Research Highlights from India

When I was young, there was a spate of Indi­an sci­en­tists com­mit­ting sui­cide. It had made the cov­er sto­ry of some dis­tin­guished mag­a­zines. It made me think of how sci­en­tists are a rel­a­tive­ly ignored lot in our pri­mar­i­ly reli­gious and super­sti­tious coun­try. I nev­er could do much for their cause, and hence use my blog to give what­ev­er lit­tle pub­lic­i­ty I can to deserv­ing Indi­an sci­en­tists.

Energy Conservation

Prof. D. D. Sar­ma, at the Indi­an Insti­tute of Sci­ence (IISc), is work­ing on devel­op­ing white-light LEDs to replace incan­des­cent and flu­o­res­cent light­ing to save ener­gy:

If half of all light­ing is based on LEDs by 2025, the world would use 120 gigawatts less elec­tric­i­ty, sav­ing $100 bil­lion a year and cut­ting the car­bon-diox­ide emis­sions from pow­er plants by 350 mega­tons annu­al­ly.

Sin­gle-col­or LEDs are already in com­mon use, such as traf­fic lights. White-light LEDs are a chal­lenge, because cur­rent meth­ods do not yield desired results for white light­ing in build­ing inte­ri­ors. Sarma’s approach is just at a proof-of-con­cept stage, and there’s a long way to go, but it looks promis­ing so far.

Diabetes

G Mugesh Livemint report­ed that sci­en­tists at IISc may hold the key to tam­ing the dia­betes enzyme. Instead of tar­get­ing the PTP 1B enzyme that is respon­si­ble for Type 2 dia­betes, G. Mugesh and his team focused on the sulfenyl-amides that it pro­duces. Their research was pub­lished in the July issue of the Jour­nal of the Amer­i­can Chem­i­cal Soci­ety.

Most treat­ment approach­es for dia­betes type 2 involve direct tar­get­ing of the enzyme in ques­tion,” said G. Mugesh, assis­tant pro­fes­sor, depart­ment of inor­gan­ic and phys­i­cal chem­istry, IISc, adding that such an approach affects oth­er enzymes, caus­ing side effects.

Research high­lights are avail­able here (PDF). Mugesh’s home­page is here. Just yes­ter­day, a team of Aus­tralian sci­en­tists claimed anoth­er break­through using a dif­fer­ent approach show­ing how com­pet­i­tive this field is. World­wide sales for dia­betes drugs may bring in as much as $21.7 bil­lion for their mak­ers!

Dis­claimer: I’m not knowl­edge­able about med­i­cine at all and can­not under­stand the impli­ca­tions or minu­ti­ae of such research. I’m not sure if this is just media hype of some­body build­ing cas­tles in the air.

Thought to Action

MIT AlgorithmI’m not sure if Laxmi­narayan Srini­vasan is an Indi­an, but his name sounds of Indi­an ori­gin. Any­ways, his research is so inter­est­ing that I’m includ­ing it this post. Sci­ence Dai­ly reports that MIT researchers have devel­oped a new algo­rithm to help cre­ate pros­thet­ic devices that con­vert brain sig­nals into action in patients who have been par­a­lyzed or had limbs ampu­tat­ed. What is unique about their research that dis­tin­guish­es it from the numer­ous oth­er approach­es so far?

Over the past decade, efforts at pro­to­typ­ing these devices have divid­ed along var­i­ous bound­aries relat­ed to brain regions, record­ing modal­i­ties, and appli­ca­tions. The MIT tech­nique pro­vides a com­mon frame­work that under­lies all these var­i­ous efforts.

Until now, researchers work­ing on brain pros­thet­ics have used dif­fer­ent algo­rithms depend­ing on what method they were using to mea­sure brain activ­i­ty. The new mod­el is applic­a­ble no mat­ter what mea­sure­ment tech­nique is used, accord­ing to Srini­vasan. “We don’t need to rein­vent a new par­a­digm for each modal­i­ty or brain region,” he said.

Summary

An unpre­dictable blog­ger like me, under­stand­ably nev­er gets sug­ges­tions for posts, unlike focused blog­gers. So it came as a sur­prise when Ram­bodoc sent me the news about the white-light LED research ask­ing if I might want to write about it. So, I’m grate­ful to Ram­bodoc for inspir­ing this post. I like Ek Doc­tor Ki Maut (Death of a Doc­tor) as a film, but I hate it if it becomes real­i­ty.

(Pho­tos linked to orig­i­nal sources)

Relat­ed Posts: Arti­fi­cial Wildlife Con­ser­va­tion, Indi­an inven­tor doctor’s break­through

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