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The apical membrane of airway cells faces the interior of the airway while the basolateral membrane touches the surrounding tissues. Pixabay

People with metabolic diseases like Type-2 diabetes and cancer as well as those exposed to organophosphate pesticides can be at an increased risk of Covid-19 infection, finds a new study performed in human lung airway cells. The study, led by Saurabh Chatterjee and the team from the University of South Carolina in the US, identified a basic mechanism linked with inflammation that could increase susceptibility to Covid-19 infection among people exposed to organophosphates.

The findings showed that people with Type-2 diabetes and cancer may also be at increased risk to Covid because they tend to exhibit the same type of inflammation. Exposure to organophosphate pesticides causes Gulf War Illness — a cluster of medically unexplained chronic symptoms that can include fatigue, headaches, joint pain, indigestion, insomnia, dizziness, respiratory disorders, and memory problems.


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The team examined whether exposure to the organophosphate pesticide chlorpyriphos and increased levels of interleukin 6 (IL-6) could increase the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection. For six hours, they exposed human lung airway epithelial cells to either IL-6 or chlorpyriphos or to both in combination. Another group of cells received no exposure to serve as a control.


The findings will be presented at the virtual Experimental Biology (EB) 2021 meeting to be held on April 27-30. Pixabay

The researchers then treated the cells with the spike proteins that cover the outside of SARS-CoV-2. During infection, spike proteins bind with angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptors to our cells, starting a process that allows the virus to release its genetic material into the healthy cell. They found that cells exposed to IL-6 and the pesticide exhibited increased apoptosis — or controlled cell death — when the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein was present.

ALSO READ: Experts Recommend ‘Smell Training’ To Combat Scent Loss Caused By Covid-19

The cells exposed to both the pesticide and IL-6 also had significantly more ACE2 expression on the apical cell surface compared to cells that were unexposed or exposed to the pesticide alone. The apical membrane of airway cells faces the interior of the airway while the basolateral membrane touches the surrounding tissues. Increased ACE2 receptor expression on the apical surface means more viruses will attach to the cells, the researchers explained.

“Since people with obesity, Type-2 diabetes or cancer also have high circulatory IL-6 levels, we think people with these conditions will also have increased susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2 infection because of increased translocation of ACE2 receptor to the apical cell surface,” Chatterjee said. The findings will be presented at the virtual Experimental Biology (EB) 2021 meeting to be held on April 27-30. (IANS/JC)


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Photo by Wikimedia Commons

Killer Smog in Delhi.

Developed by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune, a Decision Support System (DSS) that extends the ability of the existing air quality early warning system (AQEWS) to have decision-making capability for air quality management in Delhi-NCR was launched on Tuesday.

The website for the DSS (https://ews.tropmet.res.in/dss/) is designed to help the Commission for Air Quality Management for NCR and Adjoining Areas (CAQM) by delivering quantitative information about the contribution of emissions from Delhi and its 19 surrounding districts; the contribution of emissions from eight different sectors in Delhi; and the contribution from biomass-burning activities in the neighbouring states.

These information would assist in managing the air quality in a timely manner, a release from the Ministry of Earth Sciences said.

The need was stated by the CAQM, which was formed by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, during a meeting held in January 2021.

Recently, the Commission reviewed the progress made by IITM and had in principle approved the current version of DSS for air quality management in the Delhi-NCR. The IITM has also developed a new website for DSS with the entire system made operational, the release said.

Union Minister of State for Earth Sciences, Jitendra Singh, while launching the website for AQEWS on the occasion of 'Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav' week organised by the Ministry of Earth Sciences, said, "DSS is a significant contribution to 'Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav' on behalf of MoES and IITM and suggestions are invited on this issue."

The website also has a feature whereby the users can create their own emission reduction scenarios (from 20 different districts, including Delhi) so as to examine the possible projected improvement in air quality in Delhi for the next five days.

"This information would explicitly highlight the most important emission sources responsible for the degradation of air quality in Delhi and suggest possible solutions to ameliorate the same. With a plethora of quantitative data, the AQEWS integrated with DSS could become a user-friendly tool for air-quality management in and around Delhi," the release said. (IANS/JB)

Keywords: Delhi, India, Pollution, IITM, Ministry of Earth Sciences


Photo by GOI.

On the first day of the two-day meeting of BJP and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leaders on Tuesday, discussions were held on important issues related to education and the National Education Policy-2020

On the first day of the two-day meeting of BJP and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leaders on Tuesday, discussions were held on important issues related to education and the National Education Policy-2020. Apart from senior RSS leader Suresh Soni, representatives of various organisations associated with the Sangh Parivar -- working in the field of education -- were present in the meeting in New Delhi.

According to sources, Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, who attended the meeting on behalf of the government, shared information related to the National Education Policy-2020 and the government's policy on important issues related to the education sector. Pradhan also shared details of the efforts being made by the government in the field of education.

Discussions were also held regarding the impact of the situation arising out of Corona and how much it has affected the education sector. In the meeting, the RSS leaders asked several questions and provided suggestions to the Union Minister regarding the education policy of the government.

According to the sources, RSS wants the policy to be implemented expeditiously. All aspects related to the policy were discussed in Tuesday's meeting. On the second and the last day of the meeting on Wednesday, special issues related to education will be discussed in which representatives of various organisations of the Sangh, Union Ministers and several BJP leaders will be take part.

Meanwhile, in order to convey its point of view to the government on various issues, the Sangh keeps on calling such coordination meetings related to specific issues, in which RSS representatives -- working in that particular area -- provide feedback to the government. (IANS/JB)


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