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A recent survey conducted by CSIR (Council of Scientific Industrial Research), Government of India, has revealed that smokers and vegetarians are less likely to contract Covid-19 infection. The survey suggested smoking may be protective, despite Covid-19 being a respiratory disease, due to its role in increasing the mucous production that may be acting as the first line of defense among the smoking population. It indicated that vegetarian food rich in fiber may have a role to play in providing immunity against COVID-19 due to its anti-inflammatory properties by modification of gut microbiota.
The pan India survey was conducted by an eminent team of 140 doctors and research scientists to study the presence of antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, and their neutralization capability to infer possible risk factors for infection. The study assessed 10,427 adult individuals working in more than 40 CSIR laboratories and centers in urban and semi-urban settings spread across and their family members. These people voluntarily participated in the study.
Earlier, two studies from France and similar reports from Italy, New York, and China reported lower Covid infection rates among smokers. A study by America’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which examined over 7,000 people who tested positive for COVID-19, also vindicated the above findings. Interestingly, the study found that only 1.3 percent of survey participants were smokers, compared to the CDC report that 14 percent of all Americans smoke.
Similarly, UCL (University College London) academics that looked at 28 papers across the UK, China, US, and France found the proportions of smokers among hospital patients were ‘lower than expected. One of its studies showed that in the UK the proportion of smokers among COVID-19 patients was just five percent, a third of the national rate of 14.4 percent. Another found in France the rate being four times lower (7.1 percent vs 32 percent among all population). In China, a study noted that only 3.8 percent of patients were smokers – despite more than half of the population regularly smoking cigarettes.
In a separate study by Jin-jin Zhang to understand the influence of smoking behavior on the susceptibility to Coronavirus observed that only 9 (6.4 percent) patients had a history of smoking, and 7 of them were past smokers. The study found that smoking populations were less likely to be infected with SARS-CoV-2. These findings were also confirmed by a French study of public health data that showed people who smoke, were 80 percent less likely to fall prey to COVID-19 than non-smokers of the same age and sex.
The Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR), known for its cutting-edge R&D knowledge base in diverse S&T areas, is a contemporary R&D organization. Having a pan-India presence, CSIR has a dynamic network of 40 national laboratories, 39 outreach centers, 3 Innovation Complexes, and 5 units. CSIR’s R&D expertise and experience are embodied in about 4,600 active scientists supported by about 8,000 scientific and technical personnel.
CSIR covers a wide spectrum of science and technology – from radio and space physics, oceanography, geophysics, chemicals, drugs, genomics, biotechnology, and nanotechnology to mining, aeronautics, instrumentation, environmental engineering, and information technology. It provides significant technological intervention in many areas with regard to societal efforts which include environment, health, drinking water, food, housing, energy, farm, and non-farm sectors. Further, CSIR’s role in S&T human resource development is noteworthy.
CSIR is ranked at 84th among 4851 institutions worldwide and is the only Indian organization among the top 100 global institutions, according to the Scimago Institutions Ranking World Report 2014. CSIR holds the 17th rank in Asia and leads the country at the first position. (IANS/JC)
The US researchers have discovered a class of immune cells that plays a role in miscarriage, which affects about a quarter of pregnancies.
Researchers at the University of California-San Francisco found that the recently discovered subset of cells known as extrathymic Aire-expressing cells in the immune system may prevent the mother's immune system from attacking the placenta and fetus.
The researchers showed that pregnant mice who did not have this subset of cells were twice as likely to miscarry, and in many of these pregnancies fetal growth was severely restricted.
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"When you're pregnant, the immune system is seeing the placenta for the first time in decades -- not since the mother made a placenta when she herself was a fetus," said Eva Gillis-Buck, from UCSF.
"Our research suggests that this subset of immune cells is carrying out a sort of 'secondary education' -- sometimes many years after the better-known population of the educator cells have carried out the primary education in the thymus -- teaching T cells not to attack the fetus, the placenta and other tissues involved in pregnancy," she added. The findings are published in the journal Science Immunology.
The immune system has to be educated not to attack one's own tissues and organs to prevent autoimmune disease. But pregnancy presents a unique challenge since the fetus expresses proteins found in the placenta as well as proteins whose genetics are distinct from the mother.
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"It was a conceptual leap to link Aire-expressing cells, which are critical for preventing autoimmune disease, to pregnancy," said Tippi Mackenzie, Professor of Surgery at UCSF's Center for Maternal Foetal Precision Medicine.
In the thymus, Aire-expressing cells begin interacting with other immune cells very early in life to teach them what not to attack. The thymus begins to shrink and is nearly gone by adulthood, by which time most immune cells have been educated. But as the thymus shrinks, the population of eTACs in lymph nodes and the spleen expands, the researchers explained.
The study suggests a healthy pregnancy may depend on having these cells around, they added. (IANS/KB)
The tiny emojis being shared on billions of devices worldwide can play a major role in digital communication, with most people saying that emoji compels them to feel more empathy towards others, according to an Adobe report.
Adobe's global emoji study found that emoji even helps people overcome language barriers and form connections that would otherwise be difficult to do.
"We were surprised and delighted by the discoveries made in the survey, most notably how enthusiastic respondents were for emoji as a means to express themselves," the company said in a statement.
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Emojis sometimes get criticized for being overly saccharine, but this sweetness is key when it comes to diffusing some of the heaviness of online communication.
"Many of the emoji are focused on positive emotions, so it's easy to insert them into our conversations and lighten the mood," the Adobe study said.
It's not surprising that over half of those surveyed feel more comfortable using emojis than talking on the phone or in person.
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This applies to less intense situations too. Dating, for example, can be tricky — especially when it's online or via digital apps, as it often is now.
The study also found that emoji even helps people overcome language barriers and form connections that would otherwise be difficult to do.
In celebration of World Emoji Day on Saturday, Adobe's '2021 Global Emoji Trend Report' surveyed 7,000 people in the US, the UK, Germany, France, Japan, Australia, and South Korea. (IANS/KB)
Following the grand Richard Branson show where he carried Andhra Pradesh-born Sirisha Bandla and fellow space travelers on his shoulders after successfully flying to the edge of space, it is time for Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos to applaud Sanjal Gavande, one of the key engineers who designed the New Shephard rocket set to take Bezos and the crew to space on July 20.
Billionaire Bezos is set to fly to the edge of space aboard what is touted as the world's first unpiloted suborbital flight. Born in Kalyan, Maharashtra, Gavande is a systems engineer at Blue Origin who always dreamt of designing aerospace rockets.
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After completing Bachelor's in mechanical engineering from the University of Mumbai, she flew to the US in 2011 to pursue a Master's in mechanical engineering from the Michigan Technological University. She also applied for an engineering job at the US space agency NASA but finally landed her dream job at Blue Origin
Sirisha flew to the US in 2011 to pursue a Master's in mechanical engineering from the Michigan Technological University.IANS
Bezos, his brother Mark, aviation pioneer Mary Wallace 'Wally' Funk, and other passengers are set to liftoff from west Texas and travel just beyond the edge of space on July 20. Blue Origin announced this week that Oliver Daemen, an 18-year-old high school graduate from the Netherlands, would join the crew.
Oliver is the son of millionaire Joe Daemen, Founder, and CEO of the Dutch investment company Somerset Capital Partners. Blue Origin, however, did not reveal how much Daemen paid for his son's trip to space. Bezos chose July 20 as the launch date to honor the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
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The launch site for Blue Origin's first human flight will be in a remote location north of Van Horn, Texas, from where the firm had launched New Shepard for previous flights. Blue Origin has received final approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to carry humans on the New Shepard rocket into space.
On July 12, Bandla touched the edge of space with three others, including Virgin Galactic's billionaire CEO Richard Branson. Bandla vaulted into space onboard VSS Unity 22. After the successful spaceflight, Branson carried the Indian-American on his shoulders while celebrating their flight to space, at Spaceport America in New Mexico. (IANS/KB)