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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

GS-III :
  • 01 May, 2020

  • 10 Min Read

Activists seek testing of Ganga water for COVID-19 treatment-CSIR-NEERI

Introduction

  • Mission under Jal Shakti Ministry sends the pitch to ICMR
  • The National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), an arm of the Jal Shakti Ministry that deals with the Ganga clean-up plan, has forwarded to the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) a proposal to undertake clinical trials and examine if Ganga water can be used to treat coronavirus (COVID-19) patients.
  • The proposal was made by a collective of activists involved in the clean-up of the river as well as in the litany of litigation surrounding it.

Bacteriophages.

  • The thrust of the proposal is that research for over a century – and most recently an investigation by the CSIR-National Environmental Engineering and Research Institute, Nagpur – had found that the upper stretches of the Ganga had several species of bacteriophages.
  • Phages, as they are also called, are viruses that specifically target bacteria and are also extremely strain-specific.
  • While there is research to suggest that these phages may have anti-microbial properties and could potentially destroy bacteria such as Mycobacterium streptococcus and Pseudomonas Yersinia.

Need for further research

  • It is unclear how phages — being viruses themselves — could have anti-viral properties.
  • COVID-19 is caused by SARS-CoV-2 virus infection. “There’s no evidence that viruses can, even in principle, be used to destroy other viruses.
  • Phage therapy has its uses in experimental medicine and has been used to treat infections from antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

‘Experimental medicine’

  • The proponents of the proposal — Anil Gautam, A.K. Gupta, Bharat Jhunjunwala and Narendra Mehrotra — said the Ganga “could have” anti-viral properties, but the scale of the pandemic and the need for new drugs and treatment mean that there could be “immense benefit” from undertaking such studies on the lines of “experimental medicine.”
  • NEERI, which is a Council of Scientific and Industrial Research organisation, has an ongoing study examining whether the phages in the Ganga water are responsible for destroying pathogens and delaying putrefaction (Decaying).
  • The considered opinion of CSIR-NEERI is that overall, clinical trial on water alone may not yield very useful results, though this would need the considered opinion of agencies such as ICMR.
  • Most studies have been done in the context of years-long movement that sees Ganga water as “unique,” particularly the water in the upper stretches of Rudraprayag and before Tehri.
  • Because the flow of the water is largely unimpeded, and helped by a distinct microbiome, the river remains healthy. However, dams begin to interfere with the flow, accelerate unsustainable sedimentation and, once it reaches downstream Uttar Pradesh, is choked by the industrial and municipal sewage emanating from towns and factories along the river in other downstream States.

Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR)

About CSIR

  • The Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR), known for its cutting edge R&D knowledgebase in diverse S&T areas, is a contemporary R&D organization. Having a pan-India presence, CSIR has a dynamic network of 38 national laboratories, 39 outreach centres, 3 Innovation Complexes and 5 units. CSIR’s R&D expertise and experience is embodied in about 4600 active scientists supported by about 8000 scientific and technical personnel.
  • CSIR covers a wide spectrum of science and technology – from radio and space physics, oceanography, geophysics, chemicals, drugs, genomics, biotechnology and nanotechnology to mining, aeronautics, instrumentation, environmental engineering and information technology. It provides significant technological intervention in many areas with regard to societal efforts which include environment, health, drinking water, food, housing, energy, farm and non-farm sectors. Further, CSIR’s role in S&T human resource development is noteworthy.
  • Pioneer of India’s intellectual property movement, CSIR today is strengthening its patent portfolio to carve out global niches for the country in select technology domains. CSIR is granted 90% of US patents granted to any Indian publicly funded R&D organization. On an average CSIR file about 200 Indian patents and 250 foreign patents per year. About 13.86% of CSIR patents are licensed - a number which is above the global average. Amongst its peers in publicly funded research organizations in the world, CSIR is a leader in terms of filing and securing patents worldwide.
  • CSIR has pursued cutting edge science and advanced knowledge frontiers. The scientific staff of CSIR only constitute about 3-4% of India’s scientific manpower but they contribute to 10% of India’s scientific outputs. In 2012, CSIR published 5007 papers in SCI Journals with an average impact factor per paper as 2.673. In 2013, CSIR published 5086 papers in SCI journals with an average impact factor per paper as 2.868.
  • CSIR has operationalized desired mechanisms to boost entrepreneurship, which could lead to enhanced creation and commercialization of radical and disruptive innovations, underpinning the development of new economic sectors.
  • CSIR has put in place CSIR@80: Vision & Strategy 2022 – New CSIR for New India. CSIR’s mission is “to build a new CSIR for a new India” and CSIR’s vision is to “Pursue science which strives for global impact, the technology that enables innovation-driven industry and nurtures trans-disciplinary leadership thereby catalyzing inclusive economic development for the people of India”.
  • CSIR is ranked at 84th among 4851 institutions worldwide and is the only Indian organization among the top 100 global institutions, according to the Scimago Institutions Ranking World Report 2014. CSIR holds the 17th rank in Asia and leads the country at the first position.

Source: TH


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