JNU to establish new centre for research in natural products

Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU)

New
Delhi, October 15 : A National
Centre for Screening of Natural Products for Parasitic Diseases
will
soon start working at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU).

Aim of National
Centre for Screening of Natural Products for Parasitic Diseases

The
main objective of the center is to screen natural products to identify potential
candidates for further optimization and preclinical and clinical development as
new drugs against parasitic diseases.

“We
propose to use a multi-directional, multidisciplinary drug discovery approach
for parasitic diseases such as leishmaniasis, amoebiasis and malaria. The centre
will bring under one roof all parasitologists working in JNU to discover new
lead molecules against tropical parasitic diseases that are the second leading
cause of deaths globally,” said Prof Rentala Madhubala, principal investigator of
the project, while speaking with India Science Wire.

Centre
is being funded by DST

The centre is being funded by the Department of Science and
Technology (DST) under its Technology Development and Transfer (TDT) Division. The
centre will get a grant of Rs 5 crore over three years.

The
new centres will conduct cell-based phenotypic screening wherein natural
product compound libraries will be screened against three protozoan parasites
most relevant to human disease – Leishmania donovaniPlasmodium
falciparum
and Entamoeba histolytica – to identify compounds
with desirable physicochemical properties.

The
other objective is to conduct target-based screening.  The available natural products compound
libraries will be screened through a battery of validated enzymes targets. And
there will be a preclinical evaluation of leads for products
identified through phenotypic and targets-based screening. “Lead compounds will
be tested for suppressive, curative and prophylactic actions,” said Dr
Madhubala.

The
centre will build alliance with academia and pharmaceutical industries to
integrate research, development and commercialization of potentially useful
natural products. The natural products libraries will be obtained from
CSIR-IICT, Hyderabad in collaboration with Dr. Debendra Mohapatra.  The center will be collaborating with Pune-based
Emcure Pharmaceuticals for developing and commercializing lead compounds.

In
addition to JNU, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research,
Chandigarh; National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research,
Guwahati; and Khalsa College, Mumbai, have been selected according to Dr
Krishna Kanth Pulicherla, Scientist at DST. 
The programme is designed to harness knowledge of traditional medicinal
system and biodiversity of the country for the advantage of drug industry.

By
Jyoti Singh

(India Science Wire)

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