SCIENCE MONTHLY April 2020

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY APRIL 2020

1.                   SPACE

  • Gaganyaan Why in News?

The Directorate of Human Space Programme of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has invited proposals to develop indigenous technologies for its future human space flight missions.

What is Gaganyaan?

  • Gaganyaan – India‘s first spacecraft to take humans to space.
    • It is built to carry 3 people for seven days by 2022.
    • The Gaganyaan is actually the name of the spacecraft.
    • Spacecraft is a vehicle that is able to travel to space.
    • ISRO has been trying for last 10 years to send Humans to space.
    • The first two spacecraft would be sent without any human.
    • This is done to test the project before Humans are sent.
    • India is using its most advanced rocket for this Mission – GSLV Mk III.
    • The spacecraft will orbit the Earth for 7 days.
    • It will then land on the Bay of Bengal using a parachute.
    • Russia is helping India in this Mission.
    • It will give astronaut training to 4 Indian Air Force pilots.
    • It will also provide advanced technologies needed to support human life in space.
    • The complete Mission would require roughly 12,400 Crore rupees.
    • The Mission was announced by our Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 15th August 2018.
    • If successful, India would be only the fourth country in the world to launch a human space mission.
    • The first three countries are the USA, Russia, and China.

What are the Objectives of Gaganyaan Mission?

  • To enhance science and technology levels in the country.
    • To serve as national project involving several institutes, academia and industry.
    • To improve of industrial growth, inspire youth, develop technology for social benefits and
    • To improve international collaboration

     Merger of Black Holes with Unequal Masses Why in News?

First time since it started functioning, the gravitational wave observatories at LIGO scientific collaboration have detected a merger of two unequal-mass black holes.

What Is a Black Hole?

  • A black hole is a place in space where gravity pulls so much that even light cannot get out.
    • The gravity is so strong because matter has been squeezed into a tiny space.
    • This can happen when a star is dying.
    • Because no light can get out, people can’t see black holes.
    • They are invisible.
    • Space telescopes with special tools can help find black holes.
    • The special tools can see how stars that are very close to black holes act differently than other stars.
    • Sagittarius A* is the black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy.

How Do Scientists Know They Are There?

  • A black hole cannot be seen because strong gravity pulls all of the light into the middle of the black hole.
    • But scientists can see how the strong gravity affects the stars and gas around the black hole.
    • Scientists can study stars to find out if they are flying around, or orbiting, a black hole.
    • When a black hole and a star are close together, high-energy light is made.
    • This kind of light cannot be seen with human eyes.
    • Scientists use satellites and telescopes in space to see the high-energy light.

NASA running Curiosity from Home Why in news?

The NASA team running Curiosity rover is operating it from their homes.

What are its primary objectives?

  • The Mars Science Laboratory mission‘s Curiosity rover landed on the red planet‘s Gale Crater on August 6 2012.
    • The rover landed with a primary mission to find out if Mars is, or was, suitable for life.
    • Another objective is to learn more about the Red Planet’s environment.

What are its other goals?

Curiosity has four main science goals in support of the agency’s Mars exploration program:

  • Determine whether life ever arose on Mars.
    • Characterize the climate of Mars.
  • Characterize the geology of Mars.
    • Prepare for human exploration.

Pink Supermoon Why in News?

Pink Supermoon will be visible from India in the evening of April 8.

Why pink?

Traditionally, the full moon in the month of April is named after certain wild-flowers, called pink moss, native to eastern North America, and hence the name ‗pink‘ refers to the pink flower that blossom during this time and not the colour of the moon.

What is a supermoon?

  • A new or full moon which occurs with the moon at or near (within 90 per cent of) its closest approach to Earth in a given elliptic orbit, resulting in a slightly larger-than-usual apparent size of the lunar disk as seen from Earth.
    • The technical name is the perigee syzygy of the Earth–Moon–Sun system or more simply full (or new) Moon at perigee.
  • The term supermoon is astrological in origin, and has no precise astronomical definition.
    • There is no scientific proof for associating supermoon phenomenon to that of increased risk of events like earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
    • The opposite phenomenon, an apogee syzygy, has been called a micromoon, though this term is not as widespread as supermoon.
    • Also, some do not consider new Moons near perigee as supermoons.

Space Crew Finished Preparations Why in News?

A three-man space crew finished preparations for a mission to the International Space Station (ISS), which is going ahead despite the coronavirus pandemic.

What is an international space station?

  • The International Space Station (ISS) is a large spacecraft.
    • It orbits around Earth.
    • The space station is also a science lab.
    • The space station is made of many pieces.
    • The pieces were put together in space by astronauts.
    • The space station’s orbit is approximately 250 miles above Earth.
    • The mission of the International Space Station is to enable long-term exploration of space and provide benefits to people on Earth.

What are the currently orbiting space stations?

Name Participating Space Agencies
  International Space Station NASA Roscosmos ESA CSA JAXA
Tiangong 2 CNSA

ENVIRONMENT

     Declining vulture population

     Why in News?

Steep decline in Egyptian Vulture population noticed.

What are the types of vulture found in India?

  • Indian Vulture -Gyps Indicus.Smaller and less heavily builtBreeds mainly on cliffs or human-made structuresFeeds mostly from carcasses of dead animals and reached up to the verge of extinction because of veterinary drug diclofenac.

·         Himalayan Vulture -Gyps Himalayensis.

  • One of the two largest old world vultures and a true raptor
    • Found along the Himalayas in India.
    • The largest and heaviest bird found in the Himalayas of Indian Subcontinent.

·         Bearded Vulture -Gypaetus Barbatus.

  • Only member of the genus Gypaetu
    • Found in mountainous regions of Himalayas and Ladakh in north India.
    • Also distributed from Kashmir to Arunachal Pradesh of India subcontinent.

·         Slender-Billed Vulture -Gyps Tenuirostris.

  • One of the critically endangered species of old world vulture
    • Found along the Sub-Himalayan regions of Indian Subcontinent
    • Suffered an extremely rapid population decline, particularly across the India.

·         White-Rumped Vulture -Gyps Bengalensis.

  • Medium-sized vulture
    • One of the most abundant large birds of prey in the world
    • Smallest of the Gyps vultures found in India
    • Most common vulture found in immense numbers all over the country.

·         Cinereous Vulture -Aegypius Monachus.

  • Large raptorial bird found in India
    • Member of the family Accipitridae.
    • Believed to be the largest true bird of prey in the world, found in northern India.

·         Egyptian Vulture -Neophron Percnopterus.

  • Widely distributed species of small old world vulture
  • found in the north-west part of India.
    • There are three widely-recognised subspecies of Egyptian vulture found in Indian subcontinent.

·         Red-Headed Vulture -Sarcogyps Calvus.

  • Also known as Indian Black Vulture
    • Found only in the Indian Subcontinent
    • Medium sized vulture has no subspecies
    • Found in deciduous forests and foothills and river valleys.

     Delhi Pollution

Why in news?

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has reported 46% reduction in PM2.5 levels in Delhi.

What is smog?

  • Smog is air pollution that reduces visibility.
    • “smog” smoke + fog.
    • Smog is common in industrial areas, and remains a familiar sight in cities today.
    • Most of the smog we see is photochemical smog.
    • Photochemical smog is produced when sunlight reacts with nitrogen oxides and at least  one volatile organic compound (VOC) in the atmosphere.
    • Nitrogen oxides come from car exhaust, coal power plants, and factory emissions.
    • VOCs are released from gasoline, paints, and many cleaning solvents.
    • When sunlight hits these chemicals, they form airborne particles and ground-level ozone—or smog.

What is Ozone?

  • Ozone can be helpful or harmful.
  • The ozone layer high up in the atmosphere protects us from the sun‘s dangerous ultraviolet radiation.
    • But when ozone is close to the ground, it is bad for human health.
    • Ozone can damage lung tissue, and it is especially dangerous to people with respiratory illnesses like asthma.
    • Ozone can also cause itchy, burning eyes.
    • Smog is unhealthy to humans and animals, and it can kill plants.

Earth Day

     Why in News?

Earth Day observed on 22nd  April

What is Earth Day?

  • The theme for Earth Day 2020 is climate action.
    • The Earth day is observed on 22 April every year.
    • Earth Day was founded by American senator Gaylord Nelson for environmental education.
    • This day commenced on April 22, 1970, and in 2020 we are observing 50 years of its inception.

What is National Action Plan on Climate Change?

  • India released its National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) to mitigate and adapt to climate change in 2008
    • The National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) encompasses a range of measures.
    • It focuses on eight missions
      • National Solar Mission (started in 2010 to promote the use of solar power)
      • National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency (approved in 2009)
      • National Mission on Sustainable Habitat (approved in 2011)
      • National Water Mission
      • National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem (approved in 2014)
      • National Mission for A Green India (approved in 2014)
      • National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (approved in 2010)
      • National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change (NMSKCC)
      • National Bio-Energy Mission (approved in 2017)

Great Barrier Reef

Why in News?

Great Barrier Reef suffers third major bleaching event

What is Great Barrier Reef?

  • It contains the world‘s largest collection of coral reefs, with 400 types of coral, 1,500 species of fish and 4,000 types of mollusc.
    • It also holds great scientific interest as the habitat of species such as the dugong (‗sea cow‘) and the large green turtle, which are threatened with extinction.

What are corals?

  • Corals are invertebrate animals belonging to a large group of colourful and fascinating animals called Cnidaria.
    • Other animals in this group include jelly fish and sea anemones.
    • Each individual coral animal is called a polyp, and most live in groups of hundreds to thousands of genetically identical polyps that form a ‘colony’.
    • The colony is formed by a process called budding, which is where the original polyp literally grows copies of itself.
    • Coral are generally classified as either “hard coral” or “soft coral”.
    • There are around 800 known species of hard coral, also known as the ‘reef building’ corals.
    • Soft corals, which include seas fans, sea feathers and sea whips, don’t have the rock-like calcareous skeleton like the others, instead they grow wood-like cores for support and fleshy rinds for protection.
    • Soft corals are found in oceans from the equator to the north and south poles, generally in caves or ledges.

     What Do Coral Reefs Need to Survive? Sunlight

  • Corals need to grow in shallow water where sunlight can reach them.
  • Corals depend on the zooxanthellae (algae) that grow inside of them for oxygen and other things, and since these algae needs sunlight to survive, corals also need sunlight to survive.
    • Corals rarely develop in water deeper than 165 feet (50 meters).

Clear water

  • Corals need clear water that lets sunlight through; they don‘t thrive well when the water is opaque.
    • Sediment and plankton can cloud water, which decreases the amount of sunlight that reaches the zooxanthellae.

Warm water temperature

  • Reef-building corals require warm water conditions to survive.
    • Different corals living in different regions can withstand various temperature fluctuations.
    • However, corals generally live in water temperatures of 68–90° F or 20–32° C.

Clean water

  • Corals are sensitive to pollution and sediments.
    • Sediment can create cloudy water and be deposited on corals, blocking out the sun and harming the polyps.
    • Wastewater discharged into the ocean near the reef can contain too many nutrients that cause seaweeds to overgrow the reef.

Saltwater

  • Corals need saltwater to survive and require a certain balance in the ratio of salt to water.
    • This is why corals don‘t live in areas where rivers drain fresh water into the ocean (―estuaries‖).

What is coral bleaching?

  • When corals are stressed by changes in conditions such as temperature, light, or nutrients, they expel the symbiotic algae living in their tissues, causing them to turn completely white.
    • When a coral bleaches, it does not die but comes pretty close to it. Some of the corals may survive the experience and recover once the sea surface temperature returns to normal levels.

What are the factors resposible for Coral Bleaching?

  • Increased (most commonly), or reduced water temperatures.
    • Starvation caused by a decline in zooplankton levels as a result of overfishing.
    • Increased solar irradiance
    • Ocean acidification
    • Increased sedimentation (due to silt runoff)
  • Bacterial infections
    • Changes in salinity
    • Herbicides
  • Low tide and exposure
    • Cyanide fishing
    • Elevated sea levels due to global warming (Watson)

Water Pollution in Yamuna and Ganga

Water samples have been collected from Delhi (Yamuna) and all Ganga basin States, and are in the process of being analysed.

What are the pollutants in water?

  • Chemicals – including natural or man-made (xenobiotic) chemicals that gets into a water body and reaching concentrations that raise serious health concerns.
    • Common problematic chemicals getting into water are pesticides, chlorinated solvents, petroleum chemicals, mercury, PCBs, dioxins and other persisting organic pollutants etc.

·         Living organisms

  • PathogensIncluding a variety of microorganisms such as viruses, bacteria, fungi and intestinal worms.Their presence in water, many times, remains unnoticed.

Algae

  • some types of algae are toxic and may overgrow due to the presence of nitrates and phosphates in runoff water (especially agricultural runoff)
    • Such overgrowth is usually referred to as ―red tides‖ or ―brown tides‖.
      • Their toxins may affect the food chain, including fish and birds, and ultimately humans.
      • Oxygen depletion in polluted water is another serious problem responsible for killing fish all over the world.

What are the common diseases caused by water pollution?

  • Infectious diseases caused by pathogens:
    • Typhoid
    • Giardiasis
    • Amoebiasis
    • Ascariasis
  • Hookworm
    • Liver damage and even cancer (due to DNA damage) – caused by a series of chemicals (e.g., chlorinated solvents, MTBE)
  • Kidney damage caused by a series of chemicals
    • Neurological problems – damage to the nervous system – usually due to the presence of chemicals such as pesticides (e.g. DDT)
    • Reproductive and endocrine damage
    • Thyroid system disorders (a common cause is exposure to perchlorate)

2.                  INNOVATION

  1. AAROGYA SETU Why in News?

The Centre‘s mobile app, Aarogya Setu, developed for tracking COVID-19 patients, has become the world‘s fastest app to reach 50 million downloads in just 13 days.

What is AAROGYA SETU?

  • The app was developed under a committee set up by the Prime Minister‘s Office with active involvement of NITI Aayog and Ministry of Electronics and IT.
    • It will enable people to assess themselves the risk for their catching the Corona Virus infection.
    • The application alerts people if any known or person in their vicinity has tested positive.
  • It will calculate this based on their interaction with others, using cutting edge Bluetooth technology, algorithms and artificial intelligence.
    • Available in 11 languages, the App is ready for pan-India use from day-1 and has highly scalable architecture.
  • Though certain issues raised regarding privacy of the citizens, government clarified that the app is completely safe.

     Carbon-Intelligent Computing Why in News?

Google has developed a carbon efficient platform that will enable some of its data centres to compute tasks during times of low-carbon electricity supply.

What is carbon intelligence?

  • This system in hyperscale (meaning very large) data centers shift the timing of many compute tasks to when low-carbon power sources, like wind and solar, are most plentiful.
    • This is done without additional computer hardware and without impacting the performance of Google services like Search, Maps and YouTube that people rely on around the clock.

What is a carbon footprint?

  • A carbon footprint is the amount of greenhouse gases—primarily carbon dioxide—released into the atmosphere by a particular human activity.
    • A carbon footprint can be a broad measure or be applied to the actions of an individual, a family, an event, an organization, or even an entire nation.
    • It is usually measured as tons of CO2 emitted per year, a number that can be supplemented by tons of CO2- equivalent gases, including methane, nitrous oxide, and other greenhouse gases.

What is carbon offsetting?

  • Carbon offsetting allows a country to help reach its own emissions reduction targets by funding emission reductions in another country.
    • Companies are also increasingly using carbon credits to offset their emissions.
    • The first major offsetting scheme, the U.N.s clean development mechanism (CDM), was set up under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, in which 190 countries agreed country-by-country emission reduction targets.
    • The scheme was designed to help fund emission reduction projects in developing countries, while also providing offset credits to the developed world to help meet its Kyoto targets.

3.             BIO- TECHNOLOGY

  • Convalescent Plasma Why in news?

Plasma may be a hope to treat COVID 19 patients.

What is convalescent plasma? How does it work?

  • People who have recovered from COVID-19 have antibodies to the disease in their blood.
  • Doctors call this convalescent plasma.
    • Researchers hope that convalescent plasma can be given to people with severe COVID-19 to boost their ability to fight the virus.
  • The blood — about 800 ml or so — is collected from the donor through the regular withdrawal process, the plasma component is extracted and subsequently used for transfusion on to patients.
  • Everyone who has suffered from a disease possibly carries what are called neutralising antibodies that when extracted via plasma and transfused on to others with the infection can help their immune system fight it off.
    • Whether it works or not depends on whether the disease produced a lot of antibodies in people or not

What is Plasma?

  • Plasma is the clear, straw-colored liquid portion of blood.
    • It is the remaining portion of the blood after removing red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets and other cellular components.
    • It is the single largest component of human blood, comprising about 55 percent, and contains water, salts, enzymes, antibodies and other proteins.
    • It is composed of 90% water.
    • Plasma is a transporting medium for cells and a variety of substances vital to the human body.
    • Plasma carries out a variety of functions in the body, including clotting blood, fighting diseases and other critical functions.
    • Source plasma is plasma that is collected from healthy, voluntary donors through a process called plasmapheresis.

     COVID-19 Will Remain Why in News?

COVID-19 will remain in the community, like dengue or chikungunya, says MMC alumnus.

What is Chikungunya?

  • Chikungunya is a virus.
    • Genus: Alphavirus
    • It can‘t be passed from person to person.
    • It is spread to people by the bite of an infected mosquito (Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus).
    • Chikungunya is rarely fatal.

What’s the Treatment?

  • There‘s no real treatment for chikungunya.
    • Most people get better on their own and recover completely.
    • Many of the symptoms usually improve within a week, but joint pain can last a few months.

What is dengue?

  • Dengue is fast emerging pandemic-prone viral disease in many parts of the world.
    • It is also known as breakbone fever.
    • It is transmitted by female Aedes mosquitoes.
    • It is viral infection causing a severe flu-like illness and, sometimes causing a potentially lethal complication called severe dengue.
    • The incidence of dengue has increased 30-fold over the last 50 years.
    • Severe dengue is also known as dengue haemorrhagic fever.
    • Up to 50-100 million infections are now estimated to occur annually in over 100 endemic countries, putting almost half of the world‘s population at risk.

Is there any treatment for Dengue?

  • There is still no specific medication or treatment to cure the disease. In most cases, the treatment is symptomatic–controlling the symptoms.
    • But when infected first time, the patient developed lifetime immunity for that particular serotype due to presence of antibodies produced earlier.
    • However, if the secondary infection is by another serotype, the immune system is confused and the infection can become life threatening.
    • According to the World Health Organisation, there are four distinct stereotypes of Dengue virus–DEN 1, DEN 2, DEN 3 and DEN 4–that cause the fever and each stereotype has multiple genotypes with several clades.

     COVID-19 & Cancer Treatments Why in news?

The  COVID-19  outbreak  has  posed  a  unique  challenge  for  oncology  experts  across  the  country  —  to balance  the higher  risk  of  exposure  to  the  virus  on  account  of  the  treatments  and  the  risk  of  progression  of  cancer  in  their patients.

What is Cancer?

  • Cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells anywhere in a body.
    • There are over 200 types of cancer.
    • Anything that may cause a normal body cell to develop abnormally potentially can cause cancer.
    • General categories of cancer-related or causative agents are as follows: chemical or toxic compound exposures, ionizing radiation, some pathogens, and human genetics.
  • Although there are many tests to screen and presumptively diagnose cancer, the definite diagnosis is made by examination of a biopsy sample of suspected cancer tissue.
    • Cancer staging is usually determined by numbering it from 1 to 4.
    • Most treatments include at least one of the following and may include all: surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.

What is carcinogen?

  • A carcinogen is defined as something that can directly cause cancer.
    • This can be a chemical substance, a virus, or even the medications and radiation we use to treat cancer.
  • While many cancers are caused by a carcinogen or combination of carcinogens, the tendency (genetic predisposition) to develop cancer may also be inherited as part of our genome.

     Earth BioGenome Project Why in News?

The Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute (JNTBGRI) here is gearing up to play a key role in a nationwide project to decode the genetic information of all known species of plants and animals in the country.

What is EBP?

  • The Earth BioGenome Project (EBP) is an initiative to sequence and annotate the genomes of all 1.5 million known species of eukaryotes on the planet in 10 years.
    • The EBP aims to create a digital backbone of sequences from the tree of life.
    • It will serve as critical infrastructure for biology, conservation, agriculture, medicine, and the growing global bioeconomy.
    • It            envisions           creating           a            new            foundation           for            biology           to            drive solutions for preserving biodiversity and sustaining human societies.
    • The sequencing may help in:
      • Revolutionize our understanding of biology and evolution
      • Conserve, protect and restore biodiversity
      • Create new benefits from society and human welfare

What are the goals of EBP?

  • Benefitting human welfare
    • Protecting biodiversity
    • Understanding ecosystems

What are the Affiliated Project Networks of EBP?

  • 1,000 Fungal Genomes (1KFG)
    • Darwin Tree of Life
    • Global Ant Genome Alliance (GAGA)
    • 5,000 Insect Genomes (i5K)
    • 10,000 Plant Genomes (10KP)
    • Global Invertebrate Genome Alliance (GIGA)
    • 10,000 Bird Genomes (B10K)
    • Zoonomia
    • Fish 10,000 Genomes (Fish 10K)
  • Ag100 Pest (USDA)
    • 1000 Chilean Genomes
    • Oz Mammals Genomics (OMG)
  • Global Genome Initiative (GGI)
    • Genome 10K
    • Global Genome Biodiversity Network (GGBN)
    • PhyloAlps
    • DNA Zoo
    • Open Green Genomes
    • Diversity Initiative for the Southern California Ocean (DISCO)
    • Genomics for Australian Plants
    • BRIDGE Colombia
    • California Conservation Genomics Project (Cal CGP)

     Hypertension & COVID morbidity Why in news?

As many as 85% of those  who died in the State due to COVID-19 had  diabetes  or hypertension or  both,  making their recovery difficult.

What is Hypertension?

  • Hypertension is another name for high blood pressure.
    • It can lead to severe complications and increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, and death.
    • Blood pressure is the force exerted by the blood against the walls of the blood vessels.
    • The pressure depends on the work being done by the heart and the resistance of the blood vessels.
    • Hypertension and heart disease are global health concerns.
    • Normal blood pressure is 120 over 80 mm of mercury (mmHg), but hypertension is higher than 130 over 80 mmHg.

What is blood pressure?

  • Blood pressure is the force of your blood pushing against the walls of your arteries.
    • Each time your heart beats, it pumps blood into the arteries.
    • Your blood pressure is highest when your heart beats, pumping the blood.
    • This is called systolic pressure.
    • When your heart is at rest, between beats, your blood pressure falls.
    • This is called diastolic pressure.
  • Your blood pressure reading uses these two numbers.
    • Usually the systolic number comes before or above the diastolic number.
    • For example, 120/80 means a systolic of 120 and a diastolic of 80.

     Immunocompromised What is immunocompromised?

  • Human bodies are equipped with an immune system that fights infection.
    • It produces chemicals and releases cells called macrophages.
    • Macrophages swallow harmful foreign organisms and protect us.
    • But not everyone has a strong immune system and such people are the immunocompromised.
    • Their body may not produce enough chemicals and macrophages to fight the infection and so they are more likely to get an infection.
    • Factors that can make one immunocompromised are diseases, treatments or age.
    • People having diabetes, kidney failure, HIV, cancer, those undergoing treatment after organ transplant and those who take steroid medication are immunocompromised.
    • Babies and the elderly also have a weak immune system.
    • But immunity can bounce back for a person who has HIV under control or if he is cured of cancer and no longer under treatment.
    • Now, in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, the immunocompromised are at a higher risk.
    • People with lung issues like asthma or bronchitis have a higher chance of complication if they contract the disease.
    • COVID-19 affects the lungs and theirs are hypersensitive with a low oxygen diffusion capacity.

What are the main parts of the immune system?

  • White blood cells
    • Antibodies
    • Complement system
    • Lymphatic system
    • Spleen
    • Bone marrow
    • Thymus

Low levels of Antibodies against COVID-19

Why in News?

Analysis of blood samples from 175 patients with mild COVID-19 disease revealed that about 30% of patients had unexpectedly low levels of antibodies against novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2).

What are Antibodies?

  • Antibodies are proteins.
    • They are produced and secreted by B cells.
    • They bind to foreign substances that invade the body, such as pathogens.
    • The term ―antibody‖ refers to its function, which is to bind to an antigen.
    • Another name for this protein molecule is immunoglobulin (abbreviated Ig).

What are the differences between antigen and antibody?

  • Antigens are molecules capable of stimulating an immune response.
    • Each antigen has distinct surface features, or epitopes, resulting in specific responses.
    • Antibodies (immunoglobins) are Y-shaped proteins produced by B cells of the immune system in response to exposure to antigens.
    • Each antibody contains a paratope which recognizes a specific epitope on an antigen, acting like a lock and key binding mechanism.
    • This binding helps to eliminate antigens from the body, either by direct neutralization or by ‗tagging‘ for other arms of the immune system.
  Antigen   Antibody
  Overview   Substance that can induce an   Proteins that recognize and bind to antigens
  immune response
 
  Molecule type Usually proteins, may also be polysaccharides, lipids or nucleic     Proteins
  acids
Origin Within the body or externally Within the body
Specific binding site   Epitope Paratope
     
Image  
 

     Mutating COVID 19 Why in news?

Scientists have found that the novel corona virus has undergone mutations to form 10 different types.

What is viral mutation?

  • A mutation is a change in the sequence of bases of DNA or RNA in a genome.
    • Some mutations occur during replication of the genome due to errors made by the polymerase enzymes that replicate DNA or RNA.
    • Unlike DNA polymerase, RNA polymerase is prone to errors because it is not capable of ―proofreading‖ its work.
    • Viruses with RNA-based genomes, like HIV, therefore accrue mutations faster than viruses with DNA- based genomes.

What are the major differences between DNA and RNA?

Comparison DNA RNA
Name DeoxyriboNucleic Acid RiboNucleic Acid
  Function   Long-term storage of genetic information; transmission of genetic information to make other cells and new organisms. Used to transfer the genetic code from the nucleus to the ribosomes to make proteins. RNA is used to transmit genetic information in some organisms and may have been the molecule used to store genetic blueprints in primitive organisms.
Structural Features B-form double helix. DNA is a double-stranded molecule consisting of a long chain of nucleotides. A-form helix. RNA usually is a single-strand helix consisting of shorter chains of nucleotides.
  Composition of Bases and Sugars deoxyribose sugar phosphate backbone adenine, guanine, cytosine, thymine bases   ribose sugar phosphate backbone adenine, guanine, cytosine, uracil bases
Propagation DNA is self-replicating. RNA is synthesized from DNA on an as-needed basis.
  Base Pairing AT (adenine-thymine) GC (guanine-cytosine) AU (adenine-uracil) GC (guanine-cytosine)
Ultraviolet Damage   DNA is susceptible to UV damage. Compared with DNA, RNA is relatively resistant to UV damage.
  • Obesity & Diabetes Why in news?

Researchers have found that obesity increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by at least six times, regardless of genetic predisposition to the disease.

What is Diabetes?

  • Diabetes is a disease that occurs when your blood glucose, also called blood sugar, is too high.
    • Blood glucose is your main source of energy and comes from the food you eat.
    • Insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, helps glucose from food get into your cells to be used for energy.
    • Sometimes your body doesn‘t make enough—or any—insulin or doesn‘t use insulin well.
    • Glucose then stays in your blood and doesn‘t reach your cells.
    • Over time, having too much glucose in your blood can cause health problems.
    • Although diabetes has no cure, you can take steps to manage your diabetes and stay healthy.

What are the different types of diabetes?

The most common types of diabetes are type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes

  • If you have type 1 diabetes, your body does not make insulin.
    • Your immune system attacks and destroys the cells in your pancreas that make insulin.
    • Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, although it can appear at any age.
    • People with type 1 diabetes need to take insulin every day to stay alive.

Type 2 diabetes

  • If you have type 2 diabetes, your body does not make or use insulin well.
    • You can develop type 2 diabetes at any age, even during childhood.
    • However, this type of diabetes occurs most often in middle-aged and older people.
    • Type 2 is the most common type of diabetes.

Gestational diabetes

  • Gestational diabetes develops in some women when they are pregnant.
    • Most of the time, this type of diabetes goes away after the baby is born.
    • However, if you‘ve had gestational diabetes, you have a greater chance of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
    • Sometimes diabetes diagnosed during pregnancy is actually type 2 diabetes.

     Peripheral Artery Disease Why in News?

Work-related stress may up risk for peripheral artery disease say study.

What is Peripheral artery disease (P.A.D.)?

  • It is a disease in which plaque builds up in the arteries that carry blood to your head, organs, and limbs.
    • Plaque is made up of fat, cholesterol, calcium, fibrous tissue, and other substances in the blood.
    • When plaque builds up in the body’s arteries, the condition is called atherosclerosis.
    • Over time, plaque can harden and narrow the arteries.
    • This limits the flow of oxygen-rich blood to your organs and other parts of your body.
    • It usually affects the arteries in the legs, but it also can affect the arteries that carry blood from your heart to your head, arms, kidneys, and stomach.

What is cholesterol?

  • Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that’s found in all the cells in your body.
    • Body needs some cholesterol to make hormones, vitamin D, and substances that help you digest foods.
    • Body makes all the cholesterol it needs.
    • Cholesterol is also found in foods from animal sources, such as egg yolks, meat, and cheese.
    • If you have too much cholesterol in your blood, it can combine with other substances in the blood to form plaque.
    • Plaque sticks to the walls of your arteries.
    • This buildup of plaque is known as atherosclerosis.
    • It can lead to coronary artery disease, where your coronary arteries become narrow or even blocked.

     Rapid Testing Kits Malfunctions Why in News?

Chinese manufacturers have promised to cooperate with Indian authorities to investigate the reported malfunctioning of rapid testing kits

What are the tests available for COVID 19?

Two kinds of tests are available for COVID-19: viral tests and antibody tests.

  • A viral test tells you if you have a current infection.
    • An antibody test tells you if you had a previous infection

What is antibody test?

  • Antibody blood tests are also called antibody tests.
    • It checks your blood by looking for antibodies, which show if you had a previous infection with the virus.
  • Depending on when someone was infected and the timing of the test, the test may not find antibodies in someone with a current COVID-19 infection.
    • Antibodies are proteins that help fight off infections.
  • Antibody tests should not be used as the only way to diagnose someone as being currently sick with COVID-19.

What are viral tests?

  • It is a Test for Current Infection
    • Viral tests check samples from your respiratory system (such as swabs of the inside of the nose) to tell you if you currently have an infection with SARS-CoV-2.
    • Some tests are point-of-care tests, meaning results may be available at the testing site in less than an hour.
    • Other tests must be sent to a laboratory to analyze, a process that takes 1-2 days once received by the lab.

     Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction Why in news?

The Union Health  Ministry has said that  the  Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) is the gold standard frontline test for coronavirus (COVID-19) and that rapid antibody test cannot replace it.

What is PCR?

  • PCR is used in molecular biology to make many copies of (amplify) small sections of DNA or a gene.
    • Using PCR it is possible to generate thousands to millions of copies of a particular section of DNA from a very small amount of DNA.
    • PCR is a common tool used in medical and biological research labs.
    • It is used in the early stages of processing DNA for sequencing, for detecting the presence or absence of a gene to help identify pathogens during infection, and when generating forensic DNA profiles from tiny samples of DNA.

What is RT-PCR?

  • A laboratory method used to make many copies of a specific genetic sequence for analysis.
    • It uses an enzyme called reverse transcriptase to change a specific piece of RNA into a matching piece of DNA.
    • This piece of DNA is then amplified (made in large numbers) by another enzyme called DNA polymerase.
    • The amplified DNA copies help tell whether a specific mRNA molecule is being made by a gene.
    • Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction may be used to look for activation of certain genes, which may help diagnose a disease, such as cancer.
    • It may also be used to study the RNA of certain viruses, such as the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and the hepatitis C virus, to help diagnose and monitor an infection. Also called RT-PCR.

Sepsis Drug for COVID-19 Why in news?

Drug used for sepsis to be tested on critically ill COVID-19 patients.

What is sepsis?

  • Sepsis is a life-threatening illness caused by your body‘s response to an infection.
    • Your immune system protects you from many illnesses and infections, but it‘s also possible for it to go into overdrive in response to an infection.
    • Sepsis develops when the chemicals the immune system releases into the bloodstream to fight an infection acts adversely.
    • Sepsis is the body‘s extreme response to an infection.
    • Sepsis happens when an infection you already have —in your skin, lungs, urinary tract, or somewhere else—triggers a chain reaction throughout your body.
    • Without timely treatment, sepsis can rapidly lead to tissue damage, organ failure, and death.

     Shortage of PPE Why in news?

Lack of PPE is currently a global concern.

What is PPE?

  • Personal protective equipment or PPE is crucial to keep healthcare workers on the COVID-19 pandemic’s frontline safe.
    • PPE works as a barrier between an individual‘s skin, mouth, nose, or eyes and viral and bacterial infections.
    • PPE consists of garments placed to protect health care workers or any other persons from getting infected.
    • These usually consist of standard precautions: gloves, mask, and gown.
    • For airborne infections, PPE will include: Face protection, goggles and mask or faceshield, gloves, gown or coverall, head cover, rubber boots.
    • In the context of COVID-19, PPE includes: Gloves, Medical masks, Respirators, Eye protection, Gowns, Aprons, Boots or closed-toe work shoes.

What is the issue?

  • SARS-CoV-2 is transmitted between people through close contact and droplets.
    • Those who are in close contact with a COVID-19 patient or who care for patients are most at risk of infection.
    • But the lack of PPE is currently a global concern.
    • The current global stockpile of PPE is insufficient.
  • The supply of gowns and goggles is soon expected to reduce as well.
    • The capacity to expand PPE production is limited and the current demand for respirators and masks cannot be met.
    • Especially if the widespread, inappropriate use of PPE continues.
    • Those who don‘t work in a health care setting are currently not advised to use PPE.

     Vaccine Types Why in news?

With  the  genetic  information  of  the  novel  coronavirus  (SARS-CoV-2)  available  online,  many  organisations  are working at a breakneck pace to find a COVID-19 vaccine.

What are the types of vaccines?

Vaccine type Disease
  Live, attenuated Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR combined vaccine) Varicella (chickenpox) Influenza (nasal spray) Rotavirus Yellow fever
Inactivated/Killed Polio (IPV) Hepatitis A Rabies
Toxoid (inactivated toxin) Diphtheria, tetanus (part of DTaP combined immunization)
Subunit/conjugate Hepatitis B Influenza (injection) Haemophilus influenza type b (Hib) Pertussis (part of DTaP combined immunization) Pneumococcal Meningococcal Human papillomavirus (HPV)

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