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Science Monitor: 17 April 2021

Science Monitor: 17 April 2021

1. ’AAHAR KRANTI’ LAUNCHED TO PROMOTE BETTER NUTRIRION:

Context:

To create nationwide awareness about the value of accessible to all locally available nutritious foods in India, a movement called ‘Aahar Kranti’ was launched by Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan on the 13th of April. The movement aims to end malnutrition among the Indian population by creating awareness about the nutritional richness of India's traditional diet, the healing powers of the local fruits and vegetables and the miracles of a balanced diet.

Dr Harsh Vardhan announces launch of 'Aahaar Kranti'

About the movement:

  • The current coronavirus pandemic has shown us that a strong immunity is of utmost importance for a healthy life. People whose immunity was better had the least threat of contracting the infection and also had less severe symptoms if they did get infected.

  • Keeping this in mind ‘Aahar Kranti’ was launched as a nutritional mass movement through a virtual event. Dignitaries and officials of organizations related to the campaign were also part of the online functions.

  • Vijnana Bharati (Vibha) and its associate organization Global Indian Scientists and Technocrats (GIST) forum have launched Aahar Kranti with the idea of positive nutrition. It is being promoted by Vigyan Prasar and Pravasi Bharatiya Academic and Scientific Sampark (PRABHASS) of CSIR with the aim of creating a mass movement.

  • The mission is to make people aware about the nutrients in locally available fruit and vegetables from different regions of the country. This diet revolution will help not only in removing malnutrition but also improving the economic health of the country as the market for local fruit and vegetables will get an impetus.

  • Demand for traditional crops will also increase leading to increased returns of farmers and local vendors, at the same time, a nourished society will help the nation in facing epidemics and challenges like the corona virus in the future.

  • On the occasion, a monthly newspaper called ‘Aahar Kranti’ was also released. This newspaper will be published in Hindi and English by Vigyan Prasar and there will be a number of offline and online awareness programs in almost every Indian language.

  • As part of this, special attention will be given to the training of teachers who will help spread the program's message to their students and in turn reach the students families. This is being done to ensure that the message of the program penetrates the entire Indian society. The hope is that the ancient Indian knowledge of Ayurveda will once again prove to be a guide for the whole world.

2. ‘HGCO19’ RECEIVES ADDITIONAL FUNDING FOR CLINICAL STUDIES:

Context:

In a significant development towards having more indigenous covid-19 vaccine candidates in India, the Ministry of Science and Technology has recently approved additional funding towards clinical studies of ‘HGCO19’ which is India's first messenger RNA based vaccine candidate. The candidate has been developed by Pune based genome biopharmaceuticals limited and it will receive the funding under Mission COVID Suraksha which was launched by the Government of India in November 2020 to accelerate the development of promising vaccine candidates in the country.

India's first mRNA Covid-19 vaccine receives approval for clinical trials -  News Chant

About the studies:

  • On 16 March 2020, US began first human trials of a covid-19 vaccine candidate. The candidate was based on the messenger RNA technology. On 8th December 2020, when the first person in the world was vaccinated against COVID-19, the approved vaccine was also based on the messenger RNA platform.

  • Although both these vaccines were developed by different alliances, yet the approval of the m-RNA based vaccines in the trying times of COVID was a game-changing development as no m-RNA based drug or vaccine had been licensed for use on humans before the pandemic of COVID-19.

  • The successful and quick implementation of this technology has given a lot of hope to the scientists. Now, India's own vaccine candidate based on m-RNA platform is set to enter clinical trials. The candidate named HGCO19 has been developed by Pune-based Gennova Biopharmaceuticals Limited in collaboration with HDT Biotech Corporation USA.

  • The Ministry of Science and Technology's Department of Biotechnology (DBT) has been hand-holding Gennova right from the start and has facilitated establishing Gennova's m-RNA based next generation vaccine manufacturing platform by providing seed funding for the development of HGCO19.

  • Now, the department has also decided to provide further funding to the company towards the clinical studies of HGCO19. The funding will be provided under mission COVID SURAKSHA.

  • Unlike the traditional vaccines that have weakened or inactivated form of the pathogen to generate immunity response in the subjects, the m-RNA based vaccine uses a synthetic piece of messenger RNA that is capable of instructing our bodies to make pathogen-related protein to generate immunity response.

  • The m-RNA is non-infectious, non-integrating in nature and degraded by standard cellular mechanisms. The m-RNA vaccines are fully synthetic and can be quickly manufactured inexpensively under the Current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) conditions to ensure their availability and accessibility for mass vaccination on a sustainable basis.

  • The establishment of such a technology platform will empower India to handle the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure the preparedness for any future pandemic or endemic stage that will follow by utilizing its rapid development path.

  • HGCO19 has already demonstrated safety immunogenicity neutralization antibody activity in the rodent and non-human primate models and has got the regulatory clearance from the review committee on genetic manipulation and the Office of the Drugs Controller General of India (CDSCO), Government of India to conduct clinical trials.

  • Meanwhile, to meet the current and future demand of COVID-19 vaccines, India has also agreed to fast track vaccine approvals that have already been authorized by drug regulators of the US, UK, European Union and Japan or those that have been cleared by the who these vaccines will be eligible for use in India without having to conduct a local bridging trial.

3. MICRO-SENSOR BASED EXPLOSIVE TRACE DETECTOR- NANOSNIFFER:

Context:

Indian researchers have developed a new device to detect explosive material the device called NanoSniffer is the world's first micro sensor based explosive trace detector to literally sniff the explosives in less than 10 seconds. The device has been developed by an incubated startup of IIT Bombay and another startup related to IIT Delhi is marketing this device. NanoSniffer was recently launched by Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokriyal Nishank in an online event..

Microsensor based explosive trace detector 'NanoSniffer' launched

About the detector:

  • Security agencies commonly use sniffer dogs to detect explosives and contraband materials at sensitive locations. For this, several types of sensor-based equipment are being used currently but, most of these devices are imported which also leads to some practical problems in the use of these devices. To overcome these problems two startups have now developed a micro sensor based explosive trace detector called NanoSniffer under the Make in India program.

  • NanoSniffer is the world's first explosive detection device using micro sensor technology, it can detect and identify the explosive within 10 seconds. NanoSniffer has been developed by the NanoSniff technologies which is a commercial spin-off from the Centers of Excellence in Nanoelectronics (CEN) at IIT Bombay.

  • The device is marketed by Vehant Technologies, a spin-off of IIT Delhi's incubated startup called Kritikal. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning based micro sensors in the NanoSniffer not only detect explosives quickly but also classified them giving instant information about their type.

  • The device comes with a sunlight readable color display and also issues visible and audible alerts. The device is capable of detecting nanogram quantities of explosive traces.

  • The NanoSniffer will facilitate quick scanning and advanced detection while also being cheaper due to it being indigenouCSIR-NISCAIR and VIBHA Launch Thematic Luni-Solar Calendar on Chaitra  Shukla Pratipada | DD Newss. The device has been tested by the Defense Research and Development Organization's High Energy Materials Research Laboratory and the National Security Guard.

4. SCIENCE EXPRESS:

1. NISCAIR, Vijnana Bharti launch Luni-Solar calendar:

  • On April 13th, the dawn of the Hindu New Year or Chaitra Shukla Pratipada, CSIR-NISCAIR and Vibha launched a thematic Luni-solar calendar.

  • Professor Sumak Rai Chowdhury, Director of the Inter University Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics in Pune was the keynote speaker at the event held at the Delhi office of the CSIR-NISCAIR.

  • The thematic Luni-solar calendar mainly displays the 'Tithi' and 'Paksha' and gives important information about fruits and vegetables based on season.

2. Young scientists'' academy launches campaign to bust myths about COVID-19 vaccination:

  • The Indian National Young Academy of Science has launched a nationwide awareness campaign to dispel the myths about the coronavirus vaccine among the general public. Recently, Professor Ashito Sharma, Secretary Department of Science and Technology launched the campaign through a webinar.

  • As part of this campaign, a mobile application named ‘CovacNews’ has been prepared which will disseminate information in 11 regional languages besides Hindi and English. Apart from this, the academy is also organizing a nationwide infographic audio visual competition and webinar series.

  • This will involve renowned experts from across the country to create awareness through lectures about the coronavirus infection, vaccine and the vaccination process.

3. Gurugram-based startup develops air purifier that 'kills' 99% coronavirus:

  • Gurugram based startup O2 cure has developed a purifier that kills COVID-19 nearly 99 percent from air to surface. According to the company, this PHI-cell based technology has been tested at the virology lab of CSIR’s Center for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad.TN Siddha doctor claims to have invented cure for Coronavirus

  • During the testing, the purifier was successful in reducing 97.48 percent of the virus present. This purifier is equipped with air absorbing drills and can purify an area of 500 square feet.

  • This air purifier can be installed in densely populated areas to fight not only the COVID-19 causing coronavirus but also other pollutants.

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