May, 2019: Following discussions between SRM APs Biology research team (initiated by SRM AP Pro VC Prof. Narayana Rao and Dr. S. Chandrasekhar, Director CSIR-IICT, Hyderabad) and the Applied Biology division of CSIR-IICT, Dr. Manjunatha Thondamal, Assistant Professor, Department of Biology at SRM AP, was invited to establish a C. elegans facility at IICT campus and train the scientists/students.
The CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (CSIR-IICT) is one of the oldest national laboratories under the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) and Ministry of Science and Technology.
Earlier, Dr. Thondamal made a presentation on what can be done using C. elegans as model organism and the advantages of using C. elegans over other model organisms. “C. elegans is a free-living nematode, a wormlike, non-pathogenic, non-parasitic organism that lives in the soil, especially rotting vegetation in many parts of the world. Though it is a relatively simple organism many of the molecular signals controlling its development are also found in more complex organisms, like humans.” Dr. Thondamal explains. Dr. Thondamal has had a longstanding career in the genetics of aging from the time he did his PhD at ENS de Lyon, in France. In his post-doctoral work at the University of Rochester Medical Centre in New York he continued research in this field using C.elegans as the model.
Following the presentation several IICT scientists showed a keen interest in using C. elegans to test their hypothesis. It was recognized that by adopting C. elegans as a model organism to screen a large set of small molecules (~5000) from a library of chemicals synthesized at IICT, potential drugs could be developed to treat several diseases including age associated neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s.
It was also proposed that some of the transgenic strains of C. elegans could be used as tools to screen molecules for autophagy induction. Based on research outcomes from this screening further studies can be undertaken in molecular aspects including pathways.
A joint proposal was also made to establish a more sophisticated facility to extend the scope of C. elegans to study other pathophysiological conditions.
A detailed program is now under development for Dr. Thondamal to visit IICT to establish the facility with frequent visits during the initial set up phase for training research personnel.