Sharmila Mande, Ph.D.
Principal Scientist and Head, Bio Sciences R&D, TCS Innovation Labs, Pune
Gut microbiome and health: Moving towards the new era of translational medicine
The microbes inhabiting our body outnumber our own cells by a factor of 10. The genomes of these microbes, called the ‘second genome’ are therefore expected to have great influence on our health and well being. The emerging field of metagenomics is rapidly becoming the method of choice for studying the microbial community (called microbiomes) present in various parts of the human body. Recent studies have implicated the role of gut microbiomes in several diseases and disorders. Studies have indicated gut microbiome’s role in nutrient absorption, immuno-modulation motor-response, and other key physiological processes. However, our understanding of the role of gut microbiota in malnutrition is currently incomplete. Exploration of these aspects are likely to help in understanding the microbial basis for several physiological disorders associated with malnutrition (eg, increased susceptibility to diarrhoeal pathogens) and may finally aid in devising appropriate probiotic strategies addressing this menace. A metagenomic approach was employed for analysing the differences between gut microbial communities obtained from malnourished and healthy children. Results of the analysis using TCS’ ‘Metagenomic Analysis Platform’ were discussed in detail during my talk.
Lalitha Subramanian, Ph.D.
Chief Scientific Officer & VP, Services at Scienomics, USA
Nanoscale Simulations – Tackling Form and Formulation Challenges in Drug Development and Drug Delivery
Lalitha Subramanian, Dora Spyriouni, Andreas Bick, Sabine Schweizer, and Xenophon Krokidis Scienomics
The discovery of a compound which is potent in activity against a target is a major milestone in Pharmaceutical and Biotech industry. However, a potent compound is only effective as a therapeutic agent when it can be administered such that the optimal quantity is transported to the site of action at an optimal rate. The active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) has to be tested for its physicochemical properties before the appropriate dosage form and formulation can be designed. Some of the commonly evaluated parameters are crystal forms and polymorphs, solubility, dissolution behavior, stability, partition coefficient, water sorption behavior, surface properties, particle size and shape, etc. Pharmaceutical development teams face the challenge of quickly and efficiently determining a number of properties with small quantities of the expensive candidate compounds. Recently the trend has been to screen these properties as early as possible and often the candidate compounds are not available in sufficient quantities. Increasingly, these teams are leveraging nanoscale simulations similar to those employed by drug discovery teams for several decades. Nanoscale simulations are used to predict the behavior using very little experimental data and only if this is promising further experiments are done. Another aspect where nanoscale simulations are being used in drug development and drug delivery is to get insights into the behavior of the system so that process failures can be remediated and formulation performance can be improved. Thus, the predictive screening and the in-depth understanding leads to experimental efficiency resulting in far-reaching business impacts.
With specific examples, this talk will focus on the different types of nanoscale simulations used to predict properties of the API in excipients and also provide insight into system behavior as a function of shelf life, temperature, mechanical stress, etc.