Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Antisense technology is fast emerging as the future of medical science for treatment of a number of diseases including cancers, heart problems, malaria, typhoid and genetic disorders

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad:  Anti-sense technology is fast emerging as the
future of medical science for treatment of a number of diseases
including cancers, heart problems, malaria, typhoid and genetic

Eminent geneticist and biotechnologist Dr Krishna Dronamraju, who is
also director of Foundation for Genetic Research, Houston, USA, points
out that the novel anti-sense technology holds great promise for a
diverse populous country like India. Anti-sense technology is so
called because it creates confusion in the genes by fighting against
their “sense”. For instance, if a particular gene plans to create
trouble in the body in the form of cancer or a genetic disease, it can
be confused using the anti-sense technology. The confused gene or set
of genes will not be in a position to trigger major health issues.

Dr Krishna is currently in India to participate in the centennial of
the Indian Science Congress (ISC) scheduled for early next month in
Kolkata. The theme of this year’s ISC is the future of science in
India. He will present a paper, which will focus on nano-science,
human gene therapy and synthetic biology and the promise they hold for
the future of life sciences in India.

“We can also introduce the anti-sense technology at the early foetal
stage to prevent congenital problems. Diabetes, blood disorders and
mental health issues can also be tackled through this promising
science, which is fast catching up,” Dr Krishna pointed out.

He told this correspondent that the menace of malaria, which continues
to claim 30 lakh people globally every year, could be eradicated using
either anti-sense methods or human gene therapy. Through human gene
therapy, immunity could be built up in the body against the malarial
parasite (Plasmodium). If this happens, mosquitoes will not be able to
transmit malaria to human beings.

“Alternatively we can target the malarial parasite or the mosquito
itself. We can alter the gene sequence of either of them to make them
ineffective against human beings. Research is going on in the USA and
the UK,” he added.

He said the human gene therapy, which was neglected till recently, was
now gaining prominence. Earlier, scientists concentrated on genetic
and rare diseases but now they have changed their focus to treat even
common diseases through gene therapy. They are also concentrating on
foetal gene therapy.

Rating India at five on a scale of 10 for scientific temper, research
and innovations, Dr Krishna regretted that basic sciences had been
neglected in the country. A country with billion-plus people should
not neglect pure sciences and the governments should encourage
students to join courses in basic sciences like biology, chemistry and

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