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In a major study, researchers have discovered a technique that could help increase the effectiveness of vaccines against the novel coronavirus, the virus that causes COVID-19.
Since it began spreading in early 2020, biomedical researchers have been inactive in pursuit of an effective vaccine.
According to the study, published in the journal Advanced Materials, one answer might lie in designing vaccines that partially mimic the structure of the virus.
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“One of the proteins on the virus – located on the characteristic COVID spike – has a component called the receptor-binding domain, or RBD, which is its Achilles heel,” said study author Jonathan F Lovell from the University at Buffalo in the US.
That is, he said, antibodies against this part of the virus have the potential to neutralize the virus.
It would be “appealing if a vaccine could induce high levels of antibodies against the RBD,” Lovell said.
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“One way to achieve this goal is to use the RBD protein itself as an antigen, that is, the component of the vaccine that the immune response will be directed against,” he added.
The team hypothesized that by converting the RBD into a nanoparticle (similar in size to the virus itself) instead of letting it remain in its natural form as a small protein, it would generate higher levels of neutralizing antibodies and its ability to generate an immune response would increase.
The research team had previously developed a technology that makes it easy to convert small, purified proteins into particles through the use of liposomes, or small nanoparticles formed from naturally-occurring fatty components.
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In the new study, the researchers included within the liposomes a special lipid called cobalt-porphyrin-phospholipid, or CoPoP.
That special lipid enables the RBD protein to rapidly bind to the liposomes, forming more nanoparticles that generate an immune response.
Want to read more in Hindi? Checkout: बिल गेट्स से जुड़े कुछ रोचक तथ्य
The team observed that when the RBD was converted into nanoparticles, it maintained its correct, three-dimensional shape and the particles were stable in incubation conditions similar to those in the human body.
When laboratory mice and rabbits were immunized with the RBD particles, high antibody levels were induced.
Compared to other materials that are combined with the RBD to enhance the immune response, only the approach with particles containing CoPoP gave strong responses.
Other COVID vaccine adjuvant technology does not have the capacity to convert the RBD into particle-form, Lovell said.
“We think these results provide evidence to the vaccine-development community that the RBD antigen benefits a lot from being in particle format,” the study author wrote. (IANS)
The Lotus flower is one of the most prominent flowers of India. It holds great importance in Hinduism and Buddhism. Hindu gods and goddesses are often depicted sitting on a bloomed lotus flower. Lord Vishnu, Lord Ganesha, Goddess Laxmi and numerous others are shown holding a lotus flower in one of their hands. What is so important about Lotus? The Lotus flower symbolizes the creation of the universe.
According to Indian philosophies first Lotus plant was born from the navel of Sri Maha Vishnu and upon blooming creator Lord Brahma was born from it, who in turn created the whole universe. This is why it is believed that Lotus is a mythological map of the entire universe.
The Lotus flower is the symbol of purity, spontaneity and divine beauty. In one of his essays, "The Secret of Work", Swami Vivekanand emphasized the significance of lotus leaves as a spiritual detachment from the materialistic work, said, "Just as water cannot wet the lotus leaf, so work cannot bind the unselfish man by giving rise to the attachment to results." Despite blossoming in muddy and unclean water the Lotus flower remains pure and uncontaminated. It is not bothered by its surroundings; it does not try and pretend to be better than it is. It is naturally beautiful; it blooms as it is and withers away. This nature of the Lotus flower teaches us to perform our karma without worrying and being attached to the outcomes of how we'll be perceived. If we free ourselves from external factors which may or may not influence our actions, we'll be able to attain the pristine beauty, grace and purity similar to that of a Lotus flower.
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Hindu deities shown holding a lotus flower in one of their handsWikimedia commons
The transformation of a lotus bud to an enchanting flower can be seen as the path of an individual's consciousness to enlightenment. It represents that to achieve enlightenment an individual must maintain purity in their actions no matter how contaminated the world around them gets, the morality of practical life and practice detachment of spirit from the materialistic illusions of the greedy world. And as the soul develops the petals of the lotus start to unfold. The transformation of the Lotus bud to Lotus flower represents excelling from primal thought to the highest spiritual consciousness. One of the Vedas, Atharva Veda which is the knowledge storehouse of atharvāṇas, the procedures for everyday life, compares a human's spiritual heart to a lotus.
Lotus and the Sun's love is the prime example of unconditional love. The sun showers the lotus with unconditional love and to reciprocate that love the Lotus flower booms out if a smile. With its roots anchored on the bottoms of the muddy lakes, it rises above the surface and as the Sun's rays fall upon the flower the petals unfold slowly one petal at a time. At night when the sun is gone the flower closes itself and sinks underwater to wait for the sun to appear again. This signifies the element of humans that their cognizance flourishes with the radiance of spiritual thought and cripples in its absence. Despite being underwater the untouched petal is often figuratively used in scriptures to indicate the nature of a Jnani (Enlightened Soul) who is ever blissful, untouched by the sorrows and the changes which are characteristic of the world.
In Buddhist philosophies, the lotus is used to represent the preservability of purity of one's soul amidst the grime of mortal, it is often used as an expression to describe someone with pure and delicate attributes.
The Lotus flower was named the national flower of India as it is tied with the culture, history, and heritage of a nation. The flower reinforces the country's image to the world and plays a part in upholding the qualities and core values of the nation.
Keywords: Lotus symbol of purity, Hinduism, Indian values, lotus flower meaning, importance in Hinduism, prominent flowers of India.
Today, fountain pens are seen as aesthetic souvenirs. In fact, in today's time, if someone uses fountain pens, they are seen as 'superior' or 'royal'. Interestingly, there exists an astounding story behind the usage of fountain pens.
It is believed that the first mention of the fountain pen was in the year 973, when Ma'ād al-Mu'izz, who was the caliph of the Maghreb region of Northwest Africa, asked for a pen that would keep his hand clean while using it and would not leave ink marks. So, al-Mu'izz's wish was fulfilled when he received a pen that held the ink inside and could also be held upside-down without spilling the ink. Though, it must be noted that we are not quite aware of how this pen looked or worked.
On the other hand, the next mention of the fountain pen was made in the 17th century, when a German inventor named, Daniel Schwenter invented a pen made from two quills. Interestingly, one quill was placed inside the other in a way that it held the ink, and later on, it was closed with a cork. Furthermore, the ink left the reservoir through a small hole which eventually led to the nib.
By the early 18th century, such pens came to be known as “fountain pens", the name which is still being used. In fact, the first English patent for a fountain pen was issued to Frederick Fölsch in May 1809.
With the advent of time, many patents were released for fountain pens and many designs came into being. As a matter of fact, in the 1940s and 1950s, fountain pens retained their dominance over ball-point pens because the latter were expensive and prone to ink leakages.
Today, though fountain pens are sold and bought, they are used only for the purpose of signing valuable documents. Also, because of the ancient history of fountain pens, they are now considered a “status symbol" in society.
Keywords: Fountain Pens, History of fountain Pen, Stationery, Art, Renaissance.
During the festive season, kitchens are filled with people trying to find a space for them to work, while they contribute to the eventual feast. In India, festivals are one of the most important things that bind families and friends together over food. Diwali is of those festivals that apart from being known for the colors and lights, is known and remembered by the elaborate dishes that each family doles out.
In Karnataka, parts of Gujarat and Maharashtra, and South India in general, making obbattu/ holige/ puran poli is a festive ritual. Known as Holige, more popularly in Kannada, this dish is eaten as a dessert because of its sweetness but can be eaten as a meal in itself because of its nutritious value.
Holige is traditionally a flatbread filled with jaggery, coconut, chickpeas, or channa dal. Sometimes, it has vegetables and fruits. It is popularly made to celebrate Ugadi, the Kannada new year but is also eaten during Diwali. Making Holige involves multiple steps and be incredibly fun to do when done together as a family.
The ingredients laid out to begin cooking holige Image credit: Wikimedia Commons
Making Holige is very similar to making parathas. A sweet filling consists of smashed dal or chickpeas seasoned with spices like cardamom, which is rolled out. a maida-based dough which will make the outer covering is rolled into a thin circle. After cooking the dal with jaggery, it is placed in the centre of the dough and cooked until it resembles a paratha. The marbling on the dough with a characteristic yellow background is the typical Holige. Ghee is smeared at every stage and at every turn of the Holige on the pan to ensure that it holds its shape.
Holige is made only one at a time and eaten immediately off the stove as it tends to exude a lot of moisture. This comes from the melted jaggery and ghee. Holige makes for an extremely delicious dessert and is perhaps one of the most awaited festive specialties. Depending on the state it is made in, it is served with varying accompaniments.
Keywords: Holige, Diwali festival, Dessert, Obbattu, Karnataka, the festive season, Kannada new year