Monday December 18, 2017

‘Heat’ compound from chilli peppers could help kill cancer cells


By NewsGram Staff Writer

Chennai: Capsaicin, the compound responsible for chillies’ heat and also used in creams sold to relieve pain if taken in high doses can kill prostate cancer cells. Researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, have worked out a process wherein the compound responsible for chillies’ heat can be put to yet another effective use.

In this study, researchers Ashok Kumar Mishra and Jitendriya Swain found that, in high doses, the compound causes cell membranes to come apart.

About 10 years ago, researchers reported that capsaicin can kill prostate cancer cells in mice while leaving healthy cells unharmed. But translating that dose for humans would require them to eat a huge number of chili peppers per day.

So the researchers tried to gain a deeper understanding of capsaicin’s effects so it might be harnessed in the future for new medicines.
The scientists were able to detect how the compound interacts with cell membranes by monitoring its natural fluorescence.

The study showed that capsaicin lodges in the membranes near the surface. Add enough of it, and the capsaicin essentially causes the membranes to come apart.

The findings appeared in The Journal of Physical Chemistry B.

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Expressing Narratives of Panchatantra through Dance in Chennai to teach Lessons of Life

Stories of Panchatantra are all about separation of friends, gaining of friends, war and peace, loss of gains and ill-considered action or rash deeds

Dancing to stories of Panchatantra
Indian Dance Form. Pixabay
  • A dance narration was organized as a part of a recent summer program for high school pass outs at IIT-Madras
  • The recital is based on the stories of Panchatantra, also known as five principles of life that are the ancient Indian collection of animal fables
  • These principles of life were narrated to the princes in the form of tales by Vishnu Sharma

Chennai, June 29, 2017: Dancing is a form of expression that exhibits power to educate one of the practical ways of life. When a narrative is communicated through dance, it leaves an indelible impression on the learner. On similar grounds, a dance narration was organised was organised as part of a recent summer programme for high school pass outs at IIT-Madras.The recital is based on the stories of Panchatantra, also known as five principles of life that are the ancient Indian collection of animal fables.

The Research Science Initiative-Chennai programme, organised by PSBB Group of Schools is a six-week exhaustive research programme as part of which selected participants are trained in different subjects under experts from reputed colleges and bestowed life lessons through amusing and educative cultural programmes.

Being a part of educational programme this year, dancer Pavithra Srinivasan was summoned to teach students on the stories of Panchatantra through the dance form – Bharatanatyam.

ALSO READ: 7,000 girl students perform classical dance ‘Kuchipudi’ in Andhra Pradesh to set a Guinness World Record

According to Pavithra, the reason behind choosing the stories of Panchatantra was presenting the examples related to all types of human conditions.

When such narratives are expressed through a visual medium like dance, it prompts speculation of thoughts thus creating an in-depth understanding of the subject and spurring critical reasoning skills among the viewer, says Pavithra.

She further added, “The most interesting aspect about the Panchatantra is that the words of wisdom are imparted by animals interacting with humans.”

Pavithra chose the story of the monkey and the crocodile for narration The tale teaches how to think intelligently in difficult situations. Another story of a crow who tries to emulate the peacock is a lesson which edifies that one should cherish its own peculiar character.

Psychologists confirm that such setups of storytelling help the viewer to easily perceive the message hidden in the story.

“Storytelling involves a combination of audio-visual and kinesthetic (hand movements by storyteller) movements. This makes it easier for the viewer to visualise the story and learn it faster. Anything that we picture stays in the brain for a longer time. This makes storytelling a powerful learning tool,” says psychologist Dr Nappinai Seran.

It is believed that Panchatantra was inscribed in the 3rd century BC by Vishnu Sharma. Sharma devised this medium of instruction to educate the three sons of the king Amarasakthi. Panchatantra according to Sharma

Panchatantra is all about separation of friends, gaining of friends, war and peace, loss of gains and ill-considered action or rash deeds. These principles of life were narrated to the princes in the form of tales. Many of these stories have formed the background of Tamil literary works like Silappadikaram, the tales have also found a spot in the Western literary works as well, having been primarily translated into classical Persian.

– by Naina Mishra of Newsgram. Twitter: @Nainamishr94

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IIT-M researchers develop algorithms to detect MS with accuracy



New Delhi: Researchers at IIT-Madras (IIT-M) have developed algorithms that could help detect multiple sclerosis (MS) which, since it is visible as several small lesions, could be easily missed.

MS is a disease in which the protective sheath covering the nerves gets destroyed, disrupting the communication between the brain and the rest of the body. This leads to difficulty in speech, sight and the ability to move.

“The task of accurate delineation of regions (segmentation) of the brain affected with MS is a difficult and time-consuming affair. Owing to this, significant variability can be observed in the regions marked by different radiologists on the same image. In case of MS, only 50 percent of the marked areas would match each other,” Ganapathy Krishnamurthi, professor in IIT-M’s department of engineering design, who led the research, told a media outlet.

He added that the team’s research focusses on development of automated methods to perform accurate segmentation of disorders, such as MS and Glioma.

Explaining further, he said that these segmentations were important for doctors to obtain quantitative metrics for treatment monitoring and planning, as well as for surgical operations.

The number of multiple sclerosis patients has increased in India in recent years. It is estimated that there are between 100,000 and 200,000 MS patients in India. According to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, which carried out a study in 2013 on the patients of multiple sclerosis it treats, about 70-80 percent of patients were in the 18-35 age group.

Krishnamurthi shared that while working in collaboration with Thiruvananthapuram’s Sree Chitra Thirunal Institute of Medical Sciences and Technology, the team identified that accurate labelling of disorder-affected regions in brain MRI could be a difficult affair due to its “complex shape and vague boundaries”.

“Moreover, it is a tedious task since radiologists cannot visualize in 3D and the task needs to be performed slice by slice,” he said.

He added that this led to the research on automated methods for identification of glioma (brain tumors) affected regions from MRI images.

“However, the core algorithms developed in the process were such that they could be used in the detection of other disorders as well. Multiple Sclerosis is a chronic disease which is visible as several small lesions which can be easily missed. This being a particularly difficult task, we decided to extend the research scope and tackle this problem as well,” he said.

The symptoms of MS include weakness or numbness of limbs, blurring, partial or complete loss of vision, slurred speech, dizziness, tremors, lack of coordination and tingling sensation or pain in the body.

The team, comprising Suthirth Vaidya and Abhijith Chunduru, final year integrated masters (B.Tech+M.Tech) students from the engineering design department under the guidance of Krishnamurthi and M. Ramanathan, used technology known as ‘Deep Learning’, which is inspired by advances in neuroscience and is loosely based on the interpretation of information processing and communication within the nervous system.

“Deep Learning is one of the recent methods developed in machine learning, based on the interpretation of how human brain and nervous systems – the neural networks- work. These networks consist of stacked layers consisting of several mathematical models of neurons, which is the computational equivalent of information processing in the brain. Although these methods have been around for more than a decade, recent developments in computational resources have made large and complex networks with near-human performance possible,” Krishnamurthi explained.

Voice recognition on Android smartphone, Google’s self-driving car and automatic photo tagging feature on Facebook are all powered by Deep Learning.

The team, which emerged victorious in the recently held Longitudinal Multiple Sclerosis Segmentation challenge at International Symposium on Biomedical Imaging (ISBI) 2015 at New York, is currently in the process of building a software tool that can be used by clinicians.

“Our next steps in this endeavor would be to test extensively with more clinical data to assess the effectiveness of the software and subsequently deploy the software for use by our clinical collaborators. Based on the performance in a clinical setting (purely for evaluation) we will try to get regulatory approval for our software. Since training accurate models require large amounts of data, ethical committee approvals from various hospitals would be required. We are already in collaboration with Sree Chitra Thirunal Hospital and are confident of seeing the product put in use in a span of two to four years,” he said.

So, will it make MS treatment/diagnosis cheaper?

“These methods when implemented can substantially reduce the time and cost for diagnosis of various brain diseases like MS. The algorithms for image analysis are basically tools for diagnosis and aid clinicians to judge progression of disease and efficacy of therapy. For instance, in large clinical trials, these automated algorithms can be used to analyze patient data,” Krishnamurthi added.


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Prime Minister Narendra Modi led government trying to impose land bill on farmers: Nitish Kumar

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar (Photo: IANS)
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar (Photo: IANS)
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar (Photo: IANS)

Patna: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said on Saturday that the Narendra Modi government was “trying to impose controversial land acquisition bill on farmers through the ordinance route that will prove costly”.

“Modi’s government is desperate to pass the land acquisition bill in the Rajya Sabha, where it was opposed, to impose it on millions of farmers, who are protesting against it across the country,” Nitish Kumar told reporters after attending an official function here.

“For Prime Minister Modi, farmers’ interest hardly matter. What matters for him is the interest of corporates as he has been trying to push through the land bill,” Nitish Kumar said.

His reaction after the union Cabinet on Saturday recommended re-issuance of the controversial land acquisition ordinance for the third time, as the earlier one is lapsing on June 4.

Nitish Kumar said that never before was any bill opposed in such a way by the people across the country.

“People as well as different political parties, except the BJP and its allies, have been opposing the bill and demanding its withdrawal. Such opposition has never been seen before,” he said.

The chief minister said that his party, Janata Dal-United, like other parties, too was opposed to the bill, which would “snatch land from farmers for corporate houses”.

Nitish Kumar said that Modi had made the land bill a “prestige issue” by ignoring the opposition by the country’s farmers.

He also targeted union ministers who had visited Bihar from May 26 to 29, saying that they were only addressing press conferences and doing nothing else.

“Union ministers are like paratroopers, who have no work, except to address press conferences in hotels here and there,” the Bihar chief minister remarked.

Nitish Kumar said that all union ministers were parroting the name of only one man in their statements.

As for the ban on a students’ body in IIT Madras, Nitish Kumar said that Modi was “trying to murder democracy” through the ban on freedom of expression at the IIT.

“I strongly favour freedom of expression in the country,” he added.