NASA announces two new missions to Venus
NASA has just announced two new missions to Venus that aim to better understand the often overlooked planet. The two missions are dubbed DAVINCI+ and VERITAS. This is the first NASA mission to Venus in over 30 years. This indicates a renewed interest in Venus at a time when most recent missions have focussed extensively on Mars. The Deep Atmosphere Venus Investigation of Noble gases, Chemistry, and Imaging, Plus mission dubbed DAVINCI+ will measure the composition of Venus’ atmosphere to understand how it was formed and has evolved, as well as determine whether the planet ever had an ocean. The DAVINCI+ probe will travel through the Venus atmosphere, sampling the air, and returning measurements down to the surface. The Venus Emissivity, Radio Science, InSAR, Topography, and Spectroscopy mission dubbed VERITAS will map the planet's surface to determine its geologic history and understand why it developed so differently than Earth. It will also investigate the planet's atmosphere to find out how that evolved. Both missions are expected to launch in the 2028-2030 timeframe. As part of NASA’s Discovery Program, the two missions will see a combined $1 billion in funding for development. NASA has said that this is in line with its mission to advance scientific knowledge and understanding of the Solar System. With new missions like DAVINCI+ and VERITAS, the next decade promises to be an exciting time for planetary exploration with new probes reaching farther into the Solar System than ever before and more data coming back from those probes than ever before.
Israel and the Palestinians celebrate a ceasefire — but will anything change?
While details are sketchy, Israel and Hamas have agreed to a ceasefire. That is good news for everyone involved. The dying can hopefully end and further destruction be avoided — at least for now. Both sides can also claim victory. Hamas can claim to have defended the interests of Palestinians in Jerusalem in contrast to its rivals in the Palestinian Authority, while Israel’s embattled prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, can claim significant military and political achievements. But that is about as far as the good news goes. As the smoke clears, the vast devastation of Gaza becomes apparent and the slow and frustrating process of rebuilding must resume. The economy of Gaza has long suffered under an Israeli blockade and has been struggling to rebuild after the last war between the two sides in 2014. The devastation caused by the current Israeli air attacks has added massively to Gaza’s infrastructure problems and vast amounts of foreign aid will be necessary over the coming years. It is not clear who will provide the funding. The Gulf states, especially Qatar, can be expected to provide considerable assistance, but aid from the European Union and elsewhere is more problematic. Peace process on ice Equally as important, there seems to be no interest in reviving a peace process that has been effectively moribund since the Clinton administration in the US in the late 1990s. The fighting does not seem to have inspired any desire on the part of the Israelis or their steadfast allies in the US to break the stalemate and pursue a solution to this long-standing problem. The Biden administration has continued the approach of its predecessors in working to monopolise and control any attempt to promote a settlement of the dispute. Its goal is to prevent other actors, including the UN Security Council, where Russia and China have a voice, from playing a part in helping Israelis and Palestinians to establish a basis for cohabitation. The US still enjoys a significant military, economic and political advantage over Russia and China in the Middle East based on its long engagement with the region, though its standing has been in decline in recent years. And Israel, in particular, is suspicious of the motives of the other states. As a result, the US remains the only power capable of bringing change to the current stalemate. This makes Biden’s approach both disappointing and puzzling. Despite Netanyahu’s bravado in publicly defying Biden’s requests for an end to the fighting, the sudden achievement of Israeli objectives in Gaza underscores the continued and significant influence the US has over Israeli governments. No one is suggesting the US will abandon its solid support for Israel. But the nature of Biden’s response to the fighting has been effectively to endorse Netanyahu’s approach, which has been to promote the expansion of settlements in the West Bank and refuse to contemplate any solution to the dispute, be it one state or two states. Biden’s handling of this latest outbreak of violence has effectively seen the US treating Netanyahu’s and Israel’s interests as the same. While the US does not want to interfere directly in Israeli politics, its close identification with Netanyahu does little to encourage hopes for progress. Hamas’s appeal likely strengthened It should be remembered violence had been roiling the West Bank for weeks — including Jerusalem — before spilling over to Gaza. The ceasefire seems to ignore that aspect of the current crisis, which could be reignited when the Israeli Supreme Court eventually releases its decision on the eviction of Palestinians from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in East Jerusalem. West Bank Palestinians may be powerless to prevent the evictions and Hamas may be less inclined to intervene again for some time, however, the frustrations and tensions have not gone away and can be expected to boil over again. While the Americans have designated Hamas a terrorist organisation, it is seen quite differently in Palestine. It comfortably won the last Palestinian elections in 2006 and was expected to win again in the elections scheduled for this month before they were cancelled by the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas. Hamas had just conducted internal elections in preparation for the national vote and, despite the pain and suffering of this latest conflict, it has reinforced the organisation’s image among Palestinians as the one group that understands their concerns and is ready to defend their interests. Hamas’s strength extends to the West Bank and to Israeli Palestinians. It reflects the great desire for change among young Palestinians and their frustrations with the leadership of Abbas and his party, Fatah. One of the consequences of the ill-fated Oslo Accords was the Palestine Authority pledged to maintain security in the areas it controlled, which is currently limited to parts of the West Bank. As a result, the authority is seen by many Palestinians as working for Israeli interests rather than the concerns of Palestinians. It is also seen as deeply corrupt. A ceasefire … but for how long? The unrest inside Israel over the past week highlights how Israeli Palestinians are equally frustrated with their status, a concern that has grown with Netanyahu’s promotion of the Jewish nature of Israel — as they see it, at their expense. The shock to Jewish Israelis of the widespread violence between the two communities in many Israeli cities, as well as the violence in the occupied territories, highlights the need for a serious commitment by all parties to come together to seek a solution to the relationship between Palestinians and Jews. Such a prospect remains possible, albeit quite dim at this point. When then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat, chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization, began working toward a peace deal in the 1990s, they inspired dramatic changes in attitudes among Israelis and Palestinians. Suddenly, peaceful coexistence seemed possible. Circumstances have, of course, changed dramatically since then, but that is no reason to abandon hope and do nothing. Like previous ceasefires between Israel and Hamas, however, this one will hold as long as it suits both parties. And there is nothing to suggest the agreement contains any more substantial elements which might lead to a settlement of their long-term conflict. The 2014 ceasefire lasted seven years but during that time, nothing was done to build on it. We can expect a similar lack of action this time and without such action, it is only a matter of time before violence breaks out again. Author: Anthony Billingsley, Senior Lecturer, School of Social Sciences, UNSW. This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article. Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author(s). The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of Newslytica and Newslytica does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.
The Strange Case of Marburg
The Kitum Cave is one of nature’s finest works. Located in Mount Elgon, passing near the Uganda-Kenya border, it's well known for its dig-and-get walls - animals, including elephants, break off parts of the cave to get sodium-rich minerals. Go deeper, and you’ll find an abundance of bat guano, the fertile excretory dumps of bats. On New Year, 1980, Jack Miller [real name not mentioned] traveled through the cave, exclaiming its natural beauty with his friend. He was a French man by nationality, an interesting yet isolated personality who kept himself in solidarity with nature. As he left the cave, he probably felt euphoric, and happy at the sight. Little would he know that he got more than he bargained for. Much more. A week later, on January 8, 1980, he began to have recurring headaches. Unable to work, he decided to rest two days off. On the third day, his skin’s appearance changed completely – yellow, dry, and sprinkled with red freckles. His office colleagues were worried about his disappearance and found a weak and extremely sick version of him in his bungalow. They drove him to a private hospital in the city of Kisumu, but the doctors there were stumped at whatever happened to him. On their advice, they drove him to the best hospital in East Africa – Nairobi hospital. To get there, he had to go through a taxi and a 4-hour flight. The flight was a Fokker Friendship, a 2-propeller 35-seater. By now, he had completely changed. Weak and sick, he could barely move. In the middle of the flight, he had to use his barf-bag to hold his dark-black blood vomit, dripping from his mouth like a waterfall. As he handed it to the flight attendant, blood started flowing out of his nose, like a river. He collapsed down, unaware of his surroundings, unaware that he wouldn’t live for more than 24 hours. Miller woke up very delirious, at the entrance of the Nairobi hospital. Shem Musoke, an energetic young doctor, rushed to Miller, and checked his pulse, just as Miller exploded. Vomiting out his insides, the fluid sprays across Musoke, across the floor, and even a few drops on the roof. Musoke died less than a month later. Musoke’s autopsies were quite astonishing to doctors – his liver was swollen and bloody, and most of his insides were ‘dissolved’. So, what had happened to Miller and Musoke, and when will it strike next? When Jack Miller admired the cave, tiny droplets of bat guano, filled with Marburg viruses, entered his bloodstream through inhalation. The virus multiplied rapidly, and symptoms began in a week. The virus made Miller’s blood as a hot zone, where the virus multiplied rapidly, ready to find a new host – Musoke. An expedition led by scientists, in the 20th century was fruitless, and no evidence of any virus was found. In 2007, solid evidence of the virus was found in fruit bat guano in caves nearby. An expedition confirmed this, and the culprit was finally found to be the bat guano, which was a living stock of the virus. The virus was found to be Marburg, which had first been discovered in 1967 as minor outbreaks in German cities of Marburg and Frankfurt. The strain of the virus was named the ‘Musoke’ strain, after the doctor who lost his life due to it. It is of the family ‘Filoviridae’ and shares its heritage with the Ebola virus. There is no specific cure for the virus; only supportive treatment and blood replacement work out best. Vaccines have been created for it, but they are still in their initial stages, which means that they would only probably be used for emergency purposes. The last major outbreak of the Filoviridae virus family was in 2014, the Ebola Virus strain; it was successfully resisted, but not without taking away the lives of 4877 people. The most dangerous virus of the Filoviridae family is Ebola Zaire, which has a mortality rate of 90%, which means 9 out of 10 people who catch it could die. Ebola is mainly spread through bodily fluids; it cannot spread through the air, like COVID-19. Note from Author(s): This short article is about the Marburg virus, and its family of viruses, Filoviridae. All information provided is true, taken from reliable sources. Author(s): Adithya Acharya and Siddharth Acharya For correspondence related to this article, please e-mail . Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author(s). The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of Newslytica and Newslytica does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.
AI Writes An Article: Exoplanets Explained
Exoplanets are worlds which orbit a star outside our own Solar System. The first evidence of an exoplanet was observed in 1917, but it took until 1992 for the first confirmation of exoplanet detection to be made. Today there are over four thousand confirmed exoplanets, with over fourteen hundred of those being found this year alone! So what is an Exoplanet? An exoplanet or extrasolar planet is a planet outside our Solar System that orbits another star just like our Sun. Exoplanets are very hard to see directly with telescopes. They are hidden by the bright glare of the stars they orbit. So, astronomers use different ways to detect and study these distant planets. These methods are: 1. Doppler Spectroscopy: This is a technique in which astronomers can detect the motion of a planet by looking for periodic changes in the star's spectrum. This is accomplished by measuring the radial velocity of a star from Earth as it moves towards and away from Earth, while simultaneously measuring the radial velocity of Earth from the Sun. The difference between these two values determines how much a star has moved towards or away from us. 2. Transit Photometry: This technique uses an exoplanet's orbit to measure its radius and mass by observing how much light it blocks when it passes in front of its parent star, as seen from Earth. It also reveals information about a planet's atmosphere. When an exoplanet passes in front of its host star, it blocks part of that star's light output for a short period of time. If the exoplanet is massive, then the amount of light blocked will be greater than if it was smaller. Thus, information about both a planet's radius and mass can be derived by combining these two techniques. There are many ways to find exoplanets. The main way we know about exoplanets today is through transit photometry. P.S: This entire article has been written by the GPT-3 Artificial Intelligence model (can you believe it?!) without any editing whatsoever. You can check it out here if you're interested in trying it.
That Time 'Anti-Comet Pills' Were Sold
The Times in the May of 1910 reported that a French astronomer by the name of Camille Flammarion predicted that as the Earth passed through the Halley's comet's tail in 1910, "Cyanogen gas would impregnate the atmosphere and possibly snuff out all life on the planet". "Cyanogen is a very deadly poison, a grain of its potassium salt touched to the tongue being sufficient to cause instant death", Camille proclaimed in the newspaper. Earlier that year, Astronomers from around the world detected significant amounts of Cyanogen in the tail of Halley's comet using spectroscopy. To its credit, though, The Times noted that most astronomers did not agree with Camille's doomsday prediction. Nevertheless, people started panicking. Religious superstitions did not help the situation either. Snakeoil salesmen took advantage of the panic and started selling "anti-comet pills". One such brand promised to be "an elixir for escaping the wrath of the heavens". Two Texan quacks who marketed sugar pills as the "cure-all for all things comet" were arrested by the police. However, the quacks had to be released due to pressure from their customers. Gas masks too ran out of stock. A Californian prospector nailed his feet and one hand to a cross in fears of the comet. Churches across Europe and America were packed with paranoid followers. On the 19th day of May 1910, the comet's tail passed through Earth's atmosphere without any damage to human life or property. People in France and around the world danced and embraced in the streets after realizing that they've survived a "near apocalypse". Actually, France and the rest of the world were saved by reality. For billions of years, comets have come and gone, yet life still thrives on Earth. This instance highlights the need for scientific literacy among the masses. Many such superstitions and pseudosciences still exist around the world, even in the 21st century, in various forms such as Astrology, Feng Shui, Faith Healing, and Homeopathy. Adapted from Fantastically Wrong: That Time People Thought a Comet Would Gas Us All to Death.
Massive flare seen on the closest star to the solar system
The Sun isn’t the only star to produce stellar flares. On April 21, 2021, a team of astronomers published new research describing the brightest flare ever measured from Proxima Centauri in ultraviolet light. To learn about this extraordinary event – and what it might mean for any life on the planets orbiting Earth’s closest neighboring star – The Conversation spoke with Parke Loyd, an astrophysicist at Arizona State University and co-author of the paper. Excerpts from our conversation are below and have been edited for length and clarity. Why were you looking at Proxima Centauri? Proxima Centauri is the closest star to this solar system. A couple of years ago, a team discovered that there is a planet – called Proxima b – orbiting the star. It’s just a little bit bigger than Earth, it’s probably rocky and it is in what is called the habitable zone, or the Goldilocks zone. This means that Proxima b is about the right distance from the star so that it could have liquid water on its surface. But this star system differs from the Sun in a pretty key way. Proxima Centauri is a small star called a red dwarf – it’s around 15% of the radius of our Sun, and it’s substantially cooler. So Proxima b, in order for it to be in that Goldilocks zone, actually is a lot closer to Proxima Centauri than Earth is to the Sun. You might think that a smaller star would be a tamer star, but that’s actually not the case at all – red dwarfs produce stellar flares a lot more frequently than the Sun does. So Proxima b, the closest planet in another solar system with a chance for having life, is subject to space weather that is a lot more violent than the space weather in Earth’s solar system. What did you find? In 2018, my colleague Meredith MacGregor discovered flashes of light coming from Proxima Centauri that looked very different from solar flares. She was using a telescope that detects light at millimeter wavelengths to monitor Proxima Centauri and saw a big of flash of light in this wavelength. Astronomers had never seen a stellar flare in millimeter wavelengths of light. My colleagues and I wanted to learn more about these unusual brightenings in the millimeter light coming from the star and see whether they were actually flares or some other phenomenon. We used nine telescopes on Earth, as well as a satellite observatory, to get the longest set of observations – about two days’ worth – of Proxima Centauri with the most wavelength coverage that had ever been obtained. Immediately we discovered a really strong flare. The ultraviolet light of the star increased by over 10,000 times in just a fraction of a second. If humans could see ultraviolet light, it would be like being blinded by the flash of a camera. Proxima Centauri got bright really fast. This increase lasted for only a couple of seconds, and then there was a gradual decline. This discovery confirmed that indeed, these weird millimeter emissions are flares. What does that mean for chances of life on the planet? Astronomers are actively exploring this question at the moment because it can kind of go in either direction. When you hear ultraviolet radiation, you’re probably thinking about the fact that people wear sunscreen to try to protect ourselves from ultraviolet radiation here on Earth. Ultraviolet radiation can damage proteins and DNA in human cells, and this results in sunburns and can cause cancer. That would potentially be true for life on another planet as well. On the flip side, messing with the chemistry of biological molecules can have its advantages – it could help spark life on another planet. Even though it might be a more challenging environment for life to sustain itself, it might be a better environment for life to be generated to begin with. But the thing that astronomers and astrobiologists are most concerned about is that every time one of these huge flares occurs, it basically erodes away a bit of the atmosphere of any planets orbiting that star – including this potentially Earth-like planet. And if you don’t have an atmosphere left on your planet, then you definitely have a pretty hostile environment to life – there would be huge amounts of radiation, massive temperature fluctuations and little or no air to breathe. It’s not that life would be impossible, but having the surface of a planet basically directly exposed to space would be an environment totally different than anything on Earth. Is there any atmosphere left on Proxima b? That’s anybody’s guess at the moment. The fact that these flares are happening doesn’t bode well for that atmosphere being intact – especially if they’re associated with explosions of plasma like what happens on the Sun. But that’s why we’re doing this work. We hope the folks who build models of planetary atmospheres can take what our team has learned about these flares and try to figure out the odds for an atmosphere being sustained on this planet. [Deep knowledge, daily. Sign up for The Conversation’s newsletter.] R. O. Parke Loyd, Post-Doctoral Researcher in Astrophysics, Arizona State University This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.
Research: Inner Auditory Hair Cell Regeneration
Author(s): Adithya Acharya and Siddharth Acharya For correspondence related to this article, please e-mail . Abstract: This essay gives a semi-detailed report of using Viral Vectors to regenerate inner ear hair cells to reverse the effects of hearing loss. The viral vector which will be discussed is AAV or Adeno – Associated virus, which has been proven to regenerate hair cells in mice. The first quarter of this essay will discuss the need for an improvement in inner hair cell regeneration technology and current technology used for regaining audibility for the deaf (a good example would be of cochlear implants), and the advantages and disadvantages of the technology. The next 3 quarters will discuss AAV and its benefits, along with vital experiments. It is followed with ATOH1, what it is, its benefits; then immunosuppressants, and finally, the financial burdens of it all. Acronyms Used in this Document: IHCR: Inner Hair Cell Regeneration (or) Inner Hair Cell Regeneration Therapy
[Although Inner Hair Cells refer to all inner – body hair cells, in this essay we use this acronym for describing Inner Ear Hair Cells only] AAV: Adeno – Associated Virus IEGT: Inner Ear Gene Therapy IHC: Inner Hair Cell OHC: Outer hair cell Glossary: Ototoxic: Drugs that are harmful to the ear; heavy administration usually results in permanent hearing loss Vestibular Functions/ Vestibular: Related to the inner ear / Sense of Balance Basilar Papilla: Auditory systems of lower vertebrae like amphibians, lizards, and birds Vibrotactile Device: Devices that give the feeling/perception of vibration through touch  Viral Vectors: Means by which scientists deliver genetic material into cells Immune Privileged Organs: These are sites in the human body that do not interrupt the immune system when a foreign agent is placed in it. Immunosuppressants: Drugs that can disable the bodies immune response for a certain region or area of the body, in turn preventing inflammation and other immune response symptoms Preface: This document must be taken as a budding research paper. Research can be taken upon the topics discussed without the permission of the author. Nevertheless, any damage to property or living beings will not be entertained through this document, and the author bears no responsibility to any such. Copyright: No part of this document shall be reproduced, republished, or forwarded through any means without the electronic or written permission of the author. How does this come as innovation in technology? Nowhere, in absolutely no government or private document is there a mention of IHCR using a mix of AAV, ATOH1, and immunosuppressants. All parts of this essay have been delicately written to keep this entire essay factually correct, with a tint of innovation. The main idea for this topic came from our own experiences and through the eyes of the patients. The world is obsessed with improving its overall technology, using high-tech robotics and mechanics to create marvels that would have been deemed as hoaxes just a few decades ago. Yet, more than 500 million people in this world have some kind of a hearing defect (about 466 million are deaf, with 34 million of them being young children), and among them, very few have the financial stability and the opportunity to be able to get a cochlear implant, a device which enables those with cochlear damage to hearing properly. The cochlear implant is not only a financial burden, but it also requires consistent maintenance and repairment (more about cochlear implants in the further sections). Inner Hair Cell Regeneration (IHCR) serves as a definite solution to this problem, and this essay serves to give a semi-detailed uncensored tale of IHCR, and why it is the definite solution for hearing loss in the future. Intro to Inner Hair Cell Regeneration: In short terms, Inner Hair Cell Regeneration is the process of the regrowth of auditory hair cells which can supposedly reverse the effects of deafness. These hair cells are also vital in balance. The inner ear sensory organs comprise of the
‘cochlea', ‘utricle', ‘saccule', and the ‘crista ampullar' of the three semicircular canals. History and Necessity of Inner Hair Cell Regeneration: Currently, hearing aids are the driving mechanism to remove the effects of hearing loss. Note that hearing aids only amplify the sound coming from the sources. Hearing Aids prove useless to reverse hearing loss when the complete cochlea is damaged. Hearing Aids also fail to detect certain frequencies, leading to disturbances in speech recognition. To enable hearing for hearing – loss patients with damage in their cochlea, Cochlear – Implants are necessary. Cochlear implants are mainly used for children with hearing loss conditions from an early age due to birth conditions, but it is also required in adults. The basic mechanism of Cochlear Implants is by transmitting obtained sound waves into pulses by an external processor which must be worn by the patient. These transmitted pulses are received by an internal processor which transmits them to the brain in the form of electrical signals. Since there is an internal mechanism, surgery is necessary for this procedure. Cochlear Implants prove highly effective with a dejection rate of 0.2 % and a need for re-installment of 0.5 %. However, stating cochlear implants as the best alternative for hearing loss would not be right. Cochlear Implants are delicate and expensive equipment, and since it requires an external device, it also needs proper care and maintenance. The external Cochlear implant consists of a microphone, sound processor, and a transmitter. To keep this connection with the internal system, a magnet is used. This could prove to be dangerous in certain circumstances, as exposure to strong magnetic fields could adversely impact the internal mechanism, at the same time posing a risk to the user. The external processor also requires constant charging after use, so multiple external processors will be necessary for those who are continuously interacting with other peers (school–going children, office goers, workers, etc.). The constant repair for ‘wear and tear' could be exorbitant to a few. We present Inner Hair Cell Regeneration Therapy as a decent alternative to eliminate the above disadvantages. Feasibility of IHCR: As we have stated above, normal regeneration of inner hair cells has not been observed. However, IHCR has been detected in lower vertebrae (such as amphibians, birds, reptiles, and fish). Experimental results have proven that hair cells regenerate in birds under normal conditions. IHCR Experiments in Lower Vertebrae: (Exp - 1)
IHCR in birds was first referred to by Cotanche, who observed regeneration after noise-induced hearing loss. He perceived that damaged cells were extruded from the epithelium and germinal- basal cells replaced the damaged ones. An important point to be noted is that this process peremptorily, with the microvilli reappearing on the apical surface of the epithelial tissue 48 hours after the noise-induced deafness. Hair Cell Regeneration was completed after 10 days of the trauma. (Exp - 2)
The auditory sensory organs of amphibians, lizards, and birds (termed as Basilar papilla) consist of epithelial tissue in place of mammalian hair cells. Gentamicin intoxication is a toxic level that causes nerve, kidney, or renal damage along with permanent hearing loss in humans. The regeneration of the basilar papilla of birds after gentamicin intoxication was reported by Cruz and his colleagues, who reported complete recovery of the cells 3 weeks after the ototoxicity was caused. Other experiments in lower vertebrae include regeneration of hair cells in adult parrots reported by Jorgensen and Mathieson, regeneration in chinchilla reported by López among others, but our point has been clearly stated. IHC Regeneration in Humans and Experiments related with it: In 1977, Moffat and Ramsden were the first to suggest regeneration in humans. Their report is on a 37 – year - old man with certain complications due to bilateral chronic kidney failure. Postoperative is a severe condition after surgery from a kidney transplant. The man developed an infection and was administered 240 mg of gentamicin (an ototoxic) over 10 hours. After a day of administration, the patient developed bilateral deafness. The first auditory test confirmed complete deafness in the left ear and severe neurosensory hearing loss in the right ear. Initially, his hearing showed a max threshold of 100 dB and very poor cochlear microphonics. However, three weeks later his hearing improved with sensations from 125 to 500 Hz; after 8 months the threshold of his audible frequency was around 70 dB. In 1980, a scientist reported a series of 138 patients who were each administered tobramycin and gentamicin, both ototoxic. 55% of these patients recovered their audible sensations between a week to 6 months and 53% recovered their vestibular function between 10 days and 9 months after ototoxic administration. Two Possible Techniques which could be implemented: 1) Use of an internal mechanism: Currently, hearing aids and cochlear implants serve as well–known ‘machinery' which are used to weaken the effects of hearing loss. Middle Ear Implants, Bone Anchored Hearing Aids, Auditory Brain Stem Implants all serve as alternatives to cochlear implants, although they are not much improved.
Implants may seem like a solution to hearing loss, but there exists a better alternative to it. 2) Use of external viral vectors: Disadvantages of Implants: As an external processor is involved, the frequent repair is necessary. To attach the internal and external mechanisms, a magnet is usually preferred. This could prove dangerous when exposed to high magnetic fields, like in MRIs. To implant the internal mechanism, an operation is involved. Advantages of Implants: Since this method has been in use for a long time, its procedure is well known and approved. Its failure rate stands at about 4.8 %, far less than other surgeries. Its cost is moderately average and affordable to most. The probable best alternative to this would be by using Viral Vectors [Definitions given above]. The viral vector which could be used is AAV or Adeno-Associated Virus. It has been successfully used in mice whose hearing loss is hereditary. AAV2.7m8 is a synthetic AAV that infects both inner hair cells and outer hair cells with high efficiency. It is important and necessary to note that the AAV virus only delivers the gene, but the main regeneration process is performed by the gene. In short terms, AAV2.7m8 is used as a delivery agent and the gene is the delivered agent which will operate the regeneration. The mammalian cochlea consists of two types of hair cells, named inner hair cells (IHC) and outer hair cells (OHC), both of which are necessary to detect and process auditory information. These hair cells are surrounded by supporting cells, a group of cells that are vital for stability in the cochlea. Since the mature mammalian hair cells are not capable of regeneration, regeneration of these cells using viral vectors (termed as Inner ear gene therapy) proves promising. Inner ear gene therapy (IEGT) can potentially prevent and reverse hair cell damage in mammals. Most studies studying IEGT using viral vectors refer to AAV for gene delivery.
AAV is a single-stranded DNA parvovirus belonging to the genus Dependoparvovirus. It is used in therapies because it is non-pathogenic in humans. AAV serotypes have been shown to infect IHCs much more effectively than OHC. For AAVs to achieve complete hearing restoration, the efficiency must be improved. High levels of effort have been put to enhance the efficiency of AAVs, which led to the production of synthetic AAVs. Through certain procedures, two synthetic AAVs which have been developed include AAV2.7m8 and AAV8BP2. AAV2.7m8 can infect the inner pillar cells and inner phalangeal cells with high efficiency. These results suggest that AAV2.7m8 is a useful vector for IEGT.
The AAV2.7m8 vector contains a 10-amino acid peptide inserted in the AAV2 capsid protein sequence. Details of AAV (or) Adeno – Associated Virus: Experiments involved in the testing of AAV: The main and primary experiment involved in the testing of AAV for regeneration of audibility would be in mice. To check the infection efficiency of synthetic AAVs in the mammalian inner ear, AAV2.7m8-GFP among other varieties of AAV were delivered into the inner ears of newborn mice through the vertical semicircular canal. Using the posterior semicircular canal, the viral vectors are delivered to infect cells in the cochlea along with the other vestibular organs. One microliter (or 10-6 liters) of AAV was delivered into each mouse (In the further sections of this essay where we discuss cost, we will find out that for even 100 microliters, the cost is exceptionally low). To find out the hair cell infection efficiency, light in the range from blue to ultraviolet was shone to detect the emission of bright green fluorescence emitted by the green fluorescent protein. Examination of the cochlea after 4 weeks of gene delivery revealed high levels of fluorescence in both the inner hair cells and outer hair cells. The overall infection efficiency was about 78.9% to 89.76% for inner hair cells and 72 – 89.8% for outer hair cells. Delivery Gene – ATOH1: As we have stated above, the main regeneration is undertaken by the gene whereas the gene is delivered using AAV2.7m8. The most probable gene which could be used is Atonal Homolog 1 (ATOH1). ATOH1 is required for the formation of both neural and non-neural cell types, and it has been proven to regenerate inner ear hair cells. Hence it would be a possible gene for IHCR, transported by AAV2.7m8. Drawbacks of IHCR: Side – Effects of using AAV and ATOH1: Like almost all things in this universe, the procedure of IHCR has a few drawbacks, in the form
of side – effects. The main side–effect itself is suggested as ‘incorrect' or ‘impossible' by previous old dogmas and rumors. It is believed that the ear is ‘immune – privileged, which is a fancy word for saying that any foreign substance does not interrupt or disrupt the immune system to cause immune responses. This thought is undoubtedly wrong, or incorrect in some manner - When viruses or external bodies do enter the cochlea, an immune response like inflammation may occur. The old dogma comes from the fact that neutrophils do not enter the cochlea. However, bone marrow–derived resident macrophages are always present in the spiral tissues of the walls of the cochlea. Prevention of Immune Responses: To prevent this immune response, we could add a solution of diluted regulatory T -cells while delivering the viral vectors into the ear. This would prevent a minor to massive immune response without diminishing the quality of the IHCR vectors. Regulatory T – Cells ‘regulate' immune responses in the immune body (immune responses can be caused by effector T – cells). In the human body, they are produced in the bone marrow. For our IHCR project, it will be essentially important to make sure that side – effects are kept at bay. To do so, the immune responses which could be caused by the macrophages can be rightly suppressed using Regulatory T – cells.
It is highly important to note that the quantity of such T -cells must be carefully moderated. Excess of T - cells are proven to hinder the human body's inbuilt immunity against tumor cells. It can be also noted that as science improves, better and better anti–immune response drugs can and have been produced, which could possibly be safer than regulatory T -cells. These types of ‘immune-response suppressing' drugs are coined as immunosuppressants. Alternative Immunosuppressants (other than regulatory T – cells): Otic Corticosteroids, Azathioprine, Cyclophosphamide, Methotrexate. Immunosuppressants are slightly expensive in nature, so they may add a bit to the financial burden. Feasibility and Costs of IHCR: In the present era, cochlear implants are acquired by the deaf through surgery, similarly, IHCR requires the accord from specialists in the relevant field. It is definitely illegitimate to supply the drugs of IHCR in the free market. Only affiliated pharmaceutical industries and hospitals have the authorization to own and prescribe. The costs discussed here are based on each individual component vital for IHCR. Since the effectiveness of AAV and the gene is exceptionally high, even 1 microliter (10-6 liters) would be adequate. Conclusion: To conclude, properly assembling IHCR centers and completely alternating mechanical devices with Inner Hair Cell Regeneration would be a huge leap in demolishing barriers faced by hard–of–hearing patients along with deaf patients. It would also be economically satisfying, both to the government and patients. Perhaps the best part of IHCR is the fact that once inner ear hair cells do re-establish themselves, it requires minimal maintenance. Compared to regular repairing and mending of cochlear implant patients, it would be highly acceptable to have a procedure that fixes the problem through the body rather than keeping either an external or internal device. For all we know, IHCR must come as a better alternative to other forms of hearing implants, and for the better. Bibliography: Not sure if you've understood the contents of this article? Take the quiz here! Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author(s). The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of Newslytica and Newslytica does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.
UPDATE: Latest Re-entry Predictions For Chinese Out-Of-Control Rocket
Update-6 (10:28 AM IST): Confirmed: Object 48275, the core stage from the Chang Zheng [Long March] 5B No. Y2 launched on Apr 29 2021, re-entered over the Indian Ocean near the Maldives at about 0214 UTC May 9. Update-5 (10:03 AM IST): Space-Track clarifies that the coordinates indicate the last location that the United States Space Force's 18th Space Control Squadron computer system recorded it. The rocket has been confirmed to have gone down north of the Maldives in the Indian Ocean. Update-4 (9:42 AM IST): The United States Space Force's 18th Space Control Squadron has confirmed that the CZ-5B-Y2 has re-entered over the Indian Ocean. They are reporting that it went down 'north of the Maldives' but give a position of 50E 22.2N which is in Saudi Arabia. Update-3 (8:53 AM IST): Space-Track has announced on Twitter that the rocket is down. They believe that the rocket went down in the Indian Ocean. Official data from the US 18 Space Control Squadron (18 SPCS) is awaited. Update-2 (8:45 AM IST): China is now reporting that the rocket re-entered at 02:24 UTC at 72.47E 2.65N which is right over the Maldives. Update-1 (8:25 AM IST): Insiders at the United States Space Force are currently reporting that data indicated that the CZ-5B Rocket Body has re-entered somewhere in between the Middle East and Australia. However, confirmation is awaited: Jonathan McDowell, Prominent Astronomer. According to the latest predictions, the re-entry passes for the out-of-control Chinese rocket (CZ-5B Rocket Body with ID 48275) are over Australia, Southern Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, and parts of the United States from Texas to New Jersey and Florida. Ironically, China is currently predicted to stay clear of the rocket's trajectory. The Aerospace Corporation as of 9 May 2021 7:00 AM IST is reporting that the object is expected to be located over the Pacific Ocean at the current re-entry time prediction of 9 May 2021 8:32 AM IST ± 2 hours. Please note that the re-entry time prediction is preliminary and is being constantly revised. No predicted re-entry paths cross over India. Click Here For Detailed Image & Corresponding Legend.
What is Entropy?
The simplest definition of Entropy is that it is a measure of the disorder of a system. Entropy is often called the arrow of time because the matter in undisturbed systems tends to move towards higher degrees of entropy. Imagine, a tyre being punctured. It is common knowledge that the air in the tyre will escape into the surroundings instead of the other way around. Although this can be explained in terms of the difference in air pressure, it can also be explained in terms of entropy. The air in the tyre wants to achieve equilibrium with the environment. Therefore, when the tyre is punctured, the air in the tyre rushes out into the surroundings and achieves a greater degree of entropy. Entropy generally increases till equilibrium with the surroundings is achieved. One of the leading theories for the ultimate fate of the universe is that the entropy in the universe will increase to a point where the randomness creates a system incapable of work. Some critics of this theory argue that our universe is part of a larger system and hence entropy can stay the same or even decrease under certain circumstances.
Triple-Mutant Flagged In India
According to various Indian media reports, a third mutation in the Indian double mutant strain of COVID-19, B.1.167, has been identified. This new variant's virulence has not yet been confirmed. Many experts are now hoping that the government will investigate the new variant as soon as possible. The double mutant B.1.167 which many experts believe is responsible for the recent spike in COVID-19 cases was first detected on the 5th of October last year during a genome sequencing initiative. Experts say that since both the mutations were located in the spike protein area which is critical for the virus to bind to host cells, the government should have investigated the matter immediately. The government's response to the discovery of the double mutant strain was slow and ineffective. The genome sequencing initiatives were largely ignored due to the decrease in COVID-19 cases from November 2020. Many experts now hope that the same mistakes will not be repeated again.
How To Fight China’s Economic Bullying?
The existing institutions and mechanisms used by the world’s major democracies are unable to respond to China’s economic warfare techniques as they were primarily designed to respond to the military threats that the USSR posed. For example, when Australia demanded an investigation into the origins of the coronavirus, China blocked imports from major Australian meat producers and placed tariffs on Australian barley. This not only affected the Australian economy but also strongly discouraged other countries from questioning China. In order to avoid this, the west needs a means to respond collectively when China tries to use economic warfare techniques. An alliance like the NATO for economic threats is the easiest and the most effective method to do so. Under such a system, member states will provide mutual support when China threatens economic sanctions. That support could be in the form of tariffs on Chinese goods by all member states and/or reducing tariffs on exports from the targeted member state(s). For example, when China threatens Australia with sanctions, all members of the economic alliance could impose tariffs on Chinese goods. Thus, forcing China to back off.
4 More Test Positive For COVID-19 UK Strain In India, Tally Reaches 29
The Indian Health Ministry announced that a total of 29 people have now tested positive for the new UK COVID-19 strain. Among them, 20 people were found positive on Tuesday and Wednesday. Eight of these cases were detected in NCDC, Delhi while three were detected in CCMB, Hyderabad. The new strain which is said to spread 70% faster was first detected in September and confirmed by British authorities in December. As a precautionary measure, India has temporarily banned all flights from the UK till January 7. Several Indian states have also announced night curfews and other restrictions in view of the new strain.