Tag Archives: NII

Indian scientists resurrect World War era drug to fight malaria

Jyoti Singh

Prof. Suman Dhar (extreme right) with research team

New Delhi: A neglected and old anti-parasitic drug used during the World War II is emerging as a new weapon in the fight against malaria as malaria parasite becomes resistant to currently available drugs.

A group of Indian researchers have resurrected acriflavine or ACF which was used as an anti-parasite drug in the last century, and have found it to be effective against malaria parasite. Now they are working to make this molecule more effective using nanotechnology.

Researchers at the Special Centre for Molecular Medicine at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) have got a patent for antimalarial properties of ACF. They have now joined hands with scientists at the National Institute of Immunology (NII) to develop a nano-formulation of the dug and to study its potential in animal models. The Department of Biotechnology (DBT) is funding this joint effort.

ACF was previously used as a trypanocidal agent against a range of infections during World War II. But due to preferential use of chloroquine for treatment of malaria, its antimalarial activity was never investigated. “It was used as an antibacterial and anti-parasitical agent but it was not known as antimalarial agent. We have found that it is effective as an antimalarial molecule also,” said Prof Suman Dhar of JNU. “We believe nanoformulation of ACF will help release the molecule slowly into the host. This will increase its stability, and it will be then conjugated with specific antibodies to make it more specific.”

The researchers have already shown that ACF inhibits the growth of both chloroquine-sensitive and chloroquine-resistant strains of human malarial parasite, Plasmodium falciparum. It was also found to clear malarial infection from bloodstreams of mice infected with Plasmodium berghei. In addition, they have found that ACF is preferentially accumulated in the parasitized red blood cells.

Chloroquine and pyrimethamine, which were used as primary chemotherapeutic drugs, are of little use now since the parasite has developed resistance to them. Though there is a decline in global burden of malariacontinues to be a major health problem in many countries.Recent reports of resistance to artemisinin, the only effective antimalarial drug at present, are causing concern among health agencies globally.

The team of researchers includes Prof Suman Dhar from Special Center for Molecular Medicine at JNU; DrJaydeep Bhattacharya and Dr Deepak Gaur from School of Biotechnology at JNU; and DrAgam P. Singh from NII, New Delhi. (Indian Science Wire)



Research and development in health and environment all set to get a new boost

Sunderarajan Padmanabhan

New Delhi: Research and development efforts in the areas of health and environment are set to get a major boost with the Government of India becoming an Associate Member of European Union’s cutting edge Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) at Grenoble in France.

The agreement will be for a period of three years at a cost of Rs. 17.5 crore. It will provide Indian scientific community access to multiple beam lines and other cutting edge facilities. India is the 22nd country to join the Facility.

The agreement builds up on the success of a previous ad-hoc arrangement signed by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) with European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in 2008 to access a beam line called BM14 at the Facility. The project was implemented by the New Delhi based National Institute of Immunology (NII) in partnership with EMBL.

A spokesperson of the Ministry of Science and Technology noted that it was of immense use to the macromolecular crystallography community in the country and had a profound impact on research and development in the areas of biotechnology and life sciences especially in understanding the biological mechanisms and development of effective therapeutics and prophylactics to combat human, veterinary and plant diseases.

“The access to the BM14 beamline has resulted in over 200 research publications, deposition of over 600 structures in the Protein Data Bank, training of more than 150 research personnel and over 100 PhD these were based on data collected under this programme’’.

Under the new arrangement, which will be formally launched in the presence of the Minister for Science and Technology, Harsh Vardhan on June 19, India would become a scientific partner of ESRF through the Regional Centre for Biotechnology (RCB), Faridabad. It provides access to multiple and more intense beam lines for Small Angle X-ray Scattering (SAXS) along with macromolecular crystallography. In addition, access to the Cyro-Electron Microscopy Facility will be available in the near future.

India joins the ESRF at an opportune moment, as a new and revolutionary Extremely Brilliant Source (EBS)of synchrotron will become operational in 2020. The EBS, with its unprecedented performance, is expected to enable path breaking discoveries in living matter and material research. (India Science Wire)