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Indian scientists say endosulfan damages liver, lungs, male fertility in mice

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source: wisegeek.com

Bengaluru: Researchers of Indian Institute of Science (IIS) after obtaining conclusive evidence from animal studies asserted that endosulfan, a pesticide used by Indian farmers not only affect male infertility but also damages their liver and lungs in mice.

Sathees C Raghavan, associate professor in the department of biochemistry, and Robin Sebastian, a research scholar, recorded significant cell death in the testes, the organ that produces sperm, in mice that were exposed to endosulfan.

The research, published recently in the journal “Cell Death Discovery,” found that endosulfan treatment significantly affected the complete cycle of sperm formation, causing the testes to waste away (testicular atrophy).

In Kasargod district in northern Kerala, endosulfan was regularly sprayed on cashew plantations for over two decades starting in 1976. Subsequently, inhabitants started developing diseases like cancer, birth defects and deformations which were thought to be due to excessive endosulfan use.

“As northern Keralites, we always had the first-hand experience on the political and social phases of the endosulfan issue and we were quite intrigued to test and methodologically evaluate the mechanistic aspects of endosulfan action”, Raghavan said.

Raghavan recently spoke at the session on “Genetic dissection of complex diseases” during the 103rd Indian Science Congress in Bengaluru where he shared the study findings with the gathering at a packed auditorium.

The precise mechanism by which endosulfan exerts its effect, however, remains largely unclear. For the study carried out in mice, the researchers chose an endosulfan concentration of 3mg/kg of body weight comparable to what has been detected in the blood serum of human subjects living in areas of endosulfan exposure. The mice were treated with four doses of endosulfan, spanning eight days.

Liver function tests showed decreased levels of essential enzymes (as compared to untreated control) and tissue analyses after the first day of treatment completion showed that liver, testes and lungs were maximally affected upon endosulfan treatment whereas brain, intestine and kidney showed no sign of toxicity.

The levels of red blood cells and platelets also went down as opposed to normal levels, the report said.

“Immediately after endosulfan exposure, the DNA integrity of the sperm was significantly perturbed,” Raghavan said. “This effect was transient and found to be mediated through high levels of particular molecules called Reactive Oxygen Species levels, which may interact with and damage the genetic material DNA, causing genomic instability within sperms,” he said.

Although the morphology of sperms remained normal, there was a dramatic reduction in sperm count and motility after the endosulfan treatment. To test the implications of this effect on fertility in mice, the researchers conducted mating experiments and found that about a third of the males treated with endosulfan were infertile.

Raghavan said that because of the growing concerns about health hazards of endosulfan, “the molecular insights behind changes induced by endosulfan” are currently under investigation in his laboratory.

“The study could be further extended to other types of pesticides with possible side effects in health. This would be the first step towards a more rationalised usage of pesticides,” he noted.(IANS)

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Indian Scientists suggest Tweaking Microbial Minions in the intestine to treat Pancreatitis

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Doctors operating on a patient (Representational Image), VOA

Kolkata, May 4, 2017: The gut is the gateway to heath, courtesy the teeming microbial minions. The smarter they are, the better you are.

Indian scientists say tweaking the bacterial milieu in the intestine could be potentially therapeutic in treating chronic pancreatitis, a disease that cripples the body’s ability to digest food and regulate blood sugar and could even lead to diabetes.

Their suggestion is based on the revelation that alteration in gut microbes may be linked to malnutrition and diabetes in chronic pancreatitis (CP) for which there is currently no definitive cure.

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“Whatever treatment is offered to these patients is directed in ameliorating or reducing pain and improving nutritional and glycemic (blood sugar) status,” Rupjyoti Talukdar, Clinicial Pancreatologist and Head of Pancreatic Research at Hyderabad’s Asian Institute of Gastroenterology, told IANS.

Some of the futuristic procedures that could potentially contribute to therapy include administration of “designer” probiotics and faecal transplantation.

“Our recent studies have added a new angle to the disease biology of CP, i.e. alteration of the gut microbiota could contribute to diabetes and malnutrition. Gut microbial manipulation, including ‘designer’ probiotics and faecal transplantation, could be a potential future therapeutic addendum,” Talukdar explained.

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“However, before translating the concept to the clinic, this needs to be stringently tested in clinical trials,” he cautioned.

It sounds incredible but the millions of microscopic bugs in our gut may have a major role to play in the progression of the disease.

Collective human gut micro flora is composed of a staggering 35,000 bacterial species.

A specific concoction of gut microbes is crucial for digestion of foods (such as breaking down complex carbohydrates), key to a normal immune system, fending off diseases and for producing many essential hormones and vitamins that the body cannot produce.

Whether the good ones triumph or the bad ones flourish, this good versus evil story unfolding in your belly determines your overall health.

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In chronic pancreatitis, as the pancreatic tissue is damaged, digestive juices reduce and the undigested fat piles up, things start spiralling south for microbes.

“When there is excess amount of undigested fat in the intestine, there will be a change in the profile of healthy bacteria,” Talukdar explained.

The study noted the reduction in numbers of two crucial bacterial species (F.Aprausnitzii and R. bromii) in individuals with CP. They are among the good bacteria needed to keep the tummy in top shape.

The gut flora is an entire ecological system by itself.

“Therefore by giving the entire intestinal flora in the form of faecal transplantation, the ecology will be maintained. This is important because the different groups of organisms in the intestine are interrelated in distribution and function,” Talukdar said.

Faecal transplant is a real thing and has already found beneficial use in diseases of the intestine, namely, Clostridium difficile diarrhoea, which could result from antibiotic use or other conditions such as ulcerative colitis.

The other futuristic option, Talukdar said could be “personalised” probiotics that would act on specific targets and thereby provide the maximum possible therapeutic benefit to the patient.

Talukdar underscored the importance of dietary interventions, besides therapy.

“It can be done to a certain extent by ensuring adequate fat digestion with pancreatic enzyme supplementation, taking a balanced home-cooked diet without any specific restriction while on enzyme supplementation, and otherwise avoid high fat content in diet so as to prevent accumulation of inadequately digested fat in the intestinal lumen,” he added.

The study, published in March in Nature’s Scientific Reports, is co-authored by Sai Manasa Jandhyala, A. Madhulika, G. Deepika, G. Venkat Rao, D. Nageshwar Reddy, Chivukula Subramanyam and Mitnala Sasikala. (IANS)

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34 Indian Scientists invited for 67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in Germany

A total of 400 young scientists from 76 countries have been selected to participate in the meeting, where they will meet Nobel laureates at Lake Constance

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Nobel Prize (Representational Image). Wikimedia

Kolkata, March 22, 2017: As many as 34 young Indian scientists have been invited for the 67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in Germany from June 25 to 30, it was announced on Wednesday.

A total of 400 young scientists from 76 countries have been selected to participate in the meeting, where they will meet Nobel laureates at Lake Constance.

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“Of the 34 young Indian scientists, 22 are based at Indian universities or institutes while the other 12 are currently based … abroad (in Australia, Germany, Ireland, Israel, the UK, and the US),” said a statement from the communications department of the Council for the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings.

“Every year, one-to-two members of the Council for the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings travel to India to assist with the selection of young scientists. Besides India, the only other country that they travel to in order to assist with the selection process is China,” the communique said.

In South Asia, five young scientists from Pakistan and one young scientist from Bangladesh have been selected to participate.

The meetings have taken place every year since 1951 and are designed as a forum for exchange, networking and inspiration.

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The 2017 meeting is dedicated to Chemistry. So far, 31 Nobel laureates have confirmed their participation.

The young scientists are outstanding undergraduate students, graduate students and post-doctorates under the age of 35, conducting research in the field of Chemistry.

They have successfully passed a multi-stage international selection process. 155 scientific institutes, universities, foundations and research-oriented companies contributed to the nominations.

The proportion of women among the selected young scientists is 45 per cent.

Bernard Feringa and Jean-Pierre Sauvage, who received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2016, together with Sir Fraser Stoddart, for the design of molecular machines, will also participate in this year’s meeting.

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 Besides molecular machines, the key topics of the this year’s meeting will include big data, climate change and the role of science in a ‘post-truth’ era.

The selected young scientists may expect a six-day programme with numerous lectures and panel discussions. Some of them will also get the opportunity to discuss their own work at one of the master classes or at the poster session. (IANS)

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ISRO Chief Kiran Kumar is thrilled to create India’s own space shuttle

The idea to make reusable rockets a reality is to cut down the cost of access to space by at least 10 times

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ISRO Chief Kiran Kumar. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

The stepping stones of ISRO (Indian space research organisation) were laid by none other than our own beloved Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. After deploying its own GPS system through NAVIC, ISRO (India’s version of NASA) is all set to achieve another milestone in the field of space and technology. India is going to launch its own indigenous Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV). According to indianexpress.com if this attempt becomes a success then the cost of access to space will decline significantly by 10 times.

What does RLV mean ?

RLV is a mechanism of launching which intends to bring down the cost of launch. Initially, a series of technology demonstrations will take place followed by the testing of HEX-01 (also called winged body). ISRO chairman Kiran Kumar explains the whole mechanism of this upcoming experiment. He further elucidates that HEX-01 will be launched from Sriharikota Island. After coming back from space it will be guided by satellites and radars to make it land in the Bay of Bengal. However, the final winged body will land on Sriharikota Islands only (i.e. on land only).

Vikas engine of ISRO, Wikimedia commons
Vikas engine of ISRO, Wikimedia commons
  • K Sivan, director of the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Thiruvananthapuram said “These are just the first baby steps towards the big Hanuman leap. The final version will take at least 10-15 years to get ready since designing a human-rated reusable rocket is no kid stuff.
  • Apart from America, no other superpowers have attempted operational flights.
    • The US flew its space shuttle 135 times and then retired in 2011. It is said that it lost its capacity afterwards to send astronauts into space.
    • Russians made only a single space shuttle called ‘Buran’ which flew into space once in 1989.
    • French and Japanese made some experimental flights, though.
    • However, Chinese have never even attempted a space shuttle.
  • Indian space shuttle or RLV-TD began its construction nearly 5 years ago. Our government has invested nearly RS 95 Crores in this project. The capability of the vehicle to survive a re-entry at velocities more than that of a supersonic range will be tested by the flight. That is the reason this experiment has also been named as Hyper Sonic Experiment (HEX). Later RLV will be tested for another return flight experiment. After successful completion of these experiments, ISRO will plan the final configuration of the upcoming Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV).
  • Scientists have even developed a material called ‘Indian space plane’. This will help in protecting the exterior surface of the shuttle from the friction caused heat while entering earth’s atmosphere (this temperature goes up to 5000-700 degrees Celsius). This thermal coating failure was the reason due to which the American space shuttle (Columbia) crashed which lead to the death of Kalpana Chawla in 2003. Hence, ISRO is emphasising on the thermal management.
  • Scientists have worked hard in making this dream come true. ISRO’s aim is to have its own ‘swadeshi space shuttle’. Sooner or later the RLV will be renamed as ‘Kalyanam’ after India’s famous former president Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam (a legendary aeronautical engineer and rocket scientist) who dreamt of making India into a developed nation.
Former President - Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, Wikimedia commons
Former President – Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Wikimedia commons
  • Given the vast potential which lies within our very own ISRO, we all hope this project becomes a success where all other superpowers have failed.
  • Even though the whole world is silent in attempting winged flights, ISRO’s main motto behind all this is bringing down the overall cost of building space infrastructures. This way scientists at ISRO believe that their capability will increase significantly.

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-Prepared by Pritam

Pritam is a 3rd year engineering student in B.P. Poddar institute of management and technology, Kolkata.

You can reach the author at @pritam_gogreen