Current Affairs Today - Current Affairs 2018

Sunderban Reserve Forest to get Ramsar site status

West Bengal government has given its approval to State Forest Department to apply for coveted Ramsar Site recognition under Ramsar Convention to Sunderban Reserve Forest. Now, State Forest Department through Central Government will apply to Ramsar Convention Secretariat.

Key Facts

Once it is conferred Ramsar site status, Sundarbans Reserve Forest will be largest protected wetland in the country. There are currently 26 sites in India recognised as Ramsar wetland sites of international importance, including East Kolkata Wetlands in West Bengal. Sunderban Reserve Forest is spread across 4,260 sq. km. with over 2,000 sq. km. of mangrove forests and creeks making it ideal site of wetland. The status wetland of international importance under Ramsar Convention will help in conservation of Sunderban (already World Heritage Site) which is facing threat from climate change and rising sea level.

About Sundarbans

Sundarbans is vast contiguous mangrove forest ecosystem in the coastal region of Bay of Bengal spread across India and Bangladesh. It covers approximately 10,000 square kilometres of area of which 60% is in Bangladesh and remaining in India. It is located in delta region of Padma, Meghna and Brahmaputra river basins. It is the largest tidal halophytic mangrove forest in the world. It was recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. Sundarban forests are known for its self- Royal Bengal Tiger and other numerous species of animals, including Chital Deer, Crocodile and Snakes. It is facing threat from climate change and rise in sea level. It also faces threat from widespread construction and clearing of mangrove forests for fisheries.

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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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