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Blood-based biomarkers for brain tumours identified


New Delhi, Nov 22: A study by researchers at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), along with collaborators, has identified potential blood-based biomarkers to predict disease progression and survival times in those with late-stage brain tumours.

The team included researchers from the Centre for BioSystems Science and Engineering (BSSE) at IISc, the Mazumdar Shaw Centre for Translational Research and Mazumdar Shaw Medical Foundation.

They analysed tumour and blood samples from individuals with gliomas – tumours that occur in the brain – to identify surface proteins on immune cells in the blood whose levels were closely linked to tumour progression.

“Our pilot study suggests that we can potentially use two blood-based biomarkers present on immune cells to identify patients who might not perform well with particular treatment strategies,” says Siddharth Jhunjhunwala, Assistant Professor in BSSE, and senior author of the study.

Conventional cancer treatments like chemotherapy are often ineffective in treating these tumours. This has prompted a shift to newer techniques like immunotherapy, which involves provoking the immune system of the patient to attack the tumour cells. However, attempts to use some of the standard immunotherapies to treat gliomas have met with limited success. The scientists were trying to address this gap by understanding the immune profile in the tumour microenvironment.

The team collected blood and tumour samples from patients with grade three and grade four gliomas and compared the numbers of specific immune cells called monocytes and neutrophils in these samples.

The team also looked for differences in the composition of surface proteins on these cells across the two grades of tumours. They found that a certain type of monocytes — the M2 monocytes — were present in larger numbers in the samples from grade four tumours. Previous studies have shown that high numbers of M2 monocytes are associated with a suppression of immune responses, and the new finding could help develop new treatment strategies. “Future studies could focus on developing therapies that reduce the numbers of M2 monocytes in the tumour microenvironment or alter their functionality,” says Jhunjhunwala.

The researchers also found that levels of two surface proteins on neutrophils and monocytes, CD86 and CD63, were closely related in both the blood and tumour samples. The presence of high levels of these proteins on immune cells in other tumours has previously been associated with poor prognosis or low chances of survival. “What our study showed is that you do not need to look at these markers only in the tumours, you might be able to look at these just from the blood, and the clinician can make an assessment,” he says.

Jhunjhunwala said that further testing and validation is, however, needed on a larger scale before this can be taken from the lab to the clinic. “We would like to expand our cohort and test for only these two markers now, in individuals with stage three and stage four brain tumours and follow their survival times.”  (India Science Wire)

A report on the study has been published in OncoImmunology.

Study finds mental illness may have unusual evolutionary basis


New Delhi, Oct 28: A new study has found that the common syndromes of severe mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, dementia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and addiction, may have an unusual evolutionary basis.

The constant prevalence of mental illness across the history of the human species suggests a Darwinian paradox. Despite causing significant disease, there seems little impact on selection for fitness. Genetic variation that predisposes to psychiatric disease is seen across all populations and is quite common. Previous selection, over evolution, may produce a bias towards certain kinds of variation that may cause disease later in life. These mechanisms may protect against inflammation or infection when young, only to predispose towards disease when one is older.

In the new study, researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurological Sciences (NIMHANS), Bengaluru, and Institute of Genomics at the University of Tartu, Estonia, explored these aspects through the genetic analysis of individuals from families who have multiple affected members, considering that the increased prevalence of illness in a particular family should point to even more extreme evidence of the risky alleles.

The study compared the genetic sequences of exomes (the regions that are translated into proteins) from individuals in 80 such families and compared them against African and South Asian populations. They also looked for evidence of Neanderthal genes in the sample, as the persistence of these ancient genomes in modern humans seems to correspond to some traits as well as the risk of disease.

“We observed evidence of selection in 74 genes, which were mainly involved in immunological and defense responses, including activation and regulation of interferon-gamma, cytokine and immune system, and different signaling pathways”, said Dr. Ajai K. Pathak, one of the lead authors of the study.

The study inferred that almost one-fourth, 20 out of the 74 putatively selected genes were implicated in the risks of illnesses such as schizophrenia, dementia, and Parkinson’s disease and general attributes such as intelligence and cognitive abilities.

“There was also evidence of Neanderthal genes, but their variation and distribution were much the same in the south Indian population and did not correlate with the risk of disease or demonstrated signs of adaptive selection” stated one of the senior authors of the paper, Dr. Mayukh Mondal.

Noting that the human population has expanded from 1 billion 200 years ago, to more than 6 billion now, and that over the same period human longevity has also increased three-fold, the scientists said that perhaps, in common with many other diseases like diabetes and hypertension that begin later in life, the risk of psychiatric disease was embedded in the biology and the nature and extent of genetic variation of our species.

Another lead author, Dr. Jayant Mahadevan, said that the study adds to the growing evidence that the risk of psychiatric disease may be linked to variations in the shared gene pool, which in turn depends on the evolutionary history of the species. (India Science Wire)

Dr. Rajesh S. Gokhale appointed as Secretary DBT


New Delhi, Oct. 27: Dr. Rajesh S. Gokhale, an esteemed scientist of the National Institute of Immunology (NII) New Delhi, has been appointed as the Secretary of the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Government of India. DrGokhale takes over from DrRenuSwarup who is set to retire on the 31st of this month.

Dr. Gokhale joined NII in 1999 and spent a decade implementing a cutting-edge biotechnology research program. Subsequently, he served as the Director of CSIR-Insitute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (CSIR-IGIB) from 2009-2016, spearheading the prolific growth of the institute. He returned to his parent institute, NII, in 2017. He also briefly acted as the Director-in-charge of NII in 2021 before moving on deputation to the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Pune (IISER Pune) as a Professor on 16th September 2021.

Dr. Gokhale is one of the world leaders in Tuberculosis research. His research has provided novel insights into metabolic pathways that operate in Mycobacterium Tuberculosis and are critical for disease pathogenesis. He has also made critical contributions towards the understanding of the interplay between metabolic reprogramming and immunity autoimmune skin disorder Vitiligo. The research in his laboratory aims to understand disease pathogenesis and develop novel therapeutic strategies that will tackle the underlying causes rather than just the symptoms, NII statement said.

Dr. Gokhale has received several prestigious awards, including the Wellcome Trust (UK) Senior research fellowship (2001-2006), Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) International Research Scholarship, USA (2005 – 2010), Swarnajayanti Fellowship, Department of Science and Technology, India (2006- 2011), Shanti Swaroop Bhatnagar Prize in Biological Sciences, India (2006), National Bioscience Award for Career Development, India (2009), Infosys Prize in Life Sciences (2013), IIT Bombay Distinguished Alumnus Award (2014), Sun Pharma Research Award (2014) – Medical Sciences, Basic Research Award, JC Bose National Fellowship (2018-Present).

Dr. Gokhale has been a member of many professional and academic bodies and societies. He is a Fellow of the Indian National Science Academy, New Delhi (2014), the National Academy of Sciences India, Allahabad (2012) as well the India Academy of Sciences (2007). He was elected as a member of the prestigious Guha Research Conference (2005). He also served as a member of the editorial board, The Journal of Biological Chemistry (2014 to 2017), section editor of Journal “Tuberculosis”, Elsevier (2007 to 2017), the Indian Journal of Biochemistry & Biophysics (2013 onwards). (India Science Wire)

The importance of Photography explained by Pitabash Patra


Photography is the Austere and Blazing poetry of the real.

Photography is a way to express yourself just like other forms of art. Every individual will see the world around him/her in a unique way and that will be reflected in his/her photos.

Photography is an art form as it captures moments and often tells stories in a single frame.

Photography can capture emotions, history, time, place and memories. This is what art seeks to recreate. When you look at Mona Lisa, what do you see?

Photography is like writing an introduction to words. As amazing and important as it is, photography can be almost limitlessly complex. The first permanent photograph was captured in 1826 by Joseph Nicephore Niepce in France. It shows the roof of a building lit by the sun. We have come a long way since then. Colour Photography started to become popular and accessible with the release of Eastern Kodak’s Kodachrome” film in the 1930’s. The scientist – magicians, the first colour photographers, are hardly alone in pushing the boundaries of one of the world’s newest art forms. The history of photography has always been a history of people – artists and inventors who started the field into the modern era. The world of photography has changed dramatically in the past couple of years and continues to change. The cameras are on our phones, and the ease of uploading photos to the internet has made the number of images in our world explode. Photography impacts us to the point that is an important part of our lives in some aspects even if it is different from one person to the next. Photography’s extensive depth of possibilities and enjoyment and need for images is clearly amazing. Each of us has done something with a picture even if you don’t see yourself as a photographer. This shows us that photography is important. There is no way to deny that life flies by. One day it’s Monday then all of a sudden the sun rises again and it’s Friday. The memories you made at one time in your life starts to fade as more days pass in-between. Perhaps, there comes a day that you can’t remember at all. Photography is an amazing way to document every moment of our lives so that we will have that memory forever.

This is the reason I have stepped up into the world of Photography. Not only that, I have received awards for taking beautiful photos of mother nature and thanks to Wallmag and Gurushots for this.

It is not an easy job to be a photographer, knowing that you are in a teaching profession. One of the best reasons that I love photography is because it allows you to express yourself. Regardless of the rules and techniques, Photography has no boundaries. You can express yourself without any restrictions. Photography can inspire you to travel, enjoy life and celebrate the moments. Through photography, you can meet a lot of people and build relationships you wouldn’t have had previously.

Photography doesn’t judge your age, gender or race. You can take pictures and capture memories. Then, what are you waiting for? Go out there and start taking photos.

Follow Pitabash Patra on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/pitabash_patra/

Gujarat’s leading wildlife photographer Neel Sarkhedi shares the best part about his profession


Ahmedabad, Gujarat [India]: Photography has not just been one of the most creative professions but is also a lucrative career option. In recent times, a lot of photographers have earned fortunes by showcasing creativity through their lens. Ankleshwar-based photographer Neel Sarkhedi is also setting a bar with his exceptional photography. An entrepreneur by choice, the 26-year old has been passionate about photography since childhood.

However, he has been completely into photography since 2019. During these three years, Neel Sarkhedi has come a long way in his flourishing career. To begin his journey, the photographer began capturing moments in the nearby areas of his locality. Eventually, he improved his creativity by practicing the art daily. He has got some beautifully captured pictures in his camera of different wildlife creatures like Tiger, Indian Eagle Owl, Desert Fox, Striped Hyena, Short Eared owl, peregrine falcon, and various other species.

Being a true wanderlust and a travel freak, Neel has explored many national parks and destinations in India like Ranthambore National Park, Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary, Thol Bird Sanctuary, and Rann of Kutch to name a few. “Ever since I have been focusing on wildlife photography, my life is filled with new adventures. I have explored different places in these years and have been mastering the art and craft of photography”, says Neel.

Furthermore, Neel Sarkhedi stated that due to the unfortunate COVID-19 pandemic, many of his adventures have got postponed. He said, “In the last year, I had planned various trips to different national parks and sanctuaries across the country. But due to the pandemic, I could not visit them.” Besides this, Neel was asked about what life lessons he has learned being a wildlife photographer. The creative professional emphasized the quality of patience that he learned from the profession.

Additionally, he revealed that it might take months or years for a wildlife photographer to get a perfect shot. “The creatures are not stationary. They have their constant body movements, and at times it might get difficult to get a perfect capture in your camera”, added Neel. With the COVID-19 restrictions getting easier, Neel Sarkhedi is hopeful to visit different sanctuaries, and he cannot wait to showcase the beautiful world of wildlife through his lens.

Discovering our Galaxy with Entrepreneur Benjamin Barakat titled “Milky Way Photographer Of The Year 2021”


“Many of us have forgotten to take a moment and look up to the night sky and appreciate the beauty of the heavens above! For some looking up isn’t an option due to light pollution and for some, they aren’t even aware of the hidden but visible beauties such as galaxies and nebulae above us. My goal is to share such wonders with the rest of the world and teach those that wish to capture it too like me on camera” Shares Benjamin Barakat, an award-winning night sky photographer, who has been featured in Forbes, National Geographic, CNN, BBC & many more for his unbelievable and magical images of the night sky.

Currently a real estate photographer by day, Benjamin Barakat runs photography workshops by night. In addition, he also runs photography tours, taking people off the beaten track and into the depths of the unknown. He is also a researcher at the highest observatory in Europe, the Sphinx Observatory in Switzerland sitting at an altitude of 3571m where he researches the development of light pollution.

Benjamin Barakat was also shortlisted for the most prestigious competition in the world – Astronomy Photographer of the year 2021 and was among the top 40 from over 5000 entries. As a result, he is in the book and was on display at the Royal Greenwich museum for one year for his work titled Chateau de Chambord.

Sponsored by and Ambassador of companies like “f-stop”, “SUNWAYFOTO” and “IDAS”.

We asked Benjamin Barakat what drives him to pursue Milky Way photography and he sums up, “People don’t understand why I spend so much time and money capturing the sky. The same people would have congratulated me had I invested in a new stock or property. The truth is that one has to experience astrophotography or visual astronomy himself to know why we are hooked.”

To look at some of his fine snapshots of the night sky you can visit his Instagram at @benjaminbarakat where he shares some marvellous and picturesque images of skyscapes. Additionally, to gain tips and recommendations from the legend, Benjamin Barakat, himself, you can visit his website at https://www.benjaminbarakat.com to get updated about his astrophotography classes and also to get more information on him.

Growise Academy and Alila by Krishnam Join Forces to Launch Photography Job Shadowing Program


Growise Academy is excited to announce its collaboration with “Alila by Krishnam”, which is India’s top 10 fastest-growing photography companies. This partnership introduces an immersive Job Shadowing Program that offers students a first-hand experience of the world of photography, helping them explore it as a potential career path.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signifies a shared commitment to bridging the gap between classroom learning and practical application. Through this program, students will shadow experienced photographers from Alila by Krishnam, gaining valuable insights into photography as an art form and profession.

“We’re thrilled about this partnership with Alila by Krishnam,” said Rajat Singh, Business Head at Growise Academy. “Our mission is to empower students with real-world experiences to make informed career decisions. The Photography Job Shadowing Program is an excellent opportunity for students to explore their passion for photography.” Affirmed Rajesh Prasad, AVP – Courses at GroWise.

This collaboration offers students a unique chance to witness the artistry and techniques behind photography, encouraging them to consider photography as a viable career option.

“At Alila by Krishnam, we’re passionate about nurturing young talent,” said Krishnam founder at Alila by Krishnam. “Through this program, we aim to inspire and mentor the next generation of photographers.”

The program, starting from September 2023 will provide students with a structured environment to engage with photography professionals and explore their creative potential.

For more information and to apply, visit the GroWise Academy website – www.growiseacademy.com

Women Powerlifter Zainab Khatoon bags a silver medal and Rajkumari wins a bronze at Asia Para Games 2023; making the nation and their coach proud


Hangzhou (China), October 25: It is a moment of immense pride and celebration as India secures yet another remarkable victory in the field of Para Powerlifting at the Asian Para Games 2023. Zainab Khatoon bags a silver medal, Rajkumari bags a bronze medal in Women’s 61 kg weight category and Suman Devi hits 88 kg and beats her all-time record by 6 kg with just 3 weeks of training post world championships Dubai at the Para Asian Games 2023.

Tanvir Logani, their personal coach and the guiding light behind these women athletes, said, “These athletes have not only won medals; they have won the hearts of an entire nation. Their dedication, hard work, and unyielding spirit are an inspiration to us all. They are beacons of hope, ushering in a new wave of motivation for the next generation of athletes. As they continue their journey, India looks forward to even brighter horizons and more medals to adorn India’s name.”

This victory is a stepping stone on a much grander journey as she justified her potential and training in the powerlifting category. This moment not only highlights India’s rising prominence in global sports but also brings forth the belief that these remarkable athletes, under their coach’s guidance and training; they have the potential to clinch medals along with the support of and make their nation proud.

The team extends its gratitude to the chairperson, organisations that have been instrumental in his journey, including the Sports Authority of India (SAI), the Paralympic Committee Of India (PCI), the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports (MYAS) and others.


Powerlifter Ashok bags bronze medal at Asia Para Games 2023; makes his coach and India proud


Hangzhou (China), October 25: Powerlifter Ashok from Haryana has made history, clinching the prestigious bronze for the nation in the 65 kg weight category at the Para Asian Games 2023. Ashok lifted 192 kg in the second attempt, solidifying his place on the victory podium.

He further adds “Our victory is a testament to the years of unwavering dedication and commitment that he has invested under the guidance of his personal coach Tanvir Logani, who has been his trainer and the guiding force behind athletes representing at Para Power Lifting at Asian Games.

Ashok’s victory is not just his own but he further extends his appreciation and gratitude to organisations that have been instrumental in his journey, including the Sports Authority of India (SAI), the Paralympic Committee Of India (PCI), Haryana Government and the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports (MYAS)

As we celebrate Ashok’s exceptional achievement, we look forward to even greater accomplishments in the future. With Ashok and his fellow athletes consistently striving to break their own records and reach new heights, they continue to elevate the country’s name on the global stage under the guidance of India’s coach Tanvir Logani.

Indian Para Power Lifters, Coached by Tanvir Logani, Set out for Asian Para Games


Hangzhou, [China], 20th October 2023: The journey of transformation, dedication, and resilience continues as Indian Kinesiologist and Coach Tanvir Logani, a leading figure in the field of human performance, embarks on a remarkable mission. Tanvir is set to lead a team of Para Powerlifters, including athletes Zainaab Khatoon, Rajkumari, Ashok Malik, Pardeep Joon, and Suman Devi amongst others, to represent India at the prestigious Asian Para Games 2022 in Hangzhou.

This momentous event not only signifies India’s growing global competitiveness but also ignites the nation’s hope for securing medals in the field of Para Powerlifting.

These proud athletes, under the visionary guidance of Tanvir Logani, have risen above physical challenges and limitations, emerging as inspirations for their unwavering determination and resilience. As they prepare to represent India on the international stage, their stories serve as a testament to the indomitable human spirit and the power of mentorship and perseverance.

Tanvir Logani’s unwavering commitment to the athletes’ growth and development is a driving force behind their journey to the Asian Para Games. His innovative coaching methods, combined with a deep understanding of kinesiology, have enabled these athletes to overcome hurdles and excel in their respective categories.

Zainaab Khatoon is an epitome of female empowerment in Para Powerlifting. Her journey from 70 kg to securing a place at the Asian Para Games exemplifies the transformative power of self-belief, nurtured by Tanvir’s expertise.

Rajkumari, Ashok Malik, Pardeep Joon, and Suman Devi have equally compelling stories of triumph and dedication. Their qualification for the Asian Para Games is a reflection of their relentless pursuit of excellence, fuelled by the guidance and support of Tanvir Logani.

The Asian Para Games provide a platform for athletes from across the continent to showcase their abilities and compete at the highest level. As India sends its team of dedicated Para Power Lifters to represent the nation, the pride and hopes of an entire country travel with them.

This moment not only highlights India’s rising prominence in global sports but also brings forth the belief that these remarkable athletes, under Tanvir’s mentorship, have the potential to clinch medals and make their nation proud.

As the team gears up for the Asian Para Games, they carry with them the dreams and aspirations of a nation. Their journey is a testament to the human spirit’s boundless potential and the transformative impact of dedicated coaching.

Tanvir Logani, Founder of CRUMACO, says: “I take immense pride in the Indian Para Powerlifting Team. I am certain that they will not only represent India but set the beacon of hope aflame by winning medals for the country.

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