1. RUPEE ON A ROLL IN 2017
SOURCE – HINDU
RELEVANCE -GS MAINS -III . EFFECTS OF LIBERALIZATION ON THE ECONOMY
- After falling 2.6% against the dollar in 2016, the rupee is on a roll in 2017. In this calendar year, the rupee is one of the best performing Asian currencies which has strengthened 5.9% against the dollar.
- It is the best performing currency in Asia after the Thai Baht, the Singapore dollar, and the Taiwanese dollar. On August 4, when it touched 63.56 against the dollar, it was on a two-year high, since July 22, 2015.
WHEN DID THE TURNAROUND BEGIN ?
- The Union Budget in which Finance Minister showed a resolve to stick to the path of fiscal discipline and the government’s thrust on reforms boosted investors’ confidence.
- The budget was followed by the monetary policy of the central bank which changed its stance from accommodative to neutral, indicating it wanted to keep inflation under check.
- This further boosted investor sentiment — as reflected in the rise of the equity indices — both Sensex and Nifty touching all-time highs in recent weeks.
WHAT IS THE WORRY ?
- One of the downside risks of the rupee’s recent rising spree is that a large part of the import portfolio is unhedged.
- Hedging would have helped companies with foreign currency exposure to shield themselves from fluctuations in rates.
- According to State Bank of India’s estimate, at least 40% of the importers’ portfolio is unhedged.
- In 2013, when the rupee was tumbling, the unhedged position of exporters was seen as a major worry for banks.
- Now, it is mandated that banks have to set aside capital, in terms of provision, if their corporate clients don’t hedge their portfolio.
- The rupee also appreciated about 3.7% against the Chinese Renminbi since February. This has resulted in a surge in cheaper imports from China.
- Industries such as electrical equipment; motor vehicles, trailers and semi-trailers; fabricated metal products; and chemical industries are showing negative growth in the past few months.
2. IIT GUWAHATI DEVELOPS SILK PATCH TO REPAIR DAMAGED HEART TISSUE
SOURCE – HINDU
RELEVANCE -GS MAINS -III . INDIGENIZATION OF TECHNOLOGY AND DEVELOPING NEW TECHNOLOGY
- Scientists at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Guwahati have fabricated a 3D cardiac tissue patch using silk protein membranes seeded with heart muscle cells. The patch can potentially be used for regenerating damaged heart tissue.
- The 3D patch that has been fabricated can be implanted at the site of damage to help the heart regain normal function. It can also be used for sealing holes in the heart.
- Cardiac tissue gets permanently damaged when oxygen supply is reduced or cut off during a heart attack. The damaged portion gets scarred and does not contract and relax, which over time leads to a change in the shape of the heart and reduced pumping capacity.
- While currently available grafts fail to mimic the structure and the function of the native heart tissue as well as maintain high cell numbers, the patch developed by the IIT Guwahati researchers scores over these on many counts.
- Silk proteins extracted from raw silk were used for fabricating the membrane by using a mould. The nano-groove structure on the mould was transferred to the silk membrane and this helped guide the heart muscle to grow in a linear fashion and parallel to each other thus mimicking the heart tissue structure.
SEEDING THE SILK
- Heart cell lines and cells taken from the heart tissue were used for seeding the silk membrane.
- The presence of certain cell-binding protein sequences (RGD motifs) and greater surface roughness of the non-mulberry silk, which is endemic to north-east India (locally called muga silk), facilitated better anchorage and cell binding.
- The cells grew and proliferated, filling the membrane 7-10 days after it was seeded.
- As heart tissue continuously contracts and relaxes, the engineered tissue should have good elasticity.
- The muga silk exhibited good elasticity and mechanical strength comparable to native heart tissue.
MAKING A 3D PATCH
- The single membranes with proliferating cells were then stacked one over the other to form a 3D patch.In 5-6 days, the cells present on top of the membrane bound to the membrane above it leading to the layers sticking to each other.
- Stacking the membranes to form a 3D patch overcomes the drawbacks of current scaffolds used for cardiac tissue engineering in terms of creating a high cell dense anisotropic patch, a foremost requirement for this tissue.
- The silk in the patch supports the cells till the newly formed cardiac tissue integrates with the native heart tissue and degrades once the integration takes place.
- This method is better than the conventional direct delivery of cardiac cells to repair the damaged portion of the heart as the cells get washed out from the injected site.
3. SCIENTISTS GENE – EDIT PIGLETS , BRING TRANSPLANTS TO HUMANS CLOSER
SOURCE – HINDU
RELEVANCE – GS PRELIMS (the bold words and sentences)
- Scientists have successfully edited the genetic code of piglets to remove dormant viral infections, a breakthrough that could eventually pave the way for animal-to-human organ transplants.
- Their work, documented in the journal Science on Thursday, could save lives by reducing organ donor waiting lists.
- Harvard University geneticists George Church and Luhan Yang, together with a team of Danish and Chinese collaborators, placed edited embryonic cells into a chemical cocktail that encouraged growth and overcame the destructive effect inherent in the modification process.
- They then used a standard cloning technique to insert the edited DNA into egg cells that were placed into a surrogate mother.
- The team had now produced 37 piglets free of the porcine endogenous retroviruses (PERVs).
- It is not clear whether PERVs would infect humans who receive pig organs, but lab studies have shown human cells can be infected by the viruses in a dish.
- Humans can already receive pig heart valves and pancreases, but scientists have long sought to make their entire organs, which grow to around human size, available for harvest.
- But the goal of xenotransplantation remains some way off.
- Researchers still need to edit pig genes to avoid triggering a human immune system reaction and prevent toxic interactions in blood.
- These steps “are probably more challenging” than removing the dormant infections.