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Department of Biochemistry

Yeasts on a protein diet: Scientists decode the mechanism behind this

Many organisms, including yeast, obtain Carbon and energy from carbohydrates and Nitrogen from other nutrients like amino acids. But some types of yeast, like Pichia pastoris, can use amino acids not only as sources of Nitrogen, but also as sources of Carbon too finds a new study at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. The team, consisting of Mr. Umakant Sahu and Prof. P N Rangarajan from the Department of Biochemistry, have studied the mechanism behind how P. pastoris can grow happily in a medium that does not contain glucose but only amino acids like glutamate, aspartate, proline, etc.

Yeasts on a protein diet: Scientists decode the mechanism behind this

Many organisms, including yeast, obtain Carbon and energy from carbohydrates and Nitrogen from other nutrients like amino acids. But some types of yeast, like Pichia pastoris, can use amino acids not only as sources of Nitrogen, but also as sources of Carbon too finds a new study at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. The team, consisting of Mr. Umakant Sahu and Prof. P N Rangarajan from the Department of Biochemistry, have studied the mechanism behind how P. pastoris can grow happily in a medium that does not contain glucose but only amino acids like glutamate, aspartate, proline, etc.

To Cut or Not to Cut-The Bacterial Dilemma!

Some bacteria possess an interesting ability of incorporating a new piece of DNA from the outside.This new DNA might come from its surroundings, other bacteria or even invading virus and might help in fostering genomic diversity. In fact, scientists now believe that this phenomenonis much more common than previously thought. However, incorporating a viral DNA may be harmful where the viruses utilize every opportunity to sneak into a bacterium and, hijack its machinery to replicate the viral DNA. Hence, to protect themselves, bacteria have evolved a mechanism called restriction modification system. And yet, it could work for the advantage of the bacterium sometimes to restrain this system and usher in new foreign DNA that might contribute to its own genomic diversity.

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.

A Fungal solution to Cancer

Nature is the mother to all solutions! And this has been proven time and again. In early 1960’s National Cancer Institute, United States, funded researchers to find a natural compound to treat one of the most dreadful diseases of all times- cancer. After screening through thousands of trees, scientists finally found a remarkable chemical compound from the bark of a Pacific Yew tree (Taxus brevifolia). They named this biomolecule with anti-cancer properties as Paclitaxel (marketed as Taxol).

A green way to treat cancer

Cancer is one of the most dangerous diseases in the world today. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) estimated 14.1 million new cases of cancer worldwide in 2012 alone, out of which, eight million cases were from the developing countries. Approximately 8.2 million cancer deaths occurred in the same year, which means 22,000 cancer deaths every day. The World Health Organization has estimated that the cancer cases would increase by 70% over the next two decades. The most common causes of cancer deaths are lung, liver, stomach, colorectal, breast and oesophageal cancer. It is normally treated using radiation, chemotherapy and surgery. However, all these methods of treatment carry considerable side effects and thus, treating with naturally occurring compounds is the most desirable way. A research group at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, led by Dr. S.C. Raghavan, has recently reported some natural anticancerous compounds in two independent studies.

IISc cancer researcher wins Kobayashi Foundation Award

Dr. Sathees C. Raghavan from the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, has been chosen for the Kobayashi Foundation Award 2016. The prestigious award carries a cash prize of one million Japanese yen.
Dr. Sathees C. Raghavan is an Associate Professor at the Department of Biochemistry, Indian Institute of Science.
The Kobayashi Foundation, based in Japan, annually presents its award to scientists from Asian countries other than Japan, who have made significant contributions to cancer chemotherapy.

Back to the basics: garlic combo effective against malaria

For most Indians, Garlic is an inevitable spice used in everyday cooking. For the modern man embracing naturopathy as a form of living, garlic is a super-food that can cure and protect against a host of diseases. And for Dr Vathsala, in her quest for an efficient anti malarial drug that works well in combination with arteether (a semi-synthetic derivative of Artemisinin), Garlic proved to be the best candidate.

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. A step in this direction has been taken by scientists at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore.

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