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Research

India to join EU research on drugs from cyanobacteria

July 11, 2016
AlgaeIndustryMagazine.com

This project aims at discovering new drug molecules, including anti-cancerous, antiviral, antifungal, antibacterial and antiprotozoal, from cyanobacteria. Photo: courtesy New Indian Express

This project aims at discovering new drug molecules, including anti-cancerous, antiviral, antifungal, antibacterial and antiprotozoal, from cyanobacteria. Photo: courtesy New Indian Express

SV Krishna Chaitanya writes for newindianexpress that India is set to join an elite European Union (EU) research group aiming at discovering new drug molecules. These include anti-cancerous, antiviral, antifungal, antibacterial and antiprotozoal molecules, from cyanobacteria (blue green algae) found in marine and other terrestrial symbiotic living systems — such as Cyacada and Lichens — that are infamous for the production of toxins.

Professor S. Elumalai, head of the Department of Biotechnology at the University of Madras, will be the principal investigator from the Indian side for the research project.

Besides India, the other two nations involved in the tri-lateral collaboration are Germany and Finland. One of the lead researchers in this area, Professor Kaarina Sivonen, Biomolecular Division Head of the University of Helsinki, in Finland, will be heading up the project.

Five lead research groups from Brazil, Finland, Germany, Canada and Sweden, have been researching microalgae toxins for the past three decades. This project will bring India along with these five research groups to explore the possibilities of converting marine algal toxins into beneficial drug molecules.

“I have already done substantial research work on microalgal-based protein, pigments and some anti-cancerous molecules from indigenous microalgal systems sourced from the Himalayas and the Coramandel coast,” said professor Elumalai. “One of my PhD students has successfully isolated a potential anti-cancerous molecule and tested it with skin cancer cell lines. Under this new project, we will integrate the decades of research and knowledge by all the lead groups to achieve a common objective of discovering new drug molecules from these cyanobacteria.”

India’s interest in this present research proposal is to adopt a new approach at isolating lichen-based cyanobacteria and screen bioactive molecules from these isolated cyanobacteria from Indian climatic conditions.

The first phase of the research project will run for three years with an approximate funding of two million euros, with equal contributions from three collaborating investigators. The formal signing of the agreement is scheduled for October, 2016.

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