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IIT Madras 1972 Batch funds Parkinson’s Therapeutics Lab

IIT Madras 1972 Batch funds Parkinson’s Therapeutics Lab

Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras) Class of 1972 is sponsoring the creation of ‘Parkinson’s Therapeutics Lab’ in the Institute to boost efforts towards treating Parkinson’s Disease.

The batch has also donated Rs. 50 lakh towards scholarship fund of IIT Madras. Both these initiatives were to mark the occasion of their Golden Jubilee Reunion.

This lab will be a major boost to researchers at the Institute Biotechnology Departments’ Laboratory for Computational Neuroscience (CNS Lab) to develop a computational model of a brain region called ‘Basal Ganglia’ (BG) where the loss of cells leads to Parkinson’s Disease.

The BG system plays vital and diverse roles in all major domains of brain function such as sensory-motor, cognitive, affective and autonomous.

The CNS Lab is involved in developing systems-level models of various crucial brain systems. The ultimate goal of the CNS Lab is to create a whole brain model and use it to develop model-based therapeutics for Parkinson’s Disease (PD) and other brain disorders.

Parkinson’s Disease is a progressive disorder of the central nervous system that affects movement, often including tremors and/or rigidity of joints. Although Parkinson’s disease cannot be cured, medications might significantly improve a patient’s condition.

Thanking the 1972 Batch for their contribution to a cause with immense societal benefits, Prof. Mahesh Panchagnula, Dean (Alumni and Corporate Relations), IIT Madras, said, “We acknowledge this contribution with a deep sense of gratitude. The funding will support path-breaking translational research on a debilitating disease.”

The Research on Parkinson’s Disease at the CNS Lab include

– Research in basal ganglia and Parkinson’s disease

– Model-based Clinical Applications for Parkinson’s Disease

1. Simulators for the action of Parkinson’s disease drugs like ‘LDopa’

2. Deep Brain Stimulation for Parkinson’s Disease

3. A quantitative Diagnostic System for Parkinson’s Disease

Lauding the cutting-edge research underway at IIT Madras, 1972 batch alumnus Mr. K K Raman, batch coordinator, said, “As many as 146 alumni and spouses have attended the Golden Reunion of the Class of 1972. Going by the dictum ‘Government meets Needs, Alumni meet aspirations of IITM’, the Class Of 1972 are supporting the Parkinson’s Therapeutics Lab at the Institute for futuristic research to contribute to Indian Research Capabilities.”

The project will be managed by Prof. V. Srinivasa Chakravarthy, Faculty, Department of Biotechnology, IIT Madras, who heads the Laboratory for Computational Neuroscience (CNS Lab) at Bhupat and Jyoti Mehta School of Biosciences, Department of Biotechnology, IIT Madras.

Explaining some of the key aspects of their research, Prof. V. Srinivasa Chakravarthy, Department of Biotechnology, IIT Madras, said, “Researchers have proposed different computational models for different functions of the basal ganglia but there is no consensus among the models. Taking an important departure from the classical, textbook description of the functional anatomy of BG, CNS Lab was able to model a wide range of motor functions and some cognitive functions of BG. These results were worked out over 36 journal papers, three book chapters, one of them being an invited contribution to the Encyclopaedia of Computational Neuroscience, and a book titled ‘Computational Neuroscience Models of the Basal Ganglia’ published by Springer.”

Further, Prof. Srinivasa Chakravarthy added, “Currently there is an effort the world over to develop large-scale simulators of drug action to understand the link between the drug action and the relief symptoms. The emerging field of Computational Neuropharmacology deals with large multi-scale models that link drug action and symptoms. Major pharmaceutical companies are investing in the creation of such simulators since they can save expense and time and minimize the role of expensive animal and clinical trials for the validation of a drug molecule.”

The CNS Lab had developed and published one such simulator for relating ‘LDOPA’ dosage and the ON/OFF periods of a PD patient. A national patent was filed for this model with plans pending for international filing. The Researchers plan to develop such models for other classes of PD drugs like dopamine agonists or MAO inhibitors.

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