Institutional research projects

Bioinformatics-based solutions for managing Viral Infections

The primary objective of this project is to provide bioinformatics-based solutions to eradicate pathological conditions caused by viruses leading to major epidemics. Due to advancement in science, the scientific community successfully achieved eradication of certain viral diseases (like smallpox, polio) responsible for billions of death or disabilities in past. In the last 100 years, the premature deaths due to viral diseases have dropped significantly. In spite of the remarkable progress being made in the field of science and technology, there are millions of individuals suffering from viral infections. Thus there is a need to develop strategies to combat viral pathogens to eradicate or minimize viral infections and epidemics. In this project, we are working on a wide range of bioinformatics-based approaches to providing solutions for viral infections to the various stakeholders such as the scientific community, policymakers and pharmaceutical industries in fighting against viral infections. Following would be major avenues of our research work.

Computational resources for viral infections

Under this, attempts will be made to develop a platform to link major resources on different types of viruses, available vaccines, drugs etc. This platform will provide a single window for patients, researchers and medical practitioners to search all types of information on viruses. In addition, a new database or repositories will be developed to maintain information not available in the existing resources.

Sequencing and analysis for viral genomes

In the post-genomic era, whole genome sequences of viruses are increasing at exponential rates. Omics data on viruses present a perfect case of big data where velocity, variety and volume are increasing at an unprecedented rate. Thus tools and techniques will be developed to manage and mine genomic data of viruses particularly for the purpose of comparative genomics.

Computer-aided designing of drugs, immunotherapy and vaccine

Premature deaths due to viral infections have decreased drastically in the last century due to effective vaccines and drugs against these viruses. Despite the technological advances, we fail to design effective medicines against a wide range of viruses. Fortunately, a large number of viral genomes have been sequenced thereby providing comprehensive information about these viruses at the genome level. Under this objective, we will use immunoinformatics tools to identify epitopes as subunit vaccines candidates. These predicted vaccine candidates could be used by experimental scientists for testing. Similarly, computer-aided drug design techniques will be used to predict drugs against viruses using their proteomics information.

Bioinformatics for managing emerging viral strains

Handling novel or emerging strains of viruses are a major challenge worldwide as these spread rapidly and kill large populations before the scientific community succeeds in designing effective medicine against them. Thus, there is an urgent need to create web-based platforms that provide comprehensive information on the emerging viruses. Experimental techniques are time-consuming and expensive, thus, bioinformatics may play a vital role in combating the emerging strains. A web-based platform will be developed and maintained to provide complete information about novel viruses and strains as well as potential drug and vaccine candidate predicted using bioinformatics tools.

Integration of viral genome into the human genome

The viral integration into the human host genome has been found to be associated with a high risk of carcinoma development. A major cause of such vulnerability is the genomic instability caused by the inserted viral sequence reflected by the high mutation rates of the adjacent sequences. Computational approaches have helped identify sites of preference for the viral integration and thus have helped identify them in the sequencing data. Advancement of such tools may not only be helpful in cancer diagnostics but may also become part of designing gene therapy approaches.