Recent advances in DNA sequencing, molecular cloning, and gene editing technologies have helped us to discover, study and translate the biological life-forms. The data coming out from large-scale functional genomics studies need to be stored, analyzed and interpreted. This requires a high-end biological and computing facilities to cater towards the scientific community. India being a country having the richest biodiversity hotspots in the world, there is huge scope to decode genomes, understand and harness functionality of biodiversity through functional genomics and bio-informatics approaches. We carryout large-scale studies in relation to conservation and traditional medicine.
Our thrust areas include:
Optimum development and functioning of the nervous system is very important for quality of life. Health of nervous system is indicated by good cognition, memory, and sensory-motor functions. Impaired nervous system function can manifest differentially, for example, as impaired memory, altered sense organ function, abnormal body movement -motor activities, speech deterioration etc. These phenomena are observed in age related neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
Currently available heath solutions offer limited symptomatic relief and almost nothing for neurodegenerative disease correction or inhibition. Research suggests that healthy life style and use of nootropic food and neutraceuticals can enhance health of nervous system and prevent occurrence of diseases including neurodegenerative disorders. However, wider and intensive application of these healthcare solutions requires meticulous scientific analysis including research on mechanism of action.
Ayurveda offers Rasayana therapy for longer healthspan and lifespan. It is often prescribes it for prevention, restriction and cure of diseases. Rasayana therapy includes drugs, therapeutic interventions, diet and lifestyle advices. A category of Rasayana called Medhyarasayana (Ayurvedic nootropics) are indicated for optimal functioning of nervous system as evidenced by enhanced cognition. Common Medhyarasayana herbs include Brahmi (Bacopa Monneiri), Mandookaparni (Centella asiatica Linn.), Shankhapushpi (Convolvulus pleuricaulis Chois), Yastimadhu (Glycirrhiza glabra Linn.), Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia (Thunb. Miers), Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), Kapikachhu (Mucuna prurience), Jyotishmati (Celestrus paniculatus) and Jatamansi (Nardostachys jatamansi). These Medhyarasayana herbs are widely used as neurotonic for enhanced cognition/memory as well as for treatment of disease by Ayurvedic vaidya, but the scientific data for efficacy and mode-of-action of these herbs is very scanty.
Our group at TDU is involved in research on Medhyarasayana. We work very closely with clinicians and ayurvedic experts for selecting appropriate assays and designing the experiments. Our research is aimed at understanding of mode of action of select Medhyarasayana at cellular and molecular level. In neuronal disease models, the group focuses on Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease.
We use a non-parasitic nematode, Caenorhabditis elegans , as a model system for research. C. elegans offers many advantages as a research tool. It shows high genomic homology with human beings making it a relevant model for pharmacological research for human health. Further, it offers practical advantages because of its small size, short life cycle, well-developed nervous system, transparent body and availability of many transgenic strains and genetic tools.
Research from our group is mainly focused on,