Role of Lipids in Infectious Diseases

Scientists from IIT Bombay are exploring the possibility of using ‘biologically active lipid molecules’ as tools to explain their disease causing function.

Lipids

Lipid is a biomolecule that is capable of dissolving in non-polar solvents like hydrocarbons. Apart from being a vital structural component of cell membranes, they have other functions like energy storage and signalling. Examples of lipids include cholesterol, triglycerides, etc.

About the Research

The scientists made use of ‘Mtb lipids’- which are atypical lipids synthesised by the bacterium, Mycobacterium tuberculosis. They used the Mtb lipid to understand its role in modification of the host human cell’s membrane and the signalling pathway. They studied the Mtb lipid’s intervention in cellular signalling, membrane trafficking and protein function.

Implications

The study is reported to have several applications:

  • A platform for quantitative investigation of antibiotic interactions that could help in designing new antibiotics.
  • Studying the interactions between the lipids and the drugs will help improve efficiency of existing anti-TB drugs.
  • It would help identify the cellular pathways targeted by the pathogens and consequently therapeutic targets.

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