- ‘Miracle drug’ for resistant TB to be rolled out for trial
Environment & Ecology
- National Green Tribunal seeks Centre’s response on ban of microplastics
Art & Culture
- Chandesvarar sculpture found at Umaiyalpuram
Science & Technology
- Dept. of Biotechnology launches fund to tackle anti-microbial resistance
- Solar panels for Refrigerator and air conditioner
- Nine monster stars detected by Hubble
Also in News
- Hill-country Tamils don’t want to be called ‘Indian Tamils’
‘Miracle drug’ for resistant TB to be rolled out for trial
A ‘miracle drug’ to battle multi-drug resistant tuberculosis MDR-TB, and extensively-drug resistant TB (XDR-TB), will be rolled out in six public hospitals across the country.
- This is part of a co-ordinated programme between the government and Johnson & Johnson, whose pharma arm Janssen has manufactured the drug.
- Named ‘Bedaquiline‘ (trade name Sirturo), the drug is perhaps the first in decades to have a potential to dramatically improve MDR-TB treatment outcomes, and reduce the number of people who die from the disease.
- This is probably the first instance of a multinational partnering with the government to roll out a drug, and comes as the disease spreads alarmingly.
Spread of TB in India:
- India is the world’s TB epicentre as it accounts for around 23% of global cases and most deaths — 220,000 in 2014 — from the bacterial lung disease that spreads through coughing and sneezing. An estimated 2.2 million people suffer from TB in India, with over 70,000 MDR-TB patients.
Environment & Ecology
National Green Tribunal seeks Centre’s response on ban of microplastics
The National Green Tribunal has sought response from the Centre on a plea seeking ban on use of micro-plastics in cosmetic and body care products in India alleging their use is extremely dangerous for aquatic life and environment.
- The NGT, in this regard, has issued notice to the ministry of environment and forests and the ministry for water resource and sought their reply on next date of hearing.
What are ‘Microplastics’?
- Microplastics are plastic pieces or fibres measuring less than five milimetres. The microplastics or microbeads found in personal care products are always smaller than one milimetre.
- According to recent United Nations reports, these are dangerous for the aquatic life and environment.
What are microplastics or microbeads made of?
- Microplastics or microbeads used in personal care products are mainly made of polyethylene (PE), but can be also be made of polypropylene (PP), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) and nylon.
- They are widely used in cosmetics as exfoliating agents and in personal care products such as toothpaste, as well as in biomedical and health science research.
- In simple words, these microbeads are so small that a person can barely feel them.
- Their roundness and particle size create a ball-bearing effects in creams and lotions, resulting in a silky texture and spread ability.
Why is it used for?
- Microbeads have been used to replace natural exfoliating materials.
- Their usage becoming more rampant because of their microspheres in different colours add visual appeal to cosmetic products.
What is the danger for them?
- Microbeads- largely non-biodegradable- flow through sewer systems and end up in seas and oceans, where they contribute to the huge chunk of plastic soup in the environment.
- Microbeads are also likely to be transported to wastewater treatment plants. Due to their small size, substantial portion passes through filtration system and enters aquatic environment.
Need for ban:
- Due to the unregulated production and usage of plastics in microbeads in various cosmetic products available in the market and the excessive usage of such products by the end users is leading to water pollution across the globe.
- Besides, after being washed down the drain, microbeads flow through sewer systems around the world before making their way into rivers and canals and ultimately, straight into the seas and oceans, where they contribute to the huge chunk of plastic soup in the environment.
Art & Culture
Chandesvarar sculpture found at Umaiyalpuram
A sculpture of Chandesvarar, believed to belong to 10th century AD, has been found at Sundaikkai village near Umaiyalpuram in Tamil Nadu.
- The sculpture was an early Chola icon.
- Chandesvarar is one of the 63 Nayanmars of the Saivite sect and was the first among them to find a place in temples. He is housed in a separate shrine on the northern side of all the Saivite temples, facing the presiding deity.
- He is the only devotee to have the credit of getting announced as His son by the Lord Himself and is given the very high rank of Chandesapatham.
- The most distinguished shrine of Chandesvara was built by Rajaraja I at the Rajarajesvaram at Thanjavur.
Science & Technology
Dept. of Biotechnology launches fund to tackle anti-microbial resistance
In a move to encourage biotechnology start-ups as well as tackle the threat faced by India from resistance to antimicrobial drugs, the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) has launched a fund.
- The fund is setup through the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC)
- This is an India-focussed seed fund.
- DBT has invested an initial $1,00,000 in this fund.
- The fund is meant to help groups in India compete for the Longitude Prize as well as to encourage biotechnology start-ups in the country.
What is Longitude Prize?
- Longitude Prize is a £ 10 million prize offered by Nesta, a U.K. charity, to any individual group anywhere in the world that develops an affordable, effective diagnostic test to detect resistance to microbes.
Spread of Drug-resistant TB across India:
- India faces increasing instances of tuberculosis patients being resistant to front line drugs. Experts say this is due to lax monitoring and profligate prescription by medical authorities that allow these drugs to be easily available. Indiscriminate usage means that bugs are, overtime, able to resist these medicines.
- The World Health Organisation statistics for 2014 give an estimated incidence figure of 2.2 million cases of TB for India out of a global incidence of 9 million, with instances of drug-resistant TB rapidly rising.
- In December 2015, the DBT laid out a strategy, called the National Biotechnology Development Strategy, whereby biotechnology would be at the foundation of a $100-billion industry by 2025, rising from the current $7-$10 billion.
About National Biotechnology Development Strategy:
- The National Biotechnology Development Strategy 2015-20 aims to establish India as a world-class bio-manufacturing hub.
- It intends to launch a major mission, backed with significant investments, for the creation of new biotech products, create a strong infrastructure for R&D and commercialization, and empower India’s human resources scientifically and technologically.
Solar panels for Refrigerator and air conditioner
A Chennai-based company has showed that solar power can be used to power air conditioner and refrigerator.
- This has been made possible by the use of thin film solar panels.
- Instead of silicon crystalline panels that are routinely used, the company has used thin film solar panels.
Why thin film solar panels are used instead of silicon panels?
- Thin film solar panels’ energy yield is higher than silicon panels.
- Though efficiency of thin film panel is the same as silicon panel at 25 degree C, the energy yield of thin film is higher than silicon panel. This is because power rating is done at 25 degree C. In India, the outside temperature far exceeds 25 degree C, especially during summer. And for every 1 degree C increase in temperature, the loss in power rating is 0.5% in the case of silicon panels; it is only 0.25% with thin films. So 5% more energy output is achieved by thin film panels.
- Another advantage with the thin film panel is that unlike silicon panels where power production gets completely cut off even if a small part of the panel is covered by shade, only that part of the thin film panel that is not exposed to sunlight stops producing power.
Nine monster stars detected by Hubble
Astronomers working with data from the NASA/Hubble space telescope have identified nine massive “monster” stars, each of which is more than 100 times the mass of the sun.
- These massive stars are located in the Tarantula Nebula, within the Large Magellanic Cloud.
- This structure is 1,70,000 light years away; one light year measuring a distance of approximately 9 trillion kilometres.
- R136, the star cluster within the Tarantula Nebula is just a few light years wide and is known to host some of the most massive, luminous stars in the universe. The energy of these stars is mostly radiated in the ultraviolet range.
Also in News
Hill-country Tamils don’t want to be called ‘Indian Tamils’
In a report prepared by experts on the initiative of the Tamil Progressive Alliance, Hill-country Tamils in Sri Lanka have suggested that the community be called “Indian-Origin Malayaha Thamilar (IOMT).”
- They do not want to be called “Indian Tamils” anymore.
- This nomenclature of theirs has been a source of political and administrative discrimination and social antipathy, besides carrying a historical baggage.
- The report also suggests the establishment of non-territorial council for IOMTs, consisting of elected and nominated representatives of the community.