Indian lab may have helped validate research that fetched the medicine Nobel

Express News Service

NEW DELHI:  While Ardem Patapoutian, along with David Julius, on Monday bagged the Nobel Prize in medicine for their seminal work in the discovery of receptors that allow humans to feel temperature and touch, a government lab in India, too, may have helped establish the significance of their discovery.

The Indian Institute of Chemical Biology (IICB) under the CSIR had shown in 2018 that the cells of the immune system may also be critically dependent on these channels to sense physical cues they encounter inside the body.

Dipyaman GangulyPatapoutian’s discovery of the Piezo channels — a basic fact of biology that was not known before 2010 — in the nervous system was followed up by a number of labs to find the role of these channels in other different bodily functions and how exactly they work.

For instance, David Beeche’s lab in University of Leeds discovered in 2014 that the pressure sensing function of the channels also makes them critical in the cardiovascular system, such as to sense changes in blood pressure.

Besides, Wolfgang Liedtke’s group in Duke University showed in 2014 that these channels play a major role in sensing pressure in the cartilage of our joints.

Back home, a group of IICB scientists led by immunologist Dipyaman Ganguly first showed in 2018 that the cells of the immune system may be critically dependent on these channels for sensing physical cues inside the body.

Their paper titled “Cutting Edge: Piezo1 Mechanosensors Optimize Human T Cell Activation”, published in The Journal of Immunology, provided the first evidence for the involvement of Piezo mechanosensors in immune regulation.

Another group in China uncovered the structural basis of the channel’s working in 2018. All these works confirmed the diverse physiological role and importance of Piezo channels.

“This is their moment and they deserve all the accolades,” said Ganguly, adding that his lab may be the only one in this field in India as of now.

“We are happy to have contributed in a way that may have helped establish the significance of Patapoutian’s work.”