UPSC Prelims News of 28 October 2022
Context: Russian defence minister has informed his counterparts in India and China that Ukraine intends on using a ‘dirty bomb’.
More on the News:
- Ukraine has rejected the claims and counter-accused Russia of preparing its own ‘dirty bomb’ and planning to explode it in a false operation.
About the Bomb:
- A dirty bomb is an explosive device that contains radioactive, biological or chemical materials, that disperses material after explosion. It mostly refers to radioactive explosives.
- Working: These bombs use dynamite or other explosives to scatter radioactive dust, smoke, or other material in order to cause radioactive contamination.
- Components: These bombs are cheap and can be made very fast. The radioactive materials in these bombs can be obtained from hospitals, nuclear power stations, or even research laboratories.
- Effects: The radioactive fallout from the bomb can cause serious health problems, such as cancer.
- The bomb is used to create mass panic as a weapon of terror.
- The environmental hazard because of dirty bombs can potentially result in the need for large-scale cleanups that can be financially costly.
- Mortality: Compared to conventional atomic, chemical or biological bombs, dirty bombs cause less human mortality.
CAR-T Cell Therapy
Context: India’s first indigenously developed Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR)-T Cell T therapy has shown promising results and could be the safest therapy in this category so far.
What is the Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR)-T Cell T therapy?
- CAR-T cells are a patient’s own immune cells that are genetically engineered in the laboratory to fight cancer.
- As part of the treatment, a specific type of white blood cells called T cells are changed in the lab so they can find and destroy cancer cells.
- It is also sometimes referred to as a type of cell-based gene therapy because it involves altering genes inside T cells to help them attack cancerous cells.
How the Therapy Works?
- It uses lentiviral technology. In gene therapy, this is a method of inserting, modifying, or deleting genes in organisms using lentivirus, a family of viruses responsible for diseases such as AIDS.
- T cells taken from the patient’s blood are modified by adding a gene for a receptor (called a chimeric antigen receptor or CAR), which helps the T cells attach to a specific cancer cell antigen. The CAR T cells are then given back to the patient.
What Types of Cancer can it Treat?
The CAR-T cell therapy is mostly effective against leukemia and lymphoma.
- Leukemia is cancer of blood-forming tissues, including bone marrow.
- Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system, which is part of the body’s germ-fighting network.
Context: The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has decided to depute a high-level team to Kerala to take stock of Avian Influenza outbreak in the state.
What is Avian Influenza?
- About: Avian influenza (AI) or Bird Flu is a highly contagious viral disease that affects both domestic and wild birds.
- Pathogen: it is caused by infection with avian (bird) influenza (flu) Type A viruses.
- Transmission: Avian influenza viruses can be transmitted directly from wild birds to domestic poultry or indirectly e.g. through contaminated material.
- The virus spreads directly from bird to bird via airborne transmission or indirectly, through faecal contamination of material, feathers or feed
- Infection in humans: Bird flu viruses do not normally infect humans. However, sporadic human infections with bird flu viruses have occurred.
- The most common route of virus transmission is direct contact with infected birds, either dead or alive, or contact with contaminated surfaces or air near the infected poultry.
- Symptoms: It may cause mild to severe illness or sudden death in birds. Domestic poultry like chickens are particularly vulnerable.
Types of Influenza Virus
- There are four types of influenza viruses: influenza A, B, C, and D
- Influenza A and B are the two types of influenza that cause epidemic seasonal infections nearly every year.
- Influenza C mainly occurs in humans but has been known to also occur in dogs and pigs.
- Influenza D is found mainly in cattle. It’s not known to infect or cause illness in humans yet.
Avian influenza Type A viruses
- Type A viruses are classified based on two proteins on their surfaces – Hemagglutinin (HA) and Neuraminidase (NA). There are about 18 HA subtypes and 11 NA subtypes.
- Several combinations of these two proteins are possible e.g., H5N1, H7N2, H9N6, H17N10, H18N11 etc.
- All known subtypes of influenza A viruses can infect birds, except subtypes H17N10 and H18N11, which have only been found in bats.
Indigenous Overhauser Magnetometer
Context: Indian scientists have developed the first indigenous Overhauser (OVH) Magnetometer.
More on the News:
- Indian Institute of Geomagnetism (IIG) has developed the magnetometer as part of its technology development program.
- The sensor will be installed at Alibag Magnetic Observatory (MO) and can reduce India’s dependence on commercial OVH magnetometers for performing geomagnetic field measurements.
- Reduce import: OVH magnetometer will reduce India’s dependence on privately-manufactured imported OVH magnetometers.
- MRI instrument: Understanding the Dynamic Nuclear Polarization (DNP) would potentially help to develop a sensitive magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) instrument in future.
- Outer space programme: The sensor can be adapted for the outer space environment to support the existing Indian space research program.
Overhauser (OVH) Magnetometer
- They are extensively used by all magnetic observatories around the world. They can be used in studying geomagnetic storms, sudden impulses etc.
- They are known for their higher accuracy, higher sensitivity, and efficient power consumption.
- Applications: Overhauser magnetometers find applications in all magnetic observatories worldwide as well as in international space programs.