Research Highlights

How blackbucks have been surviving in a mosaic of modified landscape

Ask any person from a big city and they will tell you how house hunting is one of the biggest banes around! Now if you thought that was difficult, try and surmise the perils of house hunting that fall upon an animal. Animals have to search for a habitat with good nutritious food resources while evading dangerous predators and other risks. With the added dimension of seasonally changing resources and risk, animals have their task cut out to decide which habitat they should use at a given point of time. Apart from that, there are added conflicts brought in by conversion of natural landscapes for urbanisation and development. In the face of so many dynamic factors, finding livable habitat becomes a challenge. For animals, like urban house hunters, finding a place to live is no child’s play.

Towards a better therapy for brain cancer

Glioblastoma (GBM) is a type of cancer in brain cells. The brain mostly consists of two cell types, neurons which transmit information through electric impulses and glia which support the neurons and maintain their health. Cancer of the glia is called as glioma. GBM (grade IV) is the most common and most aggressive type of glioma. It accounts for 15% of all brain tumors and 50% of all the gliomas. It is most common between age group of 45-65 years and men get affected more than women. Among children, GBM is the second most prevalent cancer. At present, the standard treatment for GBM is surgery followed by radiation along with chemotherapy. Despite the current treatment options, GBM has very poor prognosis with a median survival of 15 months after diagnosis. Almost all cases of GBM show recurrence and this can be attributed to various factors like incomplete resection, genetic variations among tumors, invading tumor cells, and the presence of cancer stem cells.

Expediting drug development using molecular structure

Crystallography, the study of atomic and molecular structure, has gained widespread recognition lately. Derived from the Greek words “crystallon”, meaning cold or frozen drop, and “graphein”, meaning the experimental science of finding out the arrangement of atoms in solids, it is a technique used to determine the structures of large bio-molecules such as proteins.

Back to the basics: garlic combo effective against malaria

It was the discovery of Artemisinin that won Tu Youyou the 2015 Nobel Prize in medicine. This drug that she isolated from the sweet wormwood plant Artemisia annua, is regarded as a significant breakthrough in the treatment of malaria. The molecule and its derivatives when first discovered were widely used to treat Plasmodium falciparum malaria- the most dreaded, the most lethal form of malaria.

Determination of virus and enzyme structures pave way for drug development

Prof. M. R. N. Murthy from the Molecular Biophysics Unit, IISc has achieved what no other lab in India has been able to so far: by determining the complete structures of not one, but two plant viruses. Less than a dozen labs worldwide have been able to determine the structure of viruses. Determination of the structure of viruses has numerous prospects in the field of vaccine development, drug delivery and imaging. Prof. Murthy was recently awarded the Sir M. Visvesvaraya State Award for Senior Scientists by Karnataka State Council for Science and Technology.

Breaking Cancer’s back: Targeting the DNA

Cancer is no stranger in today’s world. Each year, about 14 million people receive this dreaded diagnosis and 8 million die from the disease. According to reports, 1300 people succumb to cancer every day in India. Moreover, statistics have indicated a steady increase in the number of cancer patients in the past 5 years. In order to bring down this rapidly increasing number, newer therapeutic approaches against cancer are of the utmost need.

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