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By encasing protein molecules in a silica shell, the structure of vaccine remains intact even when heated to 100 degrees, thus keeping them safe. Pixabay

Vaccines are difficult to transport to remote or dangerous places, as they spoil when not refrigerated but now researchers have developed a way to prevent warmed-up vaccines from degrading. By encasing protein molecules in a silica shell, the structure remains intact even when heated to 100 degrees Celsius, or stored at room temperature for up to three years. The technique for tailor-fitting a vaccine with a silica coat – known as ensilication- was developed by Bath University researchers in collaboration with the University of Newcastle in the UK.

This pioneering technology was seen to work in the lab two years ago, and now it has demonstrated its effectiveness in the real world too. “The aim is to eradicate vaccine-preventable diseases in low-income countries by using thermally stable vaccines and cutting out dependence on cold chain,” said study researcher Asel Sartbaeva from the University of Bath. Currently, up to 50 per cent of vaccine doses are discarded before use due to exposure to suboptimal temperatures.



The technique for tailor-fitting a vaccine with a silica coat – known as ensilication- was developed by Bath University researchers in collaboration with the University of Newcastle in the UK. Pixabay

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 19.4 million infants did not receive routine life-saving vaccinations in 2018. In their latest study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, the research team sent both ensilicated and regular samples of the tetanus vaccine from Bath to Newcastle by ordinary post (a journey time of over 300 miles, which by post takes a day or two).

This project has focused on tetanus, which is part of the DTP (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis) vaccine given to young children in three doses. When doses of the ensilicated vaccine were subsequently injected into mice, an immune response was triggered, showing the vaccine to be active. No immune response was detected in mice injected with unprotected doses of the vaccine, indicating the medicine had been damaged in transit.

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“This is really exciting data because it shows us that ensilication preserves not just the structure of the vaccine proteins but also the function – the immunogenicity,” Sartbaeva said. “Eventually, we want to create a silica cage for the whole DTP trivalent vaccine, so that every child in the world can be given DTP without having to rely on cold chain distribution,” the authors wrote.

Also Read: Devotees Rushed To Religious Places as Nationwide Lockdown Lifted

Silica is an inorganic, non-toxic material, and researchers estimate that ensilicated vaccines could be used for humans within five to 15 years. They hope the technology to silica-wrap proteins will eventually be adopted to store and transport all childhood vaccines, as well as other protein-based products, such as antibodies and enzymes. (IANS)


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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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