Indian Science and Technology Developments : Updates and Discussions

Gautam

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Indian scientists discover technology to detect early spread of cancer

The technology not only detects the early spread of cancer but doctors say it can also speed up the cancer detection process.

Edited By : Ipsita Sarkar
Updated : Aug 24, 2019, 18:31 PM IST

A team of Pune scientists have discovered a technology that can detect the spread of cancer within mere hours and claim that the new finding reduces considerably the time taken for detecting the disease.

The new "OncoDiscover" technology discovered by a team led by Dr Jayant Khandare not only detects the early spread of cancer but doctors say it can also speed up the cancer detection process. Presently, in India, the final diagnosis report to detect the spread of cancer takes about 12 days whereas, with OncoDiscover technology, doctors can detect it in a mere 3.5 hours.

Dr Khandare told ANI, "We felt the need for this technology because global cancer is spreading. 90 per cent of the people get to know they have cancer when it is at the second stage but through this technology, we can try saving that 90 per cent. This technology is needed to detect cancer at an early stage.

"Khandare said after the US, the technology is now being pioneered in India, the second country to do so."This is the first such technology in India and second in the world. We started this journey about eight years back and the team worked really hard to reach the conclusion," Dr Khandare said.

The doctor claimed that researchers from Bangladesh, South Korea are among those who have visited Pune to know about the technology and there has been enquiries from New Zealand about obtaining the technology for use in their country.

Indian scientists discover technology to detect early spread of cancer
 

RISING SUN

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India's ambition to send men to the deep sea in a submersible vehicle is likely to be a reality in 2021-22 with the 'Samudrayaan' project, a senior official said. The 'Samudrayaan' is a part of the Ministry of Earth Sciences' pilot project for deep ocean mining for rare minerals. "We will go deeper in phases with more trials and the mining is expected to commence in 2022," Atmanand said.
 
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Gautam

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RISING SUN

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A Breakthrough, First Cryo-EM Structure from India
Recently, scientists from NCCS, Pune have studied a protein with the help of Cryo-EM to gain its structural and functional insights. It is considered to be the first Cryo-EM based structure determination study, carried entirely in India. The study has been published in Scientific Reports.

Most of the neurological disorders involve dysfunctioning of receptors which plays a crucial role in the transmission of the synaptic signals. One such important receptor is GluK3 Kainate located at the pre and post synapse. The scientist tried to understand the gating properties unique to the receptor which helps in the regulation of synaptic transmission across the neurons.

Here we share the interview the Dr. Janesh Kumar (Scientist) addressing important insight about the study.

How did you come up with this hypothesis & what got you interested?
Dr. Janesh
– “GluK3 receptors belong to the family of glutamate receptor ion channels and play critical roles in maintaining the balance between excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmission, which is essential for normal brain functions. However, our understanding of how they work and could be regulated was limited due to a lack of detailed 3D view for these receptors. Hence, we decided to work on it to fill this gap. I got interested in the area of membrane protein biology in general and ion channels in particular in 2003 when I heard Rob Mackinnon’s Nobel lecture. The interest got reinforced during my postdoctoral stint at NIH, Bethesda with Dr. Mark Mayer.”

Why is your research important? What are the possible real-world applications?
Dr. Janesh
-“Typical functions of the brain depend on the ability of nerve cells to transmit electrical signals. Glutamate receptor ion channels are molecular machines that are fundamentally involved in this electrical transmission in the brain. Dysfunction of these ion channels is implicated in a remarkable range of diseases of the nervous system such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, epilepsy, schizophrenia, etc. So it’s critical to understand how these receptors operate and how their functions are regulated. Towards this goal, we trapped the receptor in two different states in the gating cycle and determined their structure via electron microscopy. The comparison and analysis of the structures revealed the various movements in the receptor molecule responsible for its functions. Using these structures as a guide, we show that the sugar chains that are present on the receptor surface mediate interactions between various regions of the receptor and tune receptor functions. Our results provide the first 3D view of GluK3 receptors and show that sugars present on the receptor surface modulate their functions.”



GluK3 receptor in the desensitized state
Credit – Dr. Janesh, NCCS, Pune

“This detailed view gives critical clues to developing drugs for combating several neurological diseases and conditions. It is invaluable as efforts are ongoing around the world to develop drugs that might work on specific receptor subunits that may help fight or cure some of the neurological diseases and conditions.”

What kind of response have you gotten to your research /findings?
Dr. Janesh
-“We have received a lot of appreciation for this work from all corners. This is primarily because of the crucial roles these receptors play in the brain but also because working with membrane proteins is considered very challenging. This is due to their weak expression combined with their instability when extracted out of cell membranes. Further, our work reports the first structure of a eukaryotic membrane protein from India. It’s also probably the first cryo-EM structure reported from India (where the entire work is carried out in India)”.

What are the challenges faced during the discovery?
Dr. Janesh
-“There were multiple hurdles on the way. Beginning with setting up a facility for membrane protein expression and purification from eukaryotic cells to set up sophisticated instrumentation for doing electrophysiology experiments at NCCS Pune. Talented and hardworking lead authors on the paper who did the entire work reported in this paper, Ms. Jyoti Kumari and Dr.Rajesh Vinnakota took up this challenge and successfully established the respective facilities in the lab. We have now helped many other labs in India in establishing similar methods for protein expression and purification. This could not have been possible without their efforts and the funding support from India Alliance and DBT, New Delhi”.


Ms. Jyoti Kumari (Left) and Dr. Rajesh Vinnakota carried out the structural and functional studies of the protein GluK3.

“However, our biggest challenge has been getting enough time on high-end cryo-electron microscopes for performing these experiments. Let me elaborate a bit on this. Before a large dataset could be collected for high-resolution structure determination, one must identify/screen suitable conditions for EM experiments. For single-particle electron microscopy, a thin layer of protein is flash frozen on EM grids such that protein molecules are properly distributed and adopt all sorts of random orientations in the grid holes. This is essential for achieving high-resolution structure. Finding such a condition requires multiple screening experiments where different conditions and grid types are evaluated. This usually takes a lot of time and requires additional access to electron microscopes. If this is done on a “high-end” EM, it eats into precious time that could have been utilized for data collection. So each facility should have a “screening” microscope along with “high-end” microscope for data collection. This is not the case at the two high-end facilities that are operational in India at the moment. Hopefully, the situation would change in the near future”.

Why is your area of scientific discovery important (or relevant) for the ordinary citizen of this country?
Dr. Janesh
– “As described earlier, these receptors form the cornerstones of neural signaling hence understanding how they function and are regulated is very important. Being involved in the fundamental process of neurotransmission and being associated with multiple neuronal disorders, these are also very important drug targets. We believe that our work provides a better understanding of the functioning of these receptors and also provides molecular blueprints for therapeutic targeting”.

What is the future plan w.r.t to the discovery and findings?
Dr. Janesh
– “We are currently working on elucidating how these brain receptors talk to other proteins in the neurons. This is important as this cross-talk and interaction ultimately shapes the neuronal signaling and hence is vital from a therapeutic angle.

Recently, first CRISPR CAS9 has been imaged using Cryo-EM, would you like to comment anything on it?
Dr. Janesh
– “There have been multiple publications that report the cryo-EM structure of CRISPR CAS9 complexes; however, recently, scientists have been able to capture the details of the editing process. You can say the enzyme has been caught “in-action” by generating high-resolution images/3Dviews of the CAS9 through the process of DNA editing. This will surely help in improving this technique by making it more efficient and safe. Needless to say, it again demonstrates the power of the electron microscopy technique for the development of which Noble Prize in chemistry for the year 2017 was awarded”.
A Breakthrough, First Cryo-EM Structure from India
 
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Gautam

Team StratFront
Feb 16, 2019
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Researchers develop materials to detect hydrogen with high sensitivity

This is important because hydrogen gas is difficult to produce and it is hard to detect if it leaks.

By Sunderarajan Padmanabhan
Last Updated: Wednesday 04 September 2019


Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology-Hyderabad(IIT-H) and Indian Institute of Technology-Jodhpur(IIT-J) have developed a semiconductor material that can detect hydrogen gas leaks with high sensitivity.

The importance of hydrogen gas has grown in recent times because of its promise as a clean energy source. However, there are major challenges — hydrogen gas is difficult to produce and it is hard to detect if it leaks. Since it is highly inflammable, leaks can be catastrophic if not detected immediately.

Scientists have been working on many types of hydrogen sensors. These include optical, electro-chemical and electrical sensors. Electrical sensors, in particular, resistive sensors, are the closest to practicality due to their low cost, simple design and possibility of good sensitivity.
The research is mainly on metal semi-conductors such as zinc oxide as they undergo changes in their electrical resistance in the presence of hydrogen gas. The focus had been on nano-materials since the sensitivity of zinc oxide’s response to hydrogen gas depends upon its surface area: the larger the surface area, or the smaller the particles, the better its sensitivity,

In the new development, researchers loaded the zinc oxide nanoparticles onto nanofibres of carbon and found that it resulted in a sensing response of nearly 74 per cent compared to just 44.5 per cent with pure zinc oxide nanoparticles.

This is due to easy diffusion of hydrogen gas through nanopores of the cotton-candy-like carbon nanofibres, thus bringing them into intimate contact with the zinc oxide nanoparticles deposited on the nanofibres.

The team spun nanofibres by a process called electrospinning, in which a polymer solution is electrically charged and ejected through a spinneret under a high-voltage electric field. In this work, the researchers used a special polymer blend to obtain the nanofibres.

The study was led by Chandra Shekhar Sharma (IIT-Hyderabad) and Mahesh Kumar (IIT-Jodhpur). It also included Vijendra Singh Bhati, Akash Nathani and Adarsh Nigam. Results of this research have been published in journal Sensors and Actuators. (India Science Wire)

Researchers develop materials to detect hydrogen with high sensitivity
 

Gautam

Team StratFront
Feb 16, 2019
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8,375
Tripura, NE, India
‘India-specific cancer genome database being developed’

By Staff Reporter
CHENNAI
Updated : August 25, 2019 08:36 IST

IIT-Madras has established a cancer genomics facility, and in the last four years, has collected 3,000 tissue and blood samples of cancer patients in and around Chennai. | File

Union Health Ministry ropes in IIT-Madras for the initiative

The Union Health Ministry, in collaboration with the Indian Institute of Technology-Madras(IIT-M), is developing India-specific cancer genome database that will help identify bio-markers specific to the Indian population. This will help in early diagnosis, and also identify drug targets for the Indian population.

IIT-Madras has established a cancer genomics facility, and in the last four years, has collected 3,000 tissue and blood samples of cancer patients in and around Chennai. The idea was to collect 10 lakh tissue samples from across the country.

On Saturday, Union Minister of State for Health Ashwini Kumar Choubey, along with a team from the Indian Council of Medical Research, visited the facility at the IIT-Madras.

“We are launching a ‘war against cancer’. There is a fear among people when it comes to cancer and we want to spread the awareness that it is curable. We want to concentrate on its prevention. We are focusing on genetics so that we can have personalized drugs. We also want public-private partnership to generate funds for cancer treatment,” the Minister told reporters.

“The Ministry is looking at connecting other States, and other databases available in the country. This would reduce the cost of genomics treatment for cancer. As of now, samples were taken to Western countries for testing, costing ₹5-₹7 lakh. When done in India, the cost could come down to ₹50,000,” he noted.

The standard practices for treating cancer patients

With initial cancer screening lacking in the country, the Union Health Ministry is looking at joining hands with health providers. Tamil Nadu, having one of the best models in healthcare in the private sector, could provide expertise for the rest of the country. Already, pacts were signed with centres for cancer screening in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Assam, he said.

Vaccine park

HLL Biotech Limited (HBL), a subsidiary of HLL and a Government of India enterprise, had established an integrated vaccine complex at Chengalpattu. The Minister said the government was looking at sparing a few projects of HLL such as HBL that produces vaccines.

“We are looking at how to take the project forward, and how to strengthen HBL. We will do everything to sustain it,” he said. On the upcoming All India Institute of Medical Sciences at Thoppur, he said land has been allotted and tenders were floated for construction of buildings.

‘India-specific cancer genome database being developed’
 

Gautam

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IIT researchers develop India's first spine surgery robot for less painful, affordable surgeries

Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) have developed India's first 'Spine Surgery Robot,' for minimally invasive and open spine surgeries that are less painful and more affordable.

Press Trust of India, New Delhi
August 27, 2019 ; 17:58 IST
1568045158963.png


Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) have developed a 'Spine Surgery Robot,' an image-guided robotic system for minimally invasive and open spine surgeries that are less painful and more affordable.

India's first robotic spinal surgery system

The project funded by HRD Ministry, is India's first robotic system for spinal surgery - making such procedures right-first-time across skill level of surgeons and affordable to patients, the researchers at IIT Madras claim.

"Minimally invasive spinal surgeries yield superior results compared to open spinal surgeries (needs expertise) with faster recovery time, lower infections and better outcomes. The Spine Surgery Robot we have developed will help in reduction in procedure time, reducing hospital stay and recovering time for the patient," said IIT Professor, Mohanasankar Sivaprakasam, who is leading the project.

1568045197148.png


Working of the spine surgery robot

"Our product will also increase the safety of the procedure for the patient and reduce surgeon's radiation exposure. To provide intra-operative guidance, an external position tracker will be provided to independently track the tool placement and robotic position on need basis."

"A calibration step will be performed for the external tracker to align the world coordinates to the 3D model and robot coordinate. Once calibrated, any movement of the tracker can be extrapolated on to the 3D model and the surgery plan. The system will have a rigid and high-impact-withstanding end effector or gripper to hold and position various tools and instruments to perform the surgery," the professor added.
The product developed under the Uchhatar Avishkar Yojana (UAY) was recently displayed at TechEx event at IIT Delhi.

IIT researchers develop India's first spine surgery robot for less painful, affordable surgeries
 

Gautam

Team StratFront
Feb 16, 2019
12,081
8,375
Tripura, NE, India
Tata Group to invest over ₹500 cr to establish two Indian Institutes of Skill

2 min read . Updated: 11 Sep 2019, 08:36 PM IST by Prashant K. Nanda
  • The Tata Group will invest over ₹500 crore to establish two Indian Institutes of Skills (IISs) - one in Mumbai and another in Ahmedabad
  • Inspired by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) model of education, the IIS will be developed on a public-private-partnership (PPP) mode

The skills ministry feels that the IIS will be a tertiary care institute in the skills eco system.(Photo: Bloomberg)

New Delhi : The Tata Group will invest over ₹500 crore to establish two Indian Institutes of Skills (IISs) - one in Mumbai and another in Ahmedabad in collaboration with the ministry of skill development and entrepreneurship, the union government said Wednesday.

Inspired by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) model of education, the IIS will be developed on a public-private-partnership (PPP) mode with land coming from government and capital from the Tata Group.

While the IIS Mumbai foundation was laid Wednesday by skills minister M.N. Pandey in the presence of Tata Group Chairman N. Chandrasekaran, a formal announcement related to the Ahmedabad IIS will be made over the next couple of weeks.

“Tata Group will build two IISs and their selection was done after a competitive bidding. They are expected to invest over 500 crore including Rs. 300 crore for the Mumbai institute," skills secretary K.P. Krishnan said.

The IIS will be modelled after IITs and IIMs and expected to emerge as the tertiary level institute in the skills ecosystem and cater to the demand of industry 4.0 and offer courses in areas like deep technology, aerospace, etc.

“This is a privilege for us to be a part of something that was initiated and conceptualized by Honourable Prime Minister," N Chandrasekaran said Wednesday, adding that both the Tata Group and the government was working closely for the last three months on the issue.

“We are aware that jobs are important for the economic growth and it has been noticed that approximately 1 million people join the workforce every year. In such a scenario, skilling is the appropriate solution to help the youth in getting productively employed. There has been a mismatch between the skills that are imparted and the jobs that are available. We need to ensure that there are skills imparted to make the youth ready for 21st century jobs," Tata Group Chairman said.

“At IIS, we look at providing a curriculum that would help to impart traditional skills along with soft skills. I am optimistic to have worldclass partners who would help us in making our mission through IIS stronger," he said during his address in Mumbai event.

“The concept of Indian Institute of Skills (IIS) was envisaged by the Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi ji himself when he had visited the Vocational Education and Training Center in Singapore… (IIS) will be on the lines of the IITs and the IIMs that we have in our country. It will aspire to earn a similar reputation, stature and world-class infrastructure to cater to the demands of the international market and modern requirements," skills minister Pandey said.

The skills ministry feels that IIS will be tertiary care institute in the skills eco system and offer best of the industry required courses in emerging and high demand areas including deep technology, aerospace among others. The concept of the IIS is “on the lines of that of the IITs and IIMs in India".

Government would provide access to its land through a 25 year long licence. Once the institutes are operational, government expects at least 5000 students to pass out of each of these institutes from the fifth years of operation with a placement record of at least 70%.

India will build 3 IIS one fully funded by the government and two in PPP model with Tata Group as it’s partner. The development also marks a shift in skill missions approach from an earlier asset light model to asset creation model with help from corporates.

Tata Group to invest over ₹500 cr to establish two Indian Institutes of Skill