K. P. Mohanakumar, Ph.D.
Chief Scientist, Cell Biology & Physiology Division, Indian Institute of Chemical Biology, Kolkata
Neuroprotective and neurodestructive effects of Ayurvedic drug constituents: Parkinson’s disease
The present study reports the good and the bad entities in an Indian traditional medicine used for treating Parkinson’s disease (PD). A prospective clinical trial on the effectiveness of Ayurvedic medication in a population of PD patients revealed significant benefits, which has been attributed to L-DOPA present in the herbs . Later studies revealed better benefits with one of the herbs alone, compared to pure L-DOPA in a clinical trial conducted in UK , and in several studies conducted on animal models of PD in independent laboratories world over [3-5]. We have adapted strategies to segregate molecules from the herb, and then carefully removed L-DOPA contained therein, and tested each of these sub-fractions for anti-PD activity in 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine, rotenone and 6-hydroxydopamine -induced parkinsonian animal models, and transgenic mitochondrial cybrids. We report here two classes of molecules contained in the herb, one of which possessed severe pro-parkinsonian (phenolic amine derivatives) and the other having excellent anti-parkinsonian potential (substituted tetrahydroisoquinoline derivatives). The former has been shown to cause severe dopamine depletion in the striatum of rodents, when administered acutely or chronically. It also caused significant behavioral aberrations, leading to anxiety and depression . The latter class of molecules administered in PD animal model , caused reversal of behavioral dysfunctions and significant attenuation of striatal dopamine loss. These effects were comparable or better than the effects of the anti-PD drugs, selegiline or L-DOPA. The mechanism of action of the molecule has been found to be novel, at the postsynaptic receptor signaling level, as well as cellular α-synuclein oligomerization and specifically at mitochondria. The molecule helped in maintaining mitochondrial ETC complex activity and stabilized cellular respiration, and mitochondrial fusion-fission machinery with specific effect on the dynamin related protein 1. Although there existed significant medical benefits that could be derived to patients due to the synergistic actions of several molecules present in a traditional preparation, accumulated data in our hands suggest complicated mechanisms of actions of Ayurvedic medication. Our results also provide great hope for extracting, synthesizing and optimizing the activity of anti-parkinsonian molecules present in traditional Ayurvedic herbs, and for designing novel drugs with novel mechanisms of action.
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- Katzenschlager R, Evans A, Manson A, Patsalos PN, Ratnaraj N, Watt H, Timmermann L, Van der Giessen R, Lees AJ. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry.75, 1672-7, 2004.
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- Kasture S, Pontis S, Pinna A, Schintu N, Spina L, Longoni R, Simola N, Ballero M, Morelli M. Neurotox Res. 15, 111-22, 2009.
- Lieu CA, Kunselman AR, Manyam BV, Venkiteswaran K, Subramanian T. Parkinsonism Relat Disord.16, 458-65, 2010.
- T Sengupta and KP Mohanakumar, Neurochem Int. 57, 637-46, 2010.
- T Sengupta, J Vinayagam, N Nagashayana, B Gowda, P Jaisankar and KP Mohanakumar, Neurochem Res 36, 177-86, 2011
Nader Pourmand, Ph.D.
Director, UCSC Genome Technology Center,University of California, Santa Cruz
Biosensor and Single Cell Manipulation using Nanopipettes
Approaching sub-cellular biological problems from an engineering perspective begs for the incorporation of electronic readouts. With their high sensitivity and low invasiveness, nanotechnology-based tools hold great promise for biochemical sensing and single-cell manipulation. During my talk I will discuss the incorporation of electrical measurements into nanopipette technology and present results showing the rapid and reversible response of these subcellular sensors to different analytes such as antigens, ions and carbohydrates. In addition, I will present the development of a single-cell manipulation platform that uses a nanopipette in a scanning ion-conductive microscopy technique. We use this newly developed technology to position the nanopipette with nanoscale precision, and to inject and/or aspirate a minute amount of material to and from individual cells or organelle without comprising cell viability. Furthermore, if time permits, I will show our strategy for a new, single-cell DNA/ RNA sequencing technology that will potentially use nanopipette technology to analyze the minute amount of aspirated cellular material.
Rajgopal Srinivasan, Ph.D.
Principal Scientist & Head Bio IT R&D, TCS Innovation Labs, India
Interpretation of Genomic Variation – Identifying Rare Variations Leading to Disease
Genome sequencing technologies are generating an abundance of data on human genetic variations. A big challenge lies in interpreting the functional relevance of such variations, especially in clinical settings. A first step in understanding the clinical relevance of genetic variations is to annotate the variants for region of occurrence, degree of conservation both within and across species, pattern of variation across related individuals, novelty of the variation and know effects of related variations. Several tools already exist for this purpose. However, these tools have their strengths and weaknesses. A second issue is the development of algorithms, which, given a rich annotation of variants are able to prioritize the variants as being relevant to the phenotype under investigation.
In my talk I will detail work that has been done in our labs to address both of the above problems. I will also illustrate the application of these tools that helped identify a rare mutation in the ATM gene leading to a diagnosis of AT in two infants.