Table of Contents
- Endometriosis: The long wait for a non-invasive test
Facts for Prelims
- India’s tiger population tops 3,000, shows census
- Bidri Crafts
- Raccoon Stealer
Endometriosis: The long wait for a non-invasive test
Endometriosis is a painful chronic disease in which tissue similar to the lining of the uterus, or endometrium, grows outside of it. Despite its prevalence, popular awareness of endometriosis remains low even as its diagnosis is marred by experiences of medical misogyny and gaslighting.
- Endometriosis, a condition in which tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows outside of it, was first described in 1860, but biomarkers were only discovered 150 years later.
- Previous biomarkers were not specific to endometriosis and produced inconsistent results, making it difficult to diagnose.
- Endometriosis research receives little funding from both government agencies and pharmaceutical companies due to it being a non-life-threatening disease in the field of reproductive biology.
- A 2022 report by the U.S. National Institutes of Health stated that only 0.05% of their total research budget goes towards endometriosis research.
- However, there are some well-funded pockets of research, such as a grant of Rs 3.6 crore given to a clinician-scientist in India to study endometriosis.
- More funding is needed to design effective and accessible diagnostic tools for endometriosis.
- Endometriosis can cause severe pain in the pelvis, especially during menstrual periods, and some people also experience pain during sex or when using the bathroom.
- Infertility is also a common symptom of endometriosis.
- While some people with endometriosis don’t have any symptoms, others may experience chronic pelvic pain, heavy bleeding during periods or between periods, bloating, nausea, fatigue, depression, or anxiety.
- Menopause can lead to an improvement in symptoms, but not always.
- Understanding the symptoms of endometriosis is essential for timely diagnosis and treatment.
Why is endometriosis hard to diagnose?
- Endometriosis is difficult to diagnose due to its range of symptoms and lack of reliable non-invasive diagnostic tools.
- DotLab has developed a blood test that can accurately diagnose endometriosis without invasive procedures.
- The blood test detects microRNA, small RNA segments that regulate gene expression, which are expressed differently in people with endometriosis.
- The test was developed from a study that identified blood-based microRNAs expressed differently in people with endometriosis compared to those without the disease.
- The researchers combined the expression values of these microRNAs to create an algorithm that accurately predicts the presence or absence of endometriosis.
- The test has been validated with a different group of people, confirming its accuracy in identifying those with endometriosis.
- The development of non-invasive diagnostic tools, such as this blood test, could improve the diagnosis and treatment of endometriosis.
Is the new test available to use?
- The blood test by DotLab is still at the testing level and has not yet been approved by the US FDA.
- Ongoing clinical trials are expected to be completed by September 2024.
- The test accurately identifies both mild and advanced endometriosis but cannot differentiate between the stage and severity of the disease.
- The sensitivity of the test is 83%, and its specificity is 96%.
- The test gives a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer about whether someone has endometriosis, but it does not provide information about the status or stage of the disease or which organs may be involved.
- The test relies on detecting microRNA, which are small, non-coding RNA segments that regulate gene expression.
- Researchers can use combinations of thousands of microRNAs expressed differently in endometriosis to get a very specific disease signature and improve the sensitivity and specificity of the test.
What are the benefits of a test for endometriosis?
- Successful implementation of the blood test could lead to reduced time to diagnosis, disease progress, and fewer years of discomfort for those with endometriosis.
- The test could also reduce the need for surgical intervention if medical management is successful and the diagnosis is confirmed by the blood test.
- An independent gynaecologist, believes that the test’s promising results could be significant in reducing the time to diagnosis and improving the management of endometriosis.
Identifying abnormal microRNAs in endometriosis could aid in understanding the disease’s complex biology.The identification of these microRNAs could also help researchers identify the genes and pathways involved in the disease.This understanding could potentially offer new targets for therapy, thus paving the way for more effective treatments for endometriosis.
India’s tiger population tops 3,000, shows census
The latest tiger census in India shows that there are at least 3,167 tigers in the country, but this number cannot be compared to the previous census due to a missing calculation. The census is a positive sign for tiger conservation efforts in India.
- The tiger population numbers were made public in Mysuru, at an event to mark the International Big Cat Alliance conference as well as the 50th anniversary of Project Tiger.
Western Ghats decline
- Tiger population has increased in Shivalik hills, Gangetic flood plains, central India, north eastern hills, Brahmaputra flood plains, and Sundarbans.
- There has been a decline in the number of tigers in Western Ghats.
- The Western Ghats still have “major populations” of tigers.
Counting of Tiger
- Tiger numbers are estimated using camera traps and statistical techniques.
- In the latest census, 3,080 tigers were captured on camera traps compared to 2,603 in the last census.
- The current estimate doesn’t include tigers outside of camera traps or state-wise numbers yet.
- The final numbers are expected to be ready within three months, according to the Wildlife Institute of India.
- Scientists estimate tiger population over four years, with a range provided.
- The mean value of the range is taken as the latest tiger population, such as the 2018 estimate of 2,967 tigers with a range of 2,603 to 3,346.
- The current estimate of tiger population doesn’t show the numbers of tigers outside protected areas, which are increasing.
- Environmental threats and man-animal conflicts are a key concern in the growing number of tigers outside protected areas.
- Major tiger-zones face challenges to the growth of tiger population due to infrastructure development.
- Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh need to invest in mitigating conflict with tigers and mega herbivores in the Shivalik hills and Gangetic plains.
- The Central Indian highlands and Eastern Ghats face various threats, including habitat encroachment, illegal hunting, conflicts between humans and wildlife, forest fires, mining, and ever-expanding linear infrastructure.
New Reserves Needed
- India has 53 tiger reserves covering 75,796 square km, which is around 2.3% of the country’s land area, since the establishment of Project Tiger in 1973 with only 9 reserves spanning 18,278 square km.
- India is home to about 75% of the world’s tiger population, and their conservation efforts without relying on fenced reserves are seen as a global model.
- Most of India’s tigers are concentrated in a few reserves that are approaching peak carrying capacity.
- To ensure further growth in tiger numbers, new regions need to be developed as reserves.
- India is in talks with Cambodia to translocate tigers from India to create a suitable habitat and revive the big cat’s population there.
The veteran Bidri Crafts artist from Karnataka, Shah Rasheed Ahmed Quadri, received the Padma Shri.
- Bidri ware is a handicraft from Bidar, Karnataka that uses a unique metal crafting technique.
- It has intricate designs inspired by nature, Islamic art, and Persian calligraphy.
- Common motifs include flowers, leaves, and geometric patterns, and it may feature verses from the Quran.
- Bidri ware has received many awards and recognition for its cultural significance.
- In 2006, it was awarded the Geographical Indication status by the Indian government.
UNESCO has also recognized Bidri ware as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization)
- UNESCO is a UN agency that promotes international cooperation in education, sciences, and culture for peace building.
- It is part of the UNSDG (United Nations Sustainable Development Group), which aims to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
- UNESCO has its headquarters in Paris and over 50 field offices around the world.
- It has 193 Members and 11 Associate Members and is governed by the General Conference and the Executive Board.
- Three UNESCO member states are not UN members: Cook Islands, Niue, and Palestine. While three UN member states (Israel, Liechtenstein, United States) are not UNESCO members.
What is Intangible Cultural Heritage?
- Intangible cultural heritage refers to cultural practices, knowledge, and skills recognized as part of a community’s heritage.
- It is expressed through oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals and festive events, nature and universe knowledge, and traditional craftsmanship.
- India has been elected to UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of ICH for the 2022-2026 cycle.
- India previously served as a member of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) Committee twice, from 2006 to 2010 and from 2014 to 2018.
- Durga Puja in Kolkata was included in the UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
- The ICH Convention aims to safeguard and promote the importance of intangible cultural heritage worldwide.
An information stealing malware that is usually delivered through email, known as Raccoon Stealer, was used to target eight Central government entities, including central paramilitary forces and the Income Tax department, an intelligence agency recently informed the affected agencies.
- National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) monitors Raccoon Stealer malware, available as Malware-as-a-service, which steals sensitive data from infected machines.
About Raccoon Stealer
- Raccoon Stealer is malware that steals data from infected computers.
- Cybercriminals use it to obtain sensitive data saved in browsers and cryptocurrency wallets.
- It targets cookies, login details, credit card details, public keys, private keys, and seed phrases.
- The stolen data can be used for harmful activities like identity theft, cryptocurrency theft, and credit card fraud.
- Raccoon Stealer is sold to customers (called ‘affiliates’) who use it to steal sensitive data from users’ devices.
National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO)
- NTRO is India’s technical intelligence agency, reporting to the National Security Advisor and PMO.
- It specializes in aviation, remote sensing, data processing, cyber security, and strategic monitoring.
- Established in 2004 post Kargil war, it was listed under Intelligence Organisations (Restriction of Rights) Act, 1985 in 2017, giving it the same “norms of conduct” as the IB and R&AW.
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