The Translational Health Group in New Delhi focuses on the generation of genetically engineered biomolecules of medical interest. This activity has included the development of novel recombinant designer proteins to be used in low-cost, high-sensitivity diagnostic assays for HCV, HBV, HIV, dengue viruses and for celiac disease, to be transferred to biotech industries for production and distribution in several countries in Asia. The same Group is also currently interested in developing an experimental, Understanding tuberculosis pathophysiology at case presentation and its alteration during therapeutic interventions is the key research target of the Translational Health Group (Nanda) in New Delhi. The team generates baseline data on microbiome dysbiosis, host genetics that might influence tuberculosis susceptibility or drug response and also elucidate pathogen diversity to discover new molecular targets for drug discovery. The Khanna Group continues investigations into Dengue, a mosquito- borne viral disease that is rapidly spreading globally, and is prevalent in more than 100 countries, with over 1 million new infections each day. Dengue infections result in massive economic losses, strained health services, morbidity and mortality, especially among children. The Dengue menace warrants an urgent need for a safe, affordable and efficacious vaccine, an antiviral, and point-of-care diagnostics.
The Dengue vaccine technology developed by Dr. Khanna’s team was licensed to Sun Pharma in 2016. Process scale-up has been conducted in the Sun Pharma affiliated Biotech company in Germany in 2019, and has been brought back to India for in-house development under the National Biopharma Mission, Government of India. A GMP facility of Sun Pharma is being established in Bangalore and efforts are being made to reach Phase 1 efficacy trials. The co-development of the world’s first Botanical drug with Sun Pharma for the treatment of Dengue infection has entered Phase 1 clinical trial. Upon approval by the Indian drug controller, during the next Dengue season, up to 300 patients will be recruited and treatment will commence. The Nanda Group and clinical collaborators has identified a set of 192 host sputum proteins in tuberculosis patients, out of which a signature of 5 proteins could differentiate cases from non tuberculosis controls with an accuracy of 0.75 (Biswal et al., 2019, Sci Rep. 31;9(1):1036). Most importantly, a shift in vitamin D binding protein: DBP-antimicrobial peptide (AMP) axis in the lungs of tuberculosis patients favoring pathogen survival, is reported, which opens up avenues to find the contribution of DBP genetic polymorphisms to population level tuberculosis susceptibility.