Tuesday, October 27, 2020
Health Biotechnology Division

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Head of Division

Dr. Shahid Baig

Dy Chief Scientist

Health Biotechnology

 

Heath Biotechnology Division at NIBGE is striving for healthier Pakistan through research and development to combat major genetic and infectious diseases.Using the modern tools of biotechnology and genetic engineering scientists at Health Biotechnology Division are investigating the molecular basis of infectious, genetic and metabolic disorders to establish nucleic acid based diagnostics and to design improved cost effective therapeutic strategies for quality life. Development of modern vaccines, discovery of drugs, structure and function studies of membrane and viral proteins are the major focus of ongoing research projects in this division.

Tradition of consanguineous marriages and relatively high frequency of disease alleles in Pakistani population is leading to increased incidence of genetic disorders. Disease gene mapping for various phenotypes is in progress at this division to establish the carrier screening tests and prenatal diagnosis to prevent the affected births. Similarly, poor hygienic conditions and limited health facilities are resulting in high incidence of infectious diseases in this country. Projects are in progress to study the molecular basis of drug resistance and virulence of bacterial pathogens causing major diseases such as tuberculosis and typhoid. Molecular methods for early diagnosis and genotyping for efficient and cost effective therapy are established by the researchers of this division to reduce the economic burden. Basic research work for the production of conjugate vaccines for typhoid and recombinant vaccines for hepatitis B and C is underway. Recombinant and viral vector vaccines are being developed against poultry viruses IBDV and FAdV, and animal pathogen Pasteurella multocida.  Two potential classes of organic compounds have been identified by one of our scientist and are being pursued for inhibiting HBV and HCV.

 

 

 

Salient Achievements of HBD:

  • Discovered novel function of genes causing bradycardia (slow heart beat), microcephaly (rat like people), skin disorders etc.
  • Identified of genes responsible for glioblastoma (brain tumor), first time in medical history
  • Established metabolic disorder research at NIBGE
  • Establishment of LC-MS and GC-MS facilities for analsysis of molecules
  • Developed and commercialized LC-MS based aflatoxins and antibiotic residues analyses for exporters
  • Synthesized antiviral compound Nitazoxanide (Alinia®) and Thiazolide
  • Established protein X-ray crystallography research –
  • Produced various proteins of veterinary origin as vaccine and diagnostic candidates
  • Establishment of Vi negative isolates of S. Typhi as natural pathogens
  • Developed conjugates of S. Typhi and S.Paratyphi A antigens with carrier proteins as potential vaccine candidates
  • Established First National Probiotic Laboratory in Pakistan
  • Development and commercialization of HCV, TB, Typhoid diagnostics, karyotyping, prenatal diagnosis and genetic tests

 

Research Groups

Human Molecular Genetics & Metabolic Disorders

  • Gene mapping of inherited diseases in the Pakistani population
  • Establishment of DNA & biochemical tests for early diagnosis and carriers screening of genetic diseases
  • Control and prevention of affected births through carrier screening, genetic counseling and prenatal diagnosis
  • Discovery of early biomarkers and drug targets based on genes, proteins and metabolites.
  • Development and evaluation of experimental therapies for metabolic disorders

Drug Discovery & Structural Biology

  • Discovery and synthesis of medicinally important compounds (antiparasitic, anticancer & antiviral)
  • Identification & characterization of drug targets (proteins)
  • Structural Biology of MDR pumps of Salmonella Typhi to combat antimicrobial resistance
  • Development of structure based recombinant and viral vector vaccines against poultry viruses and animal pathogen

                Sub-group: Enteric pathogens

  • Immunological characterization of antigenic proteins of SalmonellaTyphi as vaccine candidates
  • Preparation & evaluation of immunological conjugates against Salmonella infections
  • Molecular studies of virulence & drug resistance of enteric pathogens

Probiotics and Food Safety Research

Main aim is to address the scientific challenges in regulation of probiotics & food safety by developing:

  • Scientific basis for extrapolation from strain to species of lactic acid bacteria and Bifidobacteria
  • A single, validated and cost effective method for verification of species identity acceptable by internationally recognized culture collection
  • Identification of the genetic determinants of probiotic efficacy

Services:

  • LCMS/GCMS based analyses of variety of molecules including contaminants, drugs etc.
  • Chromosomal analysis for genetic diseases and abnormalities
  • Prenatal diagnosis of beta-thalassemia
  • Screening of Aminoacidopathies (Inborn Errors of Metabolism)
  • Molecular Diagnosis of Wilson disease and Homocystinuria
   
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