News Crux Science & Technology

Researchers At ARIES Discovered The Most Distant Gamma-ray Emitting Galaxy

  • Scientists from the Aryabhatta Research Institute of observational sciencES (ARIES), Nainital in collaboration with researchers from other institutions, have discovered the most distant gamma-ray emitting Narrow-Line Seyfert 1 (NLS1) galaxy known to date.
  • The researchers have been studying around 25,000 Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN) from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) and were able to devise a new method to find high-z NLS1 galaxies till now unknown by comparing different emission lines in their spectra.
  • One of the largest ground-based telescopes in the world, the 8.2 m Subaru Telescope located in Hawaii, US was used to confirm the findings.
  • The researchers confirmed that the newly found farthest gamma-ray emitting NLS1 galaxy was formed when the Universe was only about 4.7 billion years old. The current age of the Universe is 13.8 billion years.

News Crux Appointment

Sushil Chandra Appointed As Chief Election Commissioner Of India

On 13th April 2021, Sushil Chandra, the senior-most Election Commissioner, took charge as the Chief Election Commissioner of India. He succeeded Sunil Arora.

  • Prior to joining the Election Commission of India, Chandra has also served as the chairperson of the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT). Under his leadership, CBDT launched “Operation Clean Money” in 2017 in a bid to curb illegal wealth and black money.

Composition of ECI

  • The Election Commission of India is a three-member body, with one Chief Election Commissioner and two Election Commissioners. After the appointment of Sushil Chandra as CEC, Sh. Rajiv Kumar is the only Election Commissioner and one post is lying vacant.

Appointment & Tenure of Commissioners

  • The President appoints Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners. They have tenure of six years, or up to the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier.
  • They enjoy the same status and receive salary and perks as available to Judges of the Supreme Court of India.
  • The Chief Election Commissioner can be removed from office only through impeachment by Parliament.

News Crux Infrastructure

India Energy Dashboards (Version 2.0)

  • The India Energy Dashboards Version 2.0 was launched on 12 April 2021 by NITI Aayog.
  • India Energy Dashboards (IED) is an endeavour to provide single-window access to the energy data for the country. Energy data published/provided by Central Electricity Authority, Coal Controller’s Organisation, and Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas is compiled in the Dashboards.
  • NITI Aayog launched the Version 1.0 in May 2017.

News Crux Awards

74th British Academy Film Awards

  • The 74th British Academy Film Awards, also known as the BAFTAs, were held on 10 and 11 April 2021 at the Royal Albert Hall in London, honouring the best national and foreign films of 2020 and early 2021.
  • It was presented by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.

Major Awards & Winners

  • Best Film: Nomadland
  • Best Director: Chloé Zhao – Nomadland
  • Best Actor in a Leading Role: Anthony Hopkins – The Father
  • Best Actress in a Leading Role: Frances McDormand – Nomadland

PIB News Health

DBT Approves Funding For MRNA-based COVID-19 Vaccine - HGCO19 For Clinical Trials

  • The Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Ministry of Science & Technology has approved additional funding towards clinical studies of India's 'first of its kind' mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine - HGCO19, developed by Pune-based biotechnology company Gennova Biopharmaceuticals Ltd.
  • This funding has been awarded under the 'Mission COVID Suraksha- The Indian COVID-19 Vaccine Development Mission' by DBT's dedicated Mission Implementation Unit at Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) after multiple rounds of evaluation of all the applications that were submitted in response to the 'Request for Expression of Interest (REOI)' under Mission COVID Suraksha for the 'Development of COVID-19 vaccine candidate(s)'.
  • DBT has been hand-holding Gennova's right from the start and has facilitated establishing Gennova's mRNA-based next-generation vaccine manufacturing platform by providing seed funding for the development of HGCO19.
  • Gennova, in collaboration with HDT Biotech Corporation, USA, has developed the COVID-19mRNA vaccine – HGCO19.
  • HGCO19 has already demonstrated safety, immunogenicity, neutralization antibody activity in the rodent and non-human primate models. The neutralizing antibody response of the vaccine in mice and non-human primates was comparable with the sera from the convalescent patients of COVID-19.
  • Gennova has completed two preclinical toxicity studies as per the Drugs and Cosmetics (Ninth Amendment) Rules - 2019, to establish the safety of the vaccine candidate and got regulatory clearance from the Review Committee on Genetic Manipulation (RCGM) and office of the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI), Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO), Government of India, to conduct clinical trials. Gennova has initiated the process to enroll healthy volunteers from the Phase I/II clinical trials.

Why mRNA

  • mRNA vaccines are considered safe as mRNA is non-infectious, non-integrating in nature, and degraded by standard cellular mechanisms.
  • They are highly efficacious because of their inherent capability of being translatable into the protein structure inside the cell cytoplasm.
  • Additionally, mRNA vaccines are fully synthetic and do not require a host for growth, e.g., eggs or bacteria. Therefore, they can be quickly manufactured inexpensively under cGMP conditions to ensure their "availability" and "accessibility" for mass vaccination on a sustainable basis.