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Hyderabad: If the results obtained at the laboratory remain true in the clinical trials too, then it can be said that we have found the cure to overcome the problem of multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB) in the coming years.

Scientists at the National Mol Bank at the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, Hyderabad have screened thousands of natural and synthetic compounds. They have identified compounds active at the laboratory level for asthma, cancers, TB and central nervous system disorders. The compound is said to be highly automated with storage and retrieval facility of 1.6 million samples. It has 30,000 pure compounds as of now.


The scientists have screened around 10,000 compounds for TB and identified 281 hits, as part of intensifying drug discovery efforts. Out of them, 11 compounds which are unrelated to the existing anti-TB drugs showed promising results. The experiments were done at the cellular level on the MDR-TB bacteria. Dr P Srihari, Principal Scientist of IICT said, “We will make several analogues to these compounds and look at the pathway they are following for achieving inhibitory activity.”

Dr Prarthama Mainkar, Scientist at IICT, said: “We know it’s inhibiting Mycobacterium tuberculosis. We want to find out the pathway. Then we can deliver the drug.” After filtering down and coming to the right compound, it would undergo human trials which would take around two to three years to complete, she added. In the tests conducted on mice’s cancer cell lines, three compounds to treat leukaemia acted effectively. Scientists further plan to undertake the same studies in dogs and conduct pre-clinical trials.

In regard to renal cancer, promising results were noticed. Dr Prathhama said, “We plan to go for clinical trials in collaboration with another institution in the next two years.”

In experiments conducted in zebra fish and mice models in the laboratory, another set of compounds proved useful in strengthening neurons. Moreover, the compounds underwent the crucial blood-brain barrier successfully. Further studies are also being carried out in collaboration with the University of Texas and ETH, Zurich. These compounds could eventually help in developing drugs for the treatment of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Two other compounds were patented by IICT and Indian Institute of Chemical Biology, which proved to be effective against asthma. The two institutions conducted the collaborative studies. (picture courtesy: http://newsatjama.jama.com/)


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