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Regenerative Medicine is the baby of “Stem Cells and Developmental Biology” and  Regenerative biology precedes Regenerative Medicine. The term, “Regenerative Medicine” is in high demand now to regenerate damaged or diseased parts of the human body. Well, with special emphasis to the human body, is it possible to regenerate every part or any part by hook or crook or else, spontaneously when severed?

Have you heard of any creature that can help regenerate its head along with the brain when severed?

The spontaneous answers are:

  • Yes, must be some mythological character that could do so, or,

  • No, organisms such as salamanders, lizards can regenerate limb bud and tail, but reviving severed head must be an impossible task


Interestingly, some creatures on the earth can regenerate their heads when severed. These are several species of marine ribbon worms.

Regeneration of posterior end such as tails when severed has been well documented in stem cells and regenerative biology research in salamanders and lizards. However, head regeneration/anterior part of the body usually are impossible because the brain is the master regulator of all the physiological, metabolical and developmental processes. Recently, 22 species in the invertebrate phylum ‘Nemertea’ have been tested for the regeneration of both heads and tails. Out of these 22 species, 5 species are even adapted to regenerate heads when decapitated. As per the evolutionary reports, the species Lineus sanguineus has evolved the ability to regenerate its head about 10-15 million years ago that might be the reason of non- extinction of this species till date. Considering the existence of Lineus sanguineus, the species Homo sapiens are much recent in the history of evolution!

Although this work was carried out by Zattara and the team at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. USA, the work focused on evolutionary biology, rather than regenerative and stem cells biology. Hence, the head regeneration in Lineus sanguineus is likely to provide definitive cues to the stem cell-developmental and regenerative biologists for deciphering novel factors involved in difficult-to-regenerate parts of the body.

Image Description: Photograph of marine ribbon worm (Lineus sanguineus) has been shown to regenerate its head. Top panel shows the photographs taken 4 days after the head was cut off and the bottom panel shows the photograph taken 15 days after decapitation. The head has grown back 15 days after decapitation. Image/Experimentation credit: Eduardo E. Zattara

Reference: Zattara, E. E., Fernandez-Alvarez, F. A., Hiebert, T. C., Bely, A. E., & Norenburg, J. L. (2018). A phylum-wide survey reveals multiple independent gains of head regeneration ability in Nemertea. bioRxiv, 439497.

Written by: 



Dr. Bipasha Bose, Associate Professor, Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine Centre, Yenepoya Research Centre, Yenepoya (Deemed to be University), Mangalore-575018, Karnataka, India.
Professor Bradley’s group in Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, UK recently reported that CRISPR-Cas9 led gene editing can lead to potential DNA damage by introducing unwanted large-scale deletions and complex rearrangements. The work which was done on cell lines derived from human and mouse have shown that this technique creates extensive DNA damage. The study was published recently in the scientific journal Nature Biotechnology. So the major implications will be that the CRISPR based therapies may not be as useful to treat diseases as we may have been thought earlier.

Two other studies which were published two months ago in the scientific journal Nature Medicine, one from the Karolinska Institute Sweden and the other from the company Novartis showed concerns that CRISPR/Cas9 editing can induce cancer.  So the promise of using this technique in clinical trials for blood-related disorders such as hemophilia, sickle cell anemia, and Beta-Thalassemia, and other disorders such as Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy which are potential candidate for gene editing could be delayed because of the astonishing results reported.

CRISPR, short for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats system is based on the defense mechanism used by bacteria to protect themselves against the invading viruses. The Cas9 protein which acts as molecular scissors cleaves the virus genetic material and protects the bacteria. The bacteria also store the fragmented virus genetic material, which acts as a guide for the future attack by the same virus.

The system has been tweaked by scientists to be used as a gene editing tool. So in simple terms, CRISPR/Cas9 is a genome-editing technique which cuts/breaks the DNA at a specific site(s) with the help of a guide RNA which is associated with Cas9 protein. The cell repair system then adds the new DNA at the cut site thereby activating or deactivating gene(s) to treat a certain condition.

More recently, a team from the University of Illinois invented CRISPR-SKIP technique where instead of cutting the DNA, the machinery actually causes the region of DNA to be “skipped”. Since we know that DNA contains exons (the coding regions) and introns (the non-coding regions). When the cell transcribes the gene into RNA, all the exons are stitched together which is to be used for protein synthesis. The stitching of exons happens due to the presence of specific base sequence at the start and end of each exon. CRISPR-SKIP modifies these specific base sequence, leading to exon skipping and thus the exon gets ignored during protein synthesis.

Due to the stupendous scope of its application, CRISPR was eventually touted as an ultimate method for editing genes. Treating genetic disorders and cancer, improving crop yields, reviving extinct mammals and producing designer babies are only a minuscule portion of the portrayed promises made by scientists. What eventually followed was a massive patent war between two teams. Having tested the CRISPR gene editing potential in a cell-free system, Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier of U.C. Berkeley and the University of Vienna, respectively filed a patent application in the year 2012. Another patent was filed by Feng Zhang from the Broad Institute (collaboration between MIT and Harvard) in 2014. This team filed for the patent in using CRISPR in editing eukaryotic genes. Having applied through a fast-track process of review, the latter team was first awarded the patent. U.C. Berkeley and the University of Vienna appealed against this decision and claimed an ‘interference proceeding’. Stating that the claims made by the Broad Institute were ‘non-obvious’ and unique in its own right, a federal appeals court upheld the judgment passed by Patent Trial and Appeal Board in favor of the Broad Institute on September 10, 2018.

Having mentioned flaws such as off-target effects and unwanted DNA damage by various studies, this technique has a lot of outstanding potential in the scientific field. Since the CRISPR/Cas9 technique has progressed very quickly over the years, it is important to understand the reliability and after-effects of this technique.

UPDATE: Here we are in 2020, the Nobel Prize in Chemistry has been jointly awarded to Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier for their breakthrough discovery of genome editing tool CRISPR.

Written by: 



Saketh Kapoor, Graduate student, Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine Centre, Yenepoya Research Centre, Yenepoya (Deemed to be University), Mangalore-575018, Karnataka, India.

Artwork: Saketh Kapoor and Dr. Pratigya Subba

Edited by: Dr. Raghu Bhushan

 

 

Did you know? More than 5000 people in India die every year due to Leptospirosis or Rat Fever. It mainly affects people who come in contact with contaminated soil or water during floods. Leptospirosis cases have seen to be elevated during the rainy season due to exposure to contaminated water and soil.


Rat Fever is caused by a spirochete named Leptospira. Surprisingly it’s been more than 100 years since the discovery of this bacterium yet, no rapid diagnostic tools are available. This is mainly due to the slow growth rate in culture media, laborious detection and can only be performed in reference labs with all the serovars. Interestingly, this bacterium does not only infect humans but also a variety of organisms like hamsters, swine, other rodents and cattle animals which act as carriers.


Mode of infection is through the urine of infected animals, which shed the spirochete microbes into water or soil. The bacteria can enter the body through the injured skin or mucous membranes. Drinking contaminated water can also cause infection (Refer the schematic diagram).


Is it really dangerous? Typical symptomatic human Leptospirosis shows symptoms like dengue and malarial fever (so if your doctor says no Dengue or Malaria, it can be Leptospirosis!). The severity of the disease ranges from chronic fever, cough, headache, chills, and conjunctivitis to acute meningitis, extreme fatigue, respiratory distress and some severe cases like pulmonary haemorrhage, myocarditis, renal failure, uveitis and even death.


Rat fever can be prevented by consuming a prophylactic antibiotic as prescribed by the Physicians. Vaccination of the farm animals is necessary as this is another source of transmission. Simple practices like practicing good self-sanitization, avoiding swimming in the infected animal urine contaminated water bodies, avoiding direct contact with the mud or fresh water during a flood can save you from getting the Rat fever.


With fallout of severe floods in the states of Kerala and Karnataka, there is an earnest appeal for all the rescue team members helping out distressed people; Kindly make sure to incorporate all the necessary precautions like wearing the gloves, boots and take prophylactic drugs to avoid the risk of contracting Leptospirosis infection as it could get more serious in flood-affected areas. For the people who are already exposed to the conditions, kindly consult medical team deployed at the relief sites to avoid further complications, and also advise for the same to the affected people.


“Stay hygienic, Stay safe”


Written by: Mr. Mohammed Tarique, Technical Research Assistant (ICMR Project), Yenepoya Research Centre, Yenepoya (Deemed to be University), Mangalore-575018, Karnataka, India.

Artwork: Mr. Mohammed Tarique and Mr. Utsav Sen

Edited by: Mr. Jagdish k and Mrs. Saptami U. Kanekar
In our daily life, we are frequently being told that happiness is either relative or an illusion. Some of us will not agree with this statement, some of us will say yes, and we have also experienced the happiness positively. We often find ourselves oscillate between happy and unhappy moments and realize that in fact, there is no permanent state of mind. In other words, “Change is the only constant”.

It seems that happiness is the ultimate goal or achievement of our life. Our childhood was spent having lots of fun and happiness at that time meant self-gratification. As we grew, making our parents proud gave that happiness. Gradually it got extended to our boss, life partner and kids making them happy in whatever ways it demanded. . . But this pursuit of happiness has left us in an elusive approach of chasing a mirage of so-called happiness which happens to be a crucial and ever-increasing need in every moment of our lives

What is Happiness? Why is this so important in our life? Let’s understand a scientific basis of this happiness on contrary to more of philosophical views so far. While philosophically true happiness has a different definition for each of us, science can give us a clear picture of the prevailing factors that lead to the state if being happy. There are thousands of factors involved in our happiness; from the food we eat to bed, we sleep in room temperature, which plays a role to regulate our temper and in turn, the complex functionalities of our brain. . . Understanding these factors which are related to our happiness will help us to know about our temporary state of mind.

Mechanisms that are responsible for the happy mood are very interesting though. Researchers revealed human behaviors in novel ways that weren't studied earlier. With their knowledge and advanced technology at their disposition, scientists were able to discover what goes on into our body when we experience happiness. Studies were also carried out in the area of the human brain that is responsible for happiness and positive memories as well as the neurotransmitters involved like Serotonin. In the human central nervous system (CNS), this neurotransmitter connects nerve cells and is associated with a feeling of happiness or decreased anxiety. Serotonin is a significant part of many popular drug treatments for depression and anxiety. It helps to regulate essential human functions like; learning, mood, sleep, sexuality, appetite.

Another neurotransmitter is Dopamine which is both a neurotransmitter and a neurohormone that is produced in several different areas of the brain. Dopamine is mostly associated with the "pleasure system' of the brain, providing feelings of enjoyment and motivating us to do or not to do or continue doing some activities. Assuredly, this neurotransmitter is released by naturally occurring events such as food, abuse of drugs, sex and neutral stimuli that become with them. Dopamine is often touted as a ‘reward chemical’ or part of the brain’s ‘Reward center'.  Apart from this, dopamine rewards us by regulating some critical functions such as feelings after punishment, movement, motivation, and attention, emotional responses, working memory, etc.

So if you are curious about the science of happiness, Check out your status and you will discover what it is that contributes to your Happiness...... Meet Your Happy Chemicals - BE Happy & Make Others Happy!!!

Written by:

Mr. Utsav Sen, ICMR-Senior Research Fellow, Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine Centre, Yenepoya Research Centre, Yenepoya (Deemed to be University), Mangalore-575018, Karnataka, India.

 

 

Edited by: Mr. Jagdish k and Mr. Saketh Kapoor
We all are gifted naturally with immense potential for excellence. A conscious living leads to a conscious will, that is what we call is willpower. Conscious living releases so much of the latent energy that energizes our entire being to do so much. Then, where is the question of mediocrity or non-performance??? Intrigued, isn’t it!!!

The crux of the matter is how you spend your 6 pm to 9 am every single day decides how productive your 9 am to 6 pm will be. I am serious and not joking. I would request each of you who are reading this blog, to reflect upon yourselves and think how you have been spending your 6 pm to 9 am every day. You do not have to go much far in the past, but a week’s data should be sufficient to indicate the levels of your productivity, in other words, your commitment to excellence.

Well, I know the answer most of you will be having. Some of the typical answers are:

  1. I am so very exhausted at the end of the day that, I freshen up and just couch with my cell phone at 6 pm and try to relax. Then, I realize it is dinner time. 3-4 hours fly off.

  2. I am so very exhausted at the end of the day that, I freshen up and just switch on the TV at 6 pm as soon as I reach home and try unwinding. Then, I realize it is dinner time. 3-4 hours fly off.

  3. I am so very exhausted at the end of the day that I need to get busy with the household chores such as homework of children. Then, I realize it is dinner time. 3-4 hours fly off.

  4. Well, I just do things such as talking on the phone, having dinner and going to bed.

  5. I go to eat out sometimes and come home late followed by sleep. 3-4 hours fly off.

  6. I switch on my computer to study something and often get distracted and end up watching a movie or entertaining videos on YouTube. 3-4 hours fly off.


Some of the uncommon answers are:

  1. I go home, freshen up and go to the gym or go for a walk without my cell phone or any distraction before taking to anyone or getting busy with routine chores.

  2. I go home, freshen up, and sit alone reflecting upon how I had spent my day. I write down the accountability to myself for betterment before taking to anyone or getting busy with routine chores.

  3. I go home, freshen up and remind myself that I am mortal and I need to live my every moment productively, reflect upon how I had spent my day and do better tomorrow. All of these I do before taking to anyone or getting busy with the chores.

  4. I go home freshen up, do some yoga and meditation and self-reflection before taking to anyone or getting busy with the chores.


I understand that it takes a tremendous amount of willpower to practice what the uncommon answers correspond to and that too at the end of the day. However, the good news is that you do not need to spend the entire evening doing yoga, going for a walk, meditating, working out in the gym and reflecting on oneself. One can spend just an hour doing it and feel so much energized, focused with high levels of endorphins. Also, you will have an excellent sleep in the night. Very simple, isn’t it. Your commitment to yourself means to spend time for yourself, not much, just an hour every day (morning or evening) being with yourself, meditating, exercising and reflecting. Most important, make this a regular habit. You will be surprised to find the new scientific ideas flowing through your mind just after these precious moments with yourself. Pen them down immediately. This commitment to yourself will keep you energized as similar to an oasis in a desert before the entire world tears you apart with mediocrity.

The attitude should be: I promise to give quality time to myself because I am committed to excellence. Of course, I do not need to show off my superiority to the entire world around me. Instead, it becomes evident as I reflect more energy, more positivity, and more happiness. That creates an impact on the world around me. I do not compete with anyone; instead, I run my race to give more to myself. It is important to remind oneself that, “I have more energy to do what I am doing today and I am meant for doing more.” Efficiency and productivity are none other than excellence.
If we all practice this small exercise for one hour every day, we all can impact the world around us with excellence rather than being a little clod of mediocrity.

Happy reading!

With respect and love to all the readers of this blog.

Written by:

Dr. Bipasha Bose, Associate Professor, Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine Centre, Yenepoya Research Centre, Yenepoya (Deemed to be University), Mangalore-575018, Karnataka, India.

 

 

 

Photo courtesy and Artwork by:

Mr. Utsav Sen, ICMR-Senior Research Fellow, Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine Centre, Yenepoya Research Centre, Yenepoya (Deemed to be University), Mangalore-575018, Karnataka, India.
Human body is a well-known niche for trillions of microbes outreaching a number ten times higher than own cells. Some of the well-studied microbial niches are the ones that are found on/inside the human body. For instance, skin, mouth, gut, lungs and respiratory tract, vagina etc. These microbes have beneficial and harmful effects and is of great interest in relation to health and disease. The Human Microbiome Project (HMP) was established in 2008 with the aim to characterize microbiome and to analyze its role in human health. June 27th, 2018 was called as “World Microbiome Day” initiated by APC Microbiome, Ireland.

On constant exposure to the environment from the time of birth over the years build up the whole microbiome. The human microbiome is comprised of numerous classes of microbes; some of which are ‘good’, some being ‘harmful’ and some are ‘essential for the good’ ones. The beneficial function of microbiome has been well established; they take part in the metabolism, building immunity, extracting energy, managing appetite, keeping the general homeostasis of the body and supplying vitamins. Multiple factors like antibiotics, diet, age, stress, human genetics and environment may alter the microbiome. The microbial imbalance is known to be associated with various diseases related to metabolism, respiration, infection, liver and gastrointestinal cancers. Not only these conditions but also the physique and mental health are associated with a healthy microbiome. Besides, their association is also found in obesity, malnutrition, diabetes mellitus, atherosclerosis, cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma.

Microbiome analyses are the new phase of diagnostics that provide an advanced understanding of disease progression and treatment. In today’s world, we have been using microbial supplements in the form of probiotics. Probably in the near future, every disease associated with microbiota may have a prebiotic or probiotic treatment as one of the options. There isn’t a clear picture yet of how far the microbiome is capable of being involved in human health and disease.

 

Written by:



Sajida Abdul Kadar is a research scholar in Yenepoya Research Centre. She is currently working on Bacteria associated with Kidney stone diseases.

 

 

 

 
Drug trafficking and abuse are so real, it is lurking very close to you with a moment of carelessness, it will latch itself onto your life or that of your loved ones!

Abuse, the very term initiates widened idea of thoughts however, pertaining to physical, mental and sexual abuse. Most of us have failed to acknowledge another form of abuse, drug or substance abuse which might primarily be due to our ignorance or failing to acknowledge the existence of it. For years, many countries with help of their government and other local and world-level organizations have been staging a mighty war to eradicate drug trafficking and abuse. We often relate drug abuse to health-related problems but, the most important burden that it projects on the society is the economic burden, including law and order issues too. This clearly necessitates a special focus and reaching out to the common people extrapolating the various forms of threats that drug trafficking and abuse poses. To spread awareness, each year the international day against drug usage and trafficking has been observed on the 26th of June, an initiative started by the United Nations Office of Drug and Crime (UNODC) since 1987. A new theme is observed every year and “Listen First” is the theme for 2018, as a minute step towards a greater good. The initiative focuses on listening to the children and the youth, the main targets for drug dealers and thereby to be abused. This is framed to ensure better parenting and help the youngster to grow safe.

According to the UNODC report, about 1.9 lakh people lose their lives to substance abuse and its ill-effect doesn’t stop there. This serious issue has also been ruining the life of living, breaking hell into their lives before they meet their untimely ultimatum. Transmission of HIV, hepatitis and tuberculosis have found the easier way through sharing of needles and other tools used for intake of the drug. As per the report by the UNODC, drug trafficking on the other hand owns up to money laundering in billions across international boundaries, alteration of the socioeconomic structures, organized crimes, insurgency and terrorism. The UNDOC report, 2017 mainly focussed on the influence of money laundering into support of terrorism. Looking at the drug abuse status in India, about 7.21 crore people have been estimated to be drug addicts, a report that dates back to 2001. Since then, no follow up on the statistics have ever been made, which makes us rethink on the strategy to be employed to reach out to the common man, explaining the seriousness of the issue and getting out data straight to the current era.

Usage of drugs is termed an abuse due to the effects it has on the brain. These drugs interfere with the neuronal communication (by activating or suppressing them), alter release of neurotransmitters (chemicals that send signals) and the reception of these chemicals by the subsequent neurons. The drugs can influence a neuron by activation/suppression due to its chemical similarity with the neurotransmitter. Although these drugs share a good structural similarity with the natural neurotransmitters, the effects produced by them differ largely from that of the neurotransmitters. Marijuana and heroin are drugs that activate the neurons while amphetamine and cocaine stimulate the neurons to secrete neurotransmitters, this way each drug/substance has its own effects on the brain. Excessive and continuous usage of drugs makes one addictive which, is a resultant of the pleasure it gives to one’s senses or thoughts, in other ways the brain’s reward system and perception. Once the drug effect vanes off, the person can no longer feel better as the neuronal communication falls back to normalcy. To bring back the significant pleasure one gets addicted and depended on the drugs. Due to the rewarding (pleasurable) feeling these drugs offer, a person is inclined to experience it over and over thereby, creating a vicious cycle of drug intake. The reward system is primarily controlled by the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is released at a heightened intensity and efficiency with amphetamine usage. Numerous studies have been carried out to understand the influence of drugs on an individual’s mental, physical and social health and, brain development. The findings suggest the impairment of brain development and behaviour. Among children, those with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder are more prone towards eventual intake of drugs, as showcased by a 15 year follow up study. This sheds light on the children’s welfare, the environment they are brought-up and the help they need from parents or guardians to help them grow in a safe environment. The “Listen First” theme is thus imperative to strengthen the children to give a better tomorrow and thereby one-day, a society free of drug trafficking and abuse.

A lot of references and reports can be spread along in making one understand the importance of saying no to drugs and their trafficking. All that matters is to reach out to everyone we know, a small by-word awareness might be enough to save at least one person from falling into the deep pits of immeasurable suffering. We also have an obligation to our society and help the ones in need, the ones that are in the verge of taking a dive at the deep hell (of drugs) and to rescue the ones already drowning in it. Rehabilitation centres, psychological counselling, helping people battle depression etc. can help in sculpting the society for greater good.

Light the fire in you, towards life, not the drugs that shrink to a minuscule of nothing.

Say no to drug abuse and illicit drug trafficking.

 

Written by:

Gayathree K. is a research scholar at Center for Systems Biology and Molecular Medicine, Yenepoya Research Centre. She is working on proteomics and metabolomics analysis of neurodegenerative disorders.
The most pivotal component of a scientific study is the documentation of its findings and its communication to a global audience of fellow researchers. Most often, the modus operandi of this process is through publication of work in a scientific journal. To ensure and encourage high quality research, several journals follow a peer review process. This allows an independent body of experts to scrutinize, critique and assess the authenticity of the claims. Although not bound by a defined set of rules, the craft of communicating scientific data can be bettered through experience, critical thinking and a voracious reading habit.

A good research article is well-structured and essentially contains a few key elements. It begins with a descriptive title, an abstract that briefly describes the hypothesis and key findings of the study and an introduction that describes background literature based upon which the hypothesis is generated. The methodology section should describe in detail all the procedures used to generate the data. Often underrated, this section must be given special emphasis as it determines the reproducibility of the study/experiment. Perhaps the results and discussion section can be described as the ‘head honcho’ of the study as it receives a glaring amount of attention. Although the results are of primary importance to the study, of equal importance is the discussion. The latter must derive meaningful correlations between the hypothesis and obtained results. A cohesive narrative that strings together all the key elements highly benefits the readers. Technically speaking, it must not leave any room for ambiguity. Each sentence must be articulated in what can be described as a ‘crisp’, precise and scientifically-sound language.

The phrase ‘A picture is worth a thousand words’ is rightly said in the context of scientific writing. Pictorial representation of data in the form of photographs, graphs, workflows etc. allows the readers to quickly assimilate the information rather than simply read volumes of texts. Citing the reference(s) at appropriate positions in the text is an essential component of scientific writing. References are employed either to generate a certain hypothesis or to support claims made in the study. However, while gathering information from the available literature, the authors must be vigilant to avoid plagiarism! Software tools are available to run a plagiarism check and also rectify grammatical errors, if any.

Although writing a research article constitutes a major form of scientific writing, there also exist other forms of scientific writing such as record-keeping in a lab notebook, publishing in a scientific magazine, writing a project progress/proposal reports or even writing a blog!! The style, content, length and presentation are strikingly distinct in each case to suit a niche audience. Apart from contributing to the resume of the author, scientific writing also contributes to the generation of knowledge that may also serve as the basis for generating future hypothesis.

In short, scientific writing is akin to storytelling. After all, there is a plot (the hypothesis), a ploy (the methodology) and a pen to wield the story (the results)!!

 

Written by:

Saketh Kapoor is a Graduate student at Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine Centre, Yenepoya (Deemed to be University).

The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it” - Robert Swan


India is the Global host for 2018’s World Environment Day and the theme this year is “Beat Plastic Pollution”. From pens and water bottles to replacement heart valves and aerospace mouldings, plastics are omnipresent. 500 billion plastic bags are used every year worldwide. Moreover, 50% of plastics we use are single use only. With 10 million tonnes ending up in our oceans every year, plastic pollution is the biggest threat to the environment right now.

 

Plastics clog the drainage system and pollute water bodies. They are responsible for the death of thousands of aquatic animals. Plastics partially breakdown to form smaller particles called as micro-plastics that are 5mm or lesser in size which are about the size of a sesame seed. These can easily enter into fishes and end up on our dinner tables. Computer models suggest that oceans hold as many as 51 trillion micro-plastic particles. WHO launched a health review after a study revealed micro-plastic content in 90% of the tested mineral water bottles collected from around the world. Microbeads, on the other hand, are tiny polyethylene plastic used as exfoliants in toothpaste and beauty products and can easily seep through water filters.

 

The use of microbeads in products was recently banned in the US. Laws affecting the end user is always more effective compared to those on manufacturers when it comes to plastic bags. Ireland, for example, introduced a tax for plastic bags, costing 33 cents (Rs. 26) and the usage dropped by 94% within weeks. In Rwanda (a developing country in Africa), smuggling of plastic bags can lead to imprisonment and is, therefore, plastic bag free nation since 2008. Sweden recently reached zero trash levels and generated revenue by importing plastic wastes from other countries due to their advanced recycling units.

 

India is emerging as a global leader in combating plastic pollution given that it has one of the highest recycling rates in the world. Indian Institute of Petroleum (IIP) a constituent of Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has developed a unique process that converts plastic bags to petroleum. This project is in the process of being commercialized. Rudra Environmental solutions in Pune has a setup that converts a ton of plastic cans to 600 litres of fuel, 20-25% synthetic gases and 5-10% residual char that could be used as road fillers. Innovations like these are essential for recycling of plastics and needs to be given much needed attention and funding by the Government. On a ground level, we can do our bit by opting alternatives of plastics in our daily lives.

Conservation over convenience is the only way to save our planet as we know it.

 

Written by:

Akhila M.P. is a research scholar in Yenepoya Research Centre. She is working on angiogenesis inhibition in Glioma.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
The WHO calls tobacco “the single most preventable cause of death in the world” and has specified 31st May every year as World No Tobacco Day (WNTD). This day primarily focuses on the risks associated with tobacco usage and aim to deliver the awareness regarding its harmful effects. The theme for this year is ‘Tobacco and heart disease’. WNTD is one of the most highlighted campaigns observed globally with an aim of enlightening people about the negative impact on healthy lifestyle. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is one of the leading cause of mortality across the world which is triggered by the tobacco usage and passive smoke exposure accounting for 12% of cardiac-related deaths.

Tobacco use dates back to 1400–1000 BC where many North American tribes traditionally cultivated and consumed tobacco. Late 19th century witnessed rapid industrialization driven tobacco use which went on to be a commercial success and a major health revelation. Habitual addiction to raw tobacco and tobacco smoke is essentially due to the alkaloid ‘nicotine’ which causes both stimulant and relaxation responses by simultaneously causing the release of glucose from liver and epinephrine (adrenaline) from the adrenal medulla. The primary form of tobacco intake includes cigarettes, bidis, cigars, and waterpipes while the predominant mode of intake, especially in a country like India, includes smokeless or chewing tobacco.

Addiction to tobacco results in high incidence of cancer, emphysema, air pollution and ultimately death. Quitting usage of tobacco is one of the most important steps that can be embraced not only by youth but by every user to improve their health and thus, every day has to be dedicated to serving the purpose of No tobacco day in some way or the other. A public awareness can be created to portray and educate the people about its ill effects and arrange for centers for rehabilitating individuals who ruminate giving up on such addiction. Keeping in the mind the fact that “If we lose the battle against tobacco, we will lose the war against cancer”, this World No Tobacco Day, we must pledge to take a stand against the promoters of tobacco and keep sensitizing people regarding its harmful impact on health. Let’s Breathe life and Quit Smoking.