5 new gene mutations found, making a significant contribution to an international database.

A collaborative study conducted by researchers at the Department of Molecular Reproduction, Development and Genetics, Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS), Bangalore, has analyzed DNA samples of Indian families to study brain diseases. Headed by Dr. Arun Kumar from IISc and Dr. P. S. Bindu from NIMHANS, it is the first report on the genetic analysis of 22 Indian families with neurodegenerative diseases caused by alterations in a specific gene called PLA26G.

The 2015 Chennai floods – A rapid assessment

In December 2015, Chennai witnessed massive floods killing about 400 people and displacing thousands. Now, researchers from Interdisciplinary Centre for Water Research (ICWaR) at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, in collaboration with researchers from Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), Madras and Bombay have assessed the flood related information in the public domain and data from secondary sources and carried out quick first level analyses to develop an understanding about possible reasons for the floods. They observed that the massive floods were a result of a combination of factors; high rainfall intensity, overflowing rivers, global climate drivers, unplanned urbanization, inadequate drainage system and upstream reservoir releases.

Lab Story: Understanding a Versatile Bacterium in our Stomach

People had never thought that Gastritis in the stomach was caused by a bacterium, never believed it could be, so much so that one of the two scientists Barry Marshall and Robin Warren had to drink a cupful of Helicobacter pylori culture to show that he developed gastritis! They were later awarded a noble prize for their discovery of the bacterium Helicobacter pylori and its role in gastritis and peptic ulcer.

Combating Bacterial Infections by Plugging Cell Leaks with Nanoscale Blockers

Certain pathogenic bacteria have adopted a unique ‘style’ of killing its victim by boring nanoscale holes into its cellular membrane. The pore-forming toxins (PFTs) released by these bacteria rapidly puncture the target cell membrane, and the cell leaks to death in a process known as apoptosis. Scientists across the globe have been actively working on designing various nanoscale (1-100 nanometers) blockers to plug these pores and prevent cell damage. Recently, a group of scientists from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, have suggested an effective nanoscale blocker made up of Polyamido-amine (PAMAM) dendrimers, a synthetic polymer.

Orchestrating eye-hand movements: What mechanisms does the brain use?

The eyes and the hands work together as a team for most of the daily tasks we perform. When we pick up the morning coffee, or when we drive to work, our brains are constantly commandeering our eye and hand systems to bring about smooth, coordinated movements. We often do not consciously compute the steps required to bring them about. However, when the coordination is disrupted, even the simplest of tasks like picking up a book prove to be extremely challenging. How does the brain achieve efficient eye-hand coordination? A recent study from Prof. Aditya Murthy’s laboratory at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, explores this critical question and suggests a framework to understand the control mechanisms ofcoordinated eye-hand movements.

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