Major Achievements Of Indian Scientists in 2018

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Gel to Protect from Toxic Pesticides

Most farmers do not wear any protective gear while spraying chemicals in fields, which often leads to pesticide exposure and toxicity. Scientists at the Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, Bangalore have developed a protective gel – poly-Oxime – that can be applied on skin and can break down toxic chemicals into safe substances, preventing them from going deep into the skin and organs like the brain and the lungs. The research group plans to develop a mask that can deactivate pesticides.

World’s Thinnest Material

Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology, Gandhinagar, developed a material that is 100,000 times thinner than a sheet of paper. They synthesized a two-dimensional material of just one-nanometer thickness using Magnesium diboride – a compound of boron. This is said to be the world’s thinnest material. It can find a range of applications – from next-generation batteries to ultraviolet absorbing films.

Gene Editing on Banana Genome

Using the gene editing technique – CRISPR/Cas9 – researchers at the National Agri-Food Biotechnology Institute, Mohali have edited the banana genome. This is the first such work in any fruit crop in India. Banana is a the fourth most important food crop after wheat, rice and corn in terms of gross value of production. Gene editing could be deployed for improving nutritional quality, agronomical important traits as well as pathogen resistance in banana.

Findings to tackle Zika, Dengue, JE and Chikungunya

The National Brain Research Centre (NBRC) at Manesar has figured out cellular and molecular mechanisms that show how Zika virus causes microcephaly or small head size in babies. Researchers discovered that envelop protein of zika virus affects proliferation rates of human neural stem cells and promotes premature but faulty neuron formation.

Another study led by scientist at the Regional Centre for Biotechnology, Faridabad has identified a key protein which helps dengue as well as Japanese Encephalitis viruses’ replication inside human body by inhibiting anti-viral cytokines. This finding could pave way for development of targeted drugs for dengue and JE. For detecting Chikungunya, a group of researchers from Amity University, Noida, Jamia Millia Islamia University, Delhi and Maharishi Dayanand University, Rohtak, have developed a biosensor using molybdenum disulphide nanosheets.

Faster Diagnostic Tests for TB

Scientists at the Translational Health Science and Technology Institute, Faridabad, and All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, have jointly developed highly sensitive and rapid tests for detection of tuberculosis infection in lungs and surrounding membranes. Unlike current tests that use antibodies for detection of bacterial proteins in sputum samples, new tests use Aptamer Linked Immobilized Sorbent Assay (ALISA) and Electrochemical Sensor (ECS) for detection of a bacterial protein in the sputum.

‘Mini Ice Age’ Dismissed

Scientists from the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) Kolkata have dismissed the speculation that the upcoming sunspot cycle is going to be stronger, based on calculations using a model developed by them. The near-Earth and inter-planetary space environmental conditions and solar radiative forcing of climate over the upcoming sunspot cycle 25 will likely be similar or marginally more extreme relative to what has been observed during the past decade over the current solar cycle. The method makes it possible to make predictions almost a decade before the next sunspot cycle activity peaks in strength.

New Tool for Autism Screening

Early identification and interventions may help children with autistic disorders. To help this process, scientists at the Government Medical College and Hospital, Chandigarh, have developed an Indian tool for screening children for autism. The Chandigarh Autism Screening Instrument (CASI) is designed to help community health workers to carry out initial screening for autism.

Hope for Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s Disease

Scientists at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru, have figured out the way memory deficit develops in early stages, resulting in Alzheimer’s disease. They have found that early breaking down of a protein, fibrillar actin or F-actin, in the brain leads to disruption in communication among nerve cells and consequently memory deficits. This knowledge can be used to develop early diagnosis test in future.

In another study done in fruit flies, researchers at Department of Genetics at Delhi University South Campus found that it was possible to restrict the progression of Huntington’s disease by increasing insulin signalling in the brain neuronal cells.

Recycle of Plaster of Paris

A team of scientists at Pune-based National Chemical Laboratory (CSIR-NCL) has developed a technique that helps recycle Plaster of Paris waste from hospitals in an eco-friendly and economical way. The new technique disinfects waste and converts it into useful products like ammonium sulphate and calcium bicarbonate. The technique can also be used to disintegrate PoP waste from idols immersed in water bodies.

Sikkim gets Real-Time Landslide Warning System

A real-time landslide warning system has been set up in the Sikkim-Darjeeling belt of north-eastern Himalayas which is highly vulnerable to landslides. The warning system consists of over 200 sensors that can measure geophysical and hydrological parameters like rainfall, pore pressure and seismic activities. The system is capable of warning about 24 hours in advance. It has been deployed by researchers of Kerala-based Amrita University and Sikkim State Disaster Management Authority.

Boost to Computing Capacity for Weather Forecasting

During the year, the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) upgraded its computing capacity for weather forecasting and climate monitoring, taking its total high performance computing (HPC) power to as high as 6.8 Petaflop. With this, India rose to the fourth position, next only to United Kingdom, Japan and USA in terms of dedicated capacity for HPC resources for weather and climate proposes.

Silk Polymer to Develop Artificial Vertebral Disc

Scientists at Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati developed a silk-based bioartificial disc that may find use in disc replacement therapy in future. The group has developed a fabrication procedure for a silk-based bioartificial disc adopting a “directional freezing technique”. The disc mimics internal intricacy of human disc and its mechanical properties too are similar to those of the native ones. The use of a silk biopolymer to fabricate a biocompatible disc can reduce the cost of artificial discs in future.

Transgenic Rice with Low Arsenic Accumulation, Flowering Mustard

To address the problem of arsenic accumulation in rice grains, researchers at Lucknow- based CSIR-National Botanical Research Institute developed transgenic rice by inserting a novel fungal gene, which results in reduced arsenic accumulation in rice grain. They cloned Arsenic methyltransferase (WaarsM) gene from a soil fungus and inserted it into rice genome. In another study, TERI School of Advanced Studies has developed an early flowering transgenic variety of mustard.

Reference: Inputs from The Better India (https://www.thebetterindia.com/167718/these-15-brilliant-achievements-proves-2018-was-the-year-of-indian-scientists/)

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