New research centre on brain disorders opens in Bangalore

Scientists hope to unravel the complex brain circuitry underlying autism at a new Indo-UK research centre in Bangalore that aims to eventually develop better diagnostic techniques and drug targets for a host of brain disorders.

The Centre for Brain Development and Repair has come up inside the campus of Institute of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine to study genetic, neural and behavioural components of autism to find a clinical answer to the disorder that afflicts lakhs of children.

“We are not offering any clinical service. But the research aims to create assay systems for screening drugs for autism as well as other brain disorders,” Sumantra Chattarji, professor of neurobiology at the National Centre for Biological Sciences, who heads the Centre, told Deccan Herald.

To be funded by the department of biotechnology and philanthropic organisations, the Centre plans to raise close to Rs 100 crore in the next five to 10 years to support frontier areas in brain research involving 10 to 15 scientists. But it starts on a modest note with five scientists.

Indian researchers will collaborate with scientists from the University of Edinburgh, who not only bring clinical experience to the table, but also make significant contribution in understanding the behavioural patterns associated with autism.

“Not only will this Centre focus on the common psychiatric and neurological diseases that cause a major burden for patients in both India and the UK, but it will also train the next generation of scientists who will take forward the laboratory discoveries to the clinic,” said Siddarthan Chandran, director of the University of Edinburgh's Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences. Besides autism, the Centre will also focus on dementia.

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