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A new multi-institutional programme study on pre-term births

It aims to understand the problem to facilitate planning interventions

An inter-institutional 5-year project, supported by the DBT, has started and aims to understand the problem so that interventions can be planned

NEW DELHI: The Department of Biotechnology has just begun a five-year programme of support to address the problem of pre-term births, which causes around 300,000 neo-natal deaths in India annually.

The aim of the programme is to understand the disease biology and characterise pre-term birth on the basis of its causes.

The final goal for the Rs 48.85 crore (Rs 4.8 billion), inter-institutional programme which involves multidisciplinary research effort is to predict and diagnose pre-term birth (PTB).

This will help plan intervention methods and develop therapeutic agents against this scourge.

The DBT says in a recent statement: “It is expected that the clinically relevant research outputs from the study will aid characterisation of the biological, clinical and epidemiological risk factors to help assess whether a mother is under high or low risk of delivering before term (achieve appropriate risk stratification of mothers).

“These in turn would provide a basis for discovery of novel therapeutic agents and determine appropriate timing for their clinical application.”

the basic aim

is to understand the disease biology

of PTB and understand its causes

The basic aim of the project is to understand the epidemiology of PTB, its genetic and environmental interactions, and changes in vaginal microbial landscape.

The programme highlights include development and evaluation of putative biomarkers, identification of simple microbiological tool-based vaginal risk factors, modulation of vaginal microbiota for therapeutic purposes and evaluation of environmental modification chosen from SNP analysis.

A metagenomic approach for profiling of vaginal microbial flora would be taken up and this information will be correlated with PTB, and other dietary and epidemiological risk factors.

“The initial step will be to establish a hospital-based cohort of pregnant women, starting from the first trimester, each of whom will be followed till delivery, explained Dr S Sinha, Advisor Medical Biotechnology division at DBT.

The hospital will be in General Hospital, Gurgaon, in the northern Indian state of Haryana.

The programme will involve clinicians, epidemiologists and biologists from three autonomous institutions of DBT —

Paediatric Biology Centre (PBC), and the Centre for Human Microbial Ecology (CHME) at the Translational Health Science and Technology Institute (THSTI) located at Gurgaon,

Regional Centre for Biotechnology (RCB), also located at Gurgaon and

National Institute of Biomedical Genomics (NIBMG) at Kalyani in the eastern state of West Bengal

The other important partners are the clinicians at the General Hospital Gurgaon and Safdarjung Hospital. Physicians from Maulana Azad Medical College and the All India Institute of Medical Sciences are co-investigators in the programme.

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