Science and Technology Current Affairs – 2018

Latest Science & Technology Current Affairs 2015-2016; current developments in Science and Technology 2015-2016 all important national / international updates in science and tech and events for the year 2015-2016.

Scientists identify four bacterial strains to remove sulphur from fossil fuels

Scientists from CSIR-Institute of Minerals and Materials Technology (CSIR-IMMT) have found four bacterial strains that remove sulphur from fossil fuels such as petroleum and coal. Sulphur is one of the major pollutants emitted during the combustion of fossil fuels.

Key Facts

The four bacterial strains are Rhodococcus rhodochrous, Arthrobacter sulfureou, Gordonia rubropertinita and Rhodococcus erythropolis. They use dibenzothiophene, an organic sulphur compound which is major contaminant of fossil fuel as energy source thereby getting rid of sulphur.

They were selected from 10 bacterial strains with dsz genes to find novel bacterial strains that can selectively eliminate this organic sulphur. The dsz genes are central to sustainable bio-desulfurization (a non-invasive process of sulfur removal from fuels by means of living organisms). The selected bacteria were grown in medium supplemented with dibenzothiophene and other nutrients required for growth.

It was found that four bacteria were able to use almost 99% of sulphur compound in just 10 days. Researchers were also able to identify process of bio-desulfurization of these bacterial strains through specific pathway (4-S pathway).

The process of bio-desulfurization using these four bacterial strains is also eco-friendly and economical. These bacterial strains can be potentially used on commercial scale for removal of sulphur from fossil fuels on commercial scale.

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Researchers develop potent molecule to treat chikungunya

Researchers from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Roorkee have identified two small potent molecules Pep-I and Pep-II, for their inhibitory activity to treat Chikungunya disease. The antiviral activity of these molecules was so high that their small amount was able to achieve almost 99% reduction in virus. Currently, there are no drugs to treat chikungunya or any vaccine to prevent it.

Key Facts

The antiviral activity was tested by adding molecules directly into virus culture. Using structure-based studies of chikungunya virus-specific nsP2 protease, researchers had identified two small molecules Pep-I and Pep-II for their inhibitory activity against vector borne disease.

Protease inhibitors have already been used successfully against HIV and hepatitis C virus. Pep-I, one of two molecules has superior antiviral activity against chikungunya virus. It was found to effectively bind to protein of virus (nsP2 protease) and prevent virus from replicating. It is hypothesised that any molecule that inhibits nsP2 protease is having antiviral activity.

During studies it was confirmed that both molecules have significant ability to kill virus. Pep-I molecule was very efficient in killing the virus, 99% reduction in virus at 5 microMolar and Pep-II molecule showed reduced antiviral activity of only 50% even at a higher concentration of about 200 microMolar. The two molecules also reduced viral RNA thus confirming the antiviral activity.

Chikungunya

Chikungunya is a mosquito-borne virus that causes a disease. It is transmitted by Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes. Its symptoms are characterised by abrupt fever and severe joint pain, often in hands and feet, and may include headache, muscle pain, joint swelling or rash.

There is no specific antiviral drug treatment for chikungunya. There is no commercial vaccine to treat chikungunya. Chikungunya treatment is directed primarily at relieving the symptoms, including the joint pain using anti-pyretics, optimal analgesics and fluids.

 

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