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They found that biliverdin attaches to the spike N-terminal domain and stabilizes it so that the spike is not able to open up and expose parts of its structure. Pixabay

A natural molecule called biliverdin present in the human body is helping SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, escape antibodies – a discovery that can help explain why some Covid patients become severely ill despite having high levels of antibodies against the virus, report researchers. When SARS-CoV-2 infects a patient’s lungs, it damages blood vessels and causes a rise in the number of immune cells.

“Both of these effects may contribute to increasing the levels of biliverdin and bilirubin in the surrounding tissues. And with more of these molecules available, the virus has more opportunity to hide from certain antibodies,” said Annachiara Rosa, first study author at the Francis Crick Institute in the UK.”This is a really striking process, as the virus may be benefiting from a side-effect of the damage it has already caused,” Rosa said in the paper published in the journal Science Advances.


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In their research, teams from the Francis Crick Institute, in collaboration with researchers at Imperial College London, Kings College London, and UCL (University College London), found that biliverdin and bilirubin, natural molecules present in the body, can suppress the binding of antibodies to the coronavirus spike. As vaccines are rolled out globally, understanding immunity to SARS-CoV-2 and also how the virus evades antibodies is critically important.


The researchers are now exploring if it is possible to hijack the binding site used by biliverdin to potentially find new ways to target the virus. Pixabay

The ability of the immune system to control the infection and the quality of the antibody response is highly variable, and not well correlated, between individuals. The scientists discovered that the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein strongly binds to biliverdin, a molecule that was giving these proteins an unusual green coloration.

ALSO READ: Radiant Cooling Likely To Replace ACs, Cut Covid Risk

They found that biliverdin attaches to the spike N-terminal domain and stabilizes it so that the spike is not able to open up and expose parts of its structure. This means that some antibodies are not able to access their target sites and so cannot bind to and neutralize the virus. In the first months of the pandemic, scientists were extremely busy churning out viral antigens for SARS-CoV-2 tests.

“It was a race, as these tests were urgently needed. When we finally found the time to study our green proteins, we expected a mundane answer. Instead, we were astonished to discover a new trick the virus uses to avoid antibody recognition,” explained Peter Cherepanov, author and a group leader of the Chromatin structure and mobile DNA Laboratory at the Crick. The researchers are now exploring if it is possible to hijack the binding site used by biliverdin to potentially find new ways to target the virus. (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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