Science & Technology - 2018 JULY

July 1

US health regulators approve first medicine made from marijuana
US health regulators approved the first prescription drug made from marijuana, a milestone that could spur more research into a drug that remains illegal under federal law, despite growing legalization for recreational and medical use. The Food and Drug Administration approved the medication, called Epidiolex, to treat two rare forms of epilepsy that begin in childhood. But it’s not quite medical marijuana. The strawberry-flavored syrup is a purified form of a chemical ingredient found in the cannabis plant but not the one that gets users high. It’s not yet clear why the ingredient, called cannabidiol, or CBD, reduces seizures in some people with epilepsy.
British drugmaker GW Pharmaceuticals studied the drug in more than 500 children and adults with hard-to-treat seizures, overcoming numerous legal hurdles that have long stymied research into cannabis.

India's most potent missile Agni-V to be inducted soon
India is in the process of inducting the first batch of its intercontinental ballistic missile system - Agni-V - which will bring targets across China within its range, and is expected to significantly bolster the country's military prowess.
The missile system, with a strike range of 5,000 km and capable of carrying nuclear warhead, are being inducted into the elite Strategic Forces Command (SFC).
Last month, Agni-V was successfully test-fired off the Odisha coast and a number of other pre-induction tests are being planned in the next few weeks.

New satellite launch to help fast-track digital India
The launch of a new mega satellite providing coverage over Asia will help fast-track Digital India and financial inclusion initiatives, according to a leading satellite industry expert.
The successful launch of SES-12 recently would help support India's growing direct-to-home (DTH) TV market, as more and more consumers in rural India embrace the medium.

July 2

PSLV bags first Australian order
The Indian PSLV launcher has broken into a rising Australian space market and bagged its first small but promising order from Down Under. Fleet Space Technologies, an IoT (Internet of Things) startup, disclosed last week that its first 10-kg nanosatellite Centauri I would fly to space on a PSLV later this year.
The prospect for the PSLV is in the fact that Adelaide-based Fleet plans to put up a constellation of an unstated number of tiny satellites - all of which will need a suitable, timely launch vehicle to take them to space.
Australia is in the throes of setting up its space agency and an industry around it. Adelaide in South Australia is the current hub of this activity. The second nanosat, Centauri II, is to be launched on the U.S. SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket later this year.
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has planned a part-commercial PSLV flight around August. Neither Fleet nor Antrix Corporation, ISRO's business arm, could immediately say if Centauri I would go on it.

Natco Pharma launches Hepatitis C drug in India
Natco Pharma has launched fixed dose combination of Sofosbuvir-Daclatasvir tablets for the treatment of Hepatitis C under the brand name Hepcinat Plus, in India.
The product is a generic fixed dose combination of Sofosbuvir 400 mg and Daclatasvir 60mg tablets, used for the treatment of patients with chronic Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection.
The company has launched the drug at a maximum retail price of Rs 17,500 for a bottle of 28 tablets.

Scientists identify gene that helps treat cancer
The gene that strengthens the human immunity system has been identified by Australian scientists.
The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) identified the gene that plays a critical role in regulating the body's immune response to infection including cancer and diabetes.
The gene has existed for 500 million years. Its identification could lead to the development of new treatments for a variety of diseases including cancer, diabetes and inflammatory disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis.

July 3

Tejas begins operations from Sulur station
Indigenous fighter aircraft Tejas of no 45 squadron 'The Flying Daggers' formally started operations from the Air Force Station at Sulur in Coimbatore under group captain S Dhankhar.
The Southern Air Command base at Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala has been entrusted with the responsibility of integrating the fighter in the Air Force's concept of operations.
Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief (Southern Air Command) RKS Bhadauria formally took part in the inaugural ceremony.
Tejas is the first advanced fly-by-wire fighter aircraft designed, developed and manufactured in India by the Bengaluru headquartered Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. It is equipped with a satellite-aided inertial navigation system.
The aircraft has a digital computer-based attack system and autopilot mode. It can fire air-to-air missiles, carry bombs and precision guided ammunition.

July 5

ISRO conducts test of crew escape module for proposed manned spaceflight programme.
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) conducted another test of its crew escape system - a key system being developed as part of the proposed human spaceflight programme - taking another step forward in realising another indigenous technology.
The space agency tested the crew escape system for its crew capsule in an emergency pad abort test (PAT) in Sriharikota. The test, which lasted a little more than three minutes, involved aborting the space capsule at launch to save astronauts.
Also, ISRO, which has already completed successful tests of the scaled down version of the Reusable Launch Vehicle Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD), is preparing for a major experiment, but the immediate priority is the Rs 800-crore Chandrayaan-II mission slated for an October launch.

July 7

NASA solar probe gets unique heat shield
NASA’s Parker Solar Probe - aiming to get the closest ever to the sun - has got its “revolutionary” heat shield permanently attached to the spacecraft.
The shield will help the spacecraft remain safe as it collects data about the inner workings of the corona.
The shield, with a diameter of 2.4 metres, protects instruments within its umbra, the shadow it casts on the spacecraft.
At Parker Solar Probe’s closest approach to the sun, temperatures on the heat shield will reach nearly 1,371 degrees Celsius, but the spacecraft and its instruments will be kept at a temperature of about 30 degrees Celsius.
The heat shield is made of two panels of superheated carbon composite sandwiching a lightweight 11.5 cm thick carbon foam core.

Zydus Cadila gets USFDA nod for iron regulating drug, eyes $150 million mkt
Drug firm Zydus Cadila has got tentative nod from the US health regulator to market Deferasirox tablets for oral suspension.
Zydus Cadila has received the tentative approval from USFDA to market Deferasirox Tablets for Oral Suspension (Exjade Tablets) in the strengths of 125 mg, 250 mg and 500 mg.
The tablet is used to treat high levels of iron in the body caused by multiple blood transfusions.
It is also used to treat high levels of iron in people with a certain blood disorder, wherein blood transfusion is not required - non-transfusion-dependent thalassemia.
The product will be manufactured at the group's facility at SEZ, Ahmedabad.the estimated sale of Deferasirox tablets is $150.3 million.

July 9

China launches two satellites for Pakistan
China successfully launched two remote sensing satellites for Pakistan, marking the first international commercial launch for the Long March-2C rocket in about 19 years. The satellites - PRSS-1 and PakTES-1A - were launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in northwest China.
The PRSS-1 is China's first optical remote sensing satellite sold to Pakistan. It is the 17th satellite developed by the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST) for an overseas buyer.
A scientific experiment satellite, PakTES-1A, developed by Pakistan, was sent into orbit via the same rocket.
After entering orbit, the PRSS-1 is in good condition with its solar panels unfolded smoothly, according to the CAST.
The PRSS-1 will be used for land and resources surveying, monitoring of natural disasters, agriculture research, urban construction and providing remote sensing information for the Belt and Road region. The satellite, which has a designed life of seven years, is equipped with two panchromatic/multispectral cameras; with a resolution up to a meter and a coverage range of 60 km.

Lupin gets USFDA nod for generic malaria drug
Drug firm Lupin has received approval from the US health regulator for Hydroxychloroquine Sulfate tablets, which is used to treat malaria. The company has received final approval from the USFDA for its product, which is a generic version of Concordia Pharmaceuticals, Inc’s Plaquenil tablets.
The drug is indicated for the treatment of malaria and acute and chronic rheumatoid arthritis in adults. According to IQVIA MAT April 2018 data, Hydroxychloroquine Sulfate tablets had annual sales of around $215.3 million in the US.

July 11

Aurobindo Pharma gets USFDA nod for Azithromycin tablets
Aurobindo Pharma has received final approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) to manufacture Azithromycin tablets 250 mg and 500 mg.
The product would be launched this month. The approved product has an estimated market size of $132 million for the 12 months ended May 2018.
Azithromycin tablets are an AB-rated generic equivalent of Pfizer's Zithromax tablets and are indicated for the treatment of mild to moderate infections.
This is the 146th ANDA, including 19 tentative approvals, to be approved out of Aurobindo Pharma's Unit VII formulation facility in Hyderabad that is used for manufacturing oral products. Aurobindo now has a total of 377 ANDA approvals – 344 final approvals, including 17 from Aurolife Pharma LLC, and 33 tentative approvals – from USFDA.

Noradrenaline helps humans sense the world
Noradrenaline, a neurotransmitter is responsible for arousal in the brain since it plays a vital role for humans to sense the world around them.
A new study by Tel Aviv University confirmed the fact.

July 12

Novel computer mimics human brain networks
Scientists have developed a computer that mimics the brain's neural networks, and could overcome the speed and power consumption problems of conventional supercomputers. The custom-built computer named SpiNNaker produced results similar to that of the best brain-simulation supercomputer software currently used for neural-signalling research,
The system may help advance our knowledge of neural processing in the brain, to include learning and disorders such as epilepsy and Alzheimer's disease.

Cosmic Double Take: Rare Binary Asteroid Discovered Near Earth: NASA
Near-Earth asteroid 2017 YE5, an asteroid discovered in 2017, is actually two objects, each around 900 metres in size and orbiting each other. This has been revealed by new observations made by three of the world’s largest radio telescopes.

July 14

Scientists perform first-ever 3-D, colour X-ray on a human
New Zealand scientists have performed the first-ever 3-D, colour X-ray on a human, using a technique that promises to improve the field of medical diagnostics.
The new device, based on the traditional black-and-white X-ray, incorporates particle-tracking technology developed for CERN's Large Hadron Collider, which in 2012 discovered the elusive Higgs Boson particle.
The CERN technology, dubbed Medipix, works like a camera detecting and counting individual sub-atomic particles as they collide with pixels while its shutter is open. This allows for high-resolution, high-contrast pictures.

July 15

Vikas Engine readies for GSLV MK-III
A high thrust version of the Vikas Engine was successfully qualified through a ground test for duration of 195 seconds at ISRO Propulsion Complex (IPRC) in Tamil Nadu's Mahendragiri, moving a step closer for use in Geosynchronous Launch Vehicle MK-III (GSLV MK-III).
Vikas Engine is the workhorse liquid rocket engine powering the second stage of India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), second stage and the four strap on stages of Geosynchronous Launch Vehicle (GSLV) and the twin engine core liquid stage (L110) of GSLV Mk-III.
This ground test has validated the performance adequacy of the Vikas Engine for its use in the upcoming second developmental flight of GSLV Mk-III. This engine will improve the payload capability of PSLV, GSLV and GSLV Mk-III launch vehicles.

July 16

China to launch 300 satellites to provide worldwide low-orbit communications
China plans to launch 300 low-orbit satellites to provide worldwide communication services, with the first in the series to be launched later this year. The first in the 300-satellite array - known as the Hongyan constellation - is set to be launched by the end of this year. The announcement was made at the Hunan Commercial Aviation Space and Marine Equipment Forum held in Changsha.
China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) as saying that the series called Hongyan constellation was set to be launched this year. The Hongyan constellation is composed of more than 300 satellites, along with data processing centres, and will be built in three stages. Once completed, the satellite communication network will take the place of the ground-based network and allow a mobile phone to be connected everywhere on the planet, either in a remote desert or at sea.

India successfully test fires BrahMos missile
The BrahMos supersonic cruise missile was successfully test-fired from an Integrated Test Range (ITR) in Odisha's coastal Chandipur district.
The success of the test will add into the longevity of life.
Test was done in extreme weather conditions like the high speed wind against the missile system and several such extreme conditions.
Brahmos is a supersonic missile produced jointly by India and Russia and derives the name based on the rivers Brahmaputra and Moskva.

IIT scientists create mini-organs that mimic hair growth
Scientists from IIT Delhi have developed a silk-based hydrogel that emulates the process of hair growth, an advance that may help screen novel drugs for treating hair loss without using animal tests. A study, published in the Journal of Cellular Physiology, shows how the three-dimensional mini organs can mimic the different stages of hair growth in humans.
Hair loss is a common ailment, and can be stressful for the people experiencing it. A number of factors including genes, illness, trauma and surgeries can lead to temporary or permanent hair loss. However, alopecia - condition that occurs due to abnormal growth cycle or reduction in the size of hair follicles - is the major reason contributing to permanent hair loss. Numerous oils, creams, and medicines are commercially available but successful treatment of alopecia is still a far-fetched dream.

IIT Madras hosts world's first remotely operatable Local Electrode Atom Probe
The Indian Institute of Technology Madras commissioned the world's first remotely operatable Local Electrode Atom Probe (LEAP).
This is the first time eight top research institutions in the country have collaborated to establish such a platform at a cost of nearly Rs 40 crore, spearheaded by IIT Madras.
The other partner institutions are IIT Bombay, IIT Delhi, IIT Kanpur, IIT Kharagpur and IIT Ropar along with International Advanced Research Centre for Powder Metallurgy and New Materials (ARCI) all of which contributed Rs 2 crore each, besides the Board of Research in Nuclear Sciences (BRNS) which contributed Rs 3 crore.
The remaining funds came from the DST's 'Nano-mission' headed by Prof C.N.R. Rao. Globally, there are almost 100 operational LEAP's, but this facility at IIT Madras is the first remotely operatable LEAP in the world.

July 17

Pharma major Lupin gets UK health regulator's approval for Goa facility
Pharma major Lupin has received approval from the UK health regulator for its Goa facility.
It has received approval from UK MHRA (United Kingdom's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) for its Goa facility.
The unit was inspected by UK MHRA in March 2018 and there were no critical or major observations cited.Shares of Lupin were trading 2.35 per cent lower at Rs 844.90 on BSE.

July 18

World's first blood test to detect melanoma early developed
Australian scientists have developed the world's first blood test capable of detecting melanoma in its early stages, a breakthrough that may save thousands of lives, as well as millions of dollars for the healthcare system.
The new blood test could provide doctors with a powerful new tool to detect melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, before it spreads throughout the body.
In a trial involving 105 people with melanoma and 104 healthy controls, the blood test was able to detect early stage melanoma in 79 per cent of cases.

July 19

Twelve new moons discovered orbiting Jupiter
Scientists have discovered twelve new moons orbiting Jupiter, bringing the total number of natural satellites circling around the king of planets to a whopping 79.
The findings include 11 "normal" outer moons, and one that scientists call an "oddball''. Researchers, led by Scott S Sheppard from Carnegie Institution for Science in the US, first spotted the moons in last year while they were looking for a possible massive planet far beyond Pluto.

World’s beaches are being eroded in protected marine areas
The world’s sandy shorelines are declining in protected marine areas which could threaten plant and animal species and cultural heritage sites, a global survey of beaches with satellites data from NASA and the US Geological Survey shows. About 24 per cent of sandy beaches worldwide are eroding, while 27 per cent are growing, showed the findings published in the journal Scientific Reports. The view from space provided researchers with a more accurate picture of just how much of Earth’s shorelines are beaches.
They found that about a third (31 per cent) of all ice-free shorelines are sandy or gravelly and Africa has the highest proportion of sandy beaches (66 per cent) and Europe has the lowest (22 per cent). The results showed that beaches in Australia and Africa are experiencing more erosion than growth, a process scientists call accretion.

ISRO ropes in three partners to assemble 27 satellites
The Indian Space Research Organisation has signed contracts with three vendors to outsource Spacecraft Assembly Integration and Testing (AIT) activities.
Vendors are expected to help ISRO assemble about 27 satellites over the next three years. As part of capacity-building activity, the UR Rao Satellite Centre has taken up initiatives to promote participation of the Indian industry from spacecraft subsystems to spacecraft assembly, integration and testing.
URSC-ISRO signed agreements to outsource of spacecraft assembly, integration and testing activities with multiple vendors - Alpha Technologies Private Limited, Bengaluru, and its consortium partners; Bharat Electronics Limited, Bengaluru, and Tata Advanced Systems Limited, Hyderabad.

July 20

Commander of multinational anti-piracy task force visits Indian naval ship in Djibouti
A delegation led by Rear Admiral Saw Shi Tat of the Singapore Navy, the Commander of Combined Task Force (CTF 151) with a mandate to carry out anti-piracy operations, visited Indian Naval Ship Teg, berthed at the Djibouti harbour.
During the interaction, various aspects of anti-piracy operations including CTF 151 modus operandi were discussed.
The Indian Ambassador to Ethiopia, Anurag Srivastav, and Nalin Kothari, Consulate General, Djibouti, also visited the ship.

July 22

IIT-K develops online tool to help people deal with mental health issues
The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kanpur, has developed an online tool, TreadWill, to help people cope with issues related to their mental health.
TreadWill is a website designed to help people deal with stress, low mood, lethargy and other depressive symptoms through different online exercises, questionnaires and games, Nitin Gupta, a professor at the Biological Sciences and Bioengineering department of the IIT.
People suffering from depressive symptoms such as feeling low and lack of pleasure in usual activities may find the contents of the site helpful.

July 23

Facebook will launch a constellation of satellites in early 2019 to beam 5G internet access down to remote areas
Facebook plans to beam broadband access to remote areas from a constellation of satellites, the social network has confirmed.
The world's most popular social network plans to send a constellation of satellites into a low orbit, between 100 (160 km) and 1,250 miles (2,000 km) above the Earth.
According to leaked emails from inside Facebook, the company plans to launch its first constellation, dubbed Athena, by early next year.
Facebook has long experimented with ways to bring new users into its product portfolio, which includes the likes of Facebook, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram.

SpaceX Falcon 9 successfully launches heaviest communications satellite and sets record: All about it
SpaceX successfully launched communications satellite Telstar 19 VANTAGE to a geostationary transfer orbit (GTO). It has set a record as the satellite launch is marked by the heaviest payload that a Falcon 9 has ever carried to a GTO.
The satellite weights over 7000 kg.
The launch took place from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. It is the company's 13th launch of the year. Telstar 19 VANTAGE will now complete orbit raising and in-orbit testing.

July 27

Google Unveils 'Edge TPU' and 'Cloud IoT Edge' at the Google Cloud Next 18 conference in San Francisco
Google is going beyond building artificial intelligence (AI) chips for its data centres.
At the Google Cloud Next ’18 conference in San Francisco, the Internet giant announced two new products aimed at helping customers develop and deploy intelligent connected devices at scale. The first one was ‘Edge TPU,’ a new hardware chip, so small that four of them can fit on a U.S penny, Injong Rhee, VP, IoT, Google Cloud, demonstrated on the stage.
Edge TPU is Google’s purpose-built application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) designed to run AI at the edge.
The other product announced was ‘Cloud IoT Edge,’ a software stack that extends Google Cloud’s powerful AI capability to gateways and connected devices.

July 30

Doctors from Mangaluru's KMC identify rare bloodgroup ''P null'' phenotype
A team of doctors, led by Shamee Shastry from the Blood Bank of Kasturba Medical College (KMC), has identified a rare blood group called ''pp'' or ''P null'' phenotype.
ABO and Rh D are the commonly typed blood group systems.
However, there are more than 200 minor blood group antigens known besides A, B and Rh.
A blood type is considered rare if fewer than one in 1,000 people have it. A person is said to have rare blood group when he lacks the high frequency antigen or multiple common antigens.
The Blood Bank at Kasturba Hospital received samples from a patient who required urgent blood transfusion. The doctors were unable to find a compatible blood unit even after cross-matching it with more than 80 units.

July 31

Scientists just discovered a brand new shape 'scutoid' from human cells
Scientists have discovered a new shape called scutoid while studying nature’s way of moulding tissue to form the skin, cavity linings and the building blocks of organs.
The shape has five sides on one end and six on the other and a triangular surface on one of its longer edges. Scientists have referred to it as a twisted prism kind of shape that allows the tissue to mould around organs.
Epithelial tissue, one of the four kinds of tissue that forms the human body, is composed of epithelial cells packed together in a particular formation that has been given a nifty name: scutoid.

China launches high-resolution Earth observation satellite to monitor BRI
China successfully launched an optical remote sensing satellite, as part of its high-resolution Earth observation project which will also provide data for the Belt and Road Initiative. The Gaofen-11 satellite was launched on a Long March 4B rocket at 11 am (local time) from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in northern Shanxi Province.
It was the 282nd flight mission by a Long March carrier rocket.
The satellite can be used for land survey, urban planning, road network design, agriculture, and disaster relief.


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