Monday October 16, 2017
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Raman effect to detect fraudulent paintings, diseases, chemical weapons

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New York: An international research team has developed nanotechnology that harnesses surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) to detect amounts of molecules in fraudulent paintings, diseases, chemical weapons and more.

Led by University at Buffalo (UB) engineers, the new method makes SERS simple and more affordable.

“The technology we’re developing – a universal substrate for SERS – is a unique and, potentially, revolutionary feature,” said lead author Qiaoqiang Gan from UB.

“It allows us to rapidly identify and measure chemical and biological molecules using a broadband nanostructure that traps wide range of light,” Gan added.

The universal substrate can trap a wide range of wavelengths and squeeze them into very small gaps to create a strongly enhanced light field.

“It acts similar to a skeleton key. Instead of needing all these different substrates to measure Raman signals excited by different wavelengths, you’ll eventually need just one. Just like a skeleton key that opens many doors,” co-author Nan Zhang said.

Traditional substrates, or the silicon surfaces on which liquid samples are deposited, are typically designed for only a very narrow range of wavelengths.

This is problematic because different substrates are needed if scientists want to use a different laser to test the same molecules.

In turn, this requires more chemical molecules and substrates, increasing costs and time to perform the test. The new technology has a wide range of applications.

“The ability to detect even smaller amounts of chemical and biological molecules could be helpful with biosensors that are used to detect cancer, malaria, HIV and other illnesses,” the researchers said.

“This could be helpful detecting forged pieces of art as well as restoring ageing pieces of art,” Gan said.

“Also, the technology could improve scientists’ ability to detect trace amounts of toxins in the air, water or other spaces that are causes for health concerns. And it could aid in the detection of chemical weapons,” he added.

The study was published in the journal Advanced Materials Interfaces. (IANS)

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Islamic Yoga: Amalgamation of Yoga and Quranic Recitation by Muslim Women of Vadodara

A yoga session was organized by Tadbeer Foundation in which around 52 Muslim women participated

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Islamic Yoga, Amalgamation of yoga and Quranic recitation by Muslim Women
Islamic Yoga, Amalgamation of yoga and Quranic recitation by Muslim Women. Pixabay
  • Yoga is an age-old technique practiced since thousands of years and it is not a legacy of any one religion
  • Through Islamic yoga, we are trying to blend the ancient practice with Islamic chanting
  • I am a very good believer of Islam but there is a myth that only Hindus can practice yoga

Vadodara, Gujarat, August 22, 2017: Does only one religion have an exclusive right over yoga? Is yoga to be practiced by Hindu’s only?  It’s is a long going debate if practicing yoga is permitted in Islam religion or not as it originated from being a form of Hindu worship. Different people of Muslim faith have contrasting opinions on it. Don’t worry!  A city-based foundation called Tadbeer Foundation has come up with an uncommon way to spread yoga amongst Muslims. They have mixed yoga with Quranic recitation.

A special yoga session was organized by Tadbeer Foundation in which was attended by around 52 Muslim Women on August 20. The session was held at Taiyyebi Hall which is on Ajwa Road, Vadodara.

According to TNN report, Naasheta Bhaisaheb of the Tadbeer Foundation said, “Generally, women from our community stay away from doing yoga believing that it belongs to a particular faith. But yoga is an age-old technique practiced since thousands of years and it is not a legacy of any one religion. Through Islamic yoga, we are trying to blend the ancient practice with Islamic chanting,”

She added that the Islamic yoga is a completely a new concept altogether and in this practice, Quranic recitation gets blended along with various yogic posture in which Muslim Women try to enhance the physical benefits of yoga by adding a spiritual touch with recitation.

“The yoga session was specially designed by our spiritual leader Saiyyedna Haatim Zakiyuddin Saheb and my husband Dr. Zulqarnain Bhaisaheb, a homeopathy doctor,” said Bhaisaheb.

ALSO READ: Yogatomics Training and Wellness Centre in Stonington, USA Uses Healing Sound to Bring Twist in Traditional Yoga Practices

For this particular session, an international yoga expert – Shabanaben Lalawala came especially from Mumbai. He targeted common problems which women often suffer from like osteoarthritis of knees, back pain, frozen shoulders and hip pain among other diseases. Yoga can help in providing relief from diseases like these to an extent and can also prevent women from having such diseases if they practice yoga on a regular basis.

She added, “In this session, we focused on 5 asanas. From next session onwards, we will be focusing on problems related to diabetes, thyroid and so on.”

ALSO READ: These 7 Yoga Practices Can Help You to Ease Your Wandering Mind and Enhance Concentration

A local Muslim woman got herself a private yoga practitioner to help her with yoga postures. Fatema Lokhandwala, a 43-year-old woman, who holds a master’s degree in medical microbiology, said “I am a very good believer of Islam religion but there is a myth that only Hindus can practice yoga. Since last 4 years, I have been practicing yoga for which I got a private yoga practitioner. But the Islamic yoga that we did on Sunday was meant for physical, mental as well as spiritual upliftment and added more to what I was practicing so far,” mentions TNN report.

Shahina Chasmawalla, a 41-year-old lady, a resident of Vasna Road said “I am practicing yoga since last 5 years but Islamic yoga was a totally new concept for me. There is a taboo because of which some Muslim women don’t practice yoga. Anybody can practice yoga for its health benefits.”


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Gene Therapy: Scientists may have found a way to ‘turn off’ Asthma!

Asthma is a major chronic disease that makes it difficult to breathe properly. Scientists using 'Gene Therapy' may 'turn off' Asthma

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FILE - A person uses an inhaler to cope with asthma. VOA
  • Asthma is a noncommunicable disease which narrows the air passage to the lungs causing difficulty in breathing.
  • Some 235 million people currently suffer from this chronic disease. 
  • It is a common disease among children. 

What is it? 

Asthma restricts a person’s ability to breathe. The inflammation narrows the extent of the air passage. It is a common disease in many parts of the world. Nearly 300 people suffer from Asthma according to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology. 250,000 are estimated to die from the disease. Asthma patients experience tightness in chest, shortness of breath, wheezing and coughing.

What are the recent developments?

The problem with Asthma and allergies as such is that the immune cells (also called the T-cells) are very resistant to treatments. That is because they have immune memory. Previously, scientists looked at nanoparticles so as to smuggle the allergen past the immune system. Now, scientists are able to wipe off the memory of these T-cells with gene therapy.

Diagrammatic representation of Asthma. Wikimedia

A research done at the University of Queensland led by Associate Professor Ray Steptoe shows some promising results. Dr. Steptoe has his lab at the Translational Research Institute.

The team of scientists took blood stem cells, inserted the gene that regulates allergen protein and then put it into the recipient. The gene produces cells that ‘turn off’ allergic responses in the recipient.

Through the experiment, scientists successfully terminated any allergic response by the body.

What the future holds?

This study was centered around Asthma. The results have encouraged the scientists to apply the study to provide protection against other common allergies- peanuts, bee venom, shellfish, etc.

Another challenge for the study ahead is an attempt to turn off multiple responses because there may be several proteins one might be allergic to.

 

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World Immunization Week: Vaccine is the most powerful Public Health Tool

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FILE - A boy gets an influenza vaccine injection at a health care clinic in Boston, Massachusetts, Jan. 12, 2013. VOA

Six years ago, 194 countries signed on to the Global Vaccine Action Plan, an international campaign to provide children and adults around the world with access to life-saving vaccines.

The goal of the program is to prevent millions of people from getting vaccine-preventable diseases by the time it ends in 2020. The idea is to provide universal access to vaccines to protect people of all ages, from the very young to the very old.

Dr. Flavia Bustreo, is the assistant director-general for Family, Women’s and Children’s Health at the World Health Organization.

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“Immunization and vaccines are the most powerful public health tools that we have currently, “ she said.

Millions of children saved

Bustreo says 35 years ago, 13 million children lost their lives from diseases that could be prevented by vaccines.

She says that number has been reduced to 6 million, but 6 million is still too high.

Today, 85 percent of children are vaccinated against measles and other deadly diseases, but Bustreo says more children need these vaccines.

“We need to have vaccination coverage that is about 90 percent, in order to have what we call the ‘herd effect’ … which means you cover the children who are vaccinated, but also, because of the reduction of transmission of infections, you also cover the children that are not vaccinated,” Bustreo said.

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Final push on polio

Because of vaccines, polio is on the brink of eradication. Polio exists in two conflict zones: in northern Nigeria and along the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Last year there were 37 cases. Compare that to the 350,000 cases in 1988 when the eradication campaign began.

There’s a special urgency to vaccinate all children against polio. Dr. David Nabarro has worked on a number of health programs at the World Health Organization and now as a special envoy for the United Nations.

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“The last part of eradicating any disease is always the hardest part,” he said. “If you don’t do it, you lose everything. To do it, you’ve got to really bring all the energy and commitment you can to bear, and it requires a special kind of dedication.”

Vaccines have prevented millions of deaths and countless numbers of children from becoming disabled. By 2020, at the conclusion of the Global Vaccine Action Plan, the U.N. wants to see countries strengthen routine immunizations for all children. It wants to complete the effort to end polio and to control other vaccine-preventable diseases. Also, the goal is to be well on the way in developing new vaccines for other diseases that plague our world. (VOA)