Significance of Computer Science Engineering in a COVID-19 infested Era

Ever since the outbreak of COVID-19 or the novel coronavirus from December 2019 till date, the whole world is adversely impacted by the induced pandemic which has forced on every form of the established system, a drastic change in the day-to-day lives of the people belonging to different strata of the society. The socio-economic setup that was prevalent throughout the world, is already significantly shattered, and hence calls for the conceiving as well as establishing a new system wherein the various functionalities may ensure the smooth and orderly execution of different aspects of the human society can be reinstated keeping in mind the robustness of this system against a pandemic like situation such as these.

This COVID-19 infested pandemic has exposed major loopholes and faulty perceptions regarding the various domains like, healthcare sector, financial institutions & bodies, educational establishments, research & developments bodies as well as public welfare organizations, as a result of which the whole world community stands not just clueless but also helpless in grappling with the current catastrophe.

a) Impact of Covid on the domain

The viral outbreak at a massive global scale has forced governments across the world to impose hard lockdowns and travel restrictions thereby compelling the shutdown of offices that offer varied services related to several sectors. Furthermore, at an individual level, people need to maintain a safe distance and be physically covered (especially facial areas) at maximum times when outside. This has invariably impacted interpersonal communication greatly.

Considering all the above factors, a computer/smartphone device, internet connectivity and a relatively stable power supply has come to the rescue of people in many ways. Professionals associated with the computer science & engineering domain are able to maintain various sorts of data in large bulks securely and meticulously with the help of different technologies. Furthermore, with the advent and development of the internet infrastructure, an abundance of virtual space can be created and managed for warehousing these data. Various applications are these days widely used via handheld devices to serve day-to-day purposes like product or food delivery, cab or train booking, hotel booking, seat reservation at any event, online academic courses, online mails, messaging and meeting and so on.

With this current pandemic prevailing all over, the usage of the above online applications is greatly amplified as these software-based utility tools are proving to be beneficial in running the various sectors simply while sitting at home. More and more people are continually seeking online services and demanding applications that will make it possible in every way to handle various business or commercial activities, smoothen the functioning of the education and healthcare sector and providing real-time support to travel as well as transport services. Even in the entertainment industry and also crime investigation & forensics, complex application development with easy user-friendly outlooks are ever-growing.

In short, the computer science & information technology domain has invariably become even more lucrative, prospective and ever-growing field as the pandemic has forced majority of the services to go “online”. Interestingly, a number of professions has by this time become obsolete and many individuals lost their jobs except for some cases such as this domain. These days the most important and valued element is data on various things and this data is available in such large quantities that it needs organized storage and management. While attempting to find a robust and effective solution to the COVID-19 virus, several amounts of data are being recorded and used. Efficient handling and accessing of such data is thus necessitated which is realized by the applications developed by various professionals who are experts in the computer science field.

b) New trends

As mentioned earlier, several sectors across the world are either closed down or grappling to survive by somehow managing to lift their face up the troubled waters of the pandemic crisis. An interesting trend of relying on online services is being noticed among such sectors.

Education: With almost all academic institutions physically shut down, this sector has shifted to online mode of admission, lecture delivery, examination conduction, assignment delivery, subject-wise note sharing and student evaluation. These activities require the support of some multimedia-enabled devices having a camera, microphone and speaker, online document preparing web services, and virtual (cloud-based) storage space. There has emerged a vogue of online coaching and academic preparation via the use of mobile apps like Byju’s Classes, Unacademy and so on which have reduced the dependency on availing tutors. Altogether, all these necessitate the development of software-based applications that require the expertise of domain professionals.

Healthcare: Currently as the majority of the professionals in this sector are the frontline ‘warriors’ in this battle against the pandemic, naturally, they are highly exposed and vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus attack. Despite the extreme precautions taken, most of them even are losing their lives to this deadly virus given the highly contagious environment they are working in. This has led to a fear of psychosis among the general public to avoid visiting the doctors and other medical professionals for a routine health checkup.  As a result, the growing demand for online health checkup from home has led many software and app developers to build such dedicated applications that aid in routine healthcare and delivery of medicines. Some of the prominent apps operating in India are DoctorOnDemand and PharmEasy.

Business, Commerce, Banking & Industry: Several commercial and industrial workplaces are physically shut thereby causing losses and job cuts. A growing need has propped up for automation of industrial machinery and online support to various financial services as well as transactions, remote ordering, selling and purchasing, delivery of items. Some of these applications are realized by popular app services like Yono app (State bank of India), PolicyBazaar, Amazon, Flipkart, Paytm, Myntra.

c) Areas of research

Unlike other domains where research and development include extensive needs for laboratory or enterprise-level facilities and field works, pursuing research in the computer science domain requires just three things at home: a good quality computer system/workstation, internet connection and access to research-level online repositories. There are several open-source development tools that can be downloaded and utilized for effective research. Some of the major domains where computer science has pervaded are Medical science, genetics & genomics, microbiology, transport technologies, core industrial & engineering, basic sciences. Researchers under this domain by sheer knowledge of Artificial Intelligence, Data Science, Machine Learning and Deep Learning are gradually succeeding in presenting automated models for determining the nature and spread of the COVID-19 virus. Although the concept of Artificial Intelligence is not new (coined in 1956 by John McCarthy), the extensive development and the need for massive automation across several fields has uplifted the status of this concept that has led to enhanced research in Artificial Intelligence, Data Science, Machine Learning and Deep Learning. In short, a professional equipped with such domain knowledge easily feels valued and almost indispensable across several multi-disciplinary fields.

Chemistry: An Indispensable tool to understand coronavirus from its transmission to treatment

Chemistry-based research from the laboratory to industries are progressing their efforts towards discovering more about the virus, developing improved testing technologies, and eventually discovering drugs to treat the disease. Chemistry as the subject of practice in every step of life is essential at every step of our response to contain the virus. Scientists throughout the world are involved in evolving new diagnostic methods to be deployed for the SARS-CoV-2 identification including optical biosensors and point-of-care diagnostics. 

In spite of an immensely disrupted class routine, there will surely be thousands of students going on to study and work in chemistry in the years to come. Through this blog, we are trying to document the chemical science community’s role in response to the recent outbreak of coronavirus. 

COVID-19 disease transmission route inspired by Gas-Phase Chemistry: 

The person-to-person spread of infectious respiratory diseases like COVID-19 occurs primarily due to the transference of virus-laden fluid particles from the diseased person. The infectious fluid particles instigate from the respiratory tract of the person and are ejected from the nose and the mouth during breathing, speaking, whistling, sneezing, and coughing etc. These particles have been broadly classified into two types: aerosols (aerodynamic particle size <5 μm) and droplets (aerodynamic particle size ≥5 μm–10 μm). The outcomes indicated that the transmission phenomena of these virus particles ejected by patients would be dependent on droplet sizes. Once expelled from the mouth or nose, bigger respiratory droplets endure gravitational subsiding before evaporation; in contrast, the smaller droplet particles evaporate faster than they settle down, afterwards forming the aerosolized droplet nuclei that can be deferred for prolonged periods and foldaway in the air over long distances. Investigations by Bourouiba et al. have shown that these droplets can travel rather large distances initially within a turbulent jet, which later transition to a puff or a cloud due to the lack of a continuous momentum source. Depending on the ambient conditions and droplet size, these droplets evaporate at different times. Chemical kinetics-based model i.e. the application of Lattice Boltzmann Method with Brownian dynamics to access the effects of nanoparticles at the liquid-vapour interface of an evaporating sessile droplet can be coupled with of evaporation, dispersion and precipitation to devise a hitherto new methodology to predict the infection spread in the context of COVID-19. 

All most all investigations have found that SARS-CoV-2 virus stability monotonically decreases with an increase in temperature. It has also been found that the enveloped viruses like SARS-CoV-2 survive well in droplets far from their dried state, as well as in the desiccated residue where the virus remains in a frozen state, these shreds of evidence prove that virus survivability within desiccated nuclei enables the virus to be airborne. To prove these, chemists have used 1% (w/w) NaCl aqueous solution as a substitute respiratory fluid and 100nm fluorescent particles as a stand-in virus, whose concentration was controlled from 0.005 to 0.1%. Featured basic mechanism in particle deposition in water-based solutions explained in these studies can be extended to pathogens, the dynamics in respiratory droplets are more involved due to the physicochemical complexities and the resulting variation in thermo-physical properties. 

Role of synthetic chemists in the development of drugs  

The development of antibiotics was one of the most important scientific innovations of the twentieth century, as it drastically reduced the threat of bacterial infections. Though the early antibiotics era was characterized by fully synthetic compounds (e.g., sulfonamides and organoarsenicals) and was largely pioneered by industrial chemists, the modern era of natural product-based antibiotics witnessed significant contributions from academia. Penicillin V  and vancomycin provide two examples where synthetic chemists have made impactful, translational contributions by pursuing fundamental research interests. In this time of pandemic caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, chemists from worldwide are trying their best to delineate different drugs to annihilate this virus.  the antiviral drugs commonly used in clinical practice to treat viral infections are not applicable to SARS-Cov-2. Thus, it is very necessary to identify new drugs suitable for the treatment of the 2019-nCoV outbreak 

Nanotrap: Chemists from the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering have designed an entirely novel potential treatment for COVID-19: nanoparticles that apprehend SARS-CoV-2 viruses within the body and then use the body’s own immune system to annihilate it. 

These “Nanotraps” entice the virus by imitating the marked cells the virus infects. When the virus muddles to the Nanotraps, the traps then impound the virus from other cells and target it for annihilation by the immune system. 

In theory, these Nanotraps could also be used on variants of the virus, leading to a potential new way to constrain the virus moving forward. Though the therapy remains in the early stages of testing, the researchers envision it could be administered via a nasal spray as a treatment for COVID-19. 

HTCC: An antiviral potential of the polymer HTCC [N-(2-hydroxypropyl)-3-trimethylammonium chitosan chloride], which efficiently hampered infection of all low-pathogenicity human coronaviruses in vitro and ex vivo.  The hydrophobically-modified derivative (HM-HTCC) acts as potent inhibitors of the coronavirus HCoV-NL63.  we show It has been investigated as that HTCC inhibits interaction of a virus with its receptor and thus blocks the entrySynthetic chemists are trying to delineate the process through which the HTCC interferes with the virus replication. The photophysical study of HTCC labelled with FITC in water were measured in the absence and in the presence of various concentrations of SARS-CoV-2 spike protein S1 domains to understand the effectivity of HTCC. 

Application of polymer chemistry to contain SARS-CoV 2: 

Polyelectrolytes: The surface of such envelope virus is found to be rich in amino acid residues. Therefore, polyanions may be used to electrostatically bind to the spike (S) glycoprotein, which binds to the ACE2 protein as an important step in host cell invasion and prevent the virus from interacting with the host cell’s surface. Thus, polyanions and polycations can be used to potentially interrupt the binding between the virus and host cell. As examples, Poly(propylacrylic acid), poly(vinylbenzoic acid) (PVBzA), poly(vinylphosphonic acid) (PVPA), and poly(2-acrylamidoethyl)phosphate may be developed as bio-compatible to exhibit this inhibitory effect. 

Dendritic Polymer: Dendritic or highly branched polymers that possess greater solubilities, larger surface areas, and tuneable shapes are being investigated to hinder the virus and cell binding. These types of polymers are being designed to be non-toxic and bio-compatible thus they can act as co-receptor and subsequently, mediate the entry of the SARS-CoV2 virus to the host cells. 

Natural Polymer: Natural polymers like  polysaccharides, cyclodextrins (CDs) and chitosan are reported to inhibit the attachment of coronavirus to host cells because of their ability to remove cholesterol from cell membranes. These polymers can inhibit the replication of the virus in the host cell.  Moreover, polysaccharides can activate T lymphocytes, B lymphocytes, and other immune cells to improvise an advantageous immune response to inhibit the virulent effect. It is worthy to mention here that natural polymers inherently possess greater biocompatibility compared to synthetic polymers, which serves as one of the major factor for their applicability as potential drugs. 

Conclusions: SARS-CoV-2 virus has caused a global health crisis with high rates of infection and mortality. However, in existing treatment programmes, there are latent drawbacks such as they are time-consuming and full proof. It is hoped that the chemists along with scientists & technologists from interdisciplinary branches throughout the world will develop better model and drugs in the near future and move toward clinical treatment as soon as possible. More clinical trials with these suitable drugs should be performed on patients affected by SARS-CoV-2 of different mutant strains to prove their efficacy and safety. Not only chemists, but it’s a team’s of scientists of all spheres and philosophers’ activity towards investigation how the system can be used to help medical professionals treat patients more effectively.  

As a chemist, we have learned that we are very resilient and have discovered our extra efficacies in terms of serving the people, we may not have found had this pandemic not happened. 

References: 

  1. KuritzkesD.R. Drug resistance in HIV-1. Curr. Opin. Virol. 2011;1:582–589. doi: 10.1016/j.coviro.2011.10.020. 
  2. TannockG.A., Kim H., Xue L. Why are vaccines against many human viral diseases still unavailable; an historic perspective? J. Med. Virol. 2020;92:129–138. 
  3. KC GB, Bocci G, Verma S. et al. A machine learning platform to estimate anti-SARS-CoV-2 activities.
  4. ToturaA.L., Bavari S. Broad-spectrum coronavirus antiviral drug discovery. Expet Opin. Drug Discov. 2019;14(4):397–412. 
  5. LiowS.S., Chee P.L., Owh C., Zhang K., Zhou Y., Gao F., Lakshminarayanan R., Loh X.J. Cationic poly ([R]-3-hydroxybutyrate) copolymers as antimicrobial agents. Macromol. Biosci.  
  6. Lin Q., Lim J.Y.,Xue K., Yew P.Y.M., Owh C., Chee P.L., Loh X.J. Sanitizing agents for virus inactivation and disinfection. View. 2020 

School of Pharmaceutical Technology: The Centre for Pharmaceutical Excellence

Adamas University, the largest award winning University in Eastern India, is the perfect destination for aspiring students who wish to pursue excellence in their chosen field in a secured, nature friendly, vast campus which can truly be their second home. The School of Pharmaceutical Technology (SOPT) was established amidst a lush green campus at the Adamas Knowledge City on Barasat-Barrackpore road, about 13 km away from Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Airport, Kolkata. SOPT was set up with a vision to create and disseminate knowledge for producing quality health care professionals with a global standard.

Vision and Mission:

  • Inspiring and educating the future pharmacists and scientists with contemporary knowledge and skills to build up a strong platform for a healthcare system, matching the global standards.
  • Creating a potential student pool by provision of dynamic educational experience embedded with contemporary knowledge and technical skills thus empowering them to become future leaders.
  • Development of tie-ups with the experts in the field, pharmaceutical technologists in the industry and regulatory bodies to meet the existing regional and global needs.
  • Organization of conferences, workshops, seminars and special invited lectures with the participation of experts from academic institutions, research institutions, industries and regulatory authorities.
  • Shaping the undergraduate, postgraduate and research scholars to emerge as the next generation scientists, advanced practitioners and educators.
  • Investigation of innovative research in pharmaceutical sciences while embracing the value of interdisciplinary networks.
  • Escalation of the performance level of students and teaching methodologies at par with the global standards.
  • Promotion of professional skill development for students to enhance their employability potential.
  • Bridging the gap between University’s educational curricula and the knowledge and skill requirements of pharmaceutical industries which is concurrent to the goal of the University.

Salient Aspects:

  • Outstanding and experienced faculty members from diverse areas of pharmaceutical field with industry as well as academic background.
  • State-of-the-art laboratory infrastructure equipped with all the necessary instruments to acquire hands-on training experience.
  • Mentorship program with an aim to monitor and improve the attendance and performance of students in the class, discussing the areas of strengths and weaknesses, consultation to address the weak areas.
  • Mentor-student meets, Dean-mentor meets, Dean-student meets, Parent-mentor meets.
  • Inclusion of wide variety of extra-curricular and cultural activities favouring holistic development of the child backed up psychological counselling/ one to one mentoring as and when needed to monitor the stress window of the student.
  • Speculating industry and institute interaction.
  • Strong research oriented team with large number of papers published in journals and conferences of repute.
  • Focusing on academic growth of students and faculties by conducting conferences, workshops, seminars in collaboration with industry.
  • Incorporation of a strong teaching-learning process with an objective to improve the pharmaceutical skills of students.
  • Constitution of various committees including faculties and students to streamline the administration of the entire university which in consultation with the Dean, plan and execute various programs for the smooth functioning and general development of the institution.
  • Nomination of student members by the respective mentors based on academic and overall record.
  • Organization of frequent industrial visits and internships at some of the best pharmaceutical companies in India to emphasize on the application of knowledge from a practical perspective.
  • 6 of our students have qualified Graduate Pharmacy Aptitude Test (GPAT) which is a national level entrance examination for entry into M. Pharm programmes. Additionally, two students have qualified NIPER Joint Entrance Examination conducted by National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (NIPER) which is one of the most renowned and prestigious pharmacy institutions in the country.
  • About 60 of our alumni have opted for higher education programs such as Bachelor of Pharmacy and Master of Pharmacy.

Training and Placement Cell:

  • Arranges industrial training/ internships/tours for students. Students have completed internship from various reputed organizations like Alkem Laboratories, Zuventus Healthcare Ltd., Lupin Ltd., Mankind Pharma, Pure and Cure Healthcare Pvt. Ltd., Ipca Laboratories.
  • Invites various pharmaceutical companies for campus recruitments. Students have been selected by top pharmaceutical recruiters like Cipla Limited, Wipro Limited, Apollo Hospitals, Medopharm Pvt. Ltd., APCER Life Sciences, Alembic Pharmaceuticals Ltd.
  • Organizes programs like mock interviews, group discussions, case studies, etc. to make the students prepared for the industry.

Why Pharmacy?

Pharmacy is the science and technique of preparing and dispensing drugs. It is a health profession that links health sciences with chemical sciences and aims to ensure the safe and effective use of pharmaceutical agents. The role of pharmacist, nowadays, is not only restricted to mere traditional roles, such as compounding and dispensing medications but is much more than that. The advances made in pharmaceutical technology in past few decades has expanded the horizon to include more modern services related to health care such as clinical services, reviewing medications for safety and efficacy, providing drug information, employing modern techniques for manufacture of formulations, designing delivery systems, meeting quality assurance demands and its control. Today, the qualified pharmaceutical technologist skilled with modern techniques and knowledge is required to be engaged in the manufacture, distribution, marketing, quality control and assurance, regulatory authorities and in post marketing operations like pharmacovigilance, clinical trials, etc. A career in the pharmaceutical sciences is full of opportunities. There is a high demand for skilled, competent and motivated workforce and manpower which will continue to be at the pinnacle of importance, both in safe and effective delivery of healthcare as well as in fueling the growth of the pharmaceutical industry in India.

What is the Scope?

The need of skilled manpower in the pharmaceutical industry ranges widely from research and development, quality assurance, intellectual property, manufacturing, sales and marketing. Today, the pharmaceutical industry is, in fact, struggling to retain talent in all these areas, even with lucrative compensation packages, talent development programs alongwith offering a bright career path. This is mainly because the demand for talent outweighs its supply. With several health issues on the rise, the requirement for pharmaceuticals is a never ending process which mandates the continual demand of skilled professionals in this field. Pharmaceutical industry has the potential to attract a large number of talents even during any global financial meltdown, as the industry is virtually recession proof.

Programs Offered:

The programs offered by the school are Diploma in Pharmacy (D. Pharm), Bachelor of Pharmacy (B. Pharm) and Bachelor of Science in Medical Laboratory Technology (BSc MLT).  The Diploma in Pharmacy is of two academic year duration, while Bachelor of Pharmacy is a four year course and Bachelor of Science in Medical Laboratory Technology is a three year program. Additionally, Master of Pharmacy (M. Pharm) program in Pharmaceutics will also be implemented from the upcoming academic year.