- An 11-year-old has become the first patient to receive CAR-T therapy (immunotherapy) that uses the body’s own cells to fight cancer.
- CAR-T is a personalized form of cancer treatment.
- CAR-T involves removing immune cells and modifying them in a laboratory so they can recognize cancer cells.
- Immunotherapy is treatment that uses your body’s own immune system to help fight cancer
- First, the patient has blood removed and the white blood cells are separated out, with the rest of the blood being returned to the patient.
- A harmless virus is used to insert genes into T-cells, a special type of immune cell.
- These genes cause the T-cells to add a hook on to their surface, known as a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR).
- These engineered CAR-T cells – programmed to recognize and destroy the patient’s cancer cells – are multiplied in huge numbers and then infused back into the patient.
World Wetlands Day 2019
- World Wetlands Day is celebrated every year on 2 February.
- This day marks the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands on 2 February 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar on the shores of the Caspian Sea.
- The theme for 2019 is ‘Wetlands and Climate Change’.
- India currently has 27 sites designated as Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Sites).
- India has designated Sundarban Wetland as a Wetland of International Importance.
- The latest added Sunderban is located within the largest mangrove forest in the world.
- The Sundarbans encompasses hundreds of islands and a maze of rivers, rivulets and creeks, in the delta of the Rivers Ganges and Brahmaputra on the Bay of Bengal in India and Bangladesh.
- Indian Space Research Organisation will launch its latest communication satellite GSAT-31.
- The satellite is being launched on board Arianespace launch vehicle from French Guiana.
- GSAT-31 is the country’s 40th communication satellite.
- This satellite will augment the Ku-band transponder capacity in Geostationary Orbit.
- GSAT-31 will be used for supporting VSAT networks, Television uplinks, Digital Satellite News Gathering, DTH-television services, cellular backhaul connectivity and many such applications
- It also provides wide beam coverage to facilitate communication over large oceanic region, comprising large parts of Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal and Indian Ocean, using a wide band transponder.
Microbial Fuel Cell (MFC)
- A microbial fuel cell (MFC) is a bio-electrochemical device that harnesses the power of respiring microbes to convert organic substrates directly into electrical energy.
- At its core, the MFC is a fuel cell, which transforms chemical energy into electricity using oxidation reduction reactions.
- The bacteria are made to act upon the organic substrates or waste water.
- These bacteria are isolated from the very wastewater they are meant to degrade.
- They feed on the organic material in the water and break it down under anaerobic (without oxygen) conditions, releasing electrons in the process.
- The electrons are collected at the anode which results in a current in the circuit.
Hindu Kush Himalaya Assessment
- The ‘Hindu Kush Himalaya Assessment’ is released by the Kathmandu-based International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD).
- It provides insights into changes affecting one of the greatest mountain systems in the world.
- At least a third of the ice in the Himalayas and the Hindu Kush will melt down this century as temperatures rise, disrupting river flows vital for growing crops from China to India.
- And even if the “most ambitious” Paris Agreement goal of limiting global warming to 1.5° C is achieved, one-third of the glaciers would go, says the report.
Hindu Kush-Himalaya (HKH)
- HKH region covers 3500 kms across eight countries – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal and Pakistan.
- It is the source of ten major river basins including the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Indus in India.
- Two billion people are dependent on the HKH for their water needs across Asia.
- Glaciers in the HKH region are a critical water source for some 250 million people in the mountains as well as to 1.65 billion others in the river valleys below.
Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF)
- America had withdrawn from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty recently.
- The Treaty between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the Elimination of Their Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles is commonly referred to as the INF Treaty.
- The INF treaty resolved a crisis of the 1980s when the Soviet Union deployed a missile in Europe called the SS-20, capable of carrying three nuclear warheads.
- The United States responded with cruise and Pershing II missiles based in Europe.
- The treaty prohibited land-based cruise or ballistic missiles with ranges between 500 to 5000 kilometers.
- It did not cover air- or sea-launched weapons such as cruise missiles fired from ships, submarines or airplanes, although those missiles fly similar distances.
Shehri Samridhi Utsav
- Shehri Samridhi Utsav (SSU) is a pan- India initiative of Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs (MoHUA).
- It aims to extend the outreach of Deendayal Antyodaya Mission – National Urban Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NULM), to the most vulnerable.
- It further aims to showcase its initiatives and facilitate access of Self-Help Group (SHG) members to the other government schemes.
- Shehri Samridhi Utsav began with a series of rallies led by women’s’ SHGs, across the length and breadth of the country.
- These rallies spread awareness about DAY-NULM in urban poor communities.
- Through the Utsav, SHG members across cities are being linked to national government schemes.
Black Soft shell Turtle
- The rare turtle species are being bred in the ponds of Assam’s shrines.
- India hosts 28 species of turtles, of which 20 are found in Assam.
- Recently black softshells hatchings were released into the Haduk Beel (wetland) of Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary, Assam.
- The black softshell turtle (Nilssonia nigricans) figures in the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List as “extinct in the wild”.
- It is a freshwater turtle that is found in India and Bangladesh.
- Consumption of turtle meat and eggs, silt mining, encroachment of wetlands and change in flooding pattern have had a disastrous impact on the State’s turtle population.
National Statistical Commission (NSC)
- The Government of India through a resolution in 2005 set up the National Statistical Commission (NSC).
- The setting up of the NSC followed the decision of the Cabinet to accept the recommendations of the Rangarajan Commission, which reviewed the Indian Statistical System in 2001.
- The NSC was constituted with a mandate to evolve policies, priorities and standards in statistical matters.
- NSC works under the Ministry of Statistics and Program Implementation.
- The NSC has four Members besides a Chairperson, each having specialization and experience in specified statistical fields.
- The Chief Statistician of India is the Secretary of the Commission.