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Scientists develop first blood test for autism

Scientists from US for first time have developed a blood test to accurately predict whether a child has autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

The first of its kind of physiological test for analysing a blood sample opens the door to earlier diagnosis and potential future development of therapeutics.

Key facts
  • To develop this test, scientists had investigated patterns of several metabolites and found significant differences between metabolites of children with ASD and those that are neurotypical.
  • These differences allowed them to categorise whether an individual is on the autism spectrum.
  • This algorithm by measuring 24 metabolites from a blood sample can tell whether or not an individual has Autism spectrum and even to some degree where on the spectrum they land.
About Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
  • ASD is characterised as a developmental disability caused by differences in the brain. It is estimated to affect about 1.5% of individuals and
  • The physiological basis for ASD is not known, but genetic and environmental factors are both believed to play a role.
  • People with ASD may communicate, interact, behave, and learn in ways that are different from most other people.
  • Early intervention can improve development, but currently diagnosis depends on clinical observation of behaviour, that is considered as an obstacle to early diagnosis and treatment.

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Scientists discover world’s first fluorescent frog in Argentina

Scientists have discovered polka dot tree frog (Hypsiboas punctatus), the world’s first fluorescent frog in Argentina.

The newly discovered amphibian sports a muted palette of greens, reds and yellows under normal light, but in the dark gives off a bright blue and green glow.

What have Scientists discovered?
  • Scientists found that the polka dot tree frog uses fluorescent molecules totally unlike those found in other animals. Scientists expect to find red fluorescence in these frogs from a pigment called
  • In some insects, proteins bound to biliverdin emit a faint red fluorescence. However, in the polka dot tree frog, biliverdin turned out to be a red herring.
  • In ultraviolet flashlight (or black light), polka dot tree frogs gave off an intense greenish-blue glow instead of a faint red. Three molecules hyloin-L1, hyloin-L2 and hyloin-G1 were responsible for green fluorescence.
  • These molecules contain a ring structure and a chain of hydrocarbons, and are unique among the known fluorescent molecules in animals. 
What is Fluorescence?
  • Fluorescence is the ability to absorb light at short wavelengths and re-emit it at longer wavelengths. It is rare in terrestrial animals.
  • Many ocean creatures exhibit fluorescence, including corals, fish, sharks and one species of sea turtle. But, until now, it was unheard of in amphibians.
  • On land, fluorescence was previously known in only parrots and some species of scorpions. But it is still unclear why animals have this ability.
  • Scientists believe that Fluorescence may be shown by animals for the purpose communication, camouflage and mate attraction.

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IIT-M solar inverter system wins 2017 IEEE Spectrum Technology Award

Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Madras has won the 2017 IEEE Spectrum Technology in the Service of Society Award for its solar-direct current (DC) inverter system.

The system was developed by Centre for Decentralised Power Systems at IIT-M using micro grid technology.

Key Facts
  • The system converts in-home power distribution from 230V Analog Current (AC) to 48V DC to directly power appliances and devices.
  • It is equipped to tap rooftop solar power, making it most energy efficient solution for homes and offices. It also consists of DC solar generation, DC power-line, DC appliances and battery.
  • It has been currently deployed in 4,000 off-grid homes in Jodhpur and Jaisalmer in Rajasthan and also deployed in around 7,200 homes in Assam.
  • It also has been installed in villages in Karnataka, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

IEEE Spectrum Technology in the Service of Society Award: It is presented to the company/institution voted by IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) Spectrum editors as having developed the technology that has the potential to benefit mankind.

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