Polity & Governance
- Gilead gets patent for Hepatitis C drug Solvadi
- Annual core sector growth at decade low
- India ranks ninth in crony-capitalism index
- UN launches trust fund for C’bean Zika virus response
Science & Technology
- Baby born in U.K. through new DNA method
- HoloFlex, world’s first holographic flexible smartphone
- Scientists discover why carrots are orange
Polity & Governance
Gilead gets patent for Hepatitis C drug Solvadi
In direct contradiction to its earlier order, the Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trademark has granted American pharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences the patent for the blockbuster Hepatitis C drug Sofosbuvir (brand name Sovaldi) in India.
- An application for the same patent was first rejected in January 2015 as lacking inventiveness and novelty.
About Indian Patent Office:
- The Indian Patent Office is administered by the Office of the Controller General of Patents, Designs & Trade Marks (CGPDTM) and the CGPDTM reports to the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion(DIPP) under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
- It administers the Indian law of Patents, Designs and Trademarks.
[Ref: Hindu, Wiki]
Annual core sector growth at decade low
According to latest government statistics, India’s annual core sector growth has slowed to a decade low of 2.7% in 2015-16, slower than the 4.5% pace in the previous financial year.
- The previous lowest growth rate registered by core sectors (under the present data series that uses 2004-05 as a base year) was in 2008-09 when output rose 2.8% amidst the global financial crisis.
India’s core sector industries:
- There are eight core sector industries namely— coal, crude oil, natural gas, refinery products, fertilizer, steel, cement and electricity.
- The eight core industries account for 38% of India’s industrial output.
Reason behind the slowdown:
- The growth was pulled down mainly by the shrinking output of steel, crude oil and natural gas industries.
- Steel is a mother industry and could be in a comatose position despite import price and anti-dumping curbs to restrict the influx of cheaper Chinese steel.
- Several plants can go under sooner rather than later so they need a lifeline.
- Steel has been hit by the low global prices and competition from China.
- The steel industry employs six million people directly and generates associated employment for more than 2.5 million.
This should serve as a wake-up call for the government to move away from incremental reforms to relieve the distress in the steel sector and push construction and real estate sectors.[Ref: Hindu]
India ranks ninth in crony-capitalism index
According to a new study by The Economist, India ranked at ninth position in Crony Capitalism index.
- The index indicates the livelihood of the people from certain country or city with capitalist economy is easily affected by crony capitalism.
- Crony sector wealth accounts for 3.4% country’s GDP while Non crony sector wealth in India accounts for 8.3% of the GDP.
- In 2014 ranking also, India stood at the ninth place. Germany is cleanest, where just a sliver of the country’s billionaires derives their wealth from crony sectors.
- The index ranked Russia as the worst crony-capitalist country, followed by Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Ukraine, Mexico, Indonesia and Turkey above India. Taiwan and China are ranked 10th and 11th after India.
UN launches trust fund for C’bean Zika virus response
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has established a Zika Response Multi-Partner Trust Fund (MPTF) to finance critical unfunded priorities in the response to the outbreak of the mosquito borne virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
About the fund:
- The Zika Strategic Response Framework aims to investigate and respond to the cluster of microcephaly and other neurological complications linked to Zika virus, increase preventive measures, communicate risks, and provide care and support to those affected.
- It will directly support the Zika Strategic Response Framework, developed by the World Health Organization (WHO) in consultation with UN agencies, partners and international epidemiological experts.
- Donors will contribute to a central point, and an Advisory Committee will direct funds to the highest-priority activities in the affected countries.
- Since January 2015, 61 countries and territories in Latin America and the Caribbean have reported local transmission of Zika, which is caused by a virus transmitted primarily by Aedes mosquitoes.
- The recent rise in the spread of the virus in some countries has been accompanied by an unprecedented rise in the number of children being born with unusually small heads – identified as microcephaly.
Science & Technology
Baby born in U.K. through new DNA method
The UK’s first baby resulting from an embryo that was screened using next-generation DNA sequencing (NGS) has been born in Oxford.
About the technique:
- This method uses a revolutionary In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) technique resulting in better selection of embryos to transfer during the treatment.
- NGS also known as high-throughput sequencing is bio medical process that allows doctors to easily choose the embryos which have the strongest chance of growing into healthy babies.
- This method helps doctors to move away from traditional manually count and identify problems caused by embryos produced in IVF having the wrong number of chromosomes.
- Unlike traditional screening methods, NGS can spot embryos that have more subtle DNA faults, and embryos that have only some cells with chromosomal defects.
Significance of this technique:
The NGS technique was first used successfully in the USA in 2013 and has huge potential for improving fertility treatments cheaply.
- It will help to overcome complications pregnancy due to IVF techniques and has revolutionised the study of genomics and molecular biology.
- NGS is widely expected to replace other techniques used in preimplantation genetic screening (PGS) of embryos to produce healthy babies.
- It can also be used for wide variety of research applications including variant (mutation) discovery, transcription factor analysis, gene expression, metagenomics, and epigenetics.
HoloFlex, world’s first holographic flexible smartphone
Canadian researchers have developed what they are claiming is the world’s first holographic flexible smartphone, with a bendable display that allows multiple people looking at the device to see different 3D images depending on their perspective.
- The device, dubbed HoloFlex, is capable of rendering 3D images with motion parallax and stereoscopy to multiple simultaneous users without head tracking or glasses.
- The device lets users interact with 3D videos and images without any headgear or glasses.
- HoloFlex features a 1920×1080 full high-definition flexible organic light emitting diode (FOLED) touchscreen display.
- HoloFlex is also equipped with a bend sensor, which allows for the user to bend the phone as a means of moving objects along the z-axis of the display.
Scientists discover why carrots are orange
Scientists have unveiled the gene in carrots that gives rise to carotenoids, a critical source of Vitamin A and the pigment that turns some fruits and vegetables bright orange or red.
- The gene is named as DCAR_032551. With this, carrot now joins a select club of about a dozen veggies — including the potato, cucumber, tomato and pepper — whose complete genomes have been sequenced.
- Carrots are loaded with beta-carotene, a natural chemical that the body can transform into Vitamin A. The deeper the orange colour, the more beta-carotene.
- Vitamin A is essential for normal growth and development, the proper functioning of the immune system, and vision.
- Carotenoids are also antioxidants, which are thought to protect against heart disease and some forms of cancer by neutralising so-called “free radicals“, single oxygen atoms that can damage cells.