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Department of Biochemistry

How our body recognises “foreigners”

Millions watched proudly as the armed forces of our nation displayed their mighty prowess for the world to see during the Republic Day parade. We regard those who protect our nation from foreign attacks with high esteem. Oddly enough, not many of us have stopped to marvel at the intricate mechanisms by which our human body has contrived a defense system no less admirable than the armed forces of our nation. A system that continues to protect us in spite of all that we throw at it.

A drug that kills cancer cells when shone by light

Researchers at IISc have designed a trio of compounds that can be triggered by light to become toxic to cancer cells. These compounds target the cells’ mitochondria ─ their “energy factories”─ setting off a chain reaction that turns on cell death pathways and kills the cancer cells.

Improved version of an anti-cancer drug

In 2013, Prof Sathees Raghavan and his group at IISc discovered a highly promising anti-cancer drug – a small molecule that targets cancerous cells and arrests the biochemical pathways meant for repairing DNA, leading to cell death. In order to facilitate its entry inside the cells, the group has now come up with an improved version of SCR7, called “ESCR7”.

Nanowires to combat cell damage and ageing in humans

Researchers from the Indian Institute of Science have found that nanowires made of vanadia can reduce cell damage in the human body. This discovery can help develop drugs that prevent ageing, cardiac disorders, and several neurological problems like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease. Vanadium oxide or vanadia is a form of vanadium, an element found close to titanium on the periodic table.

Keeping DNA in good shape

A stitch in time saves nine, goes the old saying. And here a team of scientists at Indian Institute of Science study RAGs (recombination activating genes) to understand the stitching and unstitching of the DNA, which in certain ways leads to genomic instability and cancer.

Anti-tumour properties in Sapota

Researchers from Sathees Raghavan’s group at the Department of Biochemistry have demonstrated anti-cancer properties of sapota extracts in cancerous cell lines and in laboratory mice infected with cancer. The phytochemicals (plant based chemicals) in sapota extract activates cell-death pathways. Tumour growth was inhibited, and lifespan of tumour bearing animals increased, when sapota extract was used.