Achievements of Indian Scientists beyond rocket launches and nuclear capable missiles

The year 2018 was a spectacular one for Indian scientists working in the arena of space and defence. The high impact missions in these sectors have brought laurels for the country. But seldom was limelight on the works of scientists working on other sectors ranging from nanotechnology to weather. Some of these breakthrough innovative stories are listed below.

Breakthrough Innovations of 2018 from India

Here is a list of 15 breakthrough innovations from India in the year 2018:

  • Poly-Oxime Gel

Scientists from the Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, Bangalore have developed a protective gel called Poly-Oxime, which can be applied on the skin and can break down toxic chemicals into safe substances, preventing them from going deep into the skin and organs like the brain and the lungs. This would be a boon for Indian farmers since most Indian farmers do not wear any protective gear while spraying chemicals in fields, which often leads to pesticide exposure and toxicity.

  • World thinnest material

Scientists from the Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar have developed a material that is 100,000 times thinner than a sheet of paper. Scientists have developed a two-dimensional material of just one-nanometer thickness using Magnesium diboride. It is said to be the world’s thinnest material and it can find applications in a number of applications from next-generation batteries to ultraviolet absorbing films.

  • Gene Editing of Banana Genome

Researchers from the National Agri-Food Biotechnology Institute, Mohali have edited the banana genome using the gene editing technique of CRISPR/Cas9. This was first such attempt on any fruit in India. Gene editing can now be deployed for improving nutritional quality, agronomically important traits as well as pathogen resistance in banana.

  • Tackling Zika, dengue, JE and chikungunya

Scientists from the National Brain Research Centre (NBRC) at Manesar have figured out cellular and molecular mechanisms which show how the Zika virus causes microcephaly or small head size in babies.

Another study from the scientists of the Regional Centre for Biotechnology, Faridabad have identified a key protein which helps dengue as well as Japanese Encephalitis viruses replication inside the human body by inhibiting anti-viral cytokines. This research could pave way for the development of targeted drugs for dengue and JE.

A group of researchers from Amity University, Noida, Jamia Millia Islamia University, Delhi and Maharishi Dayanand University, Rohtak, have developed a biosensor using molybdenum disulphide nanosheets for detecting Chikungunya.

  • Faster diagnostic tests for tuberculosis

Scientists from the Translational Health Science and Technology Institute, Faridabad and All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi have jointly developed a highly sensitive and rapid test for detection of tuberculosis infection in lungs and surrounding membranes. These new tests use Aptamer Linked Immobilized Sorbent Assay (ALISA) and Electrochemical Sensor (ECS) for detection of a bacterial protein in the sputum, unlike current tests that use antibodies for detection of bacterial proteins in sputum samples.

  • Detection of Arsenic in floodplains of Punjab

A study by the New Delhi-based TERI School of Advanced Studies has found that that Punjab’s floodplains are severely affected by arsenic contamination. This discovery was significant because till now arsenic was a major problem in West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Manipur and Chhattisgarh. Even though Arsenic was detected in ground waters, the detection of Arsenic in floodplains of Punjab is something new.

  • Space weather warning model rules out ‘mini ice age’

Scientists from the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) Kolkata have dismissed the speculation that the upcoming sunspot cycle is going to be stronger using a model. The model developed by the scientists makes it possible to make predictions almost a decade before the next sunspot cycle activity peaks in strength.

  • New tool for autism screening

Scientists from the Government Medical College and Hospital, Chandigarh, have developed an Indian tool for screening children for autism. The tool is designed to help community health workers to carry out initial screening for autism.

  • Hope for Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s

Scientists from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru, have figured out how the way memory deficit develops in early stages and results in Alzheimer’s disease. Scientists have found that early breaking down of a protein, fibrillar actin or F-actin, in the brain leads to disruption in communication among nerve cells and consequently memory deficits. This discovery can be used to develop early diagnosis test in future.

Another study by the Researchers from the Department of Genetics at Delhi University South Campus has found that it is possible to restrict the progression of Huntington’s disease by increasing insulin signalling in the brain neuronal cells.

  • Green technique to address Plaster of Paris pollution

Scientists from the Pune-based National Chemical Laboratory (CSIR-NCL) have developed a technique which helps recycle Plaster of Paris waste from hospitals in an eco-friendly and economical way. This new technique disinfects waste and converts it into useful products like ammonium sulphate and calcium bicarbonate. This technique can also be used to disintegrate PoP waste from idols immersed in water bodies.

  • Stone Age tools, genetic studies throw new light on peopling of India

The discovery of the  Stone Age tools from a village near Chennai suggest that a Middle Palaeolithic culture was present in India around 385,000 years ago which is roughly the same time the Middle Palaeolithic culture is known to have developed in Africa and in Europe. This discovery pushes back the period when populations with a Middle Palaeolithic culture may have inhabited India. It challenges the popular theory that the Middle Palaeolithic was brought to India by modern humans dispersing from Africa only around 125,000 years ago or later.

Similarly a population genetic study from the North has revealed that the Rors who inhabit modern Haryana came to the Indus Valley when it was flourishing during the Bronze Age and inducted West Eurasian genetic ancestry.

  • Sikkim gets a real-time landslide warning system

A real-time landslide warning system consisting of over 200 sensors that can measure geophysical and hydrological parameters like rainfall, pore pressure and seismic activities has been set up in the Sikkim-Darjeeling belt of the north-eastern Himalayas which is highly vulnerable to landslides. It was deployed by deployed by the researchers of Kerala-based Amrita University and Sikkim State Disaster Management Authority.

  • Computing capacity for weather forecasting gets a boost

The Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) has upgraded its computing capacity for weather forecasting and climate monitoring. This takes its total high-performance computing (HPC) power to as high as 6.8 Petaflop. India is now at the fourth position, next only to the United Kingdom, Japan and USA in terms of dedicated capacity for HPC resources for weather and climate proposes.

  • Artificial vertebral disc using silk polymer

Scientists at Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati have developed a silk-based bioartificial disc that may find use in disc replacement therapy in future.

  • Transgenic rice with reduced arsenic accumulation

Researchers at Lucknow- based CSIR-National Botanical Research Institute have developed transgenic rice by inserting a novel fungal gene which results in reduced arsenic accumulation in rice grain.

  • Early flowering mustard

TERI School of Advanced Studies has developed an early flowering transgenic variety of mustard.

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