Leisure, Lifestyle & Wellness
IIT team develops affordable dialysis technology
Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology-Kharagpur have engineered an indigenous, cost-effective kidney dialysis technology. The innovative technology was recently recognised with the National Award, a statement said on Wednesday.
 
Haemodialysis is administered to patients suffering from various stages of kidney failure. Commonly referred to as "artificial kidney", it is a machine that uses dialysis to remove impurities and waste products from the bloodstream before returning the blood to the patient's body.
 
"Administering haemodialysis is a very expensive affair for an average Indian. Haemodialysis cartridges are not manufactured in India and are imported from Germany, Korea or Japan," said Anirban Roy, a research scholar at the IIT's department of chemical engineering and co-inventor of the technology.
 
The cartridges are formed of 7,000 to 15,000 hollow fibres of 180-220 microns inner diameter and 15-40 micron thickness, and the challenge lies in spinning these clinical grade hollow fibre membranes to the specific dimensions, said Roy.
 
"The present innovation is about a technology (using disposable syringe assemblies) that has been designed to spin such clinical grade fibres in India since the country does not possess the technology to spin hollow fibre membranes of such specifications."
 
"This technology does not use the conventional expensive spinnerets which are employed by the companies abroad," said Roy, adding only four to five companies worldwide enjoy the monopoly in this business and all have their own patented technology.
 
"Due to this, each dialyser costs Rs.1,000 to Rs.1,500 and ideally three such dialysers are needed per week for each patient," he said.
 
The estimated manufacturing cost of such a dialyser developed by the IIT-Kharagpur team is expected to be around Rs.200-300, he said.
 
This is a project of national importance and was funded by the Department of Science and Technology, with two Bengaluru-based companies as industrial partners of the technology, said Roy.
 
Animal and clinical trials of the product are awaited, although in-vitro (laboratory) tests have been completed.
 
The product won the runners-up prize at the fifth National Award for Technology Innovation in the category of polymers in public health care on February 21, said Sirshendu De, who is the principal investigator and co-inventor of the technology. He is a Shanti Swaroop Bhatnagar awardee.
 
"This is a flagship project which perfectly fits in with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's slogan of 'Make in India'," said De, professor at the IIT's department of chemical engineering, in a statement.
 
The developed process has been filed for an Indian patent and also for a US patent. The fibres match the clinical specifications of the market leaders, the researchers said.
 
This product, once commercialized, can equip India with the technology not only to sustain itself in the field of dialysis, but also to project itself as a major exporter of such haemodialysers to south-east Asian countries, Africa and South America, said the researchers.
 

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How the brain learns the way things work
When we learn a new technical concept, something happens in our brain. But exactly what? That has been a mystery until now.
 
For the first time, scientists have traced the brain processes that occur during the learning of technical concepts.
 
Published in NeuroImage, the findings reveal how new technical knowledge is built up in the brain.
 
"After you learn a force applied to an enclosed fluid is involved in the workings of a car's brakes, and you also learn how a force applied to an enclosed fluid is involved in the workings of a fire extinguisher, the brain representations of these two very different systems increase in their similarity to each other," said lead author Robert Mason.
 
"This provides evidence that appropriate instruction can bring out the fundamental understanding of how things work at a deep level," he added.
 
"This study yields an initial theory of learning of mechanical systems that can be related to the instructional methods and resulting cognitive processes that underlie science learning," said professor Marcel Just from the Carnegie Mellon University.
 
Just and Mason scanned the brains of 16 healthy adults as they learned for the first time how four common mechanical systems work.
 
While inside the brain scanner, the participants were shown a series of pictures, diagrams and text that described the internal workings of a bathroom scale, fire extinguisher, automobile braking system and trumpet.
 
Just and Mason were able to use the fMRI images to follow how each new concept made its way from the words and pictures to neural representations over many regions of the brain.
 
Interestingly, they found that the neural representations progressed through several stages, with each stage involving different parts of the brain that played different roles.
 
"This will enable instructors to 'teach to the brain' instead of 'teaching to the test'," Just said.

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Wipro invests $5 million in cloud solutions firm
IT bellwether Wipro has invested $5 million (Rs.31 crore) to pick a minority stake in Drivestream Inc., a US-based leading Oracle cloud applications systems integrator, with development centre in Chennai.
 
"As a strategic partner in Drivestream, we will build an integrated cloud solutions stack for our customers," Wipro said in a statement on Wednesday from Virginia, US, where Drivestream is headquartered.
 
Promoted by non-resident Indian Gopal Krishna as a management and IT consulting firm, Drivestream specialises in migrating the enterprise business processes of large and medium sized businesses to the cloud.
 
Cloud computing involves using a network of remote servers hosted on internet to store, manage and process huge volumes of databases.
 
The global software major Wipro, however, did not disclose the equity percentage bought in Drivestream through its $100-million venture fund, set up to invest in disruptive start-ups.
 
"Associating with Drivestream is part of our strategic drive to participate in the external innovation eco-system for which we have recently set up Wipro Venture," B.M. Bhanumurthy, chief executive for application services and strategic alliances, said on the occasion when the two firms signed the agreement on Tuesday.
 
Noting that software-as-a-service (SaaS) represented a huge opportunity for business value creation, Bhanumurthy said the investment would extend the company's leadership position in the Oracle application services space, especially in cloud application.
 
"The investment in Drivestream is a commitment to help our customers adopt Oracle cloud applications and enable us to jointly deliver value and enhance our leadership in the Oracle cloud market space," Bhanumurthy said.
 
The equity participation will also benefit customers from Drivestream's cloud solutions built on Oracle product platform.
 
"We are honoured a global software major like Wipro has taken note of our unique capabilities and market potential for Oracle cloud applications," Drivestream chief executive Gopal Krishna said.
 
The partnership with Wipro will also enable Drivestream to scale its operations and presence in the US and worldwide.
 
Drivestream's methodology and processes provide quality value to its customers for human capital management, financial management, enterprise performance management, PeopleSoft and business analytics.
 
"Our product solutions enable firms and industries to implement cloud applications, migrate on-premise applications to the cloud or implement a hybrid approach that supports the needs of an enterprise," Krishna added.
 

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