Are We Ready for Another Disease Breakthrough?
Indian research laboratories if compared with eminent labs in the world like Board Institute in Cambridge, the evident difference of high-quality equipment and work culture justifies their legendary work. Research laboratories in India are stratified in various groups depending on the director, the head of the laboratory.
Though the country has seen a drastic downfall in the death rate, every year India deals with one or the other disease outbreak. From Influenza to Hepatitis, India has overpowered the emergence of most of the diseases by finding the cure. But with the changing lifestyles and climatic alterations, human beings are becoming much more susceptible to diseases. The immune system of an individual is mortifying with time.
Disease outbreak in India
India has registered 7.3 deaths out of the population of 1000, claimed by CIA World Factbook. Last year, Country experienced an outbreak of Zika virus. It has not been a year dealing with the Zika virus that another infection named as Nipah virus has knocked the doors of India again after several years. It is affecting the lives of individuals with a great impact in India. Recent cases of Nipah virus infection were registered and treated in Kerala, India. The government of India displayed its great concern towards it. They provided the possible treatment and required facilities, with the help of experts in the field. As they have been educating the people about the do’s and don’ts during the epidemic.
Understanding the disease
The vector of Zika virus disease is mosquito species Aedes and that of Nipah Virus disease is Pteropus species (fruit-eating) bats and pigs carrying henipavirus. The causes of both the deadly diseases are not the same but the symptoms are similar at the initial stage. Individual affected with Zika virus can be seen with symptoms like headache, rashes, conjunctivitis, fever, myalgia, joint pain lasting for 2-7 days and eventually causing a rare neurological disorder known as Guillain-Barre syndrome. If a pregnant woman is infected with this virus, it might result in an abnormal and deformed foetus. On the other hand, Nipah virus infections can be seen with symptoms apart from the Zika virus. The symptoms include drowsiness, dizziness, altered consciousness, encephalitis, acute respiratory distress and other related problems with the incubation period of 4-14 days but incubation of 45 days has also been reported. The fatality rate is estimated to be between 40% to 75%, according to WHO.
With the onset of every dreadful disease, researchers have buckled up themselves to take a step forward to understand the virus and find the cure for the same. Similarly, an Indian researcher and scientist, Dr. Rajanish Giri understood the structure of the Zika virus at Indian Institute of Technology, Mandi, Himachal Pradesh along with researchers from other universities. He studied the virus at the molecular level and identified the vital internal region of the virus protein, which was the breakthrough of the research. Upon targeting this particular region, a cure could be discovered. With the available information, further research is being done with the help of bioinformatics (a branch of science that uses the database of proteins and genes to perform computational analysis instantly) as it reduces the cost of wet-lab experiments and consumes less time comparatively.
After this, the battle with the Zika virus definitely got a direction to move ahead with but every time a new challenge is being faced and now it is the Nipah virus.
Are we ready to tackle this disease?
“Financial support plays a crucial role in research”, says a Ph.D. student of Microbial Biotechnology Research Laboratory, Manipur University in interaction with BW Healthcareworld. During her interaction, she talked about the stumbling blocks in the pathway of a researcher. Indian research laboratories if compared with eminent labs in the world like Board Institute in Cambridge, the evident difference of high-quality equipment and work culture justifies their legendary work. Research laboratories in India are stratified in various groups depending on the director, the head of the laboratory. Patenting the research is always a task, a big one! If the director is renowned, he can manage to get ample funding, which will be easier to maintain the lab. It can brace and provide aid to effective research and get the research patented whereas, in other laboratories, they fail. It becomes a strenuous exercise to obtain funding; they struggle to even purchase good equipment for better and accurate experimental results. This could be a major obstacle to bring out impactful research and causing a definite halt in further procedures. Another significant concern that comes up in the research field is under-skilled researchers due to less exposure and underpaid employees of laboratories, eventually reducing the motivation for research.
Rather than exhausting the vitality only on funding for the labs, research laboratories should be focusing on the skills and knowledge of the researchers and how it could be utilized at most. Though the economic condition of India is not at its peak, skilled researchers with expertise in their area is an essential part to leave a great impact on future research.
India witnessed a breakthrough while discovering the cure for the Zika virus. It is undoubtedly capable of finding another cure or at least can take a step ahead in the direction of research advancement. But before thinking whether we are ready to find a cure for any emerging disease, it is necessary to focus on the roots of the issue. The working conditions of the Indian laboratories and research work needs a massive change in their workflow. They require efficient equipment and eminent researchers in the field. The country needs to match up with the pace of the World in terms of Research and Development to leave behind the crippled-ness and fight the battle against these out-breaking diseases.