Chinese Craft Lands at Mars; Covid19 Cough Scanner; DRDO Offers 2-Deoxy D-Glucose as Covid19 drug
Chinese Craft Lands at Mars
Chinese Martian Mission Tianwen-1 launched on 23 July 20, had entered the Martian Polar Orbit on 10 Fen 21. It remained in orbit for ~3 months apparently to decide on an appropriate landing site. The elliptical Orbit was at 265 x 12000 Km, at polar inclination of 86.9 deg having orbital period of ~7.8 hrs.
They claim their lander separated successfully from the Orbiter Tianwen-1, making descent to have landed on the Mars surface on 14 May 21 at a location called Utopia Planitia, the site for NASA’s Viking-2 in 1976. This is the site of max celestial impacts, a bland expanse of rock-strewn sand.
The soft touchdown was claimed to be successful. On 22 May, they claim to have rolled out their rover Zhurong down a ramp from the lander and onto the surface. The six-wheeled solar-powered rover has a planned lifetime of 90 Martian days and is thought to have a top speed of 200 meters per hour. China will upload commands to the rover for further exploration via its Tianwen-1 orbiter and the lander…similar to what ISRO had planned in Chandrayaan-2. On May 17, Zhurong – protected by an aeroshell (a protective shell surrounding the spacecraft which includes the heat shield) – will enter the atmosphere at a speed of 4 km/s [about 9,000 mph]. When it slows down enough, parachutes will be deployed. In the last phase of the sequence, rockets with variable thrust engines will be used for further deceleration.
The rover Zhurong is equipped with six instruments and cameras to study the surface that besides others, includes a ground-penetrating radar to look for water and ice up to 100 meters depth, a magnetometer to try study any residual magnetic field and how it was lost. It also has another important instrument, the Mars Surface Composition Detector (MarSCoDe), a device that will use a laser to vaporize rock specimens on the surface, revealing their composition.
Covid19 Cough Scanner
A small group of British Scientists at the University of Essex have innovated their mobile phones in to a cough scanner with some amount of Artificial Intelligence (AI) incorporated in to it. The phone has an App that triggers its microphone to record one’s cough sound. The quality of the recorded sound analyses it from an AI enabled database to indicate whether it matched those cough sound produced by about 8000 confirmed Covid19 cases or not. If it matched, such people were marked highly suspect and directed to undergo testing and further management.
Not that the Corona Virus (nCoV2) influences the cough sound but it is the type of the lung pathology in the lungs produced in Covid. The Covid lung alveoli start getting filled by fluid obliterating its ventilation that later may cause pneumonia. The cough sound depends upon the extent of the involvement of the Broncho-Alveolar tree of the lungs. Hence, the type of cough in various lung diseases are pathognomic to some extent with some individual and socio-cultural variation. Hence, if the database has the cough recordings of British people, the App will be more useful amongst them.
DRDO Offers 2-Deoxy D-Glucose as Covid19 drug
INMAS, one of the DRDO Labs in Life Sciences cluster has introduced a new drug called2-Deoxy D-Glucose (2-DG) in the treatment of Covid19 that is claimed to be highly beneficial in cutting down the replication of nCoV2 virus in the initial week of the infection and also reduces the drastic fall in the Oxygen demand by the tissues. The drug has altrady undergone phase-2 trials successfully and the DCGI has approved the drug for Emergency Usage Authorisation (EUA). 2-DG has earlier been been used as anti-cancer drug with borderline success.
2-DG is transported across the Blood Brain barrier (BBB) as well as cell membrane and quickly taken up into cells mainly by glucose transporters (facilitated diffusion), in particular GLUT1 and GLUT4. The transportation is preferentially in to the diseased cells. Once inside the cells, 2-DG is phosphorylated to 2-deoxy-d-glucose-6-phosphate (2-DG-6-P), trapped inside the cell. However, because it is missing the 2-OH group, it is unable to undergo isomerization to fructose-6-P, leading to intracellular accumulation of 2-DG-6-P and inhibition of glycolysis and glucose metabolism. This virtually stops the cellular endoplasmic utilization of the Oxygen in both host as well as the replicating virus. 2-DG can dock efficiently with viral main protease 3CLpro as well as NSP15 endoribonuclease, thus efficiently inactivating these viral receptors leading to incapacitation of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Such incapacitation is possible by formation of a hydrogen bond between 2-DG and proline residues of the viral protease.
Rather than simply acting as a roadblock in glycolysis, 2-DG interacts with multiple cellular pathways and has a range of biologic effects in Glycolysis inhibition, Autophagy induction, Protein N-Glycoselation and some more.
Manufactured through Dr Reddi’s Lab, the drug has a stipulated dose of 45 mg / Kg body weight; twice daily for 5 days. It will be available as 2.34 gm satchets in the market from 01 Jun 21. Pending clearance by DCGI, it will be under limited usage by hospitals only.