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The Multi-omics Facility
With the advances in analytical techniques, analysing cells and tissues has become not only accurate but also efficient in saving time to get result. This has helped the research and the clinical community in channelizing their efforts to address scientific and patients issues rather than focussing on standardization of technique and interpretation of results. ILBS is utilizing this advantage by implementing research programs involving the recent explosion in the ‘omics’ technologies in addressing underlying causes and progression of liver and related diseases. The multi-omics facility at ILBS involves a well integrated group employing proteomics, metabolimics, genomics and metagenomics to address these issues.
The field of protein studies grew exponentially with the advent of mass spectrophotometry. This technology has helped clinicians and basic scientists alike, by providing them a capacity to tease complex mix of proteins (e.g. plasma, diseased tissue) and determine the protein profile during healthy development or disease progression. ILBS is utilising this technology in enhancing the understanding of how various liver diseases vary not only in their protein profiles but also how small diseases like non-alcoholic fatty liver disease advance to become aggrevated cirrhosis. Another significant study is on the setting in of acute manifestations where a patient is suffering from chronic liver disorders, referred to as acute-on-chronic liver failure (ACLF). An important investigation employing proteomics is the understanding the variability in the protein chaperones that transport peprides, lipids, cytokines and drugs in blood to and from liver.Proteomics is being utilized to provide insight into the iron regulation in blood and also in fatty acid metabolism in macrophages. This technology has helped in translational research with recent investigations on the urine proteome indicating towards marker proteins which can be utilised to identify liver disease by a non-invasive method.
The most complex of the omics technologies is investigation of the metabolome in cells and tissues. Multiple attempts across the globe have resulted in development of a few databases, which in their capacity are unable to catalogue the whole human metabolome. With liver as a highly metabolically active organ, it was natural to initiate investigations on the healthy and diseases human metabolome. With this study ILBS intends to establish an Indian Liver Metabolome databse to help clinicians and researchers to better understand the physiological processes. Metabolic disorders in paediatric patients are also being investigated in order to determine early the correct treatment for such patients.
Genomics & Metagenomics
The genomics lab at ILBS is directed towards understanding the basic layout of the liver genome and how it correlates with diseases, particularly where in members of same family some get the disease while others do not. With the well established Genetics department at the institute the genome analysis is currently focussed on specific disease causing genes and SNPs that lead to such diseases. The lab is involved in developing new tests for identification of disease causing variants in hepatic, pancreatic and biliary diseases where the underlying cause of a pathological manifestation is very evident. The target of the group is to establish a comprehensive SNP panel for identifying disease causing varitants in patients that come tp the institute.
Metagenomics or the study of microbial communities colonizing the human body has emerged as a powerful tool in the study of diseases. There has been a rapid progress in the metagenome analysis of organs where these microbes reside like, buccal cavity, skin gut etc. An important component of these commensal microbes is their ability to affect organs other than where they colonize. This includes the modification of the immune response in the blood, variation in the normal functioning of organs like liver, lung or brain. The group is involved in understanding the microbial compositions that are responsible for both healthy and disease causing stimuli from the gut microbiome, and the impact it has on the liver functioning and disease progression. Currently the lab is working on the alcohol induced metagenomic alterations in the gut and corresponding variations in functions of the hepatocytes. Investigations are on for determining the link between gut microbiota and liver regeneration.