, it took about 21 days. The total time for design, its synthesis, and validation was about 46 days.
Initial research the Insilico company published based around this idea was in 2016. This helped to bring in investment money to the competitive biotech and AI arenas. According to Pitchbook, it has so far raised $24.3 million in investment dollars at a valuation of about $56 million, from backers including A-Level Capital and Juvenescence. The company also has multiple partners across the biotechnology field, including A2A Pharmaceuticals and TARA Biosystems.
Even though none of the drugs designed by GENTRL would appear to be more effective than the inhibitors developed by the traditional research method, the traditional process to develop drug candidate molecules took over 8 years and also millions of dollars to develop when compared to the handful of weeks and approximate $150,000 cost of Insilico’s method of drug discovery using AI.
The current paper on AI system to design a drug has its origin in a challenge put to the company by its colleagues in the chemistry field. They ask the company to use its system to develop potential drugs that can inhibit discoidin domain receptor 1 (DDR1) activity. discoidin domain receptor 1 is an enzyme that is involved in fibrosis. Even though it’s not yet clear if DDR1 regulates those processes, inhibiting its activity is being investigated as a possible therapy for fibrosis. The challenge for Insilico was based on a recently published research from a team at Genentech where they had taken about 8 years to identify promising DDR1 kinase in-
Zhavoronkov said that their molecules drug candidates molecules took over 8 years are amazing and these molecules are a little bit better than what his AI system could do. he added that all now matters here is those years took for drug discovery versus
the people who do not have a lot of knowledge of chemistry doing this stuff. Of course, when considering the grand scheme of drug development, this only represents the very first step. Even though this represents a milestone in demonstrating the potential of AI to identify and design drug candidates in a very short time, it will still take years of clinical trials and millions spent on an investigation before any drug candidate molecule is approved for use to treat against a particular disease. Zhavoronkov also cautions that his company Insilico still has a lot of work ahead of it, though this research is an important breakthrough in drug discovery because it shows the promise of using AI to design a drug. He said that this paper on using AI to design a drug in a very short time will remove a lot of skepticism in big pharma!
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Thread-Like Robotic Worm By MIT Researchers That Burrows Into Human Brain
Robotics engineers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology MIT have developed a threadlike robotic worm which can be magnetically steered to deftly navigate into the extremely narrow and winding arterial pathways of our human brain. THIS ROBOTIC WORM COULD BE USED TO QUICKLY CLEAR BLOCKAGES AND EVEN CLOTS THAT CONTRIBUTE TO STROKES AND ANEURYSMS. ALONG WITH THIS, AT THE SAME TIME THIS TECHNOLOGY MAKING THE CURRENT STATE OF ROBOTIC TECHNOLOGY& ITS EVOLUTION EVEN MORE UNSETTLING. By Ria Roy
Strokes are one of the leading cause of death and disability in the US, but if the relieving blood vessel blockages are possible within the first 90 minutes of treatment, it has been found to show dramatically increase survival rates of the patients. This process is a complicated one. But with the help of skilled surgeons to manually guide a thin wire through the patient’s arteries up into a damaged brain vessel which is then followed by a catheter that can deliver treatments or medications or simply retrieve a clot from its place. This is not the only potential for these wires to damage vessel linings as these wires inch through the body. But during the process, the surgeons are exposed to excess radiation from a fluoroscope that guides them by generating x-ray images in real-time. And there is a lot of room for improvement in this area. Here comes the importance of robotic worm designed to remove clots from
the human brain. Using the expertise in both water-based biocompatible hydrogels, and by the use of magnets to manipulate simple machines, the MIT robotic engineers created a robotic worm for human brain featuring a pliable nickel-titanium alloy core with the memory shape characteristics so that when it is bent, it returned to its original shape. The core was then coated with a rubbery paste that was embedded with magnetic particles. Then it was wrapped in an outer coating of hydrogels allowing this robotic worm designed for the human brain to glide through its arteries and blood vessels without any friction that could potentially cause any damages.
The robotic worm was tested on a small obstacle course, with a twisting path of small rings, which was guided by a strong magnet which could be operated at enough distance to be placed outside a patient. The MIT engineers also mocked up a life-size replica of a brain’s blood vessels and it was found that not only could the robot easily navigate through the obstacle but that it had also the potential to upgrade it with additional tools like a delivery mechanism for clot reducing drugs. They even successfully replaced the worm’s metalcore with an optical cable, so that once the robot reached its destination, the robot could deliver powerful laser pulses to help remove a blockage of the human
brain. The robotic worm designed for would not only make the post-stroke procedure faster and faster, but these robots would also reduce the exposure to radiation that surgeons often have to endure during the clot removal process. And when it was tested using a manually operated magnet to steer it, eventually machines can be built to control the positions of the magnets ( MRI machines already surround patients in intense magnetic fields) with an improved accuracy, which would in turn further improve and accelerate the robot’s journey through a patient’s body.
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Gene Therapy Reduces Obesity & Reverses Type 2 Diabetes in Mice To overcome the side effects of current anti-obesity drugs, scientists have devised a specific gene silencing therapy against Fabp4- a fatty acid metabolism gene. OBESITY AFFECTS NEARLY HALF A BILLION PEOPLE WORLDWIDE, INCLUDING CHILDREN. ACCORDING TO WHO REPORTS OBESITY-RELATED DISEASES, INCLUDING HEART DISEASE, STROKE, TYPE 2 DIABETES, AND CANCER, ARE A LEADING CAUSE OF DEATH. By Rahul Mishra
Both genetic and environmental factors cause obesity. The development of effective anti-obesity drugs is required. Presently these drugs exhibit severe off-target effects. In a study published in Genome Research, Jee Young Chung and colleagues developed a gene therapy technique that specifically reduces fat tissue and reverses obesity-related metabolic disease in obese mice. Gene Therapy for Obesity and Diabetes- The Study Methodology Scientists used a CRISPR interference system wherein catalytically dead Cas9 protein, and single-guide RNA was targeted to white adipocytes with a tissue-specific fusion
peptide attached. The complex was internalized with limited toxicity to the cells, and upon internalization, the molecule complex decreased the expression of Fabp4 and reduced lipid storage in adipocytes. Chung and team tested their therapy on obese mice, which showed that this therapy delivered well. Mice were on a diet high in fat leading to obesity and insulin resistance. Fabp4 repression resulted in a 20% reduc-
tion in body weight and improved insulin resistance and inflammation after just six weeks of the gene therapy. Additional improvements were seen, including a reduction in fatty lipid deposition in the liver and reduced circulating triglycerides. The current standard FDA-approved treatment shows 5% of body weight loss after one year of treatment in humans.
This CRISPR based gene therapy shows promising results in mice. Further research is required before it can be used in clinical treatment against human disease. Importantly, this study highlights the advances in precision gene-editing technology, which can be translated to other types of therapies.
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IIT Hyderabad Scientists Develop Low Priced, Eco-Friendly 3D-Print Stem Cells Just the way your skeleton holds your body posture, Collagen imitates the same at a cellular level. COLLAGEN IS A PROTEIN FOUND ABUNDANTLY IN HUMANS PERFORMING VARIOUS FUNCTIONS LIKE MAINTAINING SKIN ELASTICITY, KEEPING TEETH HEALTHY, AND PROVIDING STRUCTURAL SUPPORT IN CONNECTIVE TISSUE. WITHOUT THIS, THE CELLS WILL NOT BE ABLE TO CONNECT AND FORM TISSUES. By Preety Suman
Collagen also plays a very crucial role in tissue engineering. The ultimate aim of this technology is to harness the potent, regenerative nature of stem cells to create artificial tissues for implants and other applications. Just like a building under construction, stem cells are held in place by a collagen scaffolding while they proliferate and transform into specialized tissue. The primary source of this protein is from animal sources like rat tails, pigskin, and bovine skin. These sources are expensive and are highly prone to infections and various pathological conditions. The scientists from the Department of Biomedical Engineering, IIT Hyderabad, have come up with an inexpensive, eco-friendly method to derive Collagen from Eel Skin and used it effectively to 3D print stem cells According to Dr.Govindharaj, Marine animals thrive in a very challenging environment making their Collagen more resilient and highly bioactive. This promotes the speedy growth of stem cells. As published in their recent paper in The Journal for Cleaner Production, the method used to derive Collagen from eel skin was by treating it with cetic acid, common salt, and pepsin. This method is safe, reduces waste build up in Oceans. Using the eel skin also prevents spreading of toxins and diseases. The use of abundantly available marine eel skin to extract valuable Collagen, i.e., volarisation is what makes this research ” Blue.”
The method as explained by Dr. Govindharaj, The stems cells can be extracted from the bone marrow of the Patient. These stem cells are then mixed with Collagen and 3D-printed into a matrix in which they grow into the desired tissue. Dr. Mano Govindharaj, Dr. Subha Narayan Rath and Mr. Uday Kiran Roopavath responsible for developing low-cost stem cells 3D printing is now working on extending their technique to derive more “blue” Collagen from other marine waste sources like fish skin. They hope that their research provides a practical approach both to protect marine environments and improve human health
IIT Hyderabad Research Team
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Scientists Create 3D Heart Cell-On-Chip Platform According to the Study, Cancer is to become the leading cause of death in the wealthy nations by overtaking Heart Diseases in the coming decades if the current trend continues. BASED ON TWO STUDIES PUBLISHED IN THE LANCET MEDICAL JOURNAL, SCIENTISTS HAVE OBSERVED A GLOBAL “EPIDEMIOLOGIC TRANSITION” BETWEEN CANCER AND HEART DISEASES. By Preety Suman
According to the observation of the study, Cardiovascular disease remains responsible for 40% of deaths among middle-aged adults. Meanwhile, Cancer is now killing twice as many people suffering from heart diseases in wealthy countries. In the opinion of Gilles Dagenais, a professor at Quebec’s Laval University and co-led the study, Cancer is the second most leading cause for death in 2017, responsible for 26% of all deaths. But as the heart disease rates fall continuously, cancer will become the leading cause of death within a few decades.
tions associated, such as heart failure, angina, heart attack, and strokes. 70% of all cardiovascular conditions were contributed by changeable risks like High blood pressure, high cholesterol, unhealthy diets, and other lifestyle factors.
According to the researchers among the estimated 55 million deaths recorded in 2017, 17.7 million were due to cardiovascular diseases and condi-
In High-income countries, readily available treatment for High cholesterol and blood pressure medicines have led to a dramatic decrease in heart diseases in the past few decades.
The team also suggested that higher rates of cardiovascular deaths in low-income countries might be due to lower quality health care. They also found fewer hospitalization rates and little use of heart disease medications in middle-income countries compared to wealthy nations. This Research was a part of Prospective Urban Epidemiologic (PURE) study, published in The Lancet and was also presented at the ESC Con-
gress in Paris. The Countries involved in the analysis are Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, India, Iran, Malaysia, Pakistan, Palestine, Philippines, Poland, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Sweden, Tanzania, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and Zimbabwe.
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Discovery of AD26 Virus May Lead To Cancer Vaccines Researchers From Cardiff University’s School of Medicine have decoded how AD26 Virus infects the body. This research could lead to new vaccines and treatments for diseases like cancer. THEY HAVE LEARNED HOW A VIRUS, KNOWN AS ADENOVIRUS TYPE 26 (AD26), INFECTS HUMAN CELLS. THIS INFORMATION ABOUT THE INFECTION PROCESS COULD BE USED TO MAKE VACCINES TO STIMULATE IMMUNE SYSTEMS TO FIGHT CANCER. By Rahul Mishra
Adenoviruses are clinically essential agents. They cause respiratory distress, gastroenteritis, and epidemic keratoconjunctivitis. As non-enveloped, double-stranded DNA viruses, they are easily manipulated, making them popular vectors for therapeutic applications, including vaccines. Species D adenovirus type 26 (HAdV-D26) is both a cause of EKC and other diseases and a promising vaccine vector.
Ebola epidemic in Africa. Previously, it was thought the virus used a protein called CD46 to infect cells, but scientists have now found the virus uses a type of sugar on the surface of cells to infect cells.
Mr. Baker said that the Study is in a Preliminary Stage. If the researchers can further understand how the virus works as a vaccine or as a disease, it will prove to be Breakthrough research.
According to scientists, the virus The research was published in Scicould be used as a critical component ence Advances, which aims to proin vaccines. AD26 virus is currently mote breakthrough developments in being used in a vaccine to fight the science and engineering.
As of now, Scientists have established how the virus enters the body and spreads. Mr. Baker added that scientists and clinicians could use this knowledge to target the sugar-binding
site to develop drugs to prevent its spread and develop vaccines to fight life-threatening infections. Decoding AD26 infection process could prove to be important in understanding how the viral vaccine works effectively to protect against life-threatening infections in the future.
“Protein Batteries”- For Environment Friendly & Safer Energy Storage PROTEINS ARE GOOD FOR BUILDING MUSCLE AS WE ALL KNOW, BUT THEIR BUILDING BLOCKS ALSO MIGHT BE HELPFUL FOR BUILDING SUSTAINABLE ORGANIC BATTERIES CALLED PROTEIN BATTERIES WHICH COULD SOMEDAY BE AN EFFECTIVE AND VIABLE SUBSTITUTE FOR CONVENTIONAL LITHIUM-ION BATTERIES, WITHOUT THEIR SAFETY AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS. By Ria Roy
By using synthetic polypeptides — that make up protein — and other polymers, scientists have taken the initial steps toward constructing electrodes for such power sources. This work can also provide a new understanding of electron-transfer mechanisms.
higher than manufacturing these from scratch and they often accumulate in landfills. Currently, there is no safe way of disposing of the lithium batteries. By developing a protein-based, or organic, the battery would change Tan Nguyen who is a Ph.D. student this scenario. who helped develop the project said that the current trend in the battery Karen Wooley who leads the refield is to look at how the electrons search team at Texas A&M Univerare transported within a polymer net- sity, said that the amide bond along work. The real beauty of polypeptides the peptide backbone is pretty stable is that we can control the chemistry on — which ensures that the durabiltheir side chains in 3D without chang- ity is there, and we can then trigger ing the geometry of its backbone, or when these break down for recycling. say the main part of the structure. We Wooley envisions that polypeptides can then systematically examine the could eventually be used in applicaeffect of changing different aspects of tions such as flow batteries for storthe side chains. ing electrical energy. She added that the other advantage of using protein Lithium-ion batteries used currently batteries is this protein like architeccan harm the environment, and be- ture, we are building in the kinds of cause the cost of recycling them is conformations that are found in proThe scientists will present their results today at the American Chemical Society (ACS) Fall 2019 National Meeting & Exposition.
teins in nature that already transport electrons efficiently and we can also optimize this to control battery performance of these protein batteries. The scientists built the system using electrodes made of composites of carbon black, constructing the polypeptides that contain either viologen or 2,2,6,6-tetramethylpiperidine 1-oxyl (TEMPO). Scientists attached viologens to the matrix used for the anode (negative electrode) and used a TEMPO-containing polypeptide for the cathode (positive electrode). The viologens and TEMPO are redox-active molecules. Nguyen said that what they have measured so far for the range, the potential window between
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the 2 materials is about 1.5 volts, suit- the protein batteries and its protoable for low energy requirement ap- types. Part of this work will include plications, such as biosensors. testing to better understand how the polymers function when they’re orNguyen has synthesized several ganized on a substrate. polymers, which can adopt different conformations like the random coil, While this early-stage study has far an alpha helix, as well as a beta-sheet to go before organic-based protein to investigate their electrochemical batteries are commercially available, characteristics, for potential use in an the flexibility and its variety of strucorganic battery. With these peptides tures that proteins can provide promin hand, Nguyen is collaborating with ises a wide potential for sustainable Alexandra Danielle Easley who is a energy storage that is very environPh.D. student in Jodie Lutkenhaus’s ment-friendly lab at Texas A&M University to build
NHS To Offer New Gene Therapy Treatment For Rare Eye Disease The gene therapy (Luxturna) to treat inherited retinal dystrophies in patients NOW FOR PATIENTS WITH A RARE INHERITED EYE DISORDER ARE SET TO BE ABLE TO ACCESS A NEW GENE THERAPY ON THE NATIONAL HEALTH SERVICE THAT SLOWS DOWN THE SIGHT LOSS. By Ria Roy
Draft NICE guidance recommends gene therapy (Luxturna) to treat inherited retinal dystrophies in patients The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence estimates just under Ninety people in England will be eligible for this treatment. Drug company Novartis agreed on a discount protein which is the key protein to for the National Health Service on the normal vision. £613,410 price. Without the deal, the new gene therapy, voretigene neparvovec, would have breached the regulator’s budget impact test.
In the gene therapy treatment, a healthy copy of the gene is injected directly into the eye so that a working protein can be produced. But, patients have to have some functioning retinal cells for this to work.
The inherited retinal dystrophies cause the gradual degeneration of the The research study has shown that, retina light-sensitive cells which re- in the short term, voretigene neparvosults in sight loss in patients. They are vec improves vision as well as preusually diagnosed in childhood. vents the condition from getting even worse. This condition causes a loss of vision which ultimately leads to almost NICE said there was no long-term total blindness. At the moment, there clinical evidence but it was biologiis no treatment available for this con- cally plausible; the gene therapy’s efdition. fect would continue for decades. Patients with a mutation of the Draft recommendations on this treatRPE65 gene will be suitable for the ment are now out for consideration by new gene therapy for this eye disease the company, healthcare professiontreatment. The RPE65 gene should als and even patient groups. If there provide the instructions to make a
are no appeals against this, NICE expects to publish its final guidance next month. The gene therapy for eye disease would then become available from January 2020. Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said that the NHS is once again at the forefront of the genomic revolution with the patients in England among the first to benefit from this gene therapy for rare eye disease which is a revolutionary new form of treatment. Sue Sharp, the deputy chief executive at the Royal Society for Blind Children, said that they see first hand the devastating effect of childhood sight loss in patients, and so they welcome news of this breakthrough gene therapy for eye disease and its impact on the lives of children with inherited retinal dystrophies disorder.
Dr. Mariya Moosajee, the consultant ophthalmologist at Moorfields Eye Hospital, said that this is a piece of exciting news that will give hope to patients where previously there was none. She added that the diagnosing and treating genetic eye conditions are extremely complex and challenging but now we are in a position to tell patients who have a gene therapy for eye disease or say, a genetic change in the RPE65 gene and the treatment is available on the NHS that may help to slow down their sight loss.
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First Pea Genome to Provide Insight For Future Crops Improvement The genome of the model genetic plant Pisum sativum, or pea plant, links nineteenth-century genetics to twenty-first-century genomics. THIS SERVES AS A SYMBOL OF HOW FAR THE GENETICS FIELD HAS DEVELOPED AND HOW GREATLY TECHNOLOGIES HAVE ADVANCED. By Rahul Mishra
A global team including researchers from The University of Western Australia has assembled the first genome of the field pea. This provides insight into how the legume evolved and will help aid future improvements of the crop. This study has important implications for global nutrition and the sustainability of crops. The field peas provide a crucial plant-based protein Professor Edwards highlighted that source for human food and animal the pea genome assembly spans about feed. 4.45 thousand million letters. Professor Edwards added that due to the Professors David Edwards and Jac- recent technological innovations, the queline Batley from UWAâ€™s School of team was successful in sequencing Biological Sciences and UWAâ€™s Insti- the Pea Genome. tute of Agriculture were co-investigators in the research and said that the Professor Batley said the research field pea had a much larger and more was built on pioneering concepts complex genome compared to other of inheritance developed by Gregor legumes. Mendel. She added that the sequenc-
ing of the pea genome would help the scientists understand the basis for the variation which has evolved through the years. Gregor Mendel analyzed the inheritance of different pea traits such as wrinkled peas, and he demonstrated that these traits were passed on from one generation to the next. Professor Batley added that more
than 150 years later, scientists have now assembled the pea genome. This will help the team to understand the DNA basis of the inheritance observed by Mendel. This research- Pea Genome to Improve Crops- was supported by the Australian Grains Research and Development Corporation and by the Australian Research Council.
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Bioprinting Complex Living Tissue In Seconds To Revolutionize Tissue Engineering Scientists from EPFL and the University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands have now developed an extremely fast optical method for sculpting complex tissues in stem-cell-laden hydrogels and then vascularizing the resulting tissue. THIS GROUNDBREAKING TECHNIQUE OF BIOPRINTING COMPLEX LIVING TISSUE IN JUST SECONDS WILL REVOLUTIONIZE THE TISSUE ENGINEERING FIELD. By Rahul Mishra
Tissue engineers create artificial organs and tissues that can be used to develop and test new drugs, to repair damaged tissue & even to replace entire organs in the human body. However, the current fabrication methods limit their ability to produce free form shapes and achieve high cell viability. Scientists at the Laboratory of Applied Photonics Devices (LAPD), in EPFL’s School of Engineering, working with their colleagues from Utrecht University, have come up with optical technique bioprinting for complex living tissue. The resulting tissues can then be vascularized by adding endothelial cells. The research team describes this high-resolution bioprinting method for complex tissue in an article appearing in Advanced Materials. This technique will change the way cellular engineering specialists work, allowing them to create a new breed of personalized, functional bio-printed organs.
Damien Loterie, an LAPD researcher and co-author of the study said that unlike conventional bioprinting which was a slow, layer-by-layer process, this new technique of bioprinting complex living tissue in just seconds is very fast and offers greater design freedom without jeopardizing the cell’s viability. The scientists’ work of bioprinting complex living tissue is a real game-changer. Paul Delrot, another co-author, said that the characteristics of human tissues depend to a large extent on a highly sophisticated extracellular structure, and the ability to replicate this complexity could lead to a number of real clinical applications. Using this technique of labs could mass-produce artificial tissues or organs at an unprecedented speed. This sort of replicability is very essential when it comes to testing of new drugs in vitro, and this could help obviate the need for animal testing which is a clear ethical advantage as well as a new way of reducing costs.
The technique is called volumetric bioprinting for complex living tissue. In order to create tissue, the scientists project a laser down a spinning tube filled with a stem-cell-laden hydrogel. They shape the tissues by focusing the energy from the light at specific locations, which then solidify. After a few seconds, a complex 3 Dimensional shape appears, suspended in the gel. The stem cell in the hydroChristophe Moser, the head of the gel is largely unaffected by this entire LAPD, said that bioprinting complex process. Researchers then introduced living tissues is just the beginning. endothelial cells to vascularize the and he believes that this method is tissue. inherently scalable towards mass fabrication and this could be used to Scientists have now shown that it produce a wide range of cellular tisis possible to create tissue constructs sue models, not to mention medical measuring several centimeters, which devices and personalized implants. is a clinically useful size. Some of their work includes a valve similar to Scientists plan to market their a heart valve, a meniscus and a comgroundbreaking technique for bioplex-shaped part of the femur. The printing complex living tissue through team was also able to build interlocka spin-off. ing structures.
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Novel Software That Maps Tissue Insights Similar to Google Maps! A new software, developed by a team led by Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine scientist Dr. Stephan Preibisch, is helping researchers to understand and organize the enormous data generated due to Tissue Microscopy. MODERN LIGHT MICROSCOPIC TECHNIQUES PROVIDE INCREDIBLY DETAILED INSIGHTS INTO ORGANS, BUT THE ARDUOUS AMOUNT OF DATA THEY PRODUCE ARE USUALLY IMPOSSIBLE TO PROCESS AND UNDERSTAND. By Rahul Mishra
How Do Scientists Study Tissues? Recently, researchers have for a few years now, have been able to study large structures like mouse brains and human organoids by making it transparent. CLARITY is perhaps the most famous of the various sample clearing techniques. With this technique, almost any object of study can be made nearly as transparent as water. This enables researchers to investigate cellular morphology in ways which seemed nearly impossible a few years ago.
structing the data resembles somewhat Google Maps in a 3D model. Dr. Stephan Preibisch explained that using these Software researchers can not only get an overview of the tissues but can also zoom in to examine individual structures at the desired resolution individually. This ComputIn 2015 another technique called er Program has been presented in the Expansion Microscopy was discov- scientific journal Nature Methods. ered by a research team at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). New Software for tissue InsightsWith the help of this Microscopy The Development Process technique, scientists could expand ultrathin slices of mouse brains nearly A team of twelve researchers from five times their original volume. This Berlin, the United Kingdom, Munich, allowed the samples to be examined and the United States was involved in the development of the new Software in even greater detail. called BigStitcher. David Hoerl, from New Software for tissue Insights- Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet How Does This New Software Helps Muenchen and Dr. Fabio Rojas Rusak MDC researcher, are the paper’s two Researchers? lead authors. The researchers highDr. Stephan Preibisch, head of the lighted that this software runs on any research group on Microscopy, Im- standard computer making it easily age Analysis & Modeling of Devel- accessible throughout the world. oping Organisms at MDC’s Berlin Institute for Medical Systems Biol- Preibisch recalls that the developogy (BIMSB) said that with the aid ment of BigStitcher began about ten of modern light-sheet microscopes years ago when he was a Ph.D. stuare now found in many labs. These dent. BigStitcher can visualize onMicroscopy Techniques create mas- screen the previously imaged samples sive data. Dr. Stephan added that The in any level of detail desired, but it problem, however, is that the proce- can also do much more. He added that dure generates such large quantities the software automatically assesses of data. These data may sometimes be the quality of the acquired data. Exof several terabytes. Scientists often plaining this, he said that sometimes struggle to sift through and organize clearing doesn’t work so well in a particular area of tissue. This results these data. in capturing fewer details. Preibisch and his team of researchers have now developed a software The brighter a particular region of program that, after complex recon- an organ displayed on the screen, the
higher the validity and reliability of the acquired data added Preibisch, describing this additional feature of his software. Even with the help of the best clearing techniques, scientists never achieve 100 percent transparency of the sample. BigStitcher lets users rotate and turn the image captured by the microscope in any direction on the screen. It is thus possible to view the sample from different angles. New Software for tissue InsightsFeatures of BigStitcher BigSticher is available for free, and any user across the world can down-
load it. It also helps to understand the following: • Where in the brain is cell division currently taking place? • Where is RNA expressed? • Where do particular neuronal projections end? Many labs today require software like BigStitcher, Preibisch added. The program is distributed within the Fiji framework, where any interested scientist can download and use the plugin free of charge.
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Promising Bioconjugate Vaccine Against Hypervirulent Superbug Klebsiella Researchers have now produced and tested a promising bioconjugate vaccine against Klebsiella in mice. This is a vaccine that protects against this worrisome superbug i.e, a hypervirulent form of the bacteria Klebsiella pneumoniae. RESEARCHERS, WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE IN ST. LOUIS AND VAXNEWMO, A ST. LOUIS-BASED STARTUP., HAVE DONE THIS BY GENETICALLY MANIPULATING A HARMLESS FORM OF E. COLI. By Ria Roy
Klebsiella pneumonia superbug causes a number of variety of infections including the rare but life-threatening liver infections, respiratory tract infections, bloodstream infections, and other infections. Only little is known about how exactly people become infected with these bacteria, and the bacteria are unusually adept at acquiring resistance to the antibiotics. A prototype vaccine against superbug Klebsiella, details of the study which are published online Aug 27 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, may offer an effective way to protect people against the lethal infection caused by Klebsiella which is hard to prevent and treat generally. David A. Rosen, MD. Ph.D., an assistant professor of pediatrics and of molecular microbiology at Washington University, said that for a long time, Superbug Klebsiella was primarily an issue in the hospital setting, so even though its drug resistance was a real problem in treating these infections, the impact on the public was limited. Rosen who is also the co-author of the study on novel Vaccine against superbug Klebsiella added that now weâ€™re seeing Klebsiella strains that are virulent enough to cause death and severe disease in healthy people in the community. In the past five years, the resistant bugs and the really virulent superbugs that have begun to merge so we are beginning to see drug-resistant and hypervirulent strains which are the very scary factor to be considered. The hypervirulent strains of Klebsiella superbug caused tens of thousands of infections in various countries like China, South Korea, and Taiwan last year, and the bacteria is spreading around the world. Almost half of the people infected with hypervirulent, superbug drug-resistant Klebsiella die. There are two types in
particular which are known as K1 and K2 that are responsible for 70 percent of these cases. Rosen, the senior author Christian Harding, Ph.D., a co-founder of VaxNewMo; and the first author Mario Feldman, Ph.D., an associate professor of molecular microbiology at Washington University and one of the co-founders of VaxNewMo; and his colleagues decided to create a vaccine against superbug Klebsiella. The Klebsiella bacteriumâ€™s outer surface is coated with sugars so the scientists designed a glycoconjugate vaccine which is composed of these sugars linked to a protein that in turn helps to make the vaccine more effective and efficient. A similar method of modified vaccines has proven highly successful at protecting people against various deadly diseases such as bacterial meningitis and also a kind of pneumonia. Harding said that the glycoconjugate vaccines are among the most effective vaccine against superbug Klebsiella. But traditionally they have involved a lot of chemical syntheses, which is slow and expensive. Researchers have replaced chemistry with biology by engineering E. coli to do all the synthesis for them. The research team genetically modified a harmless strain of E. coli, converting the E.coli into tiny biological factories that are capable of churning out the protein and the sugars needed for the vaccine making. Then researchers used another bacterial en-
zyme to link the proteins as well as the sugars together. In order to test the vaccine, the scientists gave groups of 20 mice three doses of the vaccine or a placebo at 2-week intervals. Then the team challenged the mice with about fifty bacteria of either the K1 or the K2 strain. The previous studies had already shown that just fifty hypervirulent superbug Klebsiella bacteria are enough to kill a mouse. In contrast to this, it takes about tens of millions of classical Klebsiella bacteria, the kind that affects hospitalized people, to be similarly very lethal. About 80 percent infected with the K1 type and 30 percent infected with the K2 type died of the mice that received the placebo. In contrast to this, of the vaccinated mice, 80 percent infected with K1 and all of those infected with K2 survived. Feldman said that they are very hap-
py with how effective this Vaccine against superbug Klebsiella was and they now working on scaling up the production and also optimizing the protocol to take the vaccine into clinical trials soon. The goal of the study is to get a vaccine ready for human use before the hypervirulent superbug strains start causing disease in even larger numbers of people. Rosen said that he as a pediatrician wanted to see people get immunity to this bug as early as possible and It is still rare in the US, but given the high likelihood of dying or even having a severely debilitating disease, he thinks one could argue for vaccinating everybody. And soon we will not be left with a choice. The number of cases is increasing, and we are going to get to the point that we will need to vaccinate everybody, he added.
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Scientists Aim To Reduce Drug Development Cost Using 3D-Printed Living Tissue
Scientists from the University of Florida’s Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering confirmed that basic principles of engineering apply to micro-beam mechanics provides a solid foundation for new research. THE WORK WAS PUBLISHED IN THE NATURE COMMUNICATIONS PUBLICATION... By Rahul Mishra
It was supported in part by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health, and the National Science Foundation. Thomas E. Angelini, Ph.D., Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering and his research team, the Soft Matter Research lab have successfully fabricated living micro-beams from glioblastoma cells and extracel- tive medicine, including tissue engilular material (ECM) embedded in a neering applications. packed microgel support medium. The results of this research would Drug Development Using 3D Print- be used in an exciting new project ing- Methods Involved in the Study by Dr. Angelini and his team. One of these involves the development of The scientists characterized the advanced 3D liver tissue models for physical properties of the beams drug development applications. and compared their results against traditional mechanical engineering According to the project proposal, models. These microscopic, delicate the goal of the team is to develop mistructures behave a lot like the mas- cro-tissues that can be used in drug sive beams used in everyday building development applications. The objecconstruction. S. Tori Ellison said that tive of the research is to generate in the team was excited to see that our vitro bio-fabricated liver micro-tismicro-beams, only 50 to 200 µm in sues of specific dimensions and celdiameter, acted per the mechanical lular composition. This micro-tissues principles for other models such as will have high levels of reproducibillarge steel beams. Ellison is a Me- ity in terms of metrology, cell funcchanical & Aerospace Engineering tion, and cell sensitivity to drugs and Ph.D. student mentored by Dr. Angelini and is the co-first author of this research paper. To test the variables controlling cell ECM micro beam mechanics, the researchers changed cell density, ECM concentration, micro-beam diameter, and the surrounding medium’s properties. Scientists found a cascade of cell-driven behaviors, including beam buckling, break-up, and axial contraction. By modifying classic mechanical theories, they discovered fundamental principles of tissue micro-beam mechanics that can be generalized to cell types such as ECMs, and bio-printing support materials. Their breakthrough finding has critical implications on 3D bio-fabrication strategies and design of dynamic multicellular assemblies in regenera-
test compounds. Drug Development Using 3D Printing- More About the Project The project will be a close collaboration between the University of Florida and global pharmaceutical company as well as DEKA Research and Development Corporation, which is a leading automation technology company. Scientists on the project envision that their results will lead to the discovery of new products. This includes packaged micro-tissues capable of being shipped to the pharmaceutical industry to be used to model human liver toxicity of pharmaceutical compounds in advanced drug development and testing.
This project will also produce the instrumentation, techniques, and assays needed to bio-manufacture small surrogates of a multitude of different types of tissue in the next phase of the research. Dr. Forrest Masters, Associate Dean of Research for the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering said Engineering researchers are increasingly contributing directly in clinical translation research that could result in substantial and immediate benefits that impact the healthcare system. He added that Dr. Angelini and his teams’ research work- Drug Development Using 3D Printing – has the potential to transform society in the future.
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Scientists Identify ‘Short Sleep Gene’ Researchers from UC San Francisco have identified a gene known to promote “natural short sleep”. IT IS CHARACTERIZED BY LIFELONG, NIGHTLY SLEEP THAT LASTS JUST FOUR TO SIX HOURS YET LEAVES INDIVIDUALS FEELING FULLY RESTED. A DECADE AGO, THE SAME TEAM OF SCIENTISTS HAD IDENTIFIED A SIMILAR GENE. By Rahul Mishra
Ying-Hui Fu, Ph.D., professor of neurology, said that before they identified the first short-sleep gene, people were not thinking about sleep duration in genetic terms. Fu led the teams that discovered both short sleep genes. She is also a member of of the UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences. human body to sleep or wake. Ptáček and Fu said that there had to be other, According to Fu, researchers once causes of short sleep which are yet to thought that certain sleep behaviors be discovered. couldn’t be studied genetically. According to Professor Fu, people use Short Sleep Gene Identified- Why alarms, coffee, and pills to alter their lead to the discovery of the Second natural sleep cycles, and this is the Gene? reason why it is challenging to study sleep using the tools of human genet- The researchers identified a family ics. These sleep disruptors made it having three successive generations difficult for scientists to differentiate of natural short sleepers. None of the between people who naturally sleep family members had the DEC2 mufor less than six hours and those who tation. The researchers used a techdo so with the help of artificial means. nique known as linkage analysis. This Natural short sleepers was a mystery until 2009. Though Natural short sleepers sleep less, they don’t suffer any of the adverse health effects associated with sleep deprivation. A study conducted by Fu’s team discovered that people who had inherited a specific mutation in a gene called DEC2 averaged only 6.25 hours of sleep per night. Study participants lacking this variation in the same gene averaged 8.06 hours. This finding provided the first conclusive evidence that natural short sleep is, is caused due to genetic effects. Scientists found that this mutation is rare. Though it helped explain some natural short sleepers, it couldn’t account for all of them. According to UC San Francisco’s Professor Louis Ptáček, MD co-senior author of the new study, sleep is complicated. He is a John C. Coleman Distinguished Professor in Neurodegenerative Diseases. Professor Louis said that the team of scientists didn’t think there was just one gene or one region of the brain telling the
which helps scientists pinpoint the exact chromosomal location of mutations associated with a particular trait. The researchers found that a single-letter mutation in a gene known as ADRB1 that, like the mutation in DEC2, was related to natural short sleep. This lead to the Second Short Sleep Gene being Identified.
The scientists were eager to understand how the newly discovered mutation might lead to short sleep. The researchers performed a series of experiments in lab-grown cells and in mice that had been genetically engineered to harbor an identical mutation in the mouse version of ADRB1. The cell-based tests revealed that the mutant form of the beta-1 adrenergic receptor, the protein that encoded by the ADRB1 gene plays a role in a variety of essentially biological processes degrades more rapidly than the non-mutant version. This suggests that it might also function differently. Additional experiments showed that
wakefulness-promoting neurons in the pons with the mutated version of ADRB1 were more easily activated. Furthermore, the ratio of wakefulness-promoting to sleep-promoting neurons skewed heavily towards the former in mice with the ADRB1 mutation. These experiments suggest that the mutant form of ADRB1 promotes natural short sleep because it helps build brains that are easier to rouse and that stay awake longer. Fu said, most people are chronically sleep-deprived. This has well-known, long-term health consequences. A sleep-deprived person is likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease, cancer, dementia, and metabolic prob-
lems. Natural short sleepers, on the other hand, seem to benefit from this. Fu says scientists have discovered that short sleepers tend to be more optimistic, more energetic and better multitaskers. They also have a higher pain threshold, don’t suffer from jet lag, and some researchers believe they may even live longer. Though the exact reasons for these benefits remain unknown, Fu and Ptáček think their work is an important step towards understanding the connection between proper sleep and overall health.
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Researchers Highlight Key Components of Plants’ Immune Systems Key Immune Systems in Plants- Researchers have shed light on the crucial aspect of the plant immune response. THE DISCOVERY, REVEALING HOW PLANT RESISTANCE PROTEINS TRIGGER LOCALIZED CELL DEATH, COULD LEAD TO NEW STRATEGIES FOR ENGINEERING DISEASE RESISTANCE IN NEXT-GENERATION CROPS. By Rahul Mishra
Plants, like humans and animals, have evolved complex immune systems that destroy invading pathogens. But unlike animals, plants lack adaptive immunity. This means specific plant cell must defend itself against all potential pathogens. Plant Cells have disease resistance genes which code for protein complexes. These proteins are coded when plants are infected by pathogens such as fungi or bacteria. Such genes encode traits used by biotechnologists to generate disease-resistant plants and crops. The research team was led by Marc Nishimura, Colorado State University Assistant Professor, Jeff Dangl of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Jeffrey Milbrandt of the Washington University School of Medicine. Nishimura and team identified the mechanism of one little-understood domain of plant resistance proteins called a “toll-interleukin-1 receptor,” or TIR domain. The researchers revealed that during the plant immune response, the TIR domain is an enzyme that degrades a molecule
known as NAD+, which is essential for metabolism in all organisms, including humans. By cleaving NAD+, the plant self-destructs infected cells by the pathogen while leaving others unharmed. Scientists had previously suspected that plant’s TIR domains might act like physical scaffolds. These function by building a structure that attaches to the cell’s plasma membrane, in turn, recruiting other proteins to the area to begin an immune response. This is how these domains work in animal cells which includes human beings Nishimura and colleagues’ work shows that the role of TIR domains in the plant immune response is indeed functionally related to the part of the more unusual animal TIR domain. The researchers found that the
plant TIR domain is itself acts as an enzyme that cleaves the NAD+ molecule, rather than acting as a structural scaffold that recruits other components. On the other hand, the animal TIR domain in SARM1 kills the cells by depleting NAD+ levels. The plant TIR domains cleave NAD+ to generate a signaling molecule. This molecule is not seen in animal cells. This molecule is structurally related to a classical signaling molecule called cyclic ADP-Ribose. The team is now working to understand how this new product they saw influences cell death and disease resistance. Nishimura said that For 25 years, scientists didn’t know what the function of TIR domains plants was. There-
fore, Nishimura added that the results were exciting in terms of advancing the understanding of how TIR domains trigger immunity in plants. Key Immune Systems in PlantsWhy is it Important? Nishimura said that discovering individual biochemical pathways in the plant immune response may be necessary to how plants are manipulated to protect food crops. This is particularly more important as new pathogens emerge, and global food supplies become vulnerable. Ultimately this study will help scientists rationally engineer new receptors to recognize emerging pathogens.
VOICE OF BIOTECNIKA
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Drug Use in the Ancient World Episode 47 By Rashmi Sanyal
We wish there was a pill for everything. From the days we are feeling low to curing the constant pangs of hunger during work. From stress-related hypertension to disturbed sleep and insomnia at night. That day is not far when there would be a library of such treatments available to relieve us from their untimely attack. But where did all of this start from? What were the first disease and its cure? Isn’t excessive use of medication bad for health? Then how was its use controlled in the ancient world? Welcome back to another illuminating episode on Voice of Biotecnika. I, Rashmi, will divulge various facts related to the use of drugs and medications in the ancient world – Drug Use in the Ancient World. So, sit tight and buckle up for a short journey, taking us back in time. Archeological evidence suggests that the ancient world depended on many natural concoctions that would treat mankind or even could be a reason for their enhanced intelligence that is well portrayed behind their genius theories and philosophies. Not only did these compounds have immense use in healing the society, but they also were compounds that were used for its hallucinating and psychoactive properties. Such compounds can be traced to be found throughout the world, under multiple civilizations and in the most incredible and inconceivable locations. For example, imagine finding them in mummies or in the ruins of burned down cities of the ancient world! To analyze this further, the area or location of the presence of such compounds were traced by archeologists. For example, whether such compounds were occasionally found in the old house ruins or whether there were special manufacture and store areas created for these. Incidentally, a lot many such concoctions and elements were found near-religious areas. This gives us the impression
that psychoactive and hallucinating agents might have been used during the performance of many rituals. For example, older civilizations believed in accessing the spirit world for the purpose of healing oneself. Here, the compounds were not used for its recreational benefits, as we perceive them to be in the modern days. Rather they were used to get spiritual oneness and to derive energy from the non-physical realm. A lot of ancient civilizations were in use of these. What was the effect that it had on society? Why is the use of such chemicals regarded as abuse today? In our present-day society the use of many of these chemicals are regarded as “outside the norm” or even illegal in some nations!
however, can only be anticipated. Since the then civilization regarded this knowledge as a sacred mystery, they did not carve it on the then present stone tablets, due to which there is hardly any concrete evidence pertaining to their usage. In many tribal traditions, the ability to communicate with spirits and other entities was a prized skill and much respect was given to the shaman or priest who could facilitate this kind of interaction.
Similarly, alcohol, wine, herbs, concoctions were found almost in every civilization. In Egypt, when famous tombs were dug open, there was evidence of blue water lilies covering the mummy of famous Kings. These lilies behave as a very strong psychoactive drug when soaked in wine for The trouble in solving this mystery a few weeks. lies in the fact that the exact usage of all such chemicals was considered We can only presume its usage. a secret in many societies. There is There are even medicinal values ashardly any written evidence associat- sociated with such herbs that would ed with each. Modern-day critics and initiate natural healing. One such exwriters usually assume the usage by ample is Cannabis whose use is still tracing their presence down in histo- undergoing debate in today’s world. ry. For example, in an ancient burned On one hand, a 27000-year-old grave down the city, archeologists began in Western China shows that it has tracing the kind of materials predom- psychoactive properties, while on the inant in the house kitchen. Astonish- other hand they were used as meditaingly, the kitchen did not have a huge tion aids and painkillers by Sikhs for supply of bread or meat or any of many generations. the common food of those days, but there were huge supplies of opium. Nutmeg is one such other compound On looking further, there were huge that shares its value in the food indusfeasting rooms associated with the try, and also in the medicinal world. kitchen, that indicated that when the Nutmeg is used in the treatment of material was produced in the kitchen, asthma and heart troubles, but when they were consumed in huge amount consumed in large amounts it has by a large number of people. This dangerous side effects. It was also could have been a ritual or a ceremo- used as sedatives. ny. The purpose of such gatherings,
The Romans and the Greeks used opium, as well as numerous botanical toxins to induce states of mental euphoria, create hallucinations, and alter their own consciousness. If such compounds had such a wide variety of usage listed throughout history and civilization, then how did its use become so restricted today? Drug addiction is characterized by an inability to abstain from the drug; impaired behavioral control; cravings for the drug or other pleasure-seeking activities which stimulate the same reward pathways; diminished recognition of behavioral problems; and a dysfunctional emotional response. In this case compounds like sugar, herbs, spices, coffee would all be termed as drugs as their prolonged use may harm mankind. But since they are readily available and marketed with awareness, their use is not abused. Health professionals and senior ranking police officials agree that much harm could be avoided if we let go of the stigma and secrecy surrounding drug use and instead focussed on helping those who experience the problems associated with addiction in a balanced and non-judgemental way. Accepting the significance of drug use throughout history and in virtually all traditional cultures around the world would go a long way to overcoming the taboo which is preventing the rational exploration of their continued use. The human appreciation
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for the healing, sacred, entertaining, bonding, pain-relieving and mood-altering experiences that drugs provide is not going to go away – the tradition of their use is simply too strong and too significant. Drug Use in Ancient World – If we look into the history of medicine, we can find how societies have changed in their approach to diseases and illness from ancient times to the present. The Renaissance period had improved understanding of anatomy, and the microscope was invented. Although there is no record to establish when plants were first used for medicinal purposes (herbalism), the use of plants as healing agents, as well as clays and soils is ancient. Over time, by following the behavior of fauna, a deep medicinal knowledge base developed and was passed across generations. Even earlier, Neanderthals
might also have engaged in medical practices. Among the tribal society, specialized casts – shamans and apothecaries used to function as healers. Shamans were known to enter the spiritual world by entering into a trance while the healing process. The ancient Mesopotamians had no distinction between “rational science” and magic. To treat a patient – recitations and chants, as well as herbs and other such magical medications, were administered. The earliest medical prescriptions appear in Sumerian during the Third Dynasty of Ur. In ancient Egypt, the practice of medicine is so specialized among them that each physician is a healer of one disease and no more. Medical information appears in the Edwin Smith Papyrus, an ancient Egyptian medical text, and may date to a time as early as 3000 BC. The Atharvaveda, a sacred text of Hinduism dating from the
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Early Iron Age, deals with medicine and is said to be one of the first Indian texts to do so. The Atharvaveda also contain prescriptions of herbs for various ailments. The use of herbs to treat ailments would later form a large part of Ayurveda. Charaka Samhita, Sushruta Samhita includes the knowledge of preserving health and even techniques to modern-day surgery. Hippocrates is considered to be the father of modern medicine. He and his followers are presumed to be the first to describe many diseases and medical conditions. The Romans invented numerous surgical instruments, including the first instruments unique to women. As we advanced into the latest centuries, advanced research centers opened and are often connected with major hospitals. Medicine was heavily professionalized by the 20th century.
There must be some reason behind the fact that why in ancient times, different clans of people started to intentionally select, prepare, and consume various substances that contain certain chemicals. Should the basis of their understanding just be left out to dilute amongst the many theories that modern-day man believes in? Or should we continue to believe in the ancient potions and magic that is the essence of many civilizations each of us seems to have descended from? If you find this topic – “Drug Use in Ancient World” interesting do share your comments below and stay tuned to the upcoming sessions filled with such absorbing and engrossing subject matters. Wishing you all a great day ahead!
SCHOLARSHIPS & AWARDS
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IBAB & IIIT Bangalore PG Diploma in Big Data Biology – Applications Invited
G Diploma in Big Data Biology – Applications Invited at IBAB & IIIT Bangalore
This interdisciplinary programme will focus on Big Data in Life Sciences and will help explore the opportunities and challenges of handling big data in health care and imaging and will impart engineering approaches to problem solving in this emerging area. Institute of Bioinformatics and Applied Biotechnology (IBAB) Biotech Park, Electronic City Phase I, Bangalore – 560100 Call for Applications for a ‘PG Diploma in Big Data Biology’ (In collaboration with IIIT, Bangalore) (Funded by the Department of Biotechnology, Govt. of India) Duration of the course: One Year Unique Features of the Programme: • Interdisciplinary programme with courses that strengthen the computational, statistical and engineering components required to analyse large scale data in life sciences • Courses handled by faculty from IBAB and IIIT-Bangalore and industry experts • Integrated learning experience involving coursework and industry and research oriented project work • Comprehensive curriculum comprising diverse areas in Data Science with applications in Life Sciences, including development of machine learning algorithms, genomics, imaging and image processing and clinical data analysis • Extensive interaction with industry including mentoring and selected teaching by subject matter experts from industry • 100% track record of placements of the two institutes and their established industry network • Curriculum with a blend of computing and life sciences that will open opportunities in diverse areas including health care data science, genomics and clinical
trials. Eligibility: • Indian Nationals with B.E. / B.Tech. degree in Biotechnology / Biomedical Technology / Bioinformatics / Computer Science and Engineering /Electronics and Communication Engineering / Electrical and Electronics Engineering / Information Technology or equivalent degree or • M.Sc. degree in Biotechnology / Bioinformatics / Biochemistry / Computer Science / Information Technology / Statistics or equivalent degree with a minimum of 60% in the qualifying examination. Scholarships: Students selected for the programme may be eligible to receive a scholarship of Rs. 10,000/- per month from the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India** ** As per eligibility conditions prescribed by DBT, Govt. of India. Selection Procedure: National level online entrance examination at select centres across the country followed by an interview at IBAB. Number of seats: 25 Reservation for SC/ST/Physically Challenged candidates will be based on the norms of MHRD, Govt. of India Application Procedure: Applications to the programme can be submitted online at https:// ibab2019.azurewebsites.net Details of programme: http://ibab. ac.in Fees Structure: Please contact pgdbigdata@ibab. ac.in for details. All fees can be paid through cash, NEFT or by a Demand Draft (DD) drawn in favour of ‘Institute of Bioinformatics and Applied Biotechnology’ payable at Bengaluru. NEFT details are given below.
NEFT DETAILS: galore-560100 Name of the Account: Institute of Bioinformatics & Applied Biotech- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org nology Phone: 080-2852 8900/01/02 Account No: 036005011787 Type of Account: Current Account Important Dates: Name of the Bank : ICICI Bank Branch: Electronic City • Deadline for Application: 20th IFSC Code : ICIC0000360 October 2019 • Date of entrance examination: Contact Details: 03rd November 2019 • Commencement of the course: 06th January 2020 Ofﬁce of Admissions Institute of Bioinformatics and Applied Biotechnology (IBAB) Biotech Park, Electronics City Phase I, Ban-
SCHOLARSHIPS & AWARDS
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DBT-Research Associateship in Biotech & Life Sciences 2019
fficial Notification For DBT – Research Associateship 2019 September Call, DBT RA Program 2019 September has been released on the DBT official website. Indian Nationals can apply for the award of “DBT-Research Associateship” 2019 (September Session) for pursuing research in frontier areas of biotechnology & applied biology. The Associateship is tenable in any Research Institution/Universities including non profit R&D Institutions within India. The Programme is sponsored by Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science & Technology, Govt. of India and the Associateships are awarded under it. About the Fellowship: The Department of Biotechnology has introduced the aforesaid program. The Secretary, DBT requested Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore to coordinate and administer the implementation of the said programme. The Institute is successfully getting it done through the Society for Innovation and Development. The programme got started in December 2000 at a total project cost of Rs. 465.00 lakhs. The programme is intended only for
Indian citizens. The purpose of the fellowship programme is to train scientists in frontier areas of research in Biotechnology at such institutions in India which are engaged in major biotechnological research activities. Eligibility: • The applicants should hold a PhD degree in Science, Engineering or M.D. or M.S. degree in any area of medicine with research interests in Biotechnology and Life Sciences and a good academic record. • Those who have already submitted the Ph.D./M.D./M.S., thesis are also eligible to apply. • The applicants should preferably be below the age of 40 years, and 45 years in case of women candidates. • Persons already employed are also eligible to apply. However, their applications should be routed through their employers. Number of Fellowships: Up to 75 Fellowships would be awarded every year. Depending on the success and utility of the programme, the number of fellowships to be awarded per year would be re-
How to Apply:
The last date for receiving the completed application at Indian Institute A hard copy of the Application of Science, Bangalore, is October 3, with necessary documents should be 2019. Speed-posted to: The National Program Coordinator, DBT-Research For DBT-RA Fellowship (NorthAssociateship Program, Department East) of Molecular Reproduction, Development & Genetics, New Biological Write “Application for DBT-RA Sciences Building, Indian Institute of Fellowship (North-East)’’ on the envelope. Detailed information and relScience, Bangalore-560012. evant application format may be obFor DBT-RA Fellowship (Nation- tained from: http://www.mrdg.iisc.ernet.in/. al) Write “Application for DBT-RA Fellowship (National)’’ on the envelope. Detailed information and relevant application format may be obtained from:
The last date for receiving the completed application at Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, is October 3, 2019.
DST National Award for Young Woman Researcher – Life Sciences
ational Award for Women’s Development through Application of Science & Technology. Indian nationals are encouraged to check out all of the details regarding the award below and apply for the same. Cash prizes are also up for grabs. Three categories of awards are available, check them out below: Government of India Ministry of Science & Technology Department of Science & Technology
through the application of Science & Technology; Category III is for young woman applicants only who’ve contributed for societal benefit through application of Tech ) Nominations are invited to recognize the contribution of institutions & individuals who have worked for women’s development through the application of Science and Technology (S&T), in these categories.
National Award for Women’s Development through Application of Science & Technology
A new category of awards has been introduced this year: Nominations are encouraged to recognize the contributions of a young woman who has shown excellence during application of Tech, for societal benefits.
(Category I & II are for the candidates of any gender, who have contributed for Women’s development
Category III: National Award for Young Woman showing excellence through the application of Tech, for
societal benefits: The Award would carry cash of $ 1.00 Lakh (One Lakh), a Citation, and a Memento. Category I: For individuals: The award would carry cash of
$5.00 lakh (Five Lakh) along with a memento and a citation Category II: For institutions: The award would carry cash of
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$15.00 lakh (Fifteen Lakh) plus a memento and a citation. Who can apply? • For Category III, the candidate ought to be resident Indian young women (between 20-40 years of age) with at least a Postgraduate Degree in Natural Sciences or a Bachelor Degree in Engineering/ Technology/Medicine. She must have developed a technology for societal benefit, that ought to be well established and verified by an Institute of repute. Documentary evidence of this patent status of her technology ought to be provided. • For Category I, resident Indian citizens of any gender with at least a Postgraduate Degree in Natural Sciences or a Bachelor Degree in Engineering/Technology/Medicine can apply; • For Category II, S&T estab-
SCHOLARSHIPS & AWARDS lished institutions (governmental & non-governmental)– Recognized R&D labs, Universities and Educational Institutions, S&T based voluntary organizations, registered under the Societies Registration Act 1860 or a trust registered under the Indian Trusts Act 1982 or Charitable or Religious Act 1920 or under the corresponding State Act, can apply. Voluntary organizations having NGO darpan portal registration number are only eligible to apply. • Employees of Ministry of Science & Technology and those who’ve already received this award aren’t eligible under any category. • The candidates applying in Category I & II must have an experience of 10 years and outstanding contribution in research, design, development, adaptation or application of science and technol-
ogies for women’s development. But, ten years’ expertise isn’t necessary for implementing under Category III. • Other conditions given at the departmental site in line with the existing awards will be applicable. General: • Applications in all categories are to be submitted through nominations only, self-nomination won’t be considered. • Nomination for the Awards can be made by Vice-Chancellors of Universities, Directors of IITs, IISERs, NITs, R&D institutions, Heads of Academic Institutions, Heads of science-based voluntary organizations, Secretaries of both S&T Departments along with other Ministries related to Women’s development, Secretaries of State S&T Depart-
ments/Councils for S&T; earlier winners of the award. • For more information, format for nomination and overall terms & conditions please see departmental website: www.dst.gov. in. Complete nominations(three copies) using enclosures (one set only) according to the format ought to be sent to: The Head, Science for Equity Empowerment and Development (SEED) Division, Department of Science & Technology, Technology Bhavan, New Mehrauli Road, New Delhi-110 016 before or on October 30, 2019. And a soft copy of the proposal ought to be sent in the email identification: email@example.com. Ms. Indu Puri, Scientist E, SEED Division, DST, New Delhi Phone: 011-26590341 email: indub. firstname.lastname@example.org could be contacted for any query.
DST AWSAR Program – Share Your Research Story & Win Cash Prize
he call for entries for the DST AWSAR Program has been announced. AWSAR was a big success last year and the call for this year has been released. Indian nationals pursuing any stream of Science & Technology (S&T) are encouraged to apply for the DST AWSAR Program as per details below: “Augmenting Writing Skills for Articulating Research (AWSAR)” is an initiative of Department of Science and Technology (DST ), Government of India. It attempts to disseminate Indian research stories of Science, Technology & Innovation being pursued In the nation in a format that’s simple to comprehend and interesting for all of the stakeholders. DST invites lucid stories from PhD scholars and Post Doctoral Fellows (PDF) with a goal to strengthen the ecosystem of science communication and inculcate scientific character in society. Indian citizen pursuing PhD or PDF in almost any stream of Science and Technology (S&T), within the tenancy period of her/his research, can submit the entry. The narrative needs to link to research being pursued by him/her. What’s AWSAR?
• Augmenting Writing Skills for Articulating Research (AWSAR) is a brand new initiative commissioned by Department of Science and Technology (DST) and coordinated by Vigyan Prasar (An autonomous institute of DST) to link current gap in communication research to common person by using the latent potential of PhD Scholars and Post-Doctoral Fellows (PDFs). These are the goals of the initiative • • Encourage youth pursuing higher studies to submit a minimum of one story/article according to their research work. • Foster, fortify and create scientific temper through popular science writing and producing a culture of science communication/popularisation among the scholars. • Recognize the initiative and also the output of researchers on the particular elements of physical, natural, mathematical and information sciences, applied science, engineering, technology, and multi-disciplinary science. • Conduct training Workshops for Early Career Researchers (PhD Scholars and PDFs) in popular science writing. Submission of popular science stories associated with research work of PhD scholars and PDFs:
Entries would be encouraged by re- outreach. search scholars and PDFs who would like to publish their research in a way Qualification criteria for article that could appeal to non-scientific submission: audiences. The story should revolve around the answering the questions These are the eligibility criteria for like Why does my research matter?; submitting the article for the award. Why is it significant? ; Why does it interest, researchers? ; Why should • The entries will be encouraged from the youth pursuing PhD in it interest the reader? ; objectively. S&T and Post Doc fellows by a The article has to be based on the rerecognized University/R&D Insearch undertaken by the individual stitute. researcher. The article could be on complete or part of the research con- • Applicants have to be an Indian ducted, but it ought not to be a general citizen. review of the region and has to have • Applicants can only submit an the part of new knowledge generated individual article in annually. Re-application by applicants in as part of this research. the prior years is invited, provided that the eligibility criteThe article must target a general audience via popular writing and ought not to be published elsewhere. It needs to be written in simple to comprehend terminology to communicate the importance of the search for its Next Page>>>>
SCHOLARSHIPS & AWARDS ria continue to be met. But the previous winners of this award won’t be eligible to submit a research story second time in precisely the exact same category.
Selection Criteria: The following are the criteria for judging the entries • The entries will be judged on the basis of accuracy, clarity, insightfulness, fairness, and resourcefulness. • The entries should convincingly answer the questions like Why does the research matter? Does the article clarify the author’s research in a means that’s simple to understand? Is it a compelling read? etc.. • An Expert Panel of science communicators, media people, subject specialists and professionals, featured by DST, will assess the science stories that are submitted. Award categories: • Selection of best 100 entries of science awards and stories. a. For PhD researchers: The initial screening of this entry is going to be selected by an expert panel. 100 entries will be chosen and each will be given with cash prize of 10,000/ along with Certificate of Appreciation. b. For Postdoc fellows: Twenty entrances are chosen from articles submitted by PDFs relating to their own line of research. Each will be given with cash prize of 10,000/along with Certificate of Appreciation. • Selection of the top three major stories a. For PhD researchers: The best
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three articles/stories will be chosen AWSAR programme will have the 1.5 line spacing composed in from the leading 100 stories. Fur- following guidelines for the execuMS Word)will be approved for ther, they’ll be awarded the cash tion: further scrutiny. prize of 1,00,000/, Rs.50,000/- and • Applicants found guilty of pla25,000/- respectively. • Any Indian citizen pursuing giarism will be blacklisted and b. For Postdoc fellows: One outPhD or PDF in almost any S&T debarred from participating in standing article/story will be chosen stream is qualified to apply unthe future. from the leading 25 stories. Further der AWSAR. • All articles must be submitted the exact same will be awarded the • The scholars ought to be registhrough an online portal. It’s cash prize of 1,00,000/. tered in a PhD program from suggested that hard copy may Government approved Institualso be submitted to the office These awards will be bestowed on 28 tions for two years. PDF related for record. February in the National Science Day to any recognized institute may • A panel of distinguished scienevent each year. Each of the awardees also apply. tists and science communicators will be provided with a chance to at- • Preference will be given to apfeatured by DST will pick the tend the Science Film Training Workplicants with the published pavery best 100 entries received shop arranged by Vigyan Prasar. per(s) of the research work. Both from PhD scholars and 20 best full-time and part-time PhD stuentries received from postdocWorkshops for early career redents will be encouraged for bigtoral fellows. searchers in writing popular sciger involvement. • The award will cover the followence story: • The article should signify a ing two broad categories complete research story in easy • The top three entries/writeThe workshops plan to suggest tips language to be understood by ups by the PhD scholars would for successful communication and rethe general public. No intricate be awarded the cash prizes of markable writing in popular science figures, graphs, equations or for1,00,000, 50,000 and 25,000, writing format. An identified group of mulae must be included except respectively. Also, 100 selected specialists will arrange a few workself-explanatory infographics entries/write-ups, by the PhD shops each year. The tentative theme that might be formulated for sucscholars, would be awarded the will cover cessful communication. cash prizes of ₹10,000 each, • Only original articles sent only every year. The award will in• Discover what makes writing for nomination for AWSAR clude a cash prize, a certificate good. award will be approved. Articles of appreciation and an opportu• Emphasise an effective method previously published elsewhere, nity for the winning articles to be of writing in the clearest way or concurrently sent for publipublished. possible, use of jargon that decation elsewhere, aren’t accept- • One outstanding story, by the scribes its significance clearly. able. post-doctoral fellows, will be • Utilization of proper words, lan- • The candidates are asked to mengiven a cash prize of 1,00,000. guage, sentences clinches for tion the theme, title of the paper Also, 20 selected entries/writecertain effects together with their name, affiliaups submitted by the post-doc• Strategies for original writing tion, and contact information in toral fellows will be given a cash • Strategies for obtaining a hook the submitted article. prize of 10,000 each and a certo catch the eye of the reader. • Articles submitted must carry a tificate of appreciation. • Basic rules of style, the flow of statement that the article is origwords and phrases, Grammar inal and hasn’t been previously Entries may be submitted from 15 and punctuation. published elsewhere. August 2019 until 30 September 2019 • Article of 1000-1500 words Fundamental guidelines for sub(A4-size with 2.5 cm margin on For more information regarding mitting a popular science story: all sides, single column, Times the programme, please see www. New Roman font, font size 12, awsar-dst.in
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