Molecular Biology

Currently there are two projects ongoing in the laboratory:

  • Metabolic phenotype of alveolar macrophages in COPD
  • Alveolar macrophages play a very important role in COPD. These cells defend the lungs from the damage caused by foreign particles and microorganisms. Defective function of alveolar macrophages in COPD is known for years but the mechanism for this defect is yet unclear. Metabolic alterations in macrophages are known to alter the immune function of these cells. A better understanding of the impact on metabolic activities of macrophages will help in developing potential novel treatments for COPD.

  • Role of protein post-translational modification in the alteration of metabolism in alveolar macrophages
  • Smoke generated from cigarettes, bidis and biomass is known to subject lung cells to oxidative stress. This is because of the oxidants present in the smoke. One of the defense mechanisms in the cells is to undergo a post-translational modification of important proteins which could protect their amino acids which may be susceptible to damage by the oxidants. This post-translational modification can be reversible and irreversible. We are interested in identifying proteins which undergo such a post-translational modification in order to further understand their role in the pathophysiology of COPD.

Mitochondrial function testing

The Seahorse Extracellular Flux Analyzer can simultaneously measure mitochondrial oxygen consumption and extracellular acidification rates in live cells. This is real-time measurement which helps to assess the effect of various drugs on the mitochondrial function.

Sputum induction facilities

Separate sputum induction room with exhaust hood to reduce particulate contamination and technician safety.

Ultrasonic nebulizer for sputum induction.

Protein function/expression characterization

Instruments to perform western blotting assays for measuring the expression of specific proteins in the samples

Spectrophotometer to measure the change in UV absorbance as a result of enzyme activity or for calorimetric assays



Liquid nitrogen tank for snap freezing and cryopreservation

Deep freezers

Dr. Amit R. Agarwal, Head - Molecular Biology

Dr. Agarwal received his Ph.D. degree from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. Prior to coming to CRF in 2015, Dr. Agarwal was an IRB Consultant at the IRB Company (USA). Currently, he heads the Molecular Respiratory Research Laboratory as aResearch Scientist at CRF.

Dr. Agarwal’s work has focused on the effects of cigarette smoke on redox regulation of metabolism in alveolar epithelial cells. He has presented his work at various national and international conferences and also published in American Journal of Physiology – Lung Cellular and and Molecular Physiology and American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology.

Smita Kadam, Research Associate

Smita Kadam, MSc is a Research Associate at CRF. She is an expert in sputum induction and processing of samples. Smita is also experienced in various molecular biology techniques such as western blotting, PCR, cloning, etc.

Ankita Brahme, Research Assistant

Ankita Brahme received her MSc degree from University of Nottingham, UK. She has her expertise in molecular and microbiological techniques. Currently working as a Research Assistant in the Molecular Lab at CRF, her work involves isolation of PBMCs from patients, cell culture and processing the samples to see the metabolic activities in COPD patients.

Manas Agrawal, Intern

Manas Agrawal, B Pharm is a research intern in the laboratory and has been assisting in the research projects undertaken by the lab. With the research skills acquired here, he aims to pursue his doctoral studies further in the USA in the field of Pharmacology.

2 abstracts presented at NAPCON 2016.
  • Quantitative analysis of potentially pathogenic microbes in the induced sputum samples of rural Indian non-smoking COPD subjects
  • Baishakhi Ghosh, Akshay Gaike, Shrikant Bhute, Shreyas Kumbhare, Kanchan Pyasi, Dr. Amit Agarwal, Dr. Bill Brashier, Dr. Yogesh Shauche, Dr. Sundeep Salvi, Dr. Peter Barnes, Dr. Louise Donnelly

  • Smoke extractor system for in vitro exposure to lung cells.
  • Smita Kadam, Baishakhi Ghosh, Kanchan Pyasi, Dr. Sundeep Salvi, Dr. Amit R Agarwal

    Smita Kadam was awarded the 2nd Prize for Best Oral Presentation at NAPCON2016 in Mumbai.

Cell-Culture Applications, Techniques and Hands-on Training Workshop

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