The NMIMS School of Science is strongly driven by highly qualified scientific talent pool. The main focus of our R & D activities has been to conduct applied research at the interface of Chemistry and the Biosciences on current problems of national importance. Our strategic future plan involves development and validation of cell-based models/assays for drug screening/diseases and inclusion of innovative areas of research in cell biology.
Various research oriented projects in the area of Biological Sciences and Chemical Sciences that have been initiated at School of Science have been highlighted below:
Oral cancer is a major health problem in India, ranked as the most common cancer in males and fourth most common cancer in females. India represents about 41% of the global oral cancer burden and 68% mortality. Besides, a recent an alarming trend of increased incidences in oral cancers in young adults has been reported. The high incidence of oral cancer in India is primarily attributed to the highly prevalent tobacco chewing habit. Tobacco is commonly consumed as gutka, cigarettes, bidis, masheri, or as tobacco snuff. However, oral cancer is observed in 5–10% of the tobacco-chewing habitues. Thus, in addition to lifestyle habits of tobacco, alcohol consumption, and HPV infection, an inherent role for the genetic constitution of individuals is indicated in oral carcinogenesis, with the genome contributing to predisposition or inherent susceptibility to oral cancer.
At SOS, the following projects have been undertaken to understand the genomic milieu of the individuals, associated with different cellular pathways resulting in development of oral cancer. We aim to identify, confirm and validate critical Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) to translate into a Predictive Diagnostic test, for screening increased risk to developing oral cancer in long term tobacco users. The SNPs may be also be used as prognostic biomarkers and indicate genes for targeted therapy.
The current projects undertaken are:
• Genomic constitution associated with Cell Metabolism and Protein Regulation as high risk biomarkers in oral cancer
• Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms in genes associated with Signal Transduction as predictive biomarkers in oral cancer
• Genetic susceptibility to oral cancer associated with Transcriptional Regulation
• Molecular alterations in genes associated with Cell Growth and Differentiation in oral cancer
- Medicinal plants play an important role in supporting healthcare system in India. According to the World Health Organization, approximately 65-80% of world’s population still relies on locally available medicinal plants to meet its health needs. India has a rich heritage of medicinal plants. Our goal through research on medicinal plants is to identify plants/extracts with the potential to improve human health and to enable their safe, effective and proper use.
- In vitro evaluation of hepato-protective activity in cell lines
- In vitro evaluation of various phyto-constituents for their anti-cancer and tumor growth inhibiting properties
- Evaluation of wound healing properties in rat model
- In vitro and in vivo evaluation of anti-rheumatic activities
- Evaluation of inhibitory effect on dental biofilm formation in simulated mouth system
- Evaluation of anti-hyperlipidemic activities in rats
- Effect on anti-quorum sensing activities against Gram negative pathogens
- Evaluation of skin care properties as well as UV protectant activity
Research projects on medicinal plants at SOS focus on studying the phytochemical and pharmacological activities of medicinal plants against various diseases that are currently affecting the population in general. The approach for the study relies on a battery of biological assays, both in vitro (cellular, biochemical and molecular) and in vivo to detect pharmacological activity as well as phytochemical standardization of the extracts.
Various studies undertaken on medicinal plants at SOS are as follows:
- Nanomaterials are at the leading edge of the rapidly developing field of nanotechnology. Their unique size-dependent properties make these materials superior and indispensable in many areas of human activity. The combination of biology and nanotechnology has led to a new generation of nanodevices that make it possible to characterize the chemical, mechanical, and other molecular properties, as well as discover novel phenomena and biological processes occurring at the molecular level. These advances provide science with a wide range of tools for biomedical applications in therapeutic, diagnostic, and preventive medicine.
- Evaluation of the efficacy of silver nanoparticles synthesized using plant extracts against oral pathogens
- Synthesis of arsenic trioxide nanoparticles and their effect in vitro on prostate cancer
- Synthesis of magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles using novel approach for stem cell tracking
- Chemical synthesis of selenium nanoparticles and its applications in rheumatoid arthritis.
At School of Science, we have explored nanotechnology for its biological applications through following research projects:
- Biotechnology, in the broadest sense, is a science which utilizes a series of technologies to manipulate living organisms and/or their sub cellular components to provide useful products, processes or services. Hence, it is an integrated multidisciplinary field, which can have significant impact on living organisms, human populations and entire biosystems.
Major themes of research at School of Science include use of microorganisms for production of industrially important products such as organic solvent tolerant thermostable lipases, identification of microorganisms that produce chitinolytic enzymes that have potential application in biocontrol of phytopathogenic fungi.
Innovative projects such as developing of microbial fuel cell for generation of electricity from distillery waste water have also been looked at. Microbial fuel cell used for waste water treatment can provide clean energy, apart from effective treatment of waste water treatment.
- Pharmaceutical chemistry, as a study of the molecular and mechanistic aspects of pharmaceuticals, emphasizes on the chemistry of drug design and development. Research in pharmaceutical chemistry at School of Science is defined by the philosophy that success in the development of sophisticated analytical methods requires a thorough understanding of physical, biophysical, organic, and analytical chemistry.The projects that represents various research activities at School of Science in the field of pharmaceutical chemistry include the following:
- Supercritical fluid extraction, isolation, identification and characterization of phytoconstituents by hyphenated techniques
- Determination of enantiomeric purity of selected pharmaceutical agents using reversed phase high performance liquid chromatography involving chiral derivatization and chiral mobile phase additives
- Development of stability indicating methods through identification and characterization of the impurities generated in selected drug molecules by subjecting them to forced degradation
- Development and validation of reversed phase high performance liquid chromatographic methods for simultaneous estimation of various drugs and their impurities using propylene carbonate as mobile phase component instead of acetonitrile.
- School of Science also supports research activities on basic research of a more fundamental nature in microbiology, molecular genetics, biotechnology and chemistry apart from research in broader areas as mentioned above. Various research projects have been undertaken by research students on a wide variety of topics such as:
- Evaluation of effect of heavy metals on early neural development of zebrafish
- Evaluation of the effect of a specific endocrine disrupting compound on vertebrate neurogenesis
- Analysis of certain polymorphisms in association with the fetal hemoglobin levels in β-thalassemia minor patients.
- Determination of uncojugated and total ezetimibe in human plasma and its application to pharmacokinetic studies
- Assessment of host HLA association in dengue hemorrhagic fever patients
- Studies on development of a novel binary solvent system for the determination of pesticides by high-performance liquid chromatography with ultra violet detection.
- Neuroscience research: Early brain development; repair and regeneration in the nervous system; brain and behaviour/cognitive neurosciences
- Evaluation of the effect of a specific endocrine disrupting compound on vertebrate neurogenesis
- Stem cell research and applications: Isolation and maintenance of stem cells from various sources; characterization of isolated stem cells; differentiation of stem cells into various cell types; understanding the basic biology of stem cell renewal and application of stem cells in drug discovery
- Nanotechnology: Design, synthesis, characterization and application as drug delivery agents
- The School of Science has laboratories that are well equipped with state of art facilities for conducting research programs in biological and chemical sciences. There are exclusive laboratories for analytical, microbial and pharmacological work.
- Esco Class II Biosafety Cabinet
- Carl Zeiss inverted phase contrast microscope with camera
- ThermoElectron CO2 incubator
- MBE 2000 Liquid Nitrogen Cryosystem
- Eppendorf refrigerated centrifuge
- Revco -20 ºC deep freezer
In view of a large number of students interested in working on research projects involving cell culture techniques, the School of Science with support from NMIMS Management has established a state of the art “Animal Tissue Culture (ATC) Laboratory”. The laboratory contains all the necessary facilities that are required for handling cell lines. The basic infrastructure available at the ATC lab includes:
The ATC lab is fully functional now and a workshop was conducted recently for the first batch of PhD students to train them in culturing and maintenance of mammalian cells.