Saturday October 21, 2017

For better health, gut bacteria of 15 tribes mapped by Indian scientists

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Guwahati: Among researchers across the globe, a group of Indian scientists mapped the gut bacteria of 15 ethnic tribes of the country to understand their role in health, enabling development of personalised medicines and designer diets to suit changing lifestyles.

The research published in the December 2015 edition of Nature Scientific Reports also highlights the resemblance of Gut Bacterial Profile (GBP) of these communities with the profiles of the Mongoloid population of Mongolia, involving 193 healthy individuals from tribes of Assam, Manipur, Sikkim and Telangana.

“Till now there was no such report on the GBP of the ethnic tribes of India. With the rapid economic development coupled with the modernization of lifestyle, the tribal population of India may eventually undergo alteration in GBP and it is important to know the profile of these microorganisms to prepare necessary strategies for action,” Mojibur R. Khan, group leader of the study, told reporters.

By charting out the profile, the puzzle of how diet, genes and geography shape GBP and how even minute changes in the milieu of microorganisms have a significant impact on human health, will decipher.

“It will also help us in designing personalized medication and nutritional standards,” said Khan, a scientist at Guwahati’s Institute of Advanced Study in Science and Technology (IASST).

Other collaborators in the Department of Biotechnology-funded project include Narayan C. Talukdar from Manipur’s Institute of Bioresources & Sustainable Development (IBSD) and Rupjyoti Talukdar from Hyderabad’s Asian Healthcare Foundation/Asian Institute of Gastroenterology, in addition to IASST.

In 2015, after a major chunk of research directed on the topics of gut bacteria and the human microbiome which are the red hot topics right now made it clear that they’re much more important than previously thought.

Practical applications like faecal transplant to fight life-threatening diseases became a reality.

While some of these microbes like the dry parts of the skin, others snuggle up in the warm confines of the mouth or the moist skin folds of underarms. It’s a symbiosis: humans offer them residence, they help us live.

But the major chunk of real estate for these bacteria, virus and fungi are the human gut.

Under impaired circumstances, a harmless organism can become a disease-causing one which may result in your overall health becoming topsy-turvy due to the erosion of a, particularly beneficial species. So, common practices like eating curd (or other probiotics) regularly ensure the gut gets its share of good bacteria to ease digestion.

Khan said that as many as 593 bacterial varieties were detected in the profiles and Sikkim tribes showed a “higher abundance” of probiotic bacterial varieties like Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus as they consume more dairy products, including curd.

By intake of dairy products and studying their effects on health, a GBP can be altered and researchers have launched this study as an offshoot to the GBP mapping.

“When compared with the worldwide data on gut bacteria, the Indian tribal population had more similarity with the Mongoloid population of Mongolia. This means either the genetic similarity or the geographical settings have resulted in the particular food habits (such as fermented foods) and resulting gut bacterial profile,” said Khan of IASST’s Molecular Biology and Microbial Biotechnology Laboratory, Life Science Division.

Khan added, “Furthermore, most of these tribes prepare traditional rice beer using some herbs, which they consume regularly. This may also have some role in their health benefits as it is included in their custom and rituals. We have taken this as an intense area of research to understand the effect of rice beer on GBP and health.”(IANS)

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‘Tribes of India’ : An Online Database to Document the Lives of Indian Tribes

The database would contain rare and exclusive videos and photographs, above thousands, which have been collected from various Tribal Research Institutes around the country

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Indian Tribes, Tribal culture
Tribal culture. Wikimedia
  • The ‘Tribes of India’ will showcase the lifestyle, culinary culture, conditions of living of the tribes
  • It is going to be amazing to form a database collecting all the information regarding the characteristics of the tribes, as those will be accessible in the distance of a click
  • Experts from the ministry has also stated that the database would be frequently updated with new research inputs from sources and scientists

New Delhi, August 10, 2017: The very first attempt at producing a documentation of the lives of the tribal in India, is ongoing. The ‘Tribes of India’ will showcase the lifestyle, culinary culture, conditions of living, and historical and chronological facts regarding the evolution of their traditions and culture. The ‘repertoire’ is focusing on answering questions such as- the difference between the Gond tribe of Uttar Pradesh and the Gonds of Jharkhand, whether the tribes in Jharkhand possess a secret cure for anemia, and the status of living of the Santhals in the remote forest-zones.

ALSO READ: Lalung Tribe of Northeast India: What Makes them Stand Apart!

A database on the tribes of India is to be created by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs. The project aims to bring into light the art and culture, history of evolution and anthropological facts, lifestyle and eating practices, the rate of mortality, education system, architecture and the contribution of the tribals in India’s struggle for freedom, Economic Times has reported.

It has been planned that the database would contain rare and exclusive videos and photographs, above thousands, which have been collected from various Tribal Research Institutes around the country. It is true that the research institute has always showcased such collections, but this is the first time it is going to be saved in an exclusive database.

It is going to be amazing to form a database collecting all the information regarding the characteristics of the tribes, as those will be accessible in the distance of a click, from now on. Techniques to introduce a feature that would enable a viewer to take a virtual tour of the architecture of a tribal hut is also going to be implemented, a senior ministry official said to Economic Times.

According to the report, about 10 crore scheduled-tribe people form an 8.6% of the entire population of the country. But it has been observed that there has been no sincere attempt to showcase and explore the unique lifestyle of the tribes. The official further stated that the database would pose as an excellent guide for the research-scholars because it will contain the necessary statistics. Experts from the ministry have also stated that the database would be frequently updated with new research inputs from sources and scientists.

The database is to follow the effort of the government to explore and showcase the lifestyle of the Indian tribes and dedicate some museums as well to the tribes. The Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi addressed the nation and asked all to explore and research on the contributions made by the Scheduled Tribes in India’s freedom struggle, Economic Times has reported.

The database will also include links to the museums of various states post their construction.

-prepared by Antara Kumar of NewsGram. Twitter: @ElaanaC

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Indian Scientists suggest Tweaking Microbial Minions in the intestine to treat Pancreatitis

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Doctors operating on a patient (Representational Image), VOA

Kolkata, May 4, 2017: The gut is the gateway to heath, courtesy the teeming microbial minions. The smarter they are, the better you are.

Indian scientists say tweaking the bacterial milieu in the intestine could be potentially therapeutic in treating chronic pancreatitis, a disease that cripples the body’s ability to digest food and regulate blood sugar and could even lead to diabetes.

Their suggestion is based on the revelation that alteration in gut microbes may be linked to malnutrition and diabetes in chronic pancreatitis (CP) for which there is currently no definitive cure.

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“Whatever treatment is offered to these patients is directed in ameliorating or reducing pain and improving nutritional and glycemic (blood sugar) status,” Rupjyoti Talukdar, Clinicial Pancreatologist and Head of Pancreatic Research at Hyderabad’s Asian Institute of Gastroenterology, told IANS.

Some of the futuristic procedures that could potentially contribute to therapy include administration of “designer” probiotics and faecal transplantation.

“Our recent studies have added a new angle to the disease biology of CP, i.e. alteration of the gut microbiota could contribute to diabetes and malnutrition. Gut microbial manipulation, including ‘designer’ probiotics and faecal transplantation, could be a potential future therapeutic addendum,” Talukdar explained.

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“However, before translating the concept to the clinic, this needs to be stringently tested in clinical trials,” he cautioned.

It sounds incredible but the millions of microscopic bugs in our gut may have a major role to play in the progression of the disease.

Collective human gut micro flora is composed of a staggering 35,000 bacterial species.

A specific concoction of gut microbes is crucial for digestion of foods (such as breaking down complex carbohydrates), key to a normal immune system, fending off diseases and for producing many essential hormones and vitamins that the body cannot produce.

Whether the good ones triumph or the bad ones flourish, this good versus evil story unfolding in your belly determines your overall health.

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In chronic pancreatitis, as the pancreatic tissue is damaged, digestive juices reduce and the undigested fat piles up, things start spiralling south for microbes.

“When there is excess amount of undigested fat in the intestine, there will be a change in the profile of healthy bacteria,” Talukdar explained.

The study noted the reduction in numbers of two crucial bacterial species (F.Aprausnitzii and R. bromii) in individuals with CP. They are among the good bacteria needed to keep the tummy in top shape.

The gut flora is an entire ecological system by itself.

“Therefore by giving the entire intestinal flora in the form of faecal transplantation, the ecology will be maintained. This is important because the different groups of organisms in the intestine are interrelated in distribution and function,” Talukdar said.

Faecal transplant is a real thing and has already found beneficial use in diseases of the intestine, namely, Clostridium difficile diarrhoea, which could result from antibiotic use or other conditions such as ulcerative colitis.

The other futuristic option, Talukdar said could be “personalised” probiotics that would act on specific targets and thereby provide the maximum possible therapeutic benefit to the patient.

Talukdar underscored the importance of dietary interventions, besides therapy.

“It can be done to a certain extent by ensuring adequate fat digestion with pancreatic enzyme supplementation, taking a balanced home-cooked diet without any specific restriction while on enzyme supplementation, and otherwise avoid high fat content in diet so as to prevent accumulation of inadequately digested fat in the intestinal lumen,” he added.

The study, published in March in Nature’s Scientific Reports, is co-authored by Sai Manasa Jandhyala, A. Madhulika, G. Deepika, G. Venkat Rao, D. Nageshwar Reddy, Chivukula Subramanyam and Mitnala Sasikala. (IANS)

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34 Indian Scientists invited for 67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in Germany

A total of 400 young scientists from 76 countries have been selected to participate in the meeting, where they will meet Nobel laureates at Lake Constance

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Nobel Prize (Representational Image). Wikimedia

Kolkata, March 22, 2017: As many as 34 young Indian scientists have been invited for the 67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in Germany from June 25 to 30, it was announced on Wednesday.

A total of 400 young scientists from 76 countries have been selected to participate in the meeting, where they will meet Nobel laureates at Lake Constance.

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“Of the 34 young Indian scientists, 22 are based at Indian universities or institutes while the other 12 are currently based … abroad (in Australia, Germany, Ireland, Israel, the UK, and the US),” said a statement from the communications department of the Council for the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings.

“Every year, one-to-two members of the Council for the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings travel to India to assist with the selection of young scientists. Besides India, the only other country that they travel to in order to assist with the selection process is China,” the communique said.

In South Asia, five young scientists from Pakistan and one young scientist from Bangladesh have been selected to participate.

The meetings have taken place every year since 1951 and are designed as a forum for exchange, networking and inspiration.

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The 2017 meeting is dedicated to Chemistry. So far, 31 Nobel laureates have confirmed their participation.

The young scientists are outstanding undergraduate students, graduate students and post-doctorates under the age of 35, conducting research in the field of Chemistry.

They have successfully passed a multi-stage international selection process. 155 scientific institutes, universities, foundations and research-oriented companies contributed to the nominations.

The proportion of women among the selected young scientists is 45 per cent.

Bernard Feringa and Jean-Pierre Sauvage, who received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2016, together with Sir Fraser Stoddart, for the design of molecular machines, will also participate in this year’s meeting.

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 Besides molecular machines, the key topics of the this year’s meeting will include big data, climate change and the role of science in a ‘post-truth’ era.

The selected young scientists may expect a six-day programme with numerous lectures and panel discussions. Some of them will also get the opportunity to discuss their own work at one of the master classes or at the poster session. (IANS)