Research Highlights

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Anand et al, Neurology India 1999, 2002, has described the three differentially expressed gene transcripts helpful in discriminating the two allelic forms of the disease i.e. DMD and BMD with potential for future molecular diagnostic application. This was recommended for patent by the Department of Biotechnology, New Delhi. Later, Ambati and Anand, Nature Medicine 2003 and 2004, also described the first transgenic animal model of age related macular degeneration (AMD) in CCL 2-/- and CCR 2 -/- mice, not only as a tool for studying the unification of inflammatory paradigm central to pathogensis of AMD and Alzheimer’s disease (AD), but also the pluripotency of stem cells and validating novel therapies. Monika et al described that PARK 2 mutations lead to Parkinsonism in India(Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgey and Psychiatry 2009; Sept 3 10.1136/jnnp.2008.157255). Saraf, Anand and Prabhakar described the antiamnesic effects of Brahmi using series of amnesic agents in mouse model of memory. Pal et alNeurology India, 2000 described the relationship of phenylthreo carbamide (PTC) with Epilepsy in Indian patients.

Significant ongoing research activities
The laser injured retina mouse model has been developed using 600mW, 200ms and 70 micron laser spots underlying the retina. This is the first model developed in the country. Ongoing project seeks to repair this damage by implanting various sources of stem cells into this model and study their migration. A middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO) stroke mouse model is being currently standardized and attempts are ongoing to rescue the neuronal damage in the ischemic penumbra by herbs and synthetic analogs. Bacopa Monniera has been tested for its antiamnesic effects in reversing drug and stroke induced amnesia in mice. The abeta induced Alzheimer’s disease mouse model has been established in the lab alongwith MCAO induced retinal ischemia mouse model which will further supplement our resources of battery of animal models. These will be used to screen additional molecules and biotherapeutics for preclinical evaluation including those derived from endurance exercises and mind body interventions. The emerging behavioral data is very encouraging and the molecular pathway is being mapped. The screening of CCl 2, VEGF and CCR 2 mutations in the patients of AMD and ALS is being carried out.

Research goals for next fifteen years
With the recognition of lab by Quality Council of India, it is envisaged to create intellectual environment permissive for acquiring Neuroscience leadership by a) mapping the key molecular mechanisms of neuronal regeneration and study their trafficking through invitro and invivo approaches b) to identify new targets for memory enhancement and delineate the mechanism of action of Bacopa Monniera in alleviating amnesia c) to identify the mechanism of action of various Yoga protocols for advancing our knowledge of untreatable diseases and wellness

A four pronged approach is being adopted to visualize these research goals for the next fifteen years. Generation of mouse models for understanding the mechanism of neurodegeneration and testing the potential of stem cell implantation, with emphasis on utilizing neuroectodermally derived retina as a window to understand CNS plasticity; Genetic screening of Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and Age related Macular degeneration to identify novel markers as tools for molecular diagnosis; Expression profiling of invitro differentiated stem cells derived from various sources such as bone marrow and ciliary epithelium into functionally viable neurons and test their integration into several animal models

We aspire to create an infrastructure that is compartmentalized into three physically distinct units to accommodate the growing number of PhD trainees, namely Memory lab housing the water maze and a laser instrument, Neural cell culture facility cum a human genetic screening lab and mind-body intervention unit