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By N. B. Hombal
An interdisciplinary team of researchers from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) has made a breakthrough in the field of identifying cancer cells by using a 3D tumour model and magnetically-driven nanomotors to probe the microenvironment of these cells.
The team consists of researchers from the Centre for Nano Science and Engineering (CeNSE) and Department of Molecular Reproduction, Development and Genetics (MRDG).
“What came as a beautiful surprise was that within such a milieu, we found that aggressive cancer cells ended up remodelling their surroundings by making them stickier, and richer in specific charged sugars,” Assistant Professor at MRDG and one of the senior authors Ramray Bhat observed.
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“This charging can potentially be used to target and kill tiny populations of cancer cells hidden among their normal counterparts, for which we are extending these studies to living animals,”
In their work, published in Angewandte Chemie, the team has steered helical nanomotors remotely via an external magnetic field through the tumour model to sense, map and quantify changes in the cellular environment.
“We believe these findings will find use as targeting strategies in future in-vivo applications, in quantifications of cancer aggressions and as biophysical probes to study the extracellular environment of cancer,”
the team concluded in the journal.
“The model comprises both healthy and cancer cells embedded within a reconstituted basement membrane matrix, and mimics the breast cancer environment,” the paper published Angewandete Chemie stated. While a note released by the IISc claimed that this study also highlights a new way of targeting cancer cells by maneuvering nanomotors inside a tumour and waiting for them to localise in the vicinity of the cancerous site.
“We tried driving the nanomotors toward cancer cells in a tumour model and observed them getting stuck to the matrix near cancer cells, but this was not observed near normal cells,” the co-first author and PhD student at the CeNSE Debayan Dasgupta said.
Want to read more in Hindi? Checkout: बर्फ के पानी से बुझाते थे प्यास, अब जा कर मिली राहत
The IISc note further claimed that the extracellular matrix (ECM) is a complex 3D network of proteins and carbohydrates secreted by living cells into their neighbourhood.
“However, when cancer cells secrete fresh material into the ECM, it disrupts the chemical and physical composition of the native ECM surrounding healthy cells, degrading the local environment.”
Therefore, understanding how the cellular microenvironment is altered due to cancer cells and measuring these changes quantitatively could be vital in understanding the progression of cancer,” Dasgupta disclosed.
In the current study, the researchers discovered that as the nanomotors approached the cancer cell membrane, they stuck to the matrix more strongly than they would to normal cells. To measure how strongly the nanomotors bound to the matrix, the team calculated the magnetic field strength required to overcome the adhesive force, and move forward.
“This means that the cancer cells are doing something. So, we did some measurements and discovered that the adhesive force depended on the type of cells, the strength of interaction and also which side of the cell the nanomotor approached,”
Associate Professor at CeNSE and one of the senior authors Ambarish Ghosh explained.
“In the end, we really ended up discovering a physical property of an important biological environment,” he said.
The reason why the nanomotors appear to stick to the cancer cells better is their charged ECM. This may be due to the presence of 2, 3-linked sialic acid, a sugar-conjugated molecule which confers a negative charge on the cancer cell environment, the researchers found. They visualised the distribution of these sugars using fluorescent markers and found that sialic acids were distributed up to 40 micrometres from the cancer cell surface — the same distance until which the nanomotors experienced strong adhesion.
To counter this adhesive effect, the team coated the nanomotors with Perfluorooctyltriethoxysilane (PFO) which shielded them from the charged environment.
“The coated nanomotors did not stick to the matrix near the cancer cells, whereas the uncoated motors clung to the matrix, confirming the fact that the negatively charged cancer microenvironment interacts with the incoming nanomotors, rendering them immobile,” the paper published Angewandete Chemie read.
Prof. Ghosh further added that they have demonstrated how investigation of maneuverability of the nanomotors can be used to spatially differentiate between cancerous and non-cancerous cell niches that were engineered to coexist within tissue-like environment. (IANS)
Great historic events that have shaped the world and changed the outlines of countries are often not recorded in memory, or so we think. Wars made sure to destroy evidence and heritage, and the ones who survived told the tale of what really happened. Folklore, albeit through oral tradition kept alive many such stories, hidden in verse, limericks, and rhymes.
Ringa-ringa-roses, a common playtime rhyme among children across the world, is an example of folklore that has survived for many centuries. It tells the story of the The Great Plague of London which ravaged the city between 1665-1666.
The Plague broke out from improper disposal of garbage and poor sewage conditions. Fleas from the rats that lived in the sewers spread the disease that killed more than half of London's population. Many people fled from their homes as there was no medicine available for those who were infected.
Beak-shaped masks worn during the Great Plague of London Image source: wikimedia commons
It was around this time that masks began to be invented. The first masks were shaped like beaks, and were worn not to protect the wearer from the disease, but to the prevent them from being able to smell the decay and death around them, which they called 'miasma'. The beaks were filled with floral herbs that allowed doctors and nurses to tend to the sick without being reviled from the smell.
Children are often seen forming circles by holding hands and reciting loudly,
Pockets full of posies
We all fall down"
An illustration of the Great Plague of London, 1665 Image source: wikimedia commons
When the last line is sung, they break the circle and fall down. The roses and posies are believed to be the preferred fragrances inside the masks, and a single sneeze (a-tishoo) was enough to infect the one who was exposed to the disease. Consequently, they fell down, ill, and later died.
An alternative version of this rhyme is sung about the fall of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the aftermath of World War II. The roses and posies are interchanged with geranium and uranium, to symbolise what was used in the atomic bomb. But this version is not as famous the original.
Keywords: Rhymes, Ringa-ringa-roses, Great Plague of London, WWII, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Folklore
In modern times, many social movements aim to bring reform to the society we live in, on the basis of certain existing patterns. Patriarchy is something that many aim to cleanse our cultures of, to usher in the era of social and gender equality. Despite all these so-called movements, in southern India, certain societies that patronise matriarchy have existed since before India's independence. The Nairs and Ezhavas of Kerala, and Bunts and Billavas of Karnataka are matrilineal societies that continue to thrive in a patriarchal country.
Kerala remains separate from the rest of India in many ways. Be it literacy policy, form of government, or cultural practices, this state does not always conform to the ideal that India is known for. Even so with their social structure. Certain tribes have remained matrilineal, where the decision-making power rests with the eldest female of the family.
The Nairs and Ezhavas of Kerala, and Bunts and Billavas of Karnataka are matrilineal societies that continue to thrive in a patriarchal country. Image source: wikimedia commons
A male member, who is the close confidante of the matriarch is chosen. He plays a crucial role in representing the male members of his family, and his opinion is highly valued. He is called karavanan. The men reside in separate rooms or in separate houses, and do not interfere in the upbringing of children. Property is also passed down along the lineage of the eldest female. Among the Nairs, matriarchy is more prominently adhered to than the Ezhavas, who have some patrilocal connections.
In Karnataka, the Bunts and Billavas belong to the Tuluva ethnic group. They are also a predominantly matriarchal society, founded on the belief in a legend. Their matrilineal descent is known as Aliyasantana.
The story is told of a demon who threatened to destroy a kingdom if the king did not sacrifice his sons, but the king's sister comes forward to offer her children in sacrifice for the sake of the kingdom. The demon is touched and does not destroy the city. Since then, the kingdom, or the property is inherited through female lineage.
In Karnataka, the Bunts and Billavas belong to the Tuluva ethnic group. They are also a predominantly matriarchal society, founded on the belief in a legend. Image source: wikimedia commons
In the recent past, many of these matriarchal societies have been reduced to matrilineal societies by certain governmental laws. They fall under the patriarchal scheme of the rest of the state but have reserved the right to pass on property and heritage through the female line. In the North east of India, matriarchal dominance is far more resilient than the south.
Keywords: Bunts, Billava, Nair, Ezhava, Aliyasantana, Matrilineal, South India, Karnataka, Kerala
Apple inc. Is an American multinational tech firm specialized in consumer electronics, computer programs, and internet services founded by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne in 1976 to manufacture Wozniak's Apple iComputer. It is the world's top tech company in turnover (totaling $274.5 billion in 2020) and its most valuable corporation. Apple is the fourth-largest PC seller by unit sales and the fourth-largest smartphone manufacturer in the world.
Apple has revealed a slew of new products at a special launch event that has been long-awaited. On the day of the live event, Apple announced the iPad mini, Apple Watch Series 7, iPhone 13 mini, and iPhone 13, as well as the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max.
Apple has revealed a slew of new products at a special launch event that has been long-awaited. | Photo by Daniel Romero on Unsplash
In the first major product announcement during the event, Apple introduced the newest edition of the iPad and a 5G-capable iPad Mini.
iPad: The 10.2-inch iPad is equipped with a solid A13 processor that delivers 20 percent quicker performance than the preceding version. According to Apple, it is now three times faster than a Chromebook. A new 12MP ultra-wide camera with Center Stage, which utilizes machine learning to optimize the front-facing camera during FaceTime video chats, as well as more incredible accessory support, including compatibility with the first-generation Apple Pencil, are among the new features. For 64GB of storage, the iPad costs $329.
iPad Mini: In addition to reduced borders and more rounded edges, the 8.3-inch iPad mini also has improved front and back cameras. A liquid retina display, USB-C compatibility, magnetic support for the Apple Pencil, an enhanced speaker system, and new hues such as pink and purple are all features of the new Apple iPad Mini. The starting price is $499.
In the first major product announcement during the event, Apple introduced the newest edition of the iPad and a 5G-capable iPad Mini. | Photo by Leone Venter on Unsplash
The other major unveiled products include:
iPhone 13 and other variants: The iPhone 13 range is almost identical to the iPhone 12 lineup, with a 5.4-inch iPhone 13 Mini, a 6.1-inch iPhone 13, a 6.1-inch iPhone 13 Pro, and a 6.7-inch iPhone 13 Pro Max. It was also revealed that the Watch Series 7 has a smaller "S7" processor, which may allow for a bigger battery or other components to be housed in a smaller footprint. The gadgets have a revolutionary design that includes a dual-camera system, placed diagonally. Apple's iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini have longer-lasting batteries than the previous generation of devices. In addition, Apple claims that the iPhone 13 will have a battery life that is 2.5 hours longer than the iPhone 12, and the iPhone 13 mini will have a battery life that is 1.5 hours longer. A more energy-efficient display, an upgraded 5G chip, and functionality called "Cinematic Mode," similar to the famous Portrait mode function but is only available for movies, are among the other enhancements. The A15 Bionic chip present in the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini is also used in the 6.1-inch iPhone 13 Pro and 6.7-inch iPhone 13 Pro Max, also 6.1-inch devices. However, it also has a five-core CPU, which promises graphics that are 50% quicker than previous models. Other notable features of the Pro devices include a brilliant Super Retna XDR display with a higher refresh rate and long-lasting battery life. Now, for the price, it will start at $699 for the iPhone 13 mini with 128 GB of storage, $799 for the iPhone 13 with 128 GB of storage, and the Pro and Pro Max have starting prices of $999 $1,099, respectively.
Apple Watch Series 7: The new Apple Watch Series 7, which is smaller and has a larger screen than its previous model, was introduced by Apple on Wednesday. There is a 20% increase in screen size over Series 6 on the new watch. A complete keyboard that you can touch or slide to write out text messages can show 50% more text. It starts at $399.
Keywords: Apple, iPad, iPad Mini, iPhone 13, iPhone 13 pro, iPhone 13 Pro Max, iPhone Mini, Apple event 2021