1. Gardasil and Cervarix
  2. Vomiting Larry
  3. Acute flaccid paralysis (AFP)
  4. Virtopsy
  5. Health communication
  6. COPSS Award
  7. Mauritia
  8. DNA as a storage device
  9. Hydrogel
  10. Saliva functions
  11. Banana peel
  12. Bio-inspired technology
  13. Lizard : Adhesives
  14. Velcro: Maroolimatthai
  15. Porcupin: Surgical Patches

Gardasil and Cervarix

  • names of the new HPV vaccines made by GlaxoSmithKline.
  • The Health activists say it is not properly tested, they’ve filled PIL in supreme court. their arguments
  1. Though both vaccines are claimed to prevent cervical cancer, the truth is cervical cancer takes twenty or more years to develop. The vaccines have just not been around that long to prove their efficacy!
  2. neither of these vaccines had been studied to determine their potential to cause cancer

Vomiting Larry

Vomiting Larry

Vomiting Larry

Larry is a “humanoid simulated vomiting system” designed by British scientists. It is being use to how norovirus spreads.

Acute flaccid paralysis (AFP)

  • Polio is a disease caused by a virus.
  • But AFP can also arise for other reasons, including infection by non-polio pathogens.
  • No child in India has been diagnosed with polio for nearly two years now and all the indications are that the virus responsible for it is no longer circulating here.
  • However, the country’s polio surveillance system has indicated a sharp increase during recent years in the number of non-polio AFP cases.
  • most of the country’s non-polio AFP cases occur in just two States — Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
  • cases of children with non-polio AFP were not being monitored by either the polio eradication programme or the larger state health care system.
  • As a result, there is no clear picture of what was causing the AFP, the kind of diseases these children displayed, or how many of them were seriously affected


  • Autopsy=examination and dissection of a dead body to determine cause of death.
  • Previously, doctors would use scalpel, cut the chest open and examine tissues.
  • Often, relatives of the dead donot agree for autopsies because of the disfigurement caused by such cutting and incisions.
  • Now scientists have come up with a non-invasive technique for conducting autopsy. This is called “Virtopsy”(=virtual autopsy).
  • Here, doctor examines the corpse in 3-D via computer screens.


  • Virtopsy combine the images from high-powered magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT) and surface scans of dead bodies.
  • Combined, the devices are referred to as a “virtobot”.
  • The technique allows the detection of injuries such as lesions and blows often undetectable during a traditional autopsy, as well as air pockets, heart attacks and even cancer.
  • The method has already allowed the discovery of haemorrhages and fractures that were not picked up during conventional autopsies.

Health communication

  • It means generating awareness among population regarding a particular disease.
  • In India, two most successful examples of Health communication =polio + HIV

#1: Polio

  • Polio messaging for example was built on simple idea — two drops that could save your child’s life. This message was everywhere — from print, TV and radio from the more urban and semi-urban audiences and on roadsides, on the back of buses and lorries and in small village fairs.
  • A host of agencies worked together to develop this multi-pronged strategy
  • It was led by communication professionals. (and not doctors)
  • This helped in creating multiple strategies to engage diverse audiences.

#2: HIV

  • HIV was perhaps India’s most complex disease communication exercise
  • Because our Indian society has deep-rooted double standards, limited women’s rights and a complete lack of conversation on sexuality and sexual diversity. So talking about HIV may have been impossible. But Government took help of external agencies, communication professionals.
  • thus HIV campaign used every possible medium and celebrities to transmit messages on prevention, on treatment and on stigma.


  • Finally, public health authorities need to take up public health communications as a priority. (because prevention better than cure.)
  • Health communication needs to be managed by communication professionals and not doctors.
  • Public health communication must be multi-pronged, regionally suitable and easy to absorb.


  • In USA, this award is given to young statisticians below 40 years.
  • Dr. Nilanjan Chatterjee won the COPSS for  his overall contribution to the field of genetics and biostatistics.
  • He found that Smoking causes lung cancer, but smoking alone does not determine who will develop lung cancer.
  • A person may have some good genes that reduce the risk of lung cancer. So what might be important to know is what kind of genetic background a person may have to know if he is prone to lung cancer.


  • It is a submerged continent in the Indian Ocean, recently found.
  • lies under Mauritius and extends more than 1,000 km northwards till Seychelles.
  • First scientists found crystals called zircons on Mauritian beaches.
  • Zircons are resistant to erosion or chemical change and some of the ones they found were almost two billion years old, much older than any of the regular soil or sand samples found on nearby islands.
  • Scientists thought such old crystals could only belong to a submerged continent.
  • they consulted satellite data which can help detect submerged land masses.
  • this continent Mauritia may have existed as an archipelago, a cluster of islands squeezed in between Madagascar and the Indian subcontinent.
  • Study of this continent can help us in better exploration of oil and gas in the oceans.

DNA as a storage device

  • Scientists are working to use DNA as a storage device. (like how computer can store information in form of 0 and 1). Similarly DNA could also save information using its 4 bases ACTG
Advantages Problems
  • DNA is a long-lived, stable and easily synthesized storage hard drive. While the current electronic storage devices require active and continued aintenance and regular transferring between storage media
  • DNA based storage needs no active maintenance. Just store in a cool, dark and dry place!
Data reading, writing speed is slow and expensive at the moment.


  • myocardial infarction= when heart tissue is destroyed, it blocks the oxygen supply to heart muscles.
  • When cells of heart do not receive oxygen= they get permanently damaged.
  • Such damaged heart cells cannot regenerate, thus a thick scar develops in heart.
  • This is where Hydrogel can help.
  • Hydrogel is derived from a pig’s heart.
  • The basic function of the gel is to provide a scaffold (platform) for new heart cells to form.
  • Thus hydrogel can the damaged heart recover and function like a healthy one.

Saliva functions

The function of saliva (watering in mouth) is to

  1. destroy pathogenic bacteria,
  2. help in swallowing the food
  3. serve as a solvent for the molecules that stimulate taste buds
  • aid speech by facilitating movements of lips and tongue.
  • It also helps to neutralize gastric acid when there is regurgitation (reflex act of ejecting the contents of the stomach through the mouth)
  • reduces heart burn
  • In humans, the sight, smell and even thought of food causes salivationThis is because the salivary secretion is conditioned. Ivan Pavlov’s classical experiments of conditioned reflex: A bell was rung just before the meat was placed in the dog’s mouth, and this was repeated a number of times until the animal would salivate when the bell was rung even though no meat was placed in its mouth.
  • Salivation by humans on the sight, smell or thought of the tasty food is, therefore, a conditioned reflex.

Banana peel

  • Banana peel stays yellow for a much longer time when it is covering the fruit, but when we remove it, peel turns black in a few minutes. Why?
  • Blackening of the banana peel is due to the presence of an enzyme, which is oxygen dependent.
  • As soon as we peel the banana the inner portion, the inner skin, gets exposed to atmospheric oxygen much more than when it is still covering the fruit.
  • Inner skin is thin compared to outer layer.
  • While peeling, inner-skin cells get damaged and liberate chemicals known as amines.
  • This leaked out amines come into contact with enzymes present closely in the inner skin.
  • This results in immediate oxidation in the presence of atmospheric oxygen = peel turns black.
  • But this enzymatic reaction needs a little warmer conditions. That is why in summer and hot conditions even the outer skin turns brown, black faster compared to that in cooler environment.
  • Not only banana, fruits like apples, grapes and vegetables like potato, raw banana also turn brown, black on peeling due to the presence of that enzyme
  • Since bananas are tropical fruits the cells get damaged due to chill injury when we refrigerate them – unlike apples which are temperate fruits which can be stored in the fridge safely.

Bio-inspired technology

  • It is new branch of science and technology.
  • It learns from the properties and behaviour of plants and animals, particularly their modes of defence and offence
  • Then it attempts to produce new technological products, inspired by these properties. For example

Lizard : Adhesives

  • A household lizard can run effortlessly on the ceiling, defying gravity and without dropping off to the floor.
  • Because the palms of lizard, contains millions of tiny hairs.
  • These hairs attach to the surface through very weak attractive forces called the van der Waals interaction.
  • The force of each hair is negligible, but put together thousand and millions of them, and that adds up to considerable strength. If you shave of these hairlets, lizard will become not be able to climb walls.
  • After understanding this phenomenon, scientists have been able to make tape-based adhesives (like ‘Post It’).

Velcro: Maroolimatthai

  • Cocklebur flowers plant is found in Madurai region of Tamilnadu. Locally known as Maroolimatthai.
  • This plant has a number of small ball-like flowers
  • Each of them has lots of short pin-like hairs all around, which stick to your socks and clothes.
  • A swiss scientist studied this structure designed Velcro, the hook-and-loop fastener.

Porcupin: Surgical Patches

  • Porcupin is a large rodent. It carries as many as over 30,000 quills on the back surface of its body.
  • The quill has an unique structure, it allows for easy penetration into the skin and beneath, but extremely painful during its removal or extraction.
  • The tip of quill is very sharp hence enables easy penetration.
  • But when it has to be removed by pulling it out, each of the barbs resists by opening up (a bit like an umbrella), adhering to the skin, damaging it.
  • Now scientists are creating synthetic quills using polymers.
  • Such a biomimetic or bio-inspired polymer patch would be useful for the development of mechanically interlocking tissue adhesives or needles, trocars and surgical staples.

For more articles on science-tech, visit Mrunal.org/snt