Pocket Cyclopedia

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GIGAGEN SURGE-trying to create a blueprint of the immune system.

Gigagen, a preclinical biopharmaceutical firm, recently unveiled an impressive invention to the biotech sector.

The company has come up with a Gigagen Surge system that can manufacture an entire polyclonal antibody response in a laboratory. After years of study into how our immune system responds to any external disease and how it creates a protective immune response against any infection, developing such technology is recognized as an incredible achievement to date.

GIGAGEN SURGE

How does Gigagen’s Surge work? 

The Surge is an antibody discovery platform that aims to β€œcapture and recreate” libraries of antibodies from healthy blood donors using single-cell sequencing. The device uses a microfluidic droplet system that captures the genetic material of an entire antibody response, which could then be produced in cells via DNA recombinant technology, or maybe used as drugs to prevent and cure several diseases. 

To be more specific, the surge platform isolates individual antibody-producing B cells into microdroplets and takes out the RNA encoding the antibodies.

The goal of Surge is to β€œtease apart the complexity of the immune system.”

Where can this device be used?

Currently, the device is being used to develop treatments for immunodeficiency disorders, cancers, and, very recently, in COVID-19.

BACE1 TREATMENT OF ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE IN HUMANS.

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most prevalent kind of dementia among the elderly. It starts slowly, involving the areas of the brain that regulate cognition, memory, and language. People suffering from Alzheimer’s disease have difficulty recalling recent events.

Alzheimer’s disease causes an abnormal build-up of beta-amyloid peptides in the brain, resulting in massive amyloid plagues. The function of brain synapses is disrupted by such plagues. A team of researchers from the Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute conducted a study and discovered that progressively decreasing an enzyme called BACE1 reverses the development of amyloid plaques in the brains of Alzheimer’s infected mice, therefore restoring cognitive performance.

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The study, published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, raised the prospect of medicines targeting the BACE1 enzyme successfully treating Alzheimer’s disease in humans. BACE1 cleaves the amyloid precursor protein to produce beta-amyloid peptide (APP).

Telepathy is not far away if the HIVE MIND concept becomes a success.

Is it possible to convey your message to a person far away from you with zero effort?

Yes, it seems to be possible if the idea of the Hive Mind is achieved in the future.

Hive Mind, a concept that is trying to connect everyone telepathically. It will make us share our thoughts, emotions, memories, and even dreams with another person. The idea seems to be very futuristic and cool, but at the same, it is highly controversial.

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Do we need to worry if this mind-boggling concept is achieved? – Click here to clear this doubt.

Sharing thoughts, dreams, emotions effortlessly would somehow reduce complications, and there would be no misunderstanding between people. We would be able to create and interact in our virtual worlds. Formal education would become much easier because, with this advancement, we would have the ability to download knowledge directly into our brains. However, the spread of viral thoughts and ideas would also become an instantaneous activity. Hackers in society would even get complete over your private thoughts. 

How much closer are we to this tech advancement?

Recently, researchers have designed an electronic connection between the brains of two rats who were separated by thousand miles. The experts behind this experiment have even concluded that further study on this concept can make telepathy in the future a reality.  

HrC TEST: A SIGNIFICANT BREAKTHROUGH

TZAR labs lately pioneer a promising non-invasive blood test called the HrC test. This test can become a beneficial diagnostic tool that can help us detect cancer at a much earlier stage, making it possible to conduct early, precise, and improved quality of treatment. This approach can detect cancer through a simple blood test even before tumor formation and stage the disease with very high specificity. Prior detection of cancer can facilitate survival rates and contribute to uplifting a patient’s life quality. This technique includes identifying specific fixed markers that distinctively portray, describe, diagnose, and characterize cancer by eventually determining harbinger cells of cancer.

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This program revealed that many tiny embryo-like stem cells (VSELs) are present in the peripheral blood of cancer patients compared to people without the disease. Also, the expression of a transcription factor called Oct4a present within the cell varies according to the corresponding stage of cancer. The clinical trials are being conducted meticulously, but significant work and additional trials are required before launching them as an accepted diagnostic aid. If it gets validated and can work for all cancer types, it could become a robust screening and diagnostic tool for cancer in the coming future and hold substantial market prospects.

~by Nistha Ananda

Exoplanets: A brief history

An Exoplanet is a planet located outside our solar system. The existence of exoplanets was first proposed by an Italian Dominican friar Giordano Bruno in the 16th century. He suggested that the stars we see at night are distant suns surrounded by their planets, and they might even foster life of their own. It was a revolutionary idea for that time. Although in 1593, Bruno was tried for heresy by the Catholic Church. Later he was found guilty and was burned at stake in the year 1600.

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The first-ever evidence of an exoplanet was noted in 1917. But the first scientific detection of an exoplanet began in 1988, and the first confirmed exoplanet detection was made on January 9, 1992, by two radio astronomers Aleksander Wolszczan and Dale Frail. The discovery was of two planets orbiting the ‘pulsar PSR 1257+12′. Although a massive planet was discovered circling a star dubbed ’51 Pegasi’ in 1995, it was the first verified exoplanet orbiting a main-sequence star. Until July 1 of 2021, there are 4,777 confirmed exoplanets. The nearest star from our solar system is ‘Proxima Centauri.’ Its planet ‘Proxima B has a mass of 1.17 earth masses and is located in the star’s habitable zone, the so-called ‘Goldilocks zone. Astronomers use several methods to detect the exoplanets; the most simple one is the direct imaging method. Radial Velocity, Transit photometry, Reflection and emission modulations, Relativistic beaming, Ellipsoidal Variation, Pulsar timing, Variable star timing, Transit timing, Transit duration variation, Eclipsing binary minimum timing, and Gravitational microlensing are some of the other methods.

~by Paran Jyoti Sarma

A journey from obese life to bariatric life!

In today’s time, cases of obesity have increased rapidly. Obesity becomes the cause of many other metabolic disorders. To reduce weight, one must follow a strict diet and exercise regularly. But in some cases, diet and physical workout does not give desired results.

Another option for reducing weight is ‘Bariatric Surgery.’ This surgery restricts food intake

and reduces the absorption of food intake in the stomach and intestine.

Usually, the digestion process starts with the mouth, where the food is chewed, and the saliva is released. The food is then passed on through the esophagus and then to the stomach, where it is broken down and treated with other gastric juices and passed on to the intestine for nutrient absorption, where the bile juice and pancreatic juice are released.

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Bariatric surgery modifies the digestion process. There is a reduction in food intake, and thus there is less calorie absorption which helps the obese patient lose weight and decrease other health-related disorders. The diseases linked with obesity are arthritis, type- 2 diabetes, and severe obstructive sleep apnea.

To know whether our body weight is in proportion or not, we can calculate our body mass index (BMI). BMI refers to the relation between height and weight. The calculation interprets if the person is underweight, healthy, or overweight. It helps the professionals determine what kind of treatment is required for the patient.

There are four types of bariatric surgery:

  • Adjustable gastric banding (AGB)
  • Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB)
  • Biliopancreatic diversion with a duodenal switch (BPD-DS)
  • Vertical sleeve gastrectomy (VSG)

A person undergoing bariatric surgery might develop the risk of pulmonary embolism, internal bleeding, and other infections. Evidence suggests that a post-operative phase requires a strict diet to be followed throughout life. This surgery would lower the risk of death for the patient suffering from obesity.

~by Saukhyada More.

Sputnik V Vaccine- A Weapon Against COVID-19

Scientists all over the globe have worked hard in developing vaccines to fight off COVID-19, and Sputnik V is the latest vaccine that has been added to the arsenal against this virus.

Developed in Moscow, Sputnik was authorized by the Russian Government on 11th August 2020. Since then, it has proved to be a safe and effective vaccine and is now adopted in 70 other nations.

Like Astra-Zeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, Sputnik V is also an adenovirus vaccine. It means that it uses an artificially engineered adenovirus that replicates the Coronavirus. When injected, it stimulates a response in our body which helps in producing an antibody delivery mechanism.

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It differs from the two vaccines listed above in that it employs two distinct adenoviruses in each of its

two doses, rather than a single modified adenovirus.

As explained by Russian scientists, the reason for this is that there’s an increase in the vaccine’s efficacy. And that is a proven fact; Sputnik V delivers an efficacy rate of 91.6%!

The WHO recently identified sputnik V, and it’s safe to say that it is a potent weapon for humanity’s fight against COVID.

~by Shashwat Khattar

V838 MONOCEROTIS : THE DISCO STAR

Earlier, V838 Monocerotis was an unremarkable star in the constellation of the unicorn, but it was observed undergoing a considerable outburst in 2002. Following the outbreak, it became perhaps one of the largest known stars for a brief period. This explosion was believed to be a classic nova eruption, but soon it was told to be a new category of eruptive variable called luminous red novae. The observed commencing light curve resembled that of a nova. Nova is an astronomical occurrence that happens when the surviving dense core of a dead star (white dwarf) gathers too much hydrogen from a neighboring star triggering an eruption that slowly fades away.

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However, not long after, something surprising occurred, and the star brightened again. The time span was too short for a second nova and closer inspection was initiated. It was realized that this star was not sufficiently old to be a white dwarf. The age of the star was not even 25 million years. The star has exploded independently, and this process recurred several times over the subsequent months. During one of its eruptions, it was dazzling and turned one million times brighter than the sun. Images taken with the Hubble space telescope revealed a massive cloud of gas and debris traveling away from the star. The cause of the eruption is still undetermined. Certain speculations were put ahead including an explosion associated with stellar death processes and fusion of a binary star or planets. One conjecture is that the star crashed with an unnoticed object, but a solid elucidation is yet to be found.

~by Nistha Ananda

Y chromosome disappearing slowly: Ending of men?

‘Y’ chromosome is one of two sex chromosomes; the other is ‘X.’ A male has X and Y chromosomes, while a female has X and X chromosomes. The X and Y chromosomes share an evolutionary origin; despite this, the Y chromosome is losing 97% of its ancestral genes because of extensive genetic decay. In contrast, the gene content of the X chromosome is reasonably conserved. The X chromosome can recombine with one another. But the X and Y chromosomes can not recombine because it’s not similar enough. At the current rate, the whole Y will disappear in 4.5 million years.

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Does this mean there will be no men in the future?

Well, there are no straightforward answers to this question. Some recent studies have shown that the Y chromosome has developed some defensive mechanism to slow the gene loss to a possible standstill. A recent study in Denmark published in PloS Genetics sequenced portions of the Y chromosome of some 62 different men found that it has gone into some structural rearrangement that allows the acquisition of multiple copies of genes that promote healthy sperm function mitigate gene loss. The study also shows that the Y chromosome has formed a ‘palindrome’ structure which protects it from further degradation. However, many argue against the above claims that, if you take a long time perspective, the Y chromosomes are doomed- even if they will hold for a little longer.

~by Paran Jyoti Sarma

A TINT OF MARIGOLD FLOWER

Marigold flower is a plant of genus Tagetes and family Asteraceae. It is an ornamental flower that is grown all over India. Apart from India, it is native to South America, Mexico, and the Southwestern United States. There are many species of this plant, but the most widely grown species are African Aztec (Tagetes erecta) and French Marigold (Tagetes erecta). Its color ranges from light yellow to dark orange. These have a variety of therapeutic uses, including anti-hemorrhagic, anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic properties.

Carotenoids are the principal constituent of the flower, which is used as an additive in food colorants, nutritional supplements, poultry feed, and medical purposes in age-related ocular diseases such as cataracts.

Compositionally, lutein and zeaxanthin dominated around 88-92%. On carrying out HPLC, these pigments reported approximately 88% as cis-trans isomers of lutein and 5% as cis-trans isomers of zeaxanthin. There was a total content of trans-lutein than cis-lutein. Tagetes erecta flowers, which were preserved, yield 105.19g/Kg, whereas the unpreserved ones yield around 58.87g/Kg.

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Commercially, lutein is used as a component of poultry feed which imparts the coloration of yellow-colored yolk. Yellow-colored yolk egg is considered more nutritious than the one with the colorless yolk. Carotenoids are also precursors of vitamin A. It also enhances the immune system as it acts as a detoxifier for free radicals before it damages the DNA, lipids, and proteins.

Carotenoids are also present in nutritional supplements, i.e.in, milk products, baked products, chewing gum, egg products, sauce, soups, etc. It reduces the growth of skin tumors, dermatological treatments, and the overall risk of cancer. It is also a component of medicinal ointment.

~by Saukhyada More.

Wormholes- A Medium For Space Travel

The farthest a man-made object has ever made into the depths of the universe is over 14 billion miles away. This particular spacecraft was named Voyager 1 and was launched in the year 1977. With current technology, space travel is rather tricky, and it would take years for a spacecraft to exit our solar system, let alone enter another one. But what if space travel was made considerably more accessible, to the point where you could go across galaxies in fractions of a second?

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Let me tell you about Wormholes!

Wormholes are nothing but hypothetical structures that link two different points by bending the space-time continuum. These points maybe millions of light-years away, making the wormhole just a passage between those 2 points.

Now, creating a wormhole is a tedious task (and a somewhat unpredictable one). Wormholes are usually formed around regions in space with heavy masses, which possess enormous gravitational energy. This immense gravity causes the space to bend around the heavy body and hence create a wormhole.

The technology we possess right now is not adequate to completely replicate the required conditions, but we’re on the right track. Scientists have managed to create miniature and magnetic wormholes. With the pace we’re moving forward, we can see a future where we can travel across other star systems via Wormholes!

~by Shashwat Khattar

Quasars- The ancestors in the Universe

The big bang took place about 14 billion years ago, which lead to the creation of the universe within mere seconds. Countless celestial bodies were formed within the initial moments and one such example of these was the Quasars.

Quasars are some of the oldest as well as the brightest objects in the universe. They started forming somewhere around 12 billion years ago!

So why have they named Quasars?

Quasar is actually an abbreviation for Quasi-stellar radio sources, but that doesn’t have a nice ring to it, right? Hence, they were named the way they are!

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But how were they formed?

Well, Quasars are formed when 2 active galaxies collide with each other and the black holes in the center of these galaxies merge to form a supermassive black hole. This releases immense energy and light, which forms the basic essence of a Quasar!

There’s still a lot we don’t know about these cosmic beasts, let’s hope the future holds more for us!

~by Shashwat Khattar

Fermi Paradox- An unexplainable contradiction

There’s always a question of whether or not we’re all alone in the universe, and it is still yet to be answered. Many people believe we aren’t while some think we really are all alone. Enrico Fermi, an Italian physicist, thought that the existence of extraterrestrial life is absolutely certain. So why haven’t we encountered any other type of life yet?

Fermi’s Paradox exactly mentions this contradiction between the large probability of the existence of aliens, and the lack of evidence to prove the latter.

You see, if we consider the Milky Way Galaxy alone, there are billions of stars that are like our own Sun. There is a high probability of Earth-like planets that revolve around these stars inside their habitable zone within these billions of stars. Hence, these planets might contain life forms, some that could have formed way before us. Even If 1 percent of these lifeforms formed before us, that’s still over 10 million lifeforms in our own galaxy that possibly possess the technology to travel inter-galactically!

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And this is where the paradox and the contradiction come in!

If there are over millions of these lifeforms, why haven’t we encountered any yet? Why are we still all alone even though much more developed life-forms exist?

Fermi’s paradox really makes you think!

~by Shashwat Khattar

Space Tourism

Space tourism is a growing market expected to be worth at least $3 billion by 2030. SpaceX, a company founded by Elon Musk, is testing reusable rocket technology to make spaceflight more affordable for normal humans(private citizens) who are not employed by space agencies of various countries of the world.

Along with SpaceX, many companies like Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin are also investing lots of money, technologies, and manpower to take humans to the very edge of space and back safely. Although in the near future, only the ultra-wealthy passengers and private researchers will have access to space tourism, in the long run, ordinary citizens might also get the opportunity.

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We have already seen wealthy people traveling to space in the last couple of weeks only. Richard Branson, a British billionaire, and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos traveled to space aboard rockets made by Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin, respectively. These space travels to mark the beginning of a new era in space flight and space tourism. No doubt, in the near future, we will see many such space flights.

~by Paran Jyoti Sarma

Time travel: Possibility or Just Science Fiction!

Is the possibility of time travel in the realm of Scientific Principles? The short answer is “yes.” But the detailed explanation is not so simple. Famous physicist Stephen Hawking pointed out about the possibility of time travel in his book “Black Holes and Baby Universes,” “The best evidence we have that time travel is not possible, and never will be, is that we have not been invaded by hordes of tourists from the future.”

According to the ‘theory of special relativity of Albert Einstein, time is an illusion that moves relative to an observer. An observer who is traveling close to the speed of light will experience time normally from his perspective, but compared to an observer at rest, the traveler’s time will move very slowly.

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Or a person near a black hole will experience time much more slowly than a person who is much further away from the black hole. This phenomenon is called ‘Time Dilation.’ The movie ‘Inception, by Christopher Nolan, has depicted this phenomenon very well.

~by Paran Jyoti Sarma

β€˜Neuroprosthesis’: restoring words to a man with paralysis

Paralysis, as we all know, is a consequence of the inability of signals to pass from the relay system (i.e. brain, nerves, or spinal cord) to the muscles and vice versa. Severe paralytic patients usually suffer from permanent loss of speech.

When Stephen Hawking wanted to verbalize his thoughts, he used letters and words from a synthesizer screen controlled by twitches of muscles in the cheek. To avoid this painstaking approach scientists in UC San Francisco (Chang and his colleagues) have come up with the idea of β€˜Speech Neuroprosthesis’. This method promises to enable a patient with severe paralysis to communicate in words and sentences by converting his brain signals directly into words that will appear as text-on-screen.

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Chang’s experiment started with creating a 50-word vocabulary. A participant was selected from patients and named BRAVO1, high-density electrode array over his sensorimotor cortex was implanted. Then the team recorded 22 hours of neural activity in this brain region for several months. In each session, BRAVO1 attempted to say each of the 50 vocabulary words, while the electrode recorded brain signals from his speech cortex.

In turn, decoding his brain activity on the screen. Later the team tried to ask him questions and it was evident that the system could decode words from brain activity at a rate of up to 18 words per minute with almost 93% accuracy by using an Β β€œautocorrect” function. Thus, they concluded that it is actually possible to ease communication in this way and this approach will give voice to people with severe paralysis.

~by RIYA SONI