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Role of Lipids in Infectious Diseases

  • 20 Mar 2020
  • 2 min read

Why in News

Researchers at IIT-Bombay are using biologically active lipid molecules as chemical biology tools to understand their biological disease-causing function.


  • Lipids are molecules that contain hydrocarbons and make up the building blocks of the structure and function of living cells.
  • They are responsible for maintaining the integrity of our cell membrane, which allows nutrients and drugs to pass through the cell.
  • They play a major role in altering properties of the cell membrane.
  • During infection and in diseases, the lipids are breached and membranes are harnessed by pathogens for their survival and infection

Key Points

  • The role of lipids in critical mechanisms involved in host-pathogen interplay is being explored.
  • The mechanism of action of Mtb lipids on human host membrane and related cellular events represents a golden opportunity to deepen the understanding of the function of Mtb lipids in membrane-dictated bacterial survival, pathogenesis, and drug resistance.
  • Scientists are also investigating the role of Mtb lipids in drug-membrane interactions, underscored by the fact that lipids critically dictate the molecular interactions of drugs with membranes influencing drug diffusion, partitioning, and accumulation.
  • Membrane structures specific to mycobacterial lipids have also been developed which can act as ‘cell-free’ platforms for anti-tubercular (relating to TB) drug interactions. They would help in:
    • Investigating antibiotic interactions with mycobacterial (causative agent of Tuberculosis) specific membranes for future antibiotic design.
    • Shaping the effectiveness of already existing anti-TB drug molecules and fostering development of new ones.
    • Investigation of host cellular pathways rewired by pathogenic factors and elucidate possible therapeutic targets in Tuberculosis.

Source: PIB

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