SILCHAR, March 31 - The outbreak and brisk spread of the COVID-19 virus has taken the world by storm. Along with the rest of the world, scientists and medical experts and the Government of India are desperately looking for plausible medicinal panacea to save lives.
At this critical juncture when Italy, popular for its tourist attraction has taken a serious brunt of the disease with over 10,000 deaths recorded so far, two Assam-born young students pursuing their academic careers in Italy are now busy in utilising their self-quarantine period to study various facets of COVID-19.
29-year old Akash Deep Biswas, a resident of Kumar Gaon of Tezpur, Sonitpur district and a former Project Junior Research Fellow from IIT Guwahati has been in the city of Pisa in Italy, since 2016 pursuing his doctoral thesis in Methods and Models for Molecular Sciences from Scuola Normale Superiore (SNS) di Pisa.
Sharing his experiences with The Assam Tribune on the situation in Italy which has been worst hit by the pandemic, Akash Deep said �the COVID-19 came to us here as a huge surprise. We are strictly keeping ourselves indoors unless stepping out is very urgent and that also requires to submit a self-authorisation letter citing the purpose of moving out of homes.�
Asked about reasons behind staying back in Italy and not heading back to their homes, the young researcher said,� this is the last year of my doctoral study and I have decided to shift to study on areas related to COVID-19. I was studying Hydration shell density of proteins. Now, I have focused my area of work on the CoV-2 main protease that is mainly responsible for cell division. I am looking into the dimensions of the research area with a group of Italian professors and we are trying to find out molecules that may inhibit the CoV-2 main protease which may stop the production of further copies of the virus within a human host. Our aim will be to give to the world some molecule.�
Akash Deep further informed that, his research article on computational approach based on molecular dynamics simulation to study the dependence of the protein hydration-shell density on the size of the protein molecule, which includes 18 proteins including CoV-2 main protease has been published on March 23 by the Royal Society of Chemistry's Journal of Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics.
Silchar�s Promit Choudhury (27), who stays in Milan, Lombardy and doing his masters as well at Politecnico Di Milano, echoed Akash Deep saying that travelling to Assam would have exposed them to different climatic and environmental changes increasing possibilities of being bugged by the virus. �I have self-quarantined myself and for over 20 days now. I haven�t been outside my house and I know it is frustrating but cannot help. I have been working from home since then. I request everyone to engage in activities at home because self isolation is needed.�
Promit, who also works in a Mexican-based firm, informed that in this period of crisis, he is working in collaboration with a global community to develop some low cost devices which could be used in such emergency conditions. �I would be happy if I am able to help even a little bit for the cause of humanity. I am working on a statistical model based on current census specific data, which will predict the range of transmission depending on the population density and geography. The doctors and healthcare workers and NGOs can use to emulate the number of people affected and monitor the areas so that if emergency erupts they can counter it before hand,� he claimed.