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Lab Report

Eco-friendly leather

Researchers at Pune’s National Chemical Laboratory have developed an enzyme that could make leather processing an eco-friendly affair. The enzyme, developed by the Biochemical Sciences Division, helps to replace toxic chemicals currently used for de-hairing. De-hairing accounts for nearly 55 to 60 per cent of the pollution caused by the industry, which annually generates nearly 3 lakh tonnes of solid waste. Besides, as there are no chemical treatments involved, leather makers would be able to convert the hair into a value-added by-product. The enzyme is currently under evaluation at the Chennai-based Central Leather Research Institute. Funding for developing it came from the Department of Biotechnology and the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research.

Diabetes genes

We all know diabetes’ hereditary links. But now, two independent teams of scientists have identified genes strongly associated with diabetes cases in India. In one study, researchers at the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad, and others demonstrated that the presence of the gene TCF7L2 is a sure indicator of susceptibility to type 2 diabetes mellitus. The variations in the gene play a crucial role in the onset of diabetes as it influences both insulin secretion and insulin resistance, the scientists reported in a recent issue of the journal Diabetologia. The second study, by a team led by B.K. Thelma of the University of Delhi, has showed that a particular variant of a gene called CCR5 predisposes people to long-term kidney damage associated with diabetes. The link of these genes to diabetes was already established in European and Japanese populations by studies elsewhere.

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