Need for international collaboration for advances in research: Japanese scholar

An international workshop on “Non-Mammalian models in biomedical research: Current status and future perspectives” was organised by Nitte University.

The programme was jointly funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India and the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS). Conventionally, mammalian models such as rats, mice, guinea pigs, rabbits and monkeys are used in biomedical research to test drug efficacy, investigate signalling pathways and other experiments. However, ethical concerns with the use of mammalian model animals has prompted the need for the use of alternative animal models such as zebrafish, fruit fly, leeches and nematode worms by scientists and researchers.

Experts from India and Japan tried to explore the use of simpler models in biomedical research but with the accuracy of large animals used.
Japanese scientists from Miyazaki University, University of Tsukuba, National Institute of Basic Biology, Okazaki, Hirosaki University, Japan and Brain Research Institute, and Niigata University along with scientists working in premier Indian research institutes such as Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, Indian Institute of toxicology research, CSIR, Lucknow, Institute of genomics and Integrative biology , CSIR, New Delhi and Agharkar Research Institute, Pune discused on the use of alternative models for disease modelling, identification of novel peptides for drug development, toxicology, decoding human genetic disorders, organ regeneration, functional genomics , studies of age related neurodegenerative diseases and cell signalling.

The conference was inaugurated by Prof C V Raghuveer, Vice Chancellor and Professor of Pathology, Devaraj Urs Academy of Higher Education and research, Kolar who enlightened the audience on various models and the history of their discovery. In this molecular biology era, the move is to use small models as large animal models are gradually phased out throughout the world for ethical reasons. The commonality in human and animal models such as fruit fly, nematode worm and zebrafish has been the result of genome sequencing which showed nearly 75% similarity in their genomes with humans. Hence these models could be used for many disease conditions, and physiological studies like ageing.

Pro Chancellor Dr Shantaram Shetty emphasised the need for international collaboration in making rapid advances in research. In setting up ‘state of the art’ centre for Biomedical and Stem Cell research, we envisage world class research through collaboration, he said.

Dr Naoya Kenmochi, Professor, Frontier Science Research Center, University of Miyazaki, Japan expressed happiness on securing this project that has given an opportunity to travel to India and develop further collaboration with Nitte University. He expressed desire to continue his research in Diamond Blackfan anaemia, a rare ribosomal disorder.

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