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    Bengaluru :

    City scientists have found a new molecule that can enhance the efficiency of the autophagy process in brain cells, that can significantly reduce their degeneration, which is the cause of diseases like Parkinson’s.

    The scientists have initiated procedures to patent the process of discovery and the molecule itself -a potential drug -both of which have already been peer reviewed by international scientists.

    Autophagy is our body’s housekeeping mechanism: a process where healthy cells clean up toxic proteins, preventing them from aggregating and killing the cells. While research on autophagy first emerged in the 1960s, a lot of serious work has happened in the past decade or so. In fact, the 2016 Nobel Prize for physiology or medicine went to Japan’s Yoshinori Ohsumi for his work in autophagy.

    A major reason for diseases like Parkinson’s -which don’t have a cure yet -is aggregation of toxic proteins and inefficient autophagy or the complete lack of it, thereby resulting in the death of brain cells (neurodegeneration).

    The new molecule, 6-Bio, discovered by scientists from the molecular biology and genetics unit (MBGU) at Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), acts an autophagy modulator.”It (6-Bio) is capable of restoring autophagy and aid clearance of toxic protein aggregates, which otherwise form clumps and kill neu rons (brain cells),” said Ravi Manjithaya from MBGU.

    Lead author of the paper S N Suresh

    Lead author of the paper S N Suresh

    Unlike most other cells in the body, neurons aren’t easily replaceable, which means that once they are lost, they cannot be recovered. The research was led by Manjithaya and the lead author of the scientific paper was S N Suresh, a PhD student at MBGU under Manjithaya. Aravinda Chavalmane and Shashank Rai also contributed to the research.

    What does 6-BIO do ?

    The molecule enables neuroprotection by autophagy. It augments the efficiency of the autophagy process by enhancing the basal level (the speed at which autophagy happens). “Simply put, it quickens the process of cells taking bad proteins, which have formed clumps, to the cleanroom,” Manjithaya said. The research found a popular protein called GSK-3 Beta (a glycogen synthase protein) doesn’t allow autophagy to take place at a fast pace in brains cells affected by Parkinson’s and other similar diseases. “Our molecule removes this and quickens the process of autophagy,” he said.

    Tests and publishing

    The findings were published in Autophagy, a scientific journal edited by autophagy scientist Daniel J Klionsky.”Before sending them for peer review and publishing, we conducted tests in our lab, which were positive,” Manjithaya said.
    Bad proteins which were found to cause neurodegenerative diseases were produced in yeast, which reacted in the same way as our brain cells. “The proteins began to form clumps and kill the yeast. We then introduced 6-Bio into the yeast and saw if it could prevent the death of the cells. It worked,” Manjithaya explained. A large part of Nobel laureate Ohsumi’s work on autophagy involved experiments on yeast.

    Following this, the team tested 6-Bio on a mouse whose brain cells behaved like those of patients with Parkinson’s, and the results were positive again.

    They teamed up with James Chelliah and Abhik Paul from JNCASR’s Chelliah Lab and Phalguni Alladi, Vidyadhara DJ and Yarreiphang Haorei from Nimhans. Researchers said the discovery is not a magical cure for Parkinson’s but a breakthrough that can help find a therapeutic solution.

    source: / The Times of India / News> City News> Bangalore News / Chethan Kumar / TNN / May 23rd, 2017

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    A selfie moment at Agumbe view point in Western Ghats of Karnataka. | Photo Credit: K. Murali Kumar

    A selfie moment at Agumbe view point in Western Ghats of Karnataka. | Photo Credit: K. Murali Kumar

    Karnataka Tourism’s maiden offer includes a tour of Mysuru and Kodagu

    In what is being touted as the first of its kind by a State-run tourism corporation in the country, the Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation (KSTDC) has decided to offer a ‘women’s special’ tour package.

    The package, a three-day, two-night tour of Mysuru and Kodagu, promises to be a unique experience for women travellers.

    Priced at ₹6,406 (for a 39-seater) and ₹4,596 (for a 31-seater bus), the package provides a bus for women, accommodation at KSTDC properties, and guides to help. “Our itinerary is such that women can enjoy nature, adventure, culture, architecture, and shopping. There is also a visit to a silk factory, and time to relax at coffee and spice plantations,” said an official. The package has been launched on a pilot basis.

    Officials said they had received feedback and enquiries from potential travellers though the trip was yet to commence. The tour would become operational when a minimum of 35 passengers signed up.

    Although rooms in KSTDC hotels were on a twin-sharing basis, single travellers could be accommodated in single rooms depending on the availability, the officials added. More destinations were likely to be added to the package based on the response to the Mysuru-Kodagu offer.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> News> States> Karnataka / by K.C. Deepika / Bengaluru – May 22nd, 2017

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    For amateur astronomers who are fascinated by stars, the sky is never the limit. They look beyond it, for galaxies, stars, satellites, meteors and more. While the city’s surrounding areas offer good opportunities for stargazers, of late Bengaluru has been seeing a rise in another kind of space enthusiasm — astrophotography.

    Astrophotography is the art and science of photographing objects in space. While an amateur stargazer can only retell his experiences, these photographers capture them in pictures for all to see.

    “Astrophotography is picking up fast. We have a Facebook group called Indian Amateur Astrophotographer that has over 3,600 members across India. Many of them are from the city,” says Keerthi Kiran M., a system engineer who is also a member of the Bangalore Astronomical Society (BAS), a Google group with over 3,000 members that promotes astronomy as a hobby.

    BAS organises regular workshops on astrophotography and talks by experts. According to Mr. Kiran, many of the group’s members are now trying out astrophotography.

    Subhankar Saha, who participated in one the workshops, took up astrophotography six years ago. “Having a basic knowledge in astronomy helped me. The best season for stargazing and astrophotography is between November and May. During this time, I try to head out and photograph deep-sky objects twice a month. I generally travel to Koratagere, near Tumakuru,” he says.

    Deep-sky objects include faint objects in the sky such as nebulae and galaxies.

    Though Mr. Saha has advanced equipment such as an astronomical mount, a modified DSLR, a specialised camera and three telescopes, he says a beginner can even start with a good mobile phone camera, or a DSLR, and a tripod to take stunning photographs of the night sky. With advanced equipment, one can shoot star trails, the Milky Way and even faint nebulae.

    “The astrophotography community is quite vibrant today. A lot of new people are getting into the hobby,” he says.

    B.S. Shylaja, director, Jawaharlal Nehru Planetarium, says many students who come for astronomy sessions to the planetarium get into astrophotography. “There is a lot of interest in the subject now.”

    Partying with the stars

    Karthik Subramanian, who has been an amateur astronomer for about seven years, has been accompanying his friends on regular ‘star parties’ — informal gatherings of amateur astronomers. “Last month, I went on an observing trip along with my friends. We were able to capture the Milky Way through Sagittarius and Scorpius on the camera. For me, the hobby is about appreciating the wonders of nature in the sky.”

    Many members of the Association of Bangalore Amateur Astronomers are also astrophotographers. Chandrashekar G., who picked up the hobby 10 years ago, started with a DSLR. Today, he carries over 40 kg of equipment to remote places around Bengaluru to shoot stars and planets.

    However, serious astrophotography requires a lot of expertise. “This kind of photography is very challenging. We are trying to photograph objects in the sky which are extremely faint. Autofocus and metering do not work. So, the photographer has to manually focus and set the shutter speed to photograph the night sky. Even then, it needs a very long shutter speed to capture enough light from these faint targets,” Mr. Kiran says.

    Astrophotographers use techniques where they shoot many short-exposure images and then combine them to make one image which looks like a long-exposure one. There are a lot of do-it-yourself projects that people can try to track the stars, such as using the barn door tracker, which rotates the camera at the same rate as the Earth’s rotation. And just as light pollution affects the stargazing experience, astrophotography also needs a dark, dry place far away from lights.

    It is also an expensive hobby, unlike stargazing, where many objects can be seen with just the naked eye or a simple telescope. “The stars move in the sky. So long exposure can result in streaks. One needs special equipment to track the stars. Normal photographic lens may not suffice for astrophotography. Extremely good quality lenses and telescopes are needed to take good photographs,” Mr. Kiran says.

    Some equipment are not available in India and need to be imported. “One requires a lot of passion and a deep purse to pursue this hobby. But, once you get into it, it is very rewarding,” says Mr. Chandrashekar.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Bengaluru / by Sarumathi K / Bengaluru – May 20th, 2017

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    He had to be clad in white, and look calm and contemplative.

    At most, he could hold a brush and a palm leaf manuscript.

    That was the brief veteran art ist V T Kale got from the seer of a Chitradurga mutt who was commissioning a portrait of Basavanna, the 12th century poet-reformer. Kale’s research included a careful reading of history books and vachanas (pithy verses) to get the contours of Basavanna’s body and face right. But the challenge was bringing out Basavanna’s multiple identities -statesman of Bijjala, poet-philosopher, and social reformer? “It was difficult,” says the 83-year-old artist.

    The painting, completed in 2005, remains one of the most popular images of Basavanna. So popular that when the state government recently decided to put it up along with portraits of Gandhi and Ambedkar in all offices, they initially didn’t bother crediting Kale. Images of public personalities from a bygone era seem to have a life of their own. And artists have a tough time capturing in bronze and acrylic the real and imagined features of Basavanna, Kempe Gowda I, Kittur Chennamma , Sangolli Rayanna and other personalities as envisaged by political parties and identity groups.

    For one, there are no photographs to fall back on. “In the 12th century, people were not in the habit of making portraits of themselves. So, I had to imagine Basavanna’s character, his contribution to society and politics,” says Kale. He did at least 10 sketches before the mental picture became clear enough for him to start the painting. B C Shivakumar, whose Kempe Gowda busts and statues gaze down at Bengalureans from Lalbagh, VV Puram and Gavipuram, says the first one took him a year. “I studied the history of Kempe Gowda and the folk songs about him,” says the artist. The first one was commissioned by Kempegowda Nagar residents. At the Gavipuram signal, the city’s founder stands holding an unsheathed sword, one foot firmly on one foot firmly on a rock. By the time the next commission came from Vokkaligara Sangha in VV Puram, the local chieftain who is supposed to have carved out Bengaluru as his capital in 1537, was a swashbuckling figure on horseback.

    These statues and portraits are not just about assert ing the identity politics of those who commission the works.

    “They align public spaces with histori cal and mythical memories,” says Chandan Gowda, sociology professor at Azim Premji University .

    But memories can be tricky. Delhi based sculptor Anil Ram Sutar, who is creating the mam moth Sardar Patel ‘Statue of Unity’ and the costly and controversy ridden Shivaji statue off the Mumbai coast with his father Ram Vanji Sutar, says such projects require a tough balancing act. Patel’s images are available but he had to be the `Iron Man’ when it came to the statue. Shivaji was tougher as he is perceived as a chivalrous king, riding a horse with a sword in hand.”People worship him for those qualities.Eventually, one has to bring to the sculpture what people believe about him and what has been painted until now,” says Sutar.

    Public perception often is defined by popular culture. Vishal Kavatekar, an upcoming sculptor and guest faculty at Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath, remembers hearing a senior artist being asked to create the same costume worn by actor Rajkumar for a statue of 16th century emperor Krishnadevaraya. “Rajkumar and Vishnuvardhan have played many historical figures in their movies and people sometimes want to see a resemblance to the actors in the statues,” says Kavatekar.
    Apart from looking at existing templates from descriptions in literature to historical movies, some artists take creative liberties. “They might make the skin complexion fairer or the body more sensual or muscular,” says Gowda.

    There are times when historical inaccuracies are called out. There is an ongoing debate about how Kempe Gowda’s appearance has been slowly altered to suit changed sensibilities -from a figure with folded hands to one fiercely wielding a sword. Kavatekar says many complained that the founder’s statue in front of the BBMP office at Corporation Circle, one of the oldest in the city, suffers from a `Rajkumar look’ mainly due to the elaborate kurta-pyjama outfit.

    Gowda says creative risks are fine but when the images are for public circulation, the motive of art shifts. Bengaluru-based artist N Shivadatta says he made 1,400 sculpture mementos of freedom fighter and queen Kittur Chennamma in a few days to be distributed at the Vishwa Kannada Sammelan in 2011. “The pressure to flatter and not offend the feelings of those from a particular community is very high,” he says.More so because these art works create a public image for a figure who may have just been a name.

    Kale is non-committal about such controversies. But he insists that the artist has to study the character of the historical figure, and his life and times. “The artist should meditate on the subject and with sadhana (practice), art will get better,” he says.

    source: / The Times of India / News> City News> Bangalore News / by Sandhya Soman / TNN / May 21st, 2017

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    Gangadhara Hiregutti to get Mohare Hanumantha Rao award

    Noted journalist Nagesh Hegde, who writes extensively on environment and science issues, has been chosen for the prestigious TSR Memorial Award by the government for 2016.

    Gangadhara Hiregutti, editor, Munjavu daily, has been selected for the Mohare Hanumantha Rao Memorial Award.

    An expert committee, headed by former judge Indrakala, announced the award on Monday. The awards carries a purse of Rs.1 lakh each and a citation. The awards will be conferred on these two journalists at a function to be organised shortly, according to a release.

    Mr. Hegde served as Assistant Editor, Prajavani, and was also with Sudha, a weekly magazine. With a master’s degree in environmental sciences from the Jawaharlal University (JNU), he taught Environmental Geo-Science at Kumaon University, Nainital.

    Environmental issues

    He wrote extensively on environmental issues during his tenure as feature editor at Sudha.

    He has delivered lectures on environmental issues in various parts of the world. He has also worked towards popularising science among rural communities.

    Mr. Hegde is the recipient of many awards, including the Karnataka Rajyotsava and that of the Karnataka Sahitya Academy. He has written over a dozen books in Kannada on science, environment and development.

    Award for U.R. Rao

    U.R. Rao, space scientist, has been chosen for the Bhaskaracharya Award, instituted by Sri Channaveera Swamiji Foundation of Saranga Math in Vijayapura district. This was disclosed by Arun Shahpur, MLC, to presspersons here on Monday.

    source:  / The Hindu / Home> News> States> Karnataka / by Special Correspondent / Bengaluru – May 16th, 2017

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