Research:

Major area of research interest is on nutrigenomics of age-related and life-style disorders. At present our research is focused on complications of diabetes and obesity such as retinal dystrophies, cataract and nephropathy. Major thrust is to understand the molecular basis of disorder, evaluation of nutritional status, protective effect of functional foods, identification of susceptible factors (genetic, nutritional and other environmental) and biomarkers, and developing suitable animal models. We also work on protein aggregation diseases, neurodegenerative conditions and geriatric nutrition. The ultimate goal is to develop preventive and therapeutic strategies by nutritional and pharmaceutical means for age-related disorders.

Specific Research Programs:

A. Nutritional factors: Studies are carried out to understand the influence of nutrition at molecular level and to identify predisposing/ susceptibility factors. Extensive and comprehensive nutritional profiles of diabetic subjects with and without complications and geriatric population are being undertaken. Research is done on suitable animal models to establish the role of nutritional factors in diabetic complications.

B. Impact of functional foods: Research is carried out to investigate the impact of functional foods on molecular pathways or processes that are involved in diabetic complications and other age-related diseases. Further we characterize the bioactive molecules or principles to understand their mechanism of action and bioavailability.

C. Nutrigenomics: Studies are carried out to understand the effect of nutrition in modulating biochemical and molecular processes involved in complications of diabetes and obesity either directly or in synergy with genetic variation. The role of polymorphisms of the genes involved in these metabolic pathways and more importantly gene-nutrient interactions is investigated. Further the effect of nutritional and dietary factors on function of genes and proteins has been studied by genomics and proteomics approaches.

D. Development and evaluation of suitable animal models: Studies are focused on developing suitable animal models for investigating the molecular basis of prediabetes, type-2 diabetes and obesity-related complications. These animal models are used to assess role of nutritional factors and also test therapeutic molecules.

E. Protein quality control and small heat shock proteins: One of the major research programs of the group is to investigate the role of a small heat shock proteins in health & disease, particularly in target tissues of diabetic complications. We study the expression, structure, function of these proteins under normal and disease conditions and their modulation by dietary and nutritional means. We also study the prevention of protein aggregates by chaperones and functional food molecules.

Research Highlights:

  • Identified novel molecules from functional foods as inhibitors of ALR2 and protein glycation for combating diabetic complications ((IUBMB Life, 2013; Eur J Med Chem, 2012; PLoS One, 2012; Biochem J, 2012; Br J Nutr, 2012))
  • Shown the association of vitamin-B12 deficiency and hyperhomocysteinaemia with diabetic retinopathy (PLoS One, 2011 )
  • Demonstrated the potential of curcumin to protect photoreceptor degeneration in transgenic rats (PLoS One, 2011)
  • Revealed the importance and significance of of eye lens alpha-crystallin heteropolymer with 3:1 alphaA to alphaB ratio (BBRC, 2011; IUBMB Life, 2010; Biochem J, 2008)
  • Discovered retinal degeneration in a novel obese rat model that may serve as a valuable tool to investigate obesity-associated ocular complications (Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci, 2009, Mol Vis, 2012; IUBMB Life, 2013)
  • Identified a novel mutation in alpha-crystallin associated with early onset of age-related cataract and demonstrated molecular basis for early onset of the disease (Biochem Biophys Acta, 2009, FEBS Letts, 2011)
  • Described the potential of functional foods as inhibitors of ALR2 and protein glycation for combating diabetic complications (Mol Vis, 2010, 2007 & 2004; Br J Nutr, 2009; FEBS Letts, 2009; Asia Pacific J Clin Nutr, 2008)
  • Shown that erythrocyte aldose reductase and sorbitol levels as putative biomarkers of diabetic retinopathy (Mol Vis, 2008)
  • Demonstrated that turmeric and curcumin (active ingredient of turmeric) delay diabetic cataract in rats (Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci, 2005 & Mol Vis, 2003)
  • Provided new insights into the expression, structure and function of α-crystallin under normal and diabetic eye lens (IUBMB Life, 2006; J Biol Chem, 2005; Arch Biochem Biophys, 2005; Biochem J, 2008 & 2007 & 2005 & 2004; Exp Eye Res, 2004)