What we do
Ion transport across the membrane is regulated by a repertoire of integral membrane proteins called Ion channels – the main focus of the Ion Channel Biology Laboratory (ICBL) at AU-KBC Research Centre. These proteins play a crucial role in governing and regulating many physiological functions of the living system including action potential generation and propagation in the excitable cells of the cardiovascular, nervous and skeletal muscular system. In addition, in non-excitable cells these proteins are involved in functions as diverse as insulin release by the beta cells of the pancreas to cell division and apoptosis. The Ion Channel Laboratory aims to dissect out the functions of these channels in various physiological and pathophysiological states including cardiac pacemaker function, stem cell proliferation and differentiation, cancer cell proliferation, autoimmune diseases, just to name a few. The lab also works on channels and their role in stress and development in plants and on insect ion channels as well. These projects employ advanced electrophysiological, molecular biology and cell biology techniques to gain an understandable knowledge on the functionality of these ion channels.
The laboratory also is involved extensively in projects aiming to highlight the mechanistic effects of traditional medicines, in collaboration with leading AYUSH clinical groups across the nation. With the huge plethora of herbs and medicines which have been reported to cure deadly diseases, and evidences dating back to the Ramayana wherein the magical herb 'Sanjeevini' served to bring back Lakshmana from the jaws of death, India remains a treasure house of herbal medicines. What used to be prevalently used in the so-called 'folklore' or 'grandmother remedies' had given way to more 'effective', 'scientifically validated' drugs. We aim to take cues from currently prevailing medical practices used by traditional medical practitioners across the country and scientifically validate the same while looking for ion channel/ receptor modulators in the herbal extracts. This would be the very first study of this nature involving an electrophysiological approach on Indian traditional medicines.