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Research Focus of BITS Pilani to Roll Back Malaria out of India today

04-30-2009 01:54 PM CET | Health & Medicine

Press release from: BITS Pilani Rajasthan

Dr AK Das BITS Pilani spearheading Malaria Research

Dr AK Das BITS Pilani spearheading Malaria Research

A child dies of malaria every 30 seconds and malaria takes an economic toll - cutting economic growth rates by as much as 1.3% in countries with high disease rates.

Malaria is caused by a parasite called Plasmodium, which is transmitted via the bites of infected mosquitoes. In the human body, the parasites multiply in the liver. If not treated, malaria can quickly become life-threatening by disrupting the blood supply to vital organs. In many parts of the world, the parasites have developed resistance to a number of malaria medicines.

Key interventions to control malaria include - prompt and effective treatment with artemisinin-based combination therapies; use of insecticidal nets by people at risk; and indoor residual spraying with insecticide to control the vector mosquitoes.

World Malaria Day observed on April 25th represents a chance for everyone to make a difference to roll back malaria and help generate broad gains in multiple areas of health and human development. Reducing the impact of malaria would significantly propel efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, agreed by every United Nations member state. World Malaria Day is more than a commemoration - it is a time to rally our forces to stop this disease says UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

The Birla Institute of Technology and Science popularly known as BITS offers degrees in various disciplines presently at Pilani, Dubai, Goa and Hyderabad campuses apart from an array of work integrated learning programmes for HRD of a vast spectrum of Indian corporates. Recently the National Assessment and Accreditation Council NAAC reaccredited BITS with 3.71 CGPA out of 4 and awarded “A” grade “Very Good” status.

Prof AK Das (Email: adas@bits-pilani.ac.in) Group Leader Biological Sciences at BITS Pilani is spearheading a project on Systems Biology approach towards understanding severe malaria with special reference to the transcriptome and proteome of the parasite and the host.

Dr Das obtained his Masters from Ballygunj Science College, Kolkata, and PhD from National Institute of Immunology New Delhi, India. His experience includes Working as Post Doctoral Fellow in the Department of Molecular Biology and Immunology, SHPH, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, USA and as WHO Fellow at the Malaria Branch, Center for Disease Control, Atlanta, Georgia USA.

Research interests of Dr Das include Molecular and Immuno - Parasitology, Molecular Diagnostics and industrially oriented projects dealing with different aspects of vector design, cloning and expression and bioinformatics. One of the major thrust areas of the Biological Sciences Group is research into Molecular Biology and Immunology of the human malarial parasites.

Presently research is focused on investigating polymorphisms in major candidate vaccine antigens like MSP1 and AMA1, which could have implications in vaccine design. They are also investigating the Apicoplast of P. vivax from Indian isolates and have initiated preliminary experiments investigating prevalence of putative Drug Resistance markers.

Another facet of the research work deals with formulating diagnostic procedures for the human malarial parasites based on the parasite 18s rRNA and 28s rRNA/ rRNA gene. Investigations are also focused on a novel phenomenon of cerebral malaria caused by P. vivax. A dedicated team of researchers are involved in industry related projects involving prokaryotic vector design and expression of cytokines.

For Dr AK Das at BITS Pilani Research is indeed a Mission with Passion

About BITS Pilani: The Institute is a Deemed University established under section 3 of the UGC Act. 1956 under notification no F.12-23/63.U-2 dated 18th June, 1964 and is one among the top ranking universities in India today.

Dr BR Natarajan
Professor & Vice President BITSAA
BITS Pilani Rajasthan 333031 India
Phone 91-1596-242210
Fax 91-1596-244183
Website: http://www.bits-pilani.ac.in

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