Central Research Laboratory

Antibiotics after discovery and use of penicillin since 1940s, several antibiotics have been isolated from many species of the bacterium Streptomyces (aminoglycosides, macrolides, tetracyclines, chloramphenicol, and polypeptides). Similarly, many chemical antibiotics have been synthesised (fluoroquinolones and monobactams) for the cure of infectious diseases. Slowly, the targeted pathogenic bacteria developed resistance to older antibiotics and newer antibiotics were applied for the control of infection. These events occurred progressively in last 60-70 years, and each pathogenic bacterium gained an armamentarium of resistance to antibiotics applied with progress of time. Today, there are multidrug resistant phenotypes of most common pathogenic bacteria, which sometimes cause annoyance in antimicrobial stewardship programme. The development of multidrug resistance in bacteria went on to such a level that certain common pathogenic bacteria became pandrug resistant, i.e., bacterial strains resistant to all of presently used antibiotics, for e.g. Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Acinetobacter and Pseudomonas. All these being Gram-negative bacteria, the drug resistance character picked up by one become peripatetic to other species and genera in the Gram-negative bacterial consortium. Indeed, the drug resistant characters are transported from one species to other species, from one genus to other genus of similar genetic heritage or even to bacteria of distant genetic heritage by mobile genetic elements, plasmids and transposons.

There are too many harmless commensals in human body, which too became drug resistant and multidrug resistance renders them the capacity of virulence. Such a bacteria is methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus and it is considered as the superbug of the health domain, which has been highly prevalent in hospitals.

These multidrug resistant bacteria create grievous hospital acquired infections, which pass on to community too. Most of them cause suppurations, urinary and gastrointestinal tract infections, lower and upper tract infections ― all leading to septicaemia/bacteraemia at vital organs, eventually leading to multi-morbidities and fatalities.

The work done by the team of workers at Central Research Laboratory in collaboration with Dept of Microbiology of this hospital and Dept of Pharmacognosy, School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, S‘O’A is developing means of control for these and several multidrug resistant bacteria. Crude extracts of 200 common and rare medicinal plants were screened for the antimicrobial potentiality with 23 species of pathogenic bacteria isolated from clinical samples, and 25 plants have been shortlisted for detailed work on the control of bacteria. Isolation and characterisation of leading compounds of 5 highly active plants have been undertaken for aiming at the development of phytodrugs as complementary/ supplementary medicine in “Integrative medicine research”. Further work is in progress for development of adjuvant/integrative medicine.

The laboratory has undertaken work on “Predictive toxicology of chemicals of environmental concern using cultured lymphocytes from human umbilical cord blood”. They are also working on the “Host toxicity testing of effective medicinal plant extracts using human lymphocytes”.

Work on photosynthetic bacteria from natural sources, the cyanobacteria has been undertaken to monitor their antibacterial and antioxidant properties. This work explores the undiscovered medicinal properties of these naturally occurring cyanobacteria. Toxicity work with pesticides/insecticides and other environmental chemicals on the nitrogen fixing cyanobacteria that affect growth health of soils.