Published: 13th December 2018
IIT-Mandi professor finds innovative method to combat Zika virus
Professor Rajanish Giri recently won the Innovative Young Biotechnologist Award for discovering how to prevent zika virus capsid folding
Moved by the shocking number of victims falling prey to the Zika virus, Professor Rajanish Giri, knew he had to something about it. In 2016, when Zika was declared a Medical Health Emergency of International Concern, Giri, an assistant professor at IIT Mandi knew he couldn't wait any longer to find a solution. He started his research on capsid folding of the virus and discovery of inhibitors, for which he was recently awarded with the Innovative Young Biotechnologist Award from the Ministry of Science and Technology. In a conversation, he tells us all about his discovery. Excerpts:
1. What does capsid folding mean?
Imagine a football with liquid inside. A capsid is the boundary or covering of the football. Inside is the RNA, DNA and other proteins. That's the simple structure of a virus. A capsid is something that encapsulates the virus. So if the capsid doesn't fold, it cannot form the virus.
Virus control: Rajanish Giri started his research on the dark protein of the Zika virus in 2016
2. When did you begin your research?
On March 15, 2016, I started finding out the dark protein of the virus, which basically means proteins which cannot form a structure, but they are functional in nature. We published the paper in August. This week, my fifth paper on Zika was published.
3. How will the award further aid your research?
It is a proposed research on capsid folding and inhibitor research. I will receive one lakh rupees annually for three years.
4. What are the highlights of your research?
My research basically addresses three questions -- how the capsid folding happens, how we can stop the folding and how we can develop inhibitors or any small molecule to stop the development of the virus or stop it from maturing. We have found that hydroxychloroquine, an anti0malarial drug can inhibit proteins in the Zika virus. This research will help in understanding how the virus develops and also develop molecules that can inhibit its growth.
5. Will you be collaborating with pharmaceutical companies or other universities?
We have a collaboration with the University of Washington to study the Zika virus culture. In the future, we also hope to collaborate with pharmaceutical companies, but it depends on the feasibility.