Food, Drug & Chemical Toxicology

Overview

Food is of paramount importance as it is required in sufficient quantity to provide a healthy life. There is increasing concern about food safety and food contamination either through environmental pollution or adulteration round the globe. To ensure an adequate food supply during non-agriculturally productive periods, it has become necessary to find methods to preserve and process the food. With the fast growth of food processing industries, the trend towards the use of various food additives added for technological purposes has also increased. New chemical entities are being exploited as additives in food. The adulteration of food due to deliberate mixing of inferior grade agents for disguising and to earn undue profits is also a serious problem. Furthermore, un-intentional contaminants may creep up during field production or processing and storage. Recombinant DNA technology for production of GM food has to be exploited for adequate food supply or else the crisis shall keep on increasing. However, the safety of this GM food/crop has to be established before commercialization. Based on our traditional knowledge the beneficial effects of herbs are a promising area for encountering several toxic manifestations. Thus, toxicity/safety data for these chemical moieties along with GM food and traditionally used herbs need to be generated.

Mission and goals
The mission is to have safe and healthy food which can be achieved by

  • Development and/or establishment of methodologies to quantify the potential toxic agent in food.
  • To understand the mechanism of toxicity of new food additives, contaminants, adulterants.
  • Detection of GM food/crop and their safety/allergenic assessment.
  • Identification of phytochemicals/herbal preparations, which can modify the toxicity of above chemical moieties in food.

Competencies
The institute has a competent team of scientist and technical persons to fulfil the goals.

Glimpses of current research

An association between children death and consumption of Cassia occidentalis (CO) seeds has been established through clinical and experimental investigations. The results indicate that liver, muscles and brain are the target tissues due to CO seed exposure leading to hepatomyoencephalopathy. Exposure of CO (0.5%) seeds in diet to rats differentially regulated 60 transcripts belonging to various biological pathways including, oxidative stress, xenobiotic metabolism, carbohydrate metabolism, cell cycle, apoptosis etc. Inhibitors of these pathways may be useful for therapeutic/ preventive strategies in CO exposed population.

Topical application of deoxynivalenol (DON) resulted in cell proliferation in mouse skin through the activation of MAPKs signaling pathway involving transcription factors NFkB and AP-1, further leading to transcriptional activation of downstream target proteins c-fos, c-jun, cyclin D1, iNOS and COX-2 which might be responsible for its inflammatory potential. Topical application of DON also leads to intestinal inflammation with enlarged Peyer's patches.

A method was developed to generate mycotoxins-protein conjugates for antibody production. Combinatorial effect of resveratrol and doxorubicin in breast cancer was shown to be more effective than the individual chemicals. Similarly, combination of pterostilbene and lupeol showed synergistic effect in killing cancerous cells (A431 and A549) suggesting potential anticancer agents in combination.

Benzanthrone, a synthetic dye intermediate and environmental contaminant, showed intense inflammatory changes in the tissues of exposed mice which could lead to severe immunotoxicity.

Oral exposure of Red Kidney Bean crude protein extract to mice showed allergenic potential. Further, purification and characterization of IgE binding protein phaseolin (47.5kDa) was shown to be the etiological agent for allergenicity.

Role of PH domain and leucine rich repeat protein phosphatase 2 in Nrf2 suppression via modulation of Akt/GSK3b/Fyn kinase axis during oxidative hepatocellular toxicity has been shown in experimental studies and that PHLPP2 could serve as a new target for developing strategies to manage pathological conditions exacerbated due to oxidative stress.

Extracts of Tinospora cordifolia (Tc) has been shown to modulate COX-2, iNOS, ICAM-1, pro-inflammatory cytokines and redox status in murine model of asthma thus suggesting therapeutic potential of Tc for the management of asthmatic inflammation and other lung inflammatory conditions.

The Group
Dr. A. Kannan Dr. N.K. Satija Dr. Anurag Tripathi
Dr. Poonam Kakkar Ms. Jyotsna Singh Dr. P.D. Dwivedi
Dr. K.M. Ansari Dr. Yogeshwer Shukla
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