The Department has been instituted with the primary mission of developing indigenous assays for reproductive health care as a commitment towards translational research. Urine based ELISA kits were prepared for fertility assessment and the technology was transferred to the Industry.
The Department focuses on the studies related to bone health. Biochemical, molecular, genetic, proteomics and immunological approaches are being applied to unravel the pathophysiology of osteoporosis. Indigenous ELISAs for bone turnover markers are also being developed.
Osteoporosis has emerged as an important and challenging public health care issue globally affecting the quality of lives of elderly men and women. Due to the increase in longevity the prevalence of osteoporosis has increased substantially leading to an enormous socio-economic impact. Being a silent progressive disease it is mostly underdiagnosed and subsequently undertreated. The division is exploring better diagnostics and efficient management of this disease, which are of paramount importance that would ultimately contribute in reducing the burden of osteoporosis related fractures.
Estrogen plays a key role in regulation of bone mass by controlling the activity of osteoblasts and osteoclasts, the specialised bone cells. Studies pursued for understanding the mechanisms of bone remodelling, differentiation of bone cells and its effects on these processes may aid in identification of new biomarkers and molecular signatures.
The relationship between the immune system, estrogen deficiency and bone loss is an intriguing and unexplained challenge of the past two decades. The evidence that links immune cells, inflammation, cytokine production and osteoclast formation and activity with particular regard to postmenopausal osteoporosis is also being explored. This may provide a better understanding of the pathogenesis of several diseases affecting both the bone and immune systems, thus providing the molecular basis for novel therapeutic strategies. In addition, the link between osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease is being studied using genetic and epigenetic approach.
Reference norms have been established for bone markers in Indian population and the age related changes in these markers and sex steroids have been investigated. An in-house assay for osteocalcin (bone formation marker) was developed. The genetics of osteoporosis namely the polymorphisms in ER-alpha and VDR (WHO funded) as well as COLIA-type1 alpha 1 genes have been studied in relation to bone mass. The changes in pro-inflammatory cytokine (IL-1β, TNF-α and IL-6) levels during menopausal transition and their relation to bone turnover markers and bone mineral density (BMD) were also explored. The department is presently investigating the molecular and cellular mechanisms involved in the pathogenesis of osteoporosis.