Autophagy, or self-eating, is a process where cells in our body devour some of the cell components to replenish their nutrient supply during severe shortage. This process, though sounds gruesome, is essential for our survival and any defect in this mechanism could lead to neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s disease. Several research, inspired by Nobel Laureate Prof. Yoshinori Ohsumi’s work on autophagy, has now uncovered new dimensions on our understanding of how cells function.
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Scientists have unearthed a natural biochemical entity from our own body, called microRNAs that could soon become a coveted tool in our disease-fighting arsenal. With the dawn of the genomic era, our fight against major diseases is increasingly getting channelized towards acquiring a fresh perspective of disease metabolism and consequently devising newer molecular strategies to combat these diseases. MicroRNAs (or miRNA) are one such new kid on the block, which have completely changed our perspective towards designing disease therapeutics. MicroRNAs are tiny RNA molecules that were once thought to be a waste product of our protein-producing machinery. Made of the same building blocks as our DNA, these pygmy RNA molecules could very well be the answer to curing diseases like cancer, diabetes, viral infections, genetic defects & many other metabolic disorders.
Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) is a condition that affects the small intestine and found in those that suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome with diarrhea. Today, absence of an accurate diagnostic method prevents early detection and treatment of this condition. Scientists at the SN Bose National Centre for Basic Sciences and Dr. Sujit Chaudhuri from AMRI Hospital, Kolkata, have now developed an improvised accurate diagnostic method that proposes to measure the amount of hydrogen sulphide gas in a patient’s breath. Due to increased bacterial activity in the small intestine, hydrogen sulphide is produced in larger quantities in patients suffering from SIBO. This research hopes to help in early detection and treatment of SIBO, thus guaranteeing a better quality of life for those with IBS and diarrhea.
A recent report by the World Health Organization estimates that about two million deaths occur every year due to tuberculosis (TB). An alarming dimension to this problem is the fact that some strains of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), the causative agent of TB, have developed resistance to some antibiotics used to kill them, leading to the emergence of ‘drug resistant TB’ and causing a global threat. Drug resistance is a way by which bacteria respond to the drug stress they face. Due to improper and irregular use of antibiotics by patients, not all bacteria may be killed, leading to the emergence of drug resistant strains that survive even when further doses of the drug are administered. Now, a team of researchers at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, led by Prof. Nagasuma Chandra and Prof. Amit Singh, have explored the mechanism behind the development of resistance to a front-line anti-tubercular drug called isoniazid, used widely in the clinic.
Many lifesaving medical devices such as urinary catheters, pacemakers, intrauterine devices and voice prosthesis, which are usually inserted into some part of the body, are plagued by a common problem – ‘bacterial biofilms’. These ‘biofilms’ grow on the surfaces of these devices and may cause infections. They are harder to treat than individual bacteria and need about 1000 – 10000 times stronger dose of antibiotics. But this may no longer be the case, as a group of scientists led by Prof. Dipshikha Chakravortty and Prof. Jagadeesh Gopalan from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, have found a novel method to fight biofilm infections.