India is in desperate need of new means to combat heart disease.
Heart conditions are India’s most common cause of death. In 2016, such ailments were responsible for 28.1 percent of deaths in the country. Forty percent of the world’s heart failures were recently found to occur in India, highlighting the considerable burden of heart problems borne by the nation.
Professor G. Mugesh and his team at the Indian Institute of Science may have a potential solution. The team are working on synthetic molecules such as artificial enzymes. These molecules are being developed with the hopes of creating novel strategies to address conditions such as heart disease.
“What we do is, we synthesise these compounds in a chemistry lab, and study them for biological applications, particularly keeping in consideration their potential use in some major diseases,” Mugesh told the Press Trust of India in an interview.
The molecules are created with the mindset of closely mimicking molecules endogenous (produced locally within the body) to the body that are known to function with less efficiency, or fail to operate properly within the body under disease conditions. In doing so, proper function may be restored and diseases may be treated.
“Our idea is basically to substitute the function of these enzymes with that of artificial enzymes. Artificial enzymes include nanomaterial that function as enzymes. These are emerging as a new type of compounds that exactly mimic the function of the natural enzymes in the human cells,” Mugesh explained.
This, in theory, would allow for regular prescription of synthetic enzymes to control long-term noncommunicable conditions (NCDs). This operates along the same principle as the use of regular insulin treatments for those with diabetes.
Mugesh has previously worked on the design and synthesis of small molecules that functionally mimic enzymes containing selenium atoms, called selenoenzymes which protect cell components against oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress has recently been implicated as a causative factor in the development of dementia in those who are exposed to high levels of air pollution. Due to this, Professor Mugesh’s work could find numerous potential conditions in which the synthetic enzymes offer a protective effect.
India’s NCD crisis is showing no signs of slowing down. With air pollution levels reaching staggering heights it is entirely plausible – if not probable – that NCDs rise considerably over the foreseeable future. Work such as that undertaken by Professor Mugesh may be vital both in India and across the rest of the world in establishing new treatment methods to improve the lives of the millions affected by NCDs.