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Faster diagnostic tests developed for tuberculosis (TB)

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World Tuberculosis Day 2022

By Dr. Divya Khatter

Tuberculosis claims two million lives each year globally. Early detection and treatment are crucial to prevent spread, outbreaks, and development of resistance. Scientists at the Translational Health Science and Technology Institute, Faridabad and All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi have jointly developed highly sensitive and rapid tests for detection of tuberculosis infection in lungs and surrounding membranes.

TB spreads from one person to another through inhalation of infected air. When the bacteria attack the lungs, the disease manifests itself as pulmonary form. It is the most common form of TB. But about 15% of new patients in 2016 were found infected with extrapulmonary TB where organs other than lungs may be affected. Till now, detection of all forms of TB is mostly based on sputum smear microscopy and culture tests. While smear microscopy is simple and rapid, it has low sensitivity. Culture test is highly sensitive, but takes 2 to 8 weeks to get results.

Conventional diagnostic tests use antibodies for detection of bacterial proteins in sputum samples.  However, such tests suffer with limitations including batch-to-batch variability, limited shelf-life, and cost.

To address these problems, the researchers have now developed two DNA aptamer-based tests – Aptamer Linked Immobilized Sorbent Assay (ALISA) and Electrochemical Sensor (ECS) for detection of a bacterial protein in the sputum.

Aptamers are DNA, RNA or peptide molecules that bind to specific molecular targets.They are known to bind the right target (which defines sensitivity) and at the same time rule out any non-specific binding to other targets (specificity). The performance of the newly developed tests was compared with antibody-based tests in 314 sputum samples. ALISA showed 92% sensitivity while the antibody-based method was 68% sensitive.

The research team used ALISA to detect a bacterial protein, HspX. This method, however, took five hours to yield results because it requires sputum immobilization which is time-consuming step. So the team made efforts to develop a simplified ECS test. In this, aptamer was immobilized with an electrode and upon binding to HspX in the sputum sample, a drop in the electrical signal was recorded.

The ECS test can be used for screening of samples in the field as it takes as less as 30 minutes to deliver results. It is highly sensitive and could detect HspX protein in 91% of the samples tested in this study. In addition, there is no need for sputum sample preparation which is a complex and time-consuming process.

“We aim to develop aptamers for detection of multiple bacterial proteins simultaneously which is expected to lead a more robust test,” said Tarun Sharma, a member of the research team.

“The aptamer-based screening tests for pulmonary TB, pleural TB, and TB meningitis hold immense promise for a country like India, where the disease burden in high and primary health care is only a dream for many. The ECS platform could be used in a mobile screening van at the point-of-care,” explained Jaya Tyagi, who led the research team AIIMS. “We hope that these tests are adopted by the TB programs in the country,” she added.

The group used aptamer-based test also for detection of pleural TB, the second most prevalent form of extrapulmonary TB. Early diagnosis of pleural TB is limited by availability of a sensitive and rapid test. The performance of existing DNA-based tests varies widely due to low bacterial load in pleural fluid sample.

“There is no test for making a confirmed diagnosis of pleural TB. Even WHO-endorsed Gene Xpert has a poor sensitivity of 22%. On the contrary, our aptamer-based test for pleural TB has showed 93% sensitivity and is cost-effective,” explained Sagarika Haldar, a member of the research team, while speaking to India Science Wire.

The research teams were led by Dr. Jaya Tyagi (AIIMS), Dr. Tarun Sharma and Dr. Sagarika Haldar (THSTI) and included people from both the institutes. The pulmonary TB results were published in journal ACS Infectious Diseases and the pleural TB results were published in Analytical Biochemistry. The studies were funded by the Department of Biotechnology, Department of Science and Technology, and THSTI.

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PlayStation 5 Pro featuring upgraded AMD chip, liquid cooling may hit markets in April 2023

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PlayStation 5 Pro and Slim concept

The PlayStation 5 pro may hit the markets as early as April 2023. Sony may unveil the upgraded PS5 model first and skip or more likely delay the launch of the rumored PS5 slim, according to a report.

Quoting insider information from reliable sources, PhonAndroid reported that a PlayStation 5 pro is in the works and could launch as early as April 2023, nearly two and a half years after the launch of the base PlayStation 5 in 2020.

The report claims the upgraded console will be powered by a more powerful AMD RDNA3 chip compared to the previous custom RDNA2 processor. Sony is even considering to equip the PlayStation Pro with a PC-esque liquid cooling system for more efficient heat dissipation.

The new liquid cooling will certainly offer better heat dissipation compared to the cooling the current base model which packs a liquid metal compound, paired with a cooling fan.

Enhanced cooling means the console’s GPU won’t get throttled in demanding games will run more smoothly. However, it may also mean that Sony may go for a design change to accommodate liquid cooling.

The report adds that Sony might sell off its PS5 stock before the arrival of the PS5 Pro. The new model is also expected to be significantly more expensive than the base version. In addition, the PS5 Pro might not be produced in sufficient numbers due to the current equipment shortage.

However, all these leaks should be taken with a grain of salt as Sony has not yet confirmed a PS5 Pro or a PS5 slim.

The Japanese tech giant is expected to unveil the next iteration of the iconic console series at its next State of Play event.

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Itel launches A24 Pro smartphone for less than Rs 5,000, check specs and features

The Chinese smartphone manufacturer Itel finally launched its A24 Pro under the price segment of Rs 5,000. Interested customers can purchase the handset from the online shopping platform Amazon or Flipkart.

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Itel A24 Pro smartphone

The Chinese smartphone manufacturer Itel finally launched its A24 Pro under the price segment of Rs 5,000. Interested customers can purchase the handset from the online shopping platform Amazon or Flipkart. From two camera setups at the back and the latest and advanced processor, the compact design handset comes with all the features that are usually offered by expensive smartphones.

The entry-level phone has been launched with 5 inches of large-high-quality display, which will allow users to have an HD-quality of experience while using or watching videos on the phone. Apart from this, the handset also supports 4K video quality which will also provide an improved viewing experience to the customers.

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Know everything about budget Itel A24 Pro smartphone

Itel A24 Pro smartphone has a 5-inch IPS LCD display. The resolution of the screen is 850 x 480 pixels, which will provide HD resolution to the users. However, the company did not include any fingerprint sensor or scanner, but it has a face scanner to unlock the handset.

To increase its worth, the company has also given 32 GB of inbuilt storage on the entry-level smartphone, which can be expanded via using the microSD card.

Inside the hood, the handset has Android 12 (Go edition), which makes it very easy to process heavy applications without any lag. As far as the camera is concerned, it comes a 2-megapixel camera with LED flash at the rear. For selfies, the firm has provided a 0.3-megapixel lens that captures good-quality images even in low light.

It also has a 3,020 mAh battery that works almost all day long once the smartphone gets fully charged. The company claimed that at the price under Rs 5,000, the company will definitely gonna woo all the customers who were looking to purchase a budget smartphone

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Amazon Great Republic Day sale: From kitchen appliances to smartphones, here’s best deal

If you are someone who wanted to purchase some home appliances or smartphones at an affordable price and has been waiting for the online sale to start, then this is your chance to grab the offers as today is the last of Amazon’s end-of-season sale named Great Day Republic Sale.

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Amazon Great Republic Day sale

If you are someone who wanted to purchase some home appliances or smartphones at an affordable price and has been waiting for the online sale to start, then this is your chance to grab the offers as today is the last of Amazon’s end-of-season sale named Great Day Republic Sale.

During the sale, the e-commerce platform has listed the top hot-selling products at massive discounts. In order to attract new customers, Amazon also partnered with leading bank SBI to provide additional offers to its customers.

Here’s a list of discounted items during Amazon’s sale

The online shopping platform has listed the Philips Mixer Grinder, which was release at a starting price of almost Rs 5000, but interested customers can grab the deal at Rs 3,399.

NutriPro Juicer Mixer Grinder

Amazon also listed NutriPro’s juicer mixer at the discounted price of Rs 18,49. The company launched this product at the starting price of Rs 5000, which means customers are saving Rs 3,151 on this deal.

The shopping platform has introduced several offers on Apple items, including the MacBook and the iPhone series. Interested customers can purchase MacBook Air 2020 at the discounted price of Rs. 87,000, while the introductory price of the laptop was Rs. 1,00,000.

Apple iPhone 13

Those who wanted to purchase the latest and one of the hot-selling products from Apple iPhone 13 128 GB, which was launched at Rs 79,900, can be now purchased during the sale at Rs 60,000. The firm also introduced exchange offers on the same, which will reduce the price further.

Discount on smartwatches

Online shopping also introduced some eye-catching discounts on feature-loaded smartphone watches during its republic day sale. Interested customers can grab the Redmi Watch 2 Lite. The gadget has been listed on the website at a discounted price of Rs 2,499.

Read Also: Delhi Police beef up security ahead of Republic Day, additional pickets in place, more patrolling

Apple iPhone 12

The feature-loaded Apple iPhone 12 128 GB that created a buzz since its launch also has been listed at the discounted price of Rs 56,999. In this deal, interested customers can save almost Rs 16,000.

Samsung Galaxy M13

The company also listed Samsung’s hot-selling product Galaxy M13, which was launched at the starting price of Rs 51,999, and can be purchased at a discounted price of Rs 39,999

The handset comes with the advanced A14 Bionic chipset that allows users to have a smooth experience while operating heavy applications.

Apple iPhone 11 

Launched in 2019 at Rs 64,000, iPhone 11 64 GB now can be purchased at the discounted price of Rs 37,999. SBI debit card and credit users can enjoy an additional Rs 5000 instant discount on the deal.

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