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Benefit for Coconut Sector as Tapping Unfermented Sap or “Neera” from Coconut approved by Kerala Government

Tapping unfermented sap or Neera from the coconut was approved by the Government of Kerala all over the state.  As a part of the pilot project Neera tapping will take place in each and every district all over Kerala in units of 1500 coconut trees. The federations  as well as the companies that are associated to Coconut Development Board will be permitted to produce Neera. Packaging of Neera will be totally free from the alcoholic content, this will be ensured via technological advances. For the purpose of production of neera, Abkari Laws will also be amended.

What is Neera or Pandaneer or Sweet Toddy?

Neera (padaneer in Tamil Nadu) also called sweet toddy is the non-alcoholic drink which would benefit coconut sector. Neera is refrigerated, stored and distributed by semi-government agencies. It contains many nutrients including potash. It is a delicious health drink and a rich source of sugars, minerals and vitamins.

Palm sap begins fermenting instantly after collecting, because of natural yeasts in the pores of pot and air (ofttimes spurred by residual yeast left in the collecting container). In two hours, fermentation yields an aromatic wine of up to 4% alcohol content, gently intoxicating and sweet. The wine may be left to ferment longer, up to a day, to produce a stronger, more sour and acidic taste, which some individuals favour.

  • Longer fermentation yields vinegar instead of stronger wine.


Study reveals congenital anomalies linked to consanguine marriages

A study conducted in the U.K. throws light over the suspicion those marriages b/w blood relations might lead to health issues for the child. The study, in a detailed analysis of the issue involving over 11,000 children, born out of consanguineous marriages, revealed congenital anomalies in 386 of them. This figure of 3% is in contrasts with the 1.6% in children born of out of non-blood-relations unions. The researchers termed the babies analyzed under the study as “Born in Bradford” to obtain these results. Bradford is a small area in the UK where Pakistani Muslims constitute 16.8 per cent of the population. A close knit group, they practice consanguinity; 75% of them marry first cousins.

What can be the possible defects in babies born through consanguine marriages?

These babies could have a multiplicity of congenital problems. Heart problems top the list, followed by nervous disorders, limb anomalies and so forth.

Why problems occur in babies born through consanguine marriages ?

The problem in such close relative marriages surfaces when one of the partners carries a defect in any of the genes associated with some form of illness. When a person marries within the community with one who may also have such a family defect, the child inherits two copies of this faulty gene, and thus has the defect. But when a person marries outside the community, he/she bring in genes from a much larger gene pool, and the odds that the child will inherit the problem reduce remarkably.


Scientists identify molecular mechanisms causing glaucoma

In an important finding, scientists have identified two molecular level mechanisms that lead to glaucoma.

What is Glaucoma?

It is often referred to as a silent eye disease is the second most common cause of blindness in the world. It is an eye disease that causes progressive damage to the optic nerve at the point where it leaves the eye to deliver information to the brain.

Causes of Glaucoma:

Besides old age, several risk factors cause it — family history, ethnic background, high intra-ocular pressure and high blood pressure. Long-term usage of steroids could also cause the disease.

Ocular hypertension (increased pressure within the eye) is the most important risk factor in most glaucomas.

Why Glaucoma is a more serious disease than Cataract?

Unlike in cataract, which is the leading cause for blindness, loss of vision caused by glaucoma cannot be regained by therapeutic intervention.

What are the findings for Glaucoma?

Scientists at the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), who studied the molecular mechanism of glaucoma in collaboration with L.V. Prasad Eye Institute, Hyderabad, found that mutations in certain genes are primarily responsible for glaucoma. Besides, environmental factors too contribute. One of the mutated genes causing glaucoma was OPTN which codes for protein optineurin. OPTN was one of the genes associated with glaucoma where intra-ocular pressure was not involved. An alteration in this gene (M98K) was earlier associated with glaucoma only in South Asian population. This alteration induces cell death in retinal ganglion cells.

Scientists have also enhanced the understanding of the process of autophagy, which was essential to maintain healthy cells. For instance, they were able to check cell death by blocking the enhanced activity of autophagy using chemical inhibitors.

How the findings on Glaucoma can help?

Understanding the molecular mechanism would go a long way in devising strategies for treating and preventing further damage. Scientists believe that by arresting ganglion cell death, further damage can be arrested and residual vision saved even after the onset of glaucoma.

Note: While Cataract is the leading cause of blindness in India, Glaucoma is fourth main cause.