the year, in spite of the disruption of work due to its move
from Parel to Kharghar, the Institute has managed to continue
with its activities. Research investigations have focused
on molecular mechanisms responsible for the causation of the
major human cancers in parallel with studies in animal
models and cells in tissue culture.
Ongoing investigations on oral cancer have changed
focus from alterations in oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes
to global analysis of gains and losses of chromosomal regions,
gene and protein expression, alteration in genes regulating
DNA repair and xenobiotic metabolizing enzymes, role of intermediate
filament proteins in epithelial cell transformation, presence
of novel HPV, preparation of gene therapy reagents against
oral cancer, understanding the molecular mechanisms in immune
surveillance and development of single chain antibodies against
antigens from oral tumor cells.
With respect to breast cancer, studies have investigated
the importance of HLA in breast cancer predisposition
in specific ethnic groups such as the Parsis and Maharashtrians
and their relation to age of onset of the disease. Epigenetic
mechanisms regulating genes involved in cell proliferation
have also received attention.
In-depth studies are on to understand the molecular mechanisms
of hepatitis B virus infection leading to hepatocellular
carcinoma. The utility of the viral mRNA for HBx gene,
and circulating antibodies towards the HBx protein are being
assessed as markers for viral infection.
Analysis of cytokine profiles and the role of antibodies
to the viral proteins E6 and E7 in cervical cancer,
cytokine imbalance in lung cancer patients, and the
role of urinary cytokines in intravesical BCG therapy in superficial
bladder cancer are ongoing. The significance of the T-cell
repertoire in T-ALL, presence of HPV in esophageal
cancer and HHV6 in lymphoproliferative disorders
are also receiving attention. The biology of HIV-2,
the virus which has spread only in India and Africa is being
studied in-depth. Having an Indian isolate of HIV-2 has also
provided the impetus to develop an indigenous retroviral vector
for gene transfer.
Studies in cultured cells address questions related
to chromatin structure, specific signal transduction pathways,
molecules and intermolecular interactions mediating cell proliferation,
cell death and functional differentiation, many of which are
altered during cellular transformation in response to DNA
damaging agents and environmental chemical carcinogens.
Studies on tobacco mediated carcinogenesis have encompassed
chemical analysis, examination of the bioactivity of various
tobacco products, transplacental carcinogenesis and biomonitoring
of habitués. Sizeable effort has been directed towards delineation
of the mechanisms of chemopreventive action of agents
from Indian foods, such as turmeric, tea and grapes, and development
of mechanism-based biomarkers of exposure.
The first transgenic mouse in the country, which was
made at the Institute, hosts a gene for a growth modulator.
This mouse is being developed as a model for squamous cell
carcinoma. In parallel, newer cell lines useful for
cancer research and an expression system for the E6 protein
of HPV are being developed.
During 2002, scientists at the Institute have obtained extra
mural support from different funding bodies to the tune of
Rs. 1 Crore. Work from the Institute has led to 19 publications
in peer reviewed journals. Eleven students have obtained Ph.D.
in different disciplines of life sciences from the University
The Institute initiated the celebrations of its Golden Jubilee
Year with the Foundation Day Lecture by Nobel Laureate, Sir
Paul Nurse in January 2002. As its first major scientific
activity after the move to ACTREC, it organized the XXVI All
India Cell Biology Conference and Symposium where over 250
scientists from India and abroad participated and exchanged
views on recent trends in Cell Biology. The Golden Jubilee
Year culminated at the celebrations held at Kharghar on the
31st of December 2002 in the august presence of Dr. Anil Kakodkar,