IIT MADRAS RESEARCHERS SHOW THE WAY TO TREAT HIV-AIDS - The Daily Guardian
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IIT MADRAS RESEARCHERS SHOW THE WAY TO TREAT HIV-AIDS

Preeti Sompura

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Indian Institute of Technology Madras researchers are working on a revolutionary new idea that can pave the way to effective drugs for treating HIV/AIDS. Using molecular dynamics simulations, the research team have shown that introducing electrostatic interaction sites on potential drug molecules can enhance the efficacy of the antiviral drug against the HIV virus.

This research was led by Prof. Sanjib Senapati, Department of Biotechnology, IIT Madras, along with his research scholars, Mr. Mohammed Ahsan and Ms. Chinmai Pindi. The results of their ground-breaking work have recently been published in the prestigious peer-review Journal of the American Chemical Society – Biochemistry.

AIDS is one of the most devastating diseases and is a major cause of death among youth in many parts of the world. Since its outbreak nearly four decades ago, tremendous efforts have been directed towards development of antiretroviral therapies that target different stages in the life cycle of the virus that causes this deadly disease.

The pressing need for better drugs to combat drug-resistant HIV strains led researchers such as Prof. Sanjib Senapati to delve into the molecular structure of the protease to identify weak sites that can offer a handle for better inhibitor development. One of the routes that drug developers work on is to attack is HIV-1 protease (HIVPR), an essential enzyme that is used by the AIDS virus for growth and maturation. Drug designers have aimed at developing efficient inhibitors of the enzyme – inhibitors are molecules that bind with the enzyme, thereby making it unavailable to the virus for growth and maturation.

Elaborating on this research, Prof. Sanjib Senapati, Department of Biotechnology, IIT Madras, said, “Current inhibitors that target HIVPR make use of the weak forces of attraction called ‘van der Waal’s forces’ to attach themselves to the protease molecule. Given that these forces are weak, the efficacy of the drug is variable and the virus will soon become resistant to them.”

Recent useful data obtained using analytical techniques such as neutron diffraction and NMR, on the molecular structure of the target HVPR enzyme, have encouraged Prof. Sanjib Senapati to re-visit the patterns of HVPR-inhibitor binding. By using state-of-art computational techniques his team has uncovered vital data that can be used for design of more efficacious drugs.

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Delhi HC asks Animal Welfare Board, Vasant Kunj RWA to identify spot for feeding street dogs

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New Delhi [India], February 27 (ANI): The Delhi High Court on Wednesday directed the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) and Residents Welfare Association (RWA) of Vasant Kunj to hold a meeting with residents of the area and the petitioners to identify a spot for feeding and taking care of street dogs.
A single-judge bench of Justice Prathiba M Singh directed AWBI to send two of its representatives to the RWA and hold a meeting on March 8 to decide on an appropriate spot for feeding the dogs.
During the meeting, the members of AWBI and RWA were asked to interact with the residents in the area, along with the petitioners, and identify a spot, “which is not used by children, senior citizens and other residents”, so that the said specified spot can be used for the purpose of feeding and taking care of street dogs.
“Once the said spot is identified, the Petitioners would feed and take care of the street dogs at that particular spot, and no hindrance, whatsoever, shall be caused to the Petitioners in carrying out any activities in respect of the street dogs at the said spot,” the court said.
The court said that the Station House Officer (SHO) of the area concerned should also be present at the time when the meeting would be held between the RWA and petitioners along with representatives of AWBI, and it will be the duty of the SHO concerned to ensure that peace and harmony is maintained amongst the residents of the area so that no harassment is caused to the Petitioners by RWA and vice versa.
The court order came while hearing a plea filed by Urvashi Vashist and two other animal lovers through lawyers Abhik Chimni and Lakshay Garg.
The petitioners, who give care to and feed the street dogs in Sector E Pocket 2, Vasant Kunj, New Delhi, have filed the petition against the Residents Welfare Association, which, according to them, is creating hindrances in feeding the street dogs and also in taking care of them.
Advocate Chimni, representing the petitioners submitted that whenever the petitioners are trying to feed the street dogs, enormous resistance is caused by the local residents.
The court noted that in an earlier order it had given various directions including one to AWBI, in consultation with the RWAs, to identify suitable spots in the various colonies for the feeding of street dogs.
“However, appears that there has been no consensus in identifying the suitable spot and the RWA appears to have been having apprehensions in view of the fact that children and senior residents also roam around in the open area of the block, for their own recreation,” the court noted. (ANI)

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RSS destroyed institutional balance in country: Rahul Gandhi

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Thoothukudi (Tamil Nadu) [India], February 27 (ANI): Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Saturday said that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has destroyed the institutional balance in the country by ‘systematically attacking elected institutions and free press’ for the last six years.
Explaining his statement at VOC College in Thoothukudi, Rahul Gandhi said, “A nation is a balance between its institutions, if that balance is disturbed then the nation is disturbed. That is the central idea. What are the institutions that make up the Indian nation? There are elected institutions Lok Sabha, Vidhan Sabhas, Panchayats. There is the judiciary, there is a supporting free press. These institutions together, they hold the nation together in place.”
“What we have seen over the last six years, is a systematic attack on all these institutions. Democracy does not die with a bang, it dies slowly and I am sad to tell you that democracy in India is dead. It doesn’t exist anymore. It is dead because one organization, the RSS has combined with huge finances to penetrate and disturb and destroy our institutional balance. That is what is happened,” he said.
“There are many different manifestations of this. Misuse of sedition law, the killing of people, threatening of people. These are all symptoms of the problem. But the problem is that the concentration of the capital has combined with the organization of the RSS and has disturbed and destroyed the institutional balance in the country,” the Wayanad MP said.
He said that there are multiple other balances that are also being distorted. “Remember India is a union of states, so all states come together to form the nation. When you destroy the institutional balance of the country, you also destroy the negotiation between the states. Because if all states do not have equal say then the power balance between those states is disturbed. And that is a serious problem for any country and that is what we are facing,” he said.
The Congress leader added, “I think the spirit of this meeting is to understand what is happening and to defend the Indian nation and its institutions from this brutal assault which is taking place.”
“Question isn’t whether Prime Minister is useful or useless. Question is who is he useful to? PM is extremely useful to 2 people i.e. ‘Hum do Humare Do’, who are using him to increase their wealth and useless to the poor,” Rahul Gandhi said while replying to a question at VOC College.
Tamil Nadu assembly elections will be held in a single phase on April 6 and the counting of votes will be done on May 2, the Election Commission of India (ECI) announced on Friday.
With this announcement, the model code of conduct comes into force. The assembly elections in the southern state are important for the national as well as the regional political parties.
Polls will be held for 234 seats in Tamil Nadu with the Congress-DMK and BJP-AIADMK alliance being the major groups contesting against each other. (ANI)
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Keralites wont buy into Rahul Gandhi’s gimmicks, says KJ Alphons

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New Delhi [India], February 27 (ANI): Former union minister and BJP Rajya Sabha MP KJ Alphons on Saturday slammed Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for blaming the Central Government for being apathetic to fishermen.
“The NDA government formed a separate ministry for fishermen. We earmarked 20,000 crores for the fisheries sector in the corona stimulus package. What had Congress done for fishermen in their 70 years of rule?” said Alphons.
“Rahul Gandhi does not read or listen to anything. His recent gimmicks in Kerala may give him the prime time coverage of news channels, the people of Kerala will not buy into these gimmicks,” he said further.
Alphons also expressed hope that the BJP will come up with exceptional performance in the upcoming Kerala Assembly elections.
“In 40 constituencies we have polled more than 30,000 votes in the previous election. We just have to garner a total of 50,000 votes to win,” he said.
“We have credible and esteemed people like Metro Man E Sreedharan joining us which have improved our chances,” he further said.
He also said that the Left Democratic Front (LDF) and United Democratic Front (UDF) “have a pathetic track record in the past 65 years”.
“The LDF government has been closely involved with the gold smuggling racket in Thiruvananthapuram and recently the ‘Deep-sea fishing’ controversy has also come to light,” he added. (ANI)

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Attukal Pongala: Devotees in Kerala to offer rituals at homes amid COVID-19

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Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala) [India], February 27 (ANI): Amid the COVID-19 outbreak, lakhs of devotees took part in the auspicious Attukal Pongala on Saturday.
This year, devotees are not allowed to offer ‘Pongala’ in public places or on roads side. But people can make the offering from their homes. Devotees will be allowed to enter the temple as per the COVID protocol.
The festival is all about the annual ritualistic offering — namely “Pongala” cooked with rice, jaggery and coconut in earthen pots — to the presiding deity of the Attukal Temple by women.
A large number of people today reached the temple to offer prayers.
The Pongala offering at the temple will be limited to the main hearth.
In the wake of COVID-19, temple authorities and district administration have decided to conduct pongala at devotee’s homes by following COVID-19 guidelines.
District collector Navjoth Singh Ghosa has declared a holiday on Saturday for the Thiruvananthapuram district and has asked people to follow COVID-19 protocols while offering pongala at homes.
Last year, the festival was conducted with restrictions due to COVID-19.
In 2009, the festival found a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the largest gathering of women (2.5 million). (ANI)

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Home Secretary Level talks: India, Bangladesh decide to enhance cooperation to prevent fake currency, contraband smuggling

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New Delhi [India], February 27 (ANI): Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Bangladesh scheduled next month, both countries agreed to enhance the level of cooperation to prevent smuggling of Fake Indian Currency Notes (FICN) and contraband across borders during the 19th Home Secretary Level Talks (HSLT) on Saturday.
According to an official release issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), the 19th HSLT between India and Bangladesh was held virtually today in the backdrop of ‘MujibBarsho’, 50 years of Bangladesh Liberation War and the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries.
The Indian delegation was led by Ajay Kumar Bhalla, Union Home Secretary. Mostafa Kamal Uddin, Senior Secretary, Public Security Division, Ministry of Home Affairs of Bangladesh led the Bangladesh delegation.
“Both sides discussed early completion of pending fencing along the Indo-Bangladesh Border (IBB) as agreed by the Prime Ministers of the two countries,” said MHA.
It added that both sides appreciated the cooperation between the two countries and the action taken to address the menace of terrorism and extremism in an effective manner.
“The effective functioning of the Coordinated Border Management Plan (CBMP) to control the illegal cross border activities was appreciated by both sides. Both sides also agreed to further enhance the level of cooperation to prevent the smuggling of FICN and contraband,” MHA added. (ANI)

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Pralhad Joshi, Muraleedharan visit family of RSS worker killed in SDPI-RSS clash in Kerala

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Alappuzha (Kerala) [India], February 27 (ANI): Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi along with Union Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan on Saturday visited the house of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) worker Nandu R Krishna, who was allegedly killed by Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) members in Cherthala on Wednesday.
“Visited the residence of a bright 26-year-old RSS Karyakarta, Nandu R Krishna, who was hacked to death recently by SDPI activists in Alappuzha, Kerala. Also visited the residence of Nandu who was injured seriously in the incident,’ tweeted Joshi after the visit.
Speaking to the media after the visit, Muraleedharan accused that the Kerala government of not arresting the ‘real culprits’.
“They are not arresting the real culprits. Nandu R Krishna was brutally killed by an armed group with direct links to the Popular Front of India (PFI). Every time, organisations that are banned pop up in different names,” he said.
He said that there is no point in going after ‘names’ but there should be effective control in place to check such extremist groups are not given a free run. “Under Pinarayi Vijayan’s patronage, Jihadi extremists are getting a free-run and perpetrators are going scot-free,” said Muraleedharan.
He further said the Centre is closely following the issues and a possible ‘ban’ on such extremist elements is under consideration. “Centre is aware of what is going on and we will take an appropriate decision soon on such extremist groups,” he added.
The incident took place last Wednesday night, when after a march, SDPI and RSS workers clashed and an RSS worker was killed allegedly by some SDPI activists.
The police had arrested eight SDPI activists in connection with the incident. (ANI)

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