SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY :
- Pune based biotechnology firm Mylab Discovery Solutions Pvt. Ltd. is the first Indian entity to get government approval for commercial manufacturing of their COVID-19 testing kit.
- The product is named Mylab PathoDetect COVID-19 Qualitative PCR kit.
- The COVID-19 test is based on reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) which allows for detection even in the early stages of infection.
- With the government’s emphasis on ‘Make in India’, Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) supported the company.
- The kit was developed and evaluated in a record time of six weeks and costs nearly one-fourth of the currently procured kits. It can detect infection in 2.5 hours.
- The Department of Science and Technology (DST) has set up a COVID 19 Task Force for mapping of technologies from R&D labs, academic institutions, startups, and MSMEs to scout for and fund nearly market-ready solutions in the area of diagnostics, testing, health care delivery, and equipment sup-plies.
- These solutions include personal protective equipment (PPE), affordable kits for screening, ventilators and oxygenators, data analytics for tracking, monitoring, and controlling the spread of outbreak through AI and IoT based solutions.
- The Task Force is to identify the most promising startups and help them rapidly scale up.
- To this end, DST has invited two separate sets of proposals, one each under Science & Engineering Research Board (SERB) and Technology Development Board (TDB), to support scientific solutions and commercial manufacturing of both new and existing solutions.
- A team of scientists from CSIR-Institute of Himalayan Bioresource Technology (CSIR-IHBT) based in Palampur, Himachal Pradesh, has developed a new hand sanitizer.
- The sanitizer has been made using natural flavours, active tea constituents and alcohol as per the guidelines of the World Health Organization (WHO).
- Chemicals like parabens, triclosan, synthetic fragrance and phthalates have not been used in the product.
- The technology has been transferred to a Palampur based company for commercial production and marketing in all major cities across the country.
- Under the National Mission on Interdisciplinary Cyber-Physical Systems (NM-ICPS), the Department of Science and Technology (DST) has sanctioned Rs 7.25 crore to the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Mandi to establish a Technology Innovation Hub (TIH).
- The TIH will focus primarily on human-computer interaction (HCI) research with emphasis on design and development of technology interfaces and the study of interaction between humans and computers.
- The hub will work towards developing a technology interface for challenges in the areas of cybersecurity, defence, healthcare, forensics, landslides, environment, air pollution, and agriculture.
- TIH will also work on the development and evaluation of interfaces of IoT-based Cyber-Physical Sys-tems (CPS).
- It will collaborate with other leading institutions and work in the areas of skill development and entrepreneurship.
- In a Department of Biotechnology, sponsored research, scientists at the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) have developed a method to improve the growth rate and sugar content of a marine cyanobacterium called Synechococcus sp. PCC 7002.
- They successfully engineered Synechococcus sp. PCC 7002 which showed a higher growth rate and sugar (glycogen) content. When grown on air, the growth was doubled and the glycogen content of the cells increased by about 50%.
- Biotechnological processes such as biofuel production are dependent on the availability of low-cost and sustainable supply of sugars and a nitrogen source. Plants, through the process of photosynthesis, convert carbon dioxide in the atmosphere into biological components such as sugars, proteins and lipids.
- The cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) can also perform photosynthesis and produce sugar by fixing the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Apart from higher yield of sugars, cyanobacterial biomass also provides a nitrogen source in the form of proteins.
- Synechococcus sp. PCC 7002 is a model marine cyanobacterium. There are other Synechococcus species and related organisms where this work can be extended.
- The present finding will help improve the economic feasibility of marine cyanobacteria-based sugar, and consequently, biofuel production.
- Indian Railways Catering & Tourism Corporation Limited (IRCTC) has enabled Artificial Intelligence based chatbot ASKDISHA to converse with customers in Hindi language, apart from English, on their e-ticketing site. The customers can now ask queries to ASKDISHA in Hindi language by voice as well as text.
- In order to resolve queries of railway passengers over the internet pertaining to various services offered, Indian Railways had introduced the services of ASKDISHA in October, 2018.
- IRCTC plans to launch ASKDISHA in more languages along with many other additional features in the near future.
- The chatbot is a special computer programme designed to simulate conversation with users, over the internet. Since its initial launch, more than 150 million passengers have been benefited by ASKDISHA with 10 billion interactions for seeking help on reservation of tickets, cancellation, enquiry of refund status, fare, PNR search, train running status, enquiry about retiring rooms and tourism products.
- The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology will organize the first Global AI Summit in India- ‘RESPONSIBLE AI FOR SOCIAL EMPOWERMENT’ (RAISE 2020), during 11th -12th April with a focus on harnessing AI for social transformation, inclusion, and empowerment.
- The summit will bring together the innovators, investors and collaborators of the technology.
- RAISE 2020 will have the following three key features:
- AI Startup Pitchfest: It will be an exclusive closed door pitching for a select few before the best of investor community and potential customers.
- AI Startup Theatre: It will provide a great opportunity for select start-ups to showcase their offerings at the centre stage of a premium and one of its kind summits to audience from around the globe.
- AI Startup Awards: The awards will recognize the potentially high impact, champion startups for using AI as a solution and enabler.
- EChO Network, a national program, has been launched to train a new generation of educators and students who can identify and solve problems in an interdisciplinary manner and who can listen to our natural world and tackle real-world problems in medicine, agriculture, ecology, and technology.
- The initiative has drawn in partners from Government, industry and academia, with the Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Govt. of India steering the program under the guidance of Prof. Shannon Olsson, Director, EChO Network. Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Hindustan Unilever Limited, RoundGlass, India Climate Collaborative, Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE), and Centre for Cellular and Molecular Platforms (C-CAMP) are the founding partners of the EChO Network.
- This is a clock designed by researchers at California Institute of Technology and NASA-Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) that will give more accurate and precise time than currently used atomic clocks.
- Atomic clocks are used around the world to precisely tell time. Standard atomic clocks in use today, based on the atom cesium, tell time by "counting" radio frequencies.
- The new clock design builds upon two types of optical atomic clocks already in use. The first type is based on a single trapped charged atom, or ion, while the second uses thousands of neutral atoms trapped in what is called an optical lattice.
- Instead of using a collection of many atoms, the new design uses 40 atoms -- and those atoms are precisely controlled with laser tweezers.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) prequalified its first biosimilar medicine – trastuzumab – for treatment of breast cancer. The medicine, supplied by Samsung Bioepis NL B.V. (Netherlands), was assessed by WHO and found comparable to the originator product in terms of efficacy, safety and quality.
Biosimilars: They are much less expensive versions of innovator biotherapeutics while keeping the same effectiveness. They are usually manufactured by other companies once the patent on the original product has expired.
Biotherapeutics: Biotherapeutics are pharmaceutical products derived from biological and living sources. They include therapeutic vaccines, blood, blood components, cells, gene therapies, tissues and other materials.
WHO Prequalification: Prequalification is a service provided by WHO to assess the quality, safety and efficacy of those products that address global public health priorities.