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Thursday, 30 June 2016

107 Nobel Laureates signed a letter to support and go for GMOs

It is known that Greenpeace has been preaching to go against genetically modified organisms (GMOs) with wide campaigns. More than 100 World’s leading Scientists took a major stand by penning an open letter to them who are known to rise movement against GMOs and GM crops.

Image Courtesy: Steven Barringer/ Flickr, Source: Science Alert
Particularly, scientists pointed out Greenpeace for publicly opposing golden rice – a GM crop that has saved millions of life each year by reducing vitamin A deficiency. This was what mentioned in the letter – “They have misrepresented [GMOs] risks, benefits, and impacts, and supported the criminal destruction of approved field trials and research projects. How many poor people in the world must die before we consider this a 'crime against humanity?” (Read the full letter here)

Researchers defended with reference to several review papers that have found GM crops to be safe and not actually so different to regular crops. It is a major chance of doubling its production by 2050 to feed the larger growing population.

Despite of all these leading facts, Greenpeace has continued their campaign against GMOs and to make a discontinuation.

The letter is part of a campaign called Support Precision Agriculture, organised by Philip Sharp, the winner of the 1993 Nobel Prize in Physiology, and Richard Roberts, the chief scientific officer of New England Biolabs. It's now been signed by 107 Nobel Laureates, including Elizabeth Blackburn, who was awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize for Medicine, and Tomas Lindahl and Paul Modrich, who won last year's Prize for Chemistry.


Source: Science Alert
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Monday, 27 June 2016

Viruses sustain for hours on toys and may cause infection to children

A research carried out by a group from Georgia State University that certain viruses like Influenza can survive for long enough on toys, which may cause serious infection to children.

Plastic toys (Image source: Wikipedia)
In an experiment on a flexible plastic toy (a squeaking frog) they tested how long enveloped virus can survive. They recovered infectious virions from the toy after 24 hours after contamination at 60% relative humidity (RH) and up to 10 hours at 40% RH. This provides enough proof that enveloped virus can survive long and the outer layer play useful role in support of their survival.  The research was published in The Pediatric Infectious disease Journal.

"People don't really think about getting viruses from inanimate objects," said lead author Richard Bearden II to EurekAlert, who holds a Master of Science degree in biology from Georgia State. "They think about getting them from other people. Children are vulnerable to contracting infectious disease because they put their hands and foreign objects in their mouths, and their immune systems aren't fully developed."

Toys are one of the important mode of viral disease spread among children. Such toys in common playing areas are more exposed to outbreak of viral illness. It was remain unknown of how long enveloped viruses can survive in inanimate objects, such as toys and may have been a difficult in assessment of potential risk and design of effective control measures such as disinfection.

The study then followed to identify how long does it take to become inactive on children’s toys in typical room temperature and indoor relative humidity levels. For this study, researchers undertook bacteriophage (those viruses that are capable to infect bacteria) as model of inspection. They contaminate the toy with this bacteriophage at 22 degree Celsius at either 40 or 60 percent RH. The result after 24 hours was only 1percent virus remained infectious on the toy at 60percent RH. The virus was much less stable in 40percent RH and that is common in indoor environments.

“Still, if any virus remains, there's a risk that children could become ill. Indoor relative humidity can vary based on where a person lives, so it's important to concentrate on preventing the spread of disease”, Bearden said.

The study was funded by a Georgia State University Research Initiation Grant.


Source: EurekAlert
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Friday, 24 June 2016

World University Rankings 2016

Image Source: Wikimedia


Time Higher Education published World top 800 Universities.

Here is the list of top 10:

1. California Institute of Technology (US)
2. University of Oxford (UK)
3. Stanford University (US)
4. University of Cambridge (UK)
5. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US)
6. Harvard University (US)
7. Princeton University (US)
8. Imperial College London (UK)
9. ETH Zurich - Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (Switzerland)
10. University of Chicago (US)

Find full 800 University lists here: get data

Top 10 Universities known to be most prestigious:
1. Harvard University, US
2. Massachusetts Institute of technology, US
3. Stanford University, US
4. University of Cambridge, UK
5. University of Oxford, UK
6. University of California, Berkeley, US
7. Princeton University, US
8. Yale University, US
9. Columbia University, US
10. California Institute of Technology, US

Source: Times Higher Education, World Economic Forum
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Best Universities in Europe 2016 Rankings

Many students who prefer to study in Europe must have a glance in the list for 2016 rankings by Times Higher Education (THE).

Image Source: Times Higher Education


On March 10th 2016, THE published 2016's result of rankings of best universities in Europe by Ellie Bothwell (Follow @elliebothwell).

This time three UK universities make their mark in top three - University of Oxford, University of Cambridge and Imperial College London.

Here are the top 10 from Europe:

1. University of Oxford (UK)
2. University of Cambridge (UK)
3. Imperial College London (UK)
4. ETH Zurich – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (Switzerland)
5. University College London (UK)
6. London School of Economics and Political Science (UK)
7. University of Edinburgh (UK)
8. King's College London (UK)
9. Karolinska Institute (Sweden)
10. LMU Munich (Germany)

View the top 200 List here: get data

Source and Courtesy: Times Higher Education
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Thursday, 23 June 2016

Bionic Leaf prove key to renewable fuels with only source of sunlight water and air

The device uses solar electricity from a photovoltaic panel to power the chemistry that splits water into oxygen and hydrogen, then adds pre-starved microbes to feed on the hydrogen and convert CO2 in the air into alcohol fuels. Credit: Des_Callaghan via Wikimedia Commons
A nature’s miracle of photosynthesis in the leaf with simple combination of sunlight, water and carbon dioxide can provide useful fuel. What about replicating the system? Scientists combined chemistry and biology into a bionic leaf. Although the first artificial photosynthesis device appeared back in 2015 which can able to pump 216 mgs of alcohol fuel per litres of water but it was in some scenario had an unfortunate side for dwelling useful microbes. Chemist Dr. Daniel Nocera of Harvard University along with synthetic biologist Dr. Pamela Silver from Harvard Medical School crafted the previous bionic leaf. Now they have overcome the problem with nickel-molybdenum-zinc catalyst with an alloy of cobalt and phosphorus, a perfect amalgam that will fit the circut with no harm to the microbes. The research was published in the journal Science on June 2nd 2016 and the article was presented in Scientific American by David Biello.

With little flash of charge the combination of water with cobalt and phosphate the new catalyst can assemble itself. The Phosphorous in water serve to be proficient for microbial organisms as like Ralstonia eutropha that make the back half of bionic leaf.

Nocera as reported to Scientific American, “The catalyst can never die as it's functioning”, as the catalyst can run at a stretch of 16days. It was also interesting to note that the cobalt catalyst splits water to hydrogen and oxygen without creating intermediate reactive oxygen that may harm DNA or other processes for which life depends. The good reason behind it remains unclear.

The efficiency has increased by 10 percent with the use of this new catalyst in Bionic leaf for producing fuels like isopropanol and isobutanol. "By integrating the technology of biology and organic chemistry there is a very powerful path forward where you take the best of both worlds," said Nocera. "I took air plus sunlight plus water and I made stuff out of it, and I did it 10 times better than nature. That makes me feel good."


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Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Top Research Universities in US by Nature Index

Planning to do your PhD or Post-Doctoral research in United States? You must have a look at the top research universities in US. Yes it is Harvard on top of the list since 2012 who has contributed 68 top journals and with excellent research. A new list has published by Nature on 17th of June 2016.

Harvard stays on top of list for past four years (Image Courtesy: Harvard)


Here are the lists of top 10 based on their contribution in Nature Index journals in 2015 are the following:

1.      Harvard University
2.      Stanford University
3.      Massachusetts Institute of Technology
4.      University of California Berkeley
5.      University of California San Diego
6.      University of Michigan
7.      Yale University
8.      University of California Los Angeles
9.      Columbia University
10.    Northwestern University

Check the nature index data: get data
Here is the list of top 500 Research Universities in US: get data


Source: Nature INDEX
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Times Higher Education announced Asia’s Top 200 Universities 2016

NUS Classroom (Courtesy: NUS)

On June 20th 2016 as reported by Ellie Bothwell from Times Higher Education in the top remain National University of Singapore (NUS) amongst all the universities in Asia. In fact Singapore is home of two top universities, which are NUS itself and along following the next rank NanyangTechnological University (NTU).

Here is the list of top 10 Universities in 2016:

2016 Asia Rank
World University Rank (2015-2016)
Institution
Country
1
26
National University of Singapore
Singapore
=2
55
Nanyang Technological University
Singapore
=2
42
Peking University
China
4
=44
University of Hong Kong
Hong Kong
5
=47
Tsinghua University
China
6
59
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
Hong Kong
7
43
University of Tokyo
Japan
8
116
Pohang University of Science and Technology
South Korea
9
85
Seoul National University
South Korea
10
148
Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST)
South Korea


Courtesy: Times Higher Education
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Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Congo declares 1000 suspected cases of yellow fever epidemic

Republic of Congo is now under microscope after Red Cross Warned another outbreak of yellow fever in neighbouring country Angola with global crisis. The country’s health minister, Dr. Felix Kabange confirms 67 cases with 5 fatal confirmed and more 1000 are monitored.

Yellow Fever is carried by mosquitoes (Credit: AFP, Courtesy: The Telegraph)
Dr. Kabange reported that among 67cases, 7 are proven cases from DRC with viral haemorrhagic disease without any concerned treatment and remaining 60 were imported from Angola. This outbreak is now a major concern since there is large scarcity of available vaccinations as much were depleted in Angola outbreak and others in Uganda and Congo Brazzaville. To limit this situation health officials are considering smaller doses to provide temporary protection and save for later emergency.

There have been fears like major hit of Zika spread through mosquitoes and now yellow fever takes over the concern. It may spread rapidly and it is important to provide a suitable forestall.
Check “WHO’s Report

Yellow fever is under alarming increase since last December in Angola, killing more than 300 people  and infecting another 2267. Red cross society raised concern about country’s immigrants, sanitation system and proper surveillance are important consequences of the spread.


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Community acquired infection is on race with Hospital acquired C. difficile infecition?

Nosocomial infections  (hospital acquired infection) are common and many antibiotic resistant bacteria mark themselves in the list. Among them Clostridium difficile infection is driven by the infection rate in community. Accoding to CDC 450,000 Americans get this infection and 30,000 of them dies with the disease.

Courtesy: Medical News Today and University of Michigan Medical School
Researchers now fear that community onset disease is on rise and a research presented by DeRyke from Merck and colleagues reported at ASM Microbe meeting with records from 154 hospitals over 8 years (2008-2015). It represented 71% increase in the number of confirmed cases. Each cases are confirmed only when it confirmed positive with C. difficile toxin in faecal samples.

Research was carried to differentiate the hospital acquired case rise with community infection rate. The analysis provided with results where hospital onset cases rose by factor of 1.33 and community associated cases rose by factor 2.12 between 2008 to 2015. Researchers also reported that inflation in number of cases may be due to switching of patients in between.

Increasing number of use of antibiotics and the race of resistance amongst microbial community may play an important role in increasing rates of such hospital acquired infections. Hence it is important to use antibiotics carefully and appropriately.

-          The study was supported by MERCK, where DrRyke and some co-authors are company employees.


Story Source: Medpage Today
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