Department of Biology
At the Atrimed Biology Department, our expert scientists engage in research into human immunology, inflammation, and infection. We are actively deciphering the molecular pathways of inflammation-driven diseases like psoriasis, infections like acne, and systemic conditions like aging, pain management, wound healing, and diseases like cancer and more recently, COVID-19. Our research model employs a bioinformatics platform to identify lead molecules from an in-house library of 405,000 druggable molecules.
The leads are extracted and purified from natural sources, or synthesized by us and validated by in vitro cell-based assays and confirmed in vivo in animal disease models before pre-clinical and clinical studies (in collaboration). Our research is aimed at developing novel plant-based small molecules to manage these disease conditions more effectively than the existing standard of care.
A brief overview of our research follows below –
Psoriasis is a chronic skin disease, with no clear cause or cure and has varied symptoms, triggers and co-morbidities. It is a genetic, autoimmune, inflammatory disorder. It shares features with other conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis, wherein, pathologies involve Th17cells. Th17cells secrete pro-inflammatory cytokines like IL-17A, IL-23 and TNFα.
These cause the most common characteristics of psoriasis. In our aim to identify novel molecules that can inhibit this production of IL-17A, we have found some promising plant secondary metabolites with great therapeutic potential. Our focus is on developing novel topical and/or oral IL-17A inhibitors of plant origin.
We have identified several secondary metabolites through in silico screening of molecules and have validated their efficacy, both in vitro and in vivo (in collaboration with NITTE University, Mangalore), against psoriasis. Following these validation studies, we are now performing toxicological/safety and efficacy studies as a precursor to clinical trials and market-ready products.
Acne is a disease of the pilosebaceous follicle characterised by both non-inflammatory and inflammatory lesions. It affects 660 million people globally, making it the 8th most common disease worldwide. Acne primarily affects areas of skin with a relatively high number of oil glands and excessive growth of the bacterium Propionibacterium acnes. Although acne is not a life-threatening condition, it can have detrimental effects on the quality of life of affected individuals.
Topical and oral antibiotics are routinely used to treat acne, usually associated with the development of resistance leading to treatment failure. We at Atrimed, have developed a novel and more efficient plant-based anti-acne topicals that have cleared clinical trials and are market-ready COVID-19, a pandemic viral disease, requires immediate attention. Efforts across various fronts are on to identify effective and safe interventions to treat the infection.
We at Atrimed are ideally placed, having a well established and validated chemi-informatics drug designing platform, which we have used to screen our in-house plant secondary metabolite library of over 3.5 lakh molecules for novel antivirals against a set of 6 SARS_CoV-2 targets – Spike (S) protein, Envelope (E) protein, Importin A3, 3CLPRO, PL-PRO and RDRP. A set of shortlisted molecules have been isolated and their in vitro anti-viral activity proven to be as strong and effective as Remdesivir by the Regional Center of Biotechnology, Delhi. Safety/toxicology studies and clinical trials are now underway under the aegis of AYUSH and we hope to be market-ready with an anti-SARS_CoV-2 antiviral soon.
In collaboration with the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology, Kerala, we are also working on targeting other SARS_CoV-2 targets, specifically, a group of molecules called IFITMs (Interferon Induced Transmembrane proteins) that are critical to protection against viral infections like COVID-19. By identifying and developing plant-based molecules that can enhance IFITM levels in our body, we can provide effective treatment of the infection. Pain Management is another field Atrimed is actively seeking to revolutionise with novel plant-based alternatives to existing non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Use of NSAIDs gradually causes mucosal ulcerations of the gastrointestinal tract over long term usage.
We have identified small molecules from plants and tested them for selective inhibition of COX-1 and COX-2 and effective anti-inflammatory properties. We have compared them with various concentrations of the standard drugs available in the market for COX inhibition and pain management. Our plant extracts are as effective, or more, compared to existing drugs in the market. Based on toxicity reports, our molecules are safer and may cause much fewer side-effects than standard NSAIDs
Anti-ageing products are a challenging area where Atrimed has undertaken a multi-target approach. We are developing anti-ageing topicals that hit 4 targets actively involved in the ageing of the skin and the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
These are –
1) Hyaluronidase, a mucopolysaccharide hydrolysing enzyme that causes the degradation of Hyaluronic acid, a small molecule which fills the space between collagen and elastin fibres to maintain skin moisture levels.
2) Tyrosinase, a glycosylated enzyme (oxidoreductase) which catalyses the first two steps of melanogenesis and is responsible for hyperpigmentation, freckles, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, dark spots, age spots, melasma and uneven skin tone.
3) Collagenase, which destroys collagen, the most abundant protein in the human dermis. Collagen allows changes in shape, cell migration or tissue desorption that are critically required in tissue remodelling to prevent ageing and its degradation leads to ageing of the skin.
4) Elastase is a member of the chymotrypsin family of proteases which is primarily responsible for the breakdown of elastin which is another important protein found in the human skin that is essential to prevent ageing and is also involved in wound healing. By creating topicals that can inhibit one or few or all of the above enzymes, we aim to create potent and safe anti-ageing solutions Wound healing is a complex and dynamic process of replacing destroyed or damaged tissue by newly produced tissue.
It has various critical stages – hemostasis, inflammation, cell proliferation and tissue remodelling. Many conditions like diabetes, old age and infections can prevent normal wound healing and sometimes lead to serious complications.
We at Atrimed, are trying to develop plant-based small molecules that act upon multiple stages of wound healing to overcome challenges in diabetic and geriatric patients.
We are currently focussed on developing topicals and orals that will aid in fibroblast regeneration and angiogenesis, both crucial to cell proliferation and healthy healing. This work has commenced recently.