Dr. Bikul Das, an Assamese researcher at Stanford University has discovered the paves to completely eliminate the TB bacteria and cure the deadly disease that still kills 1.9 million people across the globe annually.
Times of India wrote today;
In a study published in the journal - Science Translational Medicine, Das, who has been researching the subject for the past 15 years, points out that TB bacteria hide in a group of stem cells inside the bone marrow beyond the reach of antibiotics and the body's own immune system. These, he says, might reappear once the coast is clear and do a lot of damage. In fact, the bacteria take advantage of the body's own mechanisms of self-renewals.
In his research, Das and his team studied the Idu-Mishimi community of Arunachal Pradesh that has a very high occurrence of TB. The team not only found genetic material from bacteria inside the stem cells, they were also able to isolate active bacteria from the cells from TB patients who had undergone extensive treatment for the disease. They say the findings indicate that other infectious agents may also employ similar "wolf-in-stem-cell-clothing" tactics.
Dr Bikul Das, a native of Guwahati has been awarded a prestigious grant under the Gates Foundation’s Global Health Grant to explore the role of stem cells in the management of tubercular infection. Dr Das has received $100,000 Grand Challenges Explorations Grant for Innovative Global Health Research. His project is one of 81 grants announced out of over 3,000 applications by the Gates Foundation in the second funding round of the Program, an initiative to help scientists around the world explore bold and largely unproven ways to improve health in developing countries.
He was also awarded the prestigious Scholarin-training award jointly by the American Association of Cancer Research and the Japanese Cancer Association. Dr. Das has written a popular medical book about the health-benefit aspect of antioxidants. He is also a recipient of Hind Rattan Award given out on India’s Republic Day.
Dr. Bikul Das studied MBBS at the Gauhati Medical College and Hospital and got his Ph.D. on cancer at the Hospital for Sick Children, University of Toronto, Canada, where he identified a novel signaling pathway of cancer drug resistance and metastasis. Following his Ph.D. training, he was a fellow in the stem cell and developmental biology program of the hospital he focused on isolation of lung cancer stem cells. He moved to Stanford University Medical Center to continue with his research.
A year ago, He had published in a leading international journal ‘Stem Cells’, that human embryonic stem cells under duress produce molecules that not only benefit themselves but also help nearby cells survive.