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Scientists leverage the power of shockwaves and antibiotics to treat bacterial infections

Many lifesaving medical devices such as urinary catheters, pacemakers, intrauterine devices and voice prosthesis, which are usually inserted into some part of the body, are plagued by a common problem – ‘bacterial biofilms’. These ‘biofilms’ grow on the surfaces of these devices and may cause infections. They are harder to treat than individual bacteria and need about 1000 – 10000 times stronger dose of antibiotics. But this may no longer be the case, as a group of scientists led by Prof. Dipshikha Chakravortty and Prof. Jagadeesh Gopalan from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, have found a novel method to fight biofilm infections.

 

Scientists elucidate the mechanism behind Mycobacterium hijacking Macrophages for its own survival

In the movie “Terminator: The Rise of Machines”, the character Terminatrix manipulates the Cyborgs tweaking them to work against humans and to her own advantage. Now, scientists have discovered that some strains of bacteria could do the same to some of our cells. Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacterium that causes tuberculosis, is one such. It manipulates the macrophages, a type of white blood cell that hunts and engulfs invading pathogens, to act as bacterial reservoirs and provide a survival niche. This niche not only provides the bacteria with nutrients, but also helps evade the normal immune response. In a recent study, a team of scientists from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, has explored the mechanism behind the manipulation of macrophages by this bacteria.

What causes defective ribosomes? New study may have the answer

Ribosomes are molecular machines that make proteins in cells. That the ribosomes are important can be judged by the fact that the cells spend about 40% of their energy in assembling them. In bacteria, ribosomes are made up of a large (50S) and a small (30S) subunits. Flaws in the assembly and maturation (biogenesis) of any of these subunits affect protein synthesis in various ways and often result in the organism’s intolerance to cold, and impact their resistance to drugs and pathogenity. In higher organisms (including humans), defective biogenesis of ribosomes could lead to various diseases. Hence, an understanding of how cells manage accuracy in the complex process of ribosome biogenesis is of utmost importance in developing therapeutic interventions. Now, a study from the laboratory of Prof. Umesh Varshney at the Department of Microbiology and Cell Biology, Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, has unravelled the mechanism behind synthesis of ribosomes.

 

IISc scientists design cost-effective treatment for sepsis

When our body’s defensive immune responses end up injuring our own tissues and organs while fighting infections, it results in a clinical condition called sepsis. It is one of the leading causes of global mortality, with an estimated 90,000 deaths every year in India alone. Once it kicks off, sepsis or “septic shock”, commonly results in tissue damage, multiple organ failure and eventually death in high-risk patients. Fungal, viral and parasitic infections can all cause sepsis, with bacteria being the most common culprits. Conventionally, sepsis is treated using expensive antibiotics with poor shelf lives. Now, a new study by researchers at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, has proposed a cost-effective treatment for sepsis.

Scientists discover gene responsible for aggressiveness of brain cancer

The story of glioblastoma research has all the makings of a Dan Brown novel; the protagonist making small but sure steps towards understanding his rival’s malicious intentions and the unravelling of a plot that seems to thicken with every page. The ‘rival’ in my metaphor is Glioblastoma, a highly aggressive and a grievously common form of brain tumour that occurs in adults. It is known for being notoriously un-resectable due to its high metastazing capacity (the ability to travel to different parts of the body) which may sometimes involve important regions of the brain. The ‘Robert Langdons’ of this story are the scientists attempting to unravel the biology of glioblastoma, in an attempt to identify where the deregulation occurs; in other words, the scene of the crime.

Rebuilding BCG, the Tuberculosis Vaccine

A "TB free India" has been the vision of the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Program (RNTCP), a state-run tuberculosis (TB) control initiative of the Government of India. Around 2.7 lakh people succumb to the disease every year, and around 12 lakh new cases emerge, making Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) not only the biggest health problem in India, but also the second largest infectious killer in the world. The World Health Organizationreported 1.5 million deaths caused by TB in 2014.

Deciphering the molecular mechanisms of mitotic spindle behaviour

In a multicellular organism when a life form begins at the one-cell stage embryo, how do different cell types come into existence during development? Part of the answer to this puzzles lies in the process of asymmetric cell division. During asymmetric cell division a cell undergoes division in such a way that it produces two daughter cells with distinct fates and thus having different developmental potential.

Scientists identify a new candidate for TB vaccine

On 18th July 1981, in the suburbs of Paris, a pregnant woman died in a hospital after giving birth. The cause of death: Tuberculosis(TB). Will her kid also be a victim of this deadly disease? Fortunately along with kid, in the same place at the same time was born BCG- the first vaccine for Tuberculosis. The kid was vaccinated and led a TB free life.

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.

A Trojan horse to combat Salmonella infection

Salmonella enterica are a class of bacteria that are the leading cause of food borne diseases worldwide. One of the main characteristics that makes this class of bacteria so virulent is their ability to form biofilms. Recent research from the lab of Dr. Dipshikha Chakravortty at the Department of Microbiology and Cell Biology, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore has revealed some interesting insights into the behaviour of biofilms and the cheaters within them.

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