IIT Hyderabad Researchers Find Antarctic Fungi That Could Help In Treating Leukemia

IIT Hyderabad Researchers Find Antarctic Fungi That Could Help In Treating Leukemia

IIT Hyderabad team: Kruthi Doriya, Dr.Devarai Santhosh Kumar, Anup Ashok

Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Hyderabad researchers working with scientists from National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR), Goa, have isolated Antarctic fungi that contain L-Asparaginase, an enzyme-based chemotherapeutic agent used to treat Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. The isolation of L-asparaginase containing fungi from extreme environments could lead to development of new chemotherapeutic treatment methods that have fewer side effects than the existing methods, said a statement from the Institute.

Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) is the most common type of childhood cancer.  

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In ALL, the bone marrow produces an excess of immature lymphocytes, a form of white blood cells. 

One of the most frequently used chemotherapy drugs to treat ALL is the enzyme L-Asparaginase. 

L-Asparaginase reduces the supply of asparagine, an amino acid that is essential for the synthesis of protein, to cancer cells. This prevents the growth and proliferation of the malignant cells. 

The IIT Hyderabad team includes Dr. Devarai Santhosh Kumar, Associate Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering and Dr. Asif Qureshi, Associate Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, along with their research students Mr. Anup Ashok, Ms. Kruthi Doriya and Ms. Jyothi Vithal Rao. 

The NCPOR team included Dr. Anoop Kumar Tiwari. Their path-breaking work has recently been published in Nature’s Open Source Journal, Scientific Reports.

Speaking about the need to discover other sources of pure L-Asparaginase, Dr. Devarai Santhosh Kumar, who is the Principal investigator, said, “Extensive purification steps are necessary before L-Asparaginase derived from E. Coli and E. Chrysanthemi is used as a drug to treat ALL. This increases the cost of the drug.”