6-Biotech

Biotechnology Programme organized

 

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The Department of Biotechnology, Mepco Schlenk Engineering College (Autonomous), Sivakasi organized a National Seminar-cum-Symposium on “Contemporary issues in Bioprocess Engineering”on 17.03.17.The Seminar started with the auspicious song and lighting of Kuthuvilakku. Prof. M. L. Stephen Raj, Head of the Department delivered the inaugural address underlining the need to understand the strong connect between bioprocess technology and industrial expectations from the engineering graduates in the department.Prof. S. Meenakshi Sundaram, the Director of Centre for Food Technology, Anna University, Chennai delivered the lecture on production of Lipase B from Candida antarctica (CALB) that transformed as a successful Transfer-of-Technology to M/S Fermanta Biotech Ltd. The lecture was engrossing from the identification of target protein to optimization of various upstream to downstream processes. He shared the challenges that turned as opportunities in order to meet the requirement and limitations at large-scale industrial production. The lab was able to increase the production 6 folds higher than the initial output after multiple optimizations for gene copy, signal peptide and carbon source. The students also had their queries answered at the end of the lecture.Post-tea session, Dr. S. Ramalingam, Associate Professor, Center for Biotechnology, Anna University, Chennai delivered his lecture on two levels. The first part thus introduced the Green Chemistry as need of the hour technology to meet energy demand and also assist the existing renewable energy sources and replace the costlier and environmentally unfriendly petroleum products. The second part was towards the exploration his lab took to exploit the acrylate pathway by engineering and utilizing the cell-free assay system alongside systems biology tools to model and understand the ways to enhance the quantity of propionate produced.

The students from other colleges in the region also participated by the presentations. A selected group of students had made a poster presentation of their research. All the participants along with the resource persons spent time on the posters during post-lunch session. A parallel session was also conducted on science quiz organized by the Department of Biotechnology. The resource persons for the Seminar felicitated the best poster. The event concluded with vote of thanks by the Coordinator of the Seminar Dr. S. Karthikeyan followed by the recital of National Anthem.

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The Department of Biotechnology, Mepco Schlenk Engineering College (Autonomous), Sivakasi organized a National Seminar-cum-Symposium on “Recent Advances In Biochemical Engineering”on 30.09.16. This seminar is a self-supported by the Institution. Dr. SathyanarayanaN. Gummadi, Professor, Department of Biotechnology, Indian Institute of Technology Madras and Dr. S.R. SenthilKumar, Fermentation Biologist from Evolva Biotech, Chennaiwere resource persons for the seminar-cum-workshop. Dr. M. L. Stephen Raj, Head of the department, Biotechnology welcomed the chief guest Dr.SathyanarayanaN. Gummadi and rest of the audience. The seminar started after auspicious Ganapathythuthi and lighting of Kuthuvilakku. Prof. SathyanarayanaGummadi,introduced the participants about Caffeine, its biological importance and health impacts on prolonged consumption. This underlines the need for decaffeination of coffee that is consumed as a beverage my predominant population all around the globe especially in Tamil Nadu. He listed the available procedures involved in the process and their limitations, hence emphasized the need for a biological or enzymatic degradation process to eliminate environmental, and health concerns yet be affordable. The molecule is a very toxic to normal survival of bacterial cells even at low concentrations. He elaborated on the identification of a novel Pseudomonas strain from the coffee estates that could efficiently degrade higher concentrations of caffeine in the growth medium as these organisms utilize them as carbon and nitrogen source. He also discussed on the optimization of medium composition and cultivation conditions thereby enhancing the caffeine degradation potential of organism during large scale culturing.The speaker answered queries on genes involved in caffeine degradation, process components that have been altered during optimization raised by the audience.

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Dr. S. R. Senthil Kumar delivered the second session of the seminaron the title “Biomanufacturing Process - Bench to Bottle”. He stressed on the need for introducing biological components or process stages in place of chemical components in both Food and Drug product developments process. He discussed in detail the FDA approval process from Discovery to Drug / Product release and also long-term evaluation involved to ascertain safe use of products identified as health remedies. He discussed in detail about all regulatory processes involved in Process Development. He insisted on requirement to stick to GMP and SOP as a part of good Bioprocess Development process. The ethical and regulatory issues concerning food and drug production attracted a wide range of queries from the student participants, researcher graduates and faculty members. The speaker answered on queries from discovery process like identification of right drug targets,approval of small molecules of drug, nutritional and cosmetic importance for pediatric application through clinical trials and retraction of earlier approved drugs as happened very recently for many of the drugs in India. A selected group of students had made a poster presentation of their research and models. All the participants along with the resource persons spent time on the posters during post-lunch session after which a technical quiz organized by the Department of Biotechnology. The resource persons for the Seminar felicitated the best poster. The event concluded with vote of thanks by the Coordinator of the Seminar Mrs. A. Arul Jeyanthifollowed bythe recital of National Anthem.

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The Department of Biotechnology, Mepco Schlenk Engineering College (Autonomous), Sivakasi organized a National Seminar on “Paradigms of Plant Microbe Interaction” on 26.02.16. The one-day seminar was to gather the current research in the area of Plant-Microbe interaction through the researchers from various eminent institutions. The speakers were Dr. R. Sathish Kumar, Associate Professor, Department of Biotechnology, Bharathiar University, Dr. Jasmine M.Shah, Assistant Professor School of Biological Science, Central University of Kerala and Dr. G. Sridevi, Assistant Professor, School of Biotechnology, Madurai Kamaraj University. Dr. M. L. Stephen Raj, Head of the department, Biotechnology welcomed the chief guest Dr. R. Sathish Kumar and other resource persons. The seminar started after auspicious lighting of Kuthuvilakku.

The inaugural address was given by Dr. Sathish Kumar highlighting the scope of the subject of biotechnology and prospects of the students. He underlined the importance of understanding concepts and aiming for specialisation at reputed institutions, irrespective of the area of interest. He also implicated the need to have a inclination towards becoming entrepreneur given the favourable climate for start-ups. He mentioned the funding opportunities like Biotechnology Ignition Grant, BiRAC among the others available for conversion of laboratory research to industry scale product manufacturer.

Dr. Jasmine Shah shared her research carried at the Central University of Kerala under the title “Genetic-Epigenetic Response to Microbes”. Here she spoke about the novel technique utilized to score mutations with special interest in those occurring in somatic cells. She has used gene coding for betas-glucuronidase in Arabidopsis plant. Lines that have specific type of mutations are generated and used as a tool to identify the degree of mutation that occurs due to stress in plants. She has used the bacterium, Agrobacterium, as an agent of biotic stress and scored the reversion of mutations by reversal of GUS function. The work in her lab also looks at epigenetic state of the genome and DNA repair mechanism involved during the stress and associated response by plants.

The post-tea session was taken over by Dr. Sridevi from MKU, Madurai. She discussed her work on development of transgenics in rice against sheath blight disease. The plants were selected for single gene insertion and homozygousity for gene transfer across generation. Later she introduced the gathering with her experience in bringing of a transgenic line for field trials. She listed the procedure from approvals starting with Institutional Biosafety Committee at University/college level to final approval by Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) for final GMOs to be released for farmers. The students actively involved themselves in knowing the status of GMOs in global and Indian perspective.

The concluding talk of the seminar delivered by Dr. Sathish Kumar was a research output of his Indo-UK collaboration. He discussed on the generation of vaccine-based solution for Chikungunya using Molecular Pharming. He has used Agrobacterium based transfer of genes onto Nicotiana benthamiana to produce proposed antigens and antibodies from plants. The products are popularly called as “Plantigens” and “Plantibodies”.

Students and faculty members from across the region have participated in this seminar and involved in discussions after every lecture. Finally, the seminar covered a broad range of research topics within the scope of plant-microbe interaction from basic (genetics) to applied (vaccines) in nature providing a lead for pursuing research.

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The Department of Biotechnology, Mepco Schlenk Engineering College (Autonomous), Sivakasi organized a National Conference on “Advances in Nanobiotechnology” on 13.03.15. This seminar was self-sponsored by the Institution. Dr. M. L. Stephen Raj, Head of the department, Biotechnology welcomed the chief guest Dr. R. Murugesan and other resource persons.

The inaugural speech of the Conference was by Dr. R. Murugesan, Director-Allied Health Sciences, Chettinad Academy of Research and Education. The talk was on “Nanotechnology in Medicine: Multifunctional Switchable Nanoparticles for Tumor Targeting”. The speaker has focused the lecture on taking problems that are more within the research area of the student projects by asking simple questions and utilizing the available resources in the Institution for furthering the knowledge in tumor targeting using nano-particles. He gave the basic understanding behind the concept of nanoparticle preparation and its applications in various fields. He stressed the need and developments in targeted drug delivery using variations in pH and local conditions in the body.

The post-tea lecture was given by Dr. S. R. D. Jebakumar, Professor and Head of Department of Biotechnology, Madurai Kamaraj University on the sustainable use of nanotechnology for biological applications. He discussed with a case-study on preparation on nanoparticles from plant resources and application in identification of SNPs and pH based local delivery of Drug molecules.

The student participants from various colleges in the state and the home institution presented their research work. The oral presentation session was chaired by Dr. G. Arthanareeswaran. The student presentations varied from development of different nanoparticle preparation methods with specific applications that can detect pH changes, enhancement of biodiesel production using nano-catalyst, immobilization of proteases to nanoparticles to preparation of nanoparticles using biological sources like floral part of woody trees.

Dr. G. Arthanareeswaran, Associate Professor from Department of Chemical Engineering, National Institute of Technology, Tiruchirapalli concluded the Conference by delivering his lecture on Nanomembranes and their emerging role in environmental and biotechnological applications. He gave an introductory remark on the various types of membrane preparations and techniques and discussed on the existing problems in membranes like fouling, life and casting. The importance of nanotechnology in solving environmental issues by materials such as carbon nanomembranes was discussed in detail.

Finally the convener of the conference Dr. Mala delivered the vote of thanks on behalf of the department and the college to the chief guest, resource persons and the student participants from various colleges. Students and faculty members from across the state and the host-institution have participated in this conference. The conference generated further interest in the nascent field of nanobiotechnology with informative talks delivered by experienced researchers in the area. The students got the scope of the technology by gaining access to the limitations and possibilities in the field through both the student and peer-group lectures and discussions.

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The Department of Biotechnology, Mepco Schlenk Engineering College (Autonomous), Sivakasi organized a National Seminar on “Molecular Virology” on 27.09.14. This seminar is a self-sponosored by the Institution. Dr. R. Manjunath, Associate Professor, Department of Biochemistry, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore and Dr. T. Jebasingh, Assistant Professsor, DBT-MKU-IPLS Programme, School of Biological Sciences, Madurai Kamaraj University, Madurai were resource persons for the Seminar. Dr. M. L. Stephen Raj, Head of the department, Biotechnology welcomed the chief guest Dr. R. Manjunath and other resource persons. The seminar started after auspicious Ganapathy thuthi and lighting of Kuthuvilakku.

Dr. R. Manjunath focused his lecture on concept-based understanding of the research performed in his laboratory in the Field of Viral Immunology. He had eloquently described the basics of Immunology and methods involved in understanding immunological techniques used in research labs for investigating the questions pertaining to the subject. This was targeted on the under-graduate and post-graduate level participants of the Seminar from the various colleges in the region. He also explained the inherent problems in developing drugs and vaccines against viral infections, especially the in-born errors that the reverse transcriptase creates during viral replication. This allows HIV to evade immune system by the presence of a diverse pool of virus that is available within a single individual though he was infected by a single strain of virus initially. His research focuses on Japanese Encephalitis Virus specifically on the involvement of major histocompatibility classes in clearing viral infection. JEV infects neuronal cells preferentially hence are neurotrophic viruses. The lab investigates cell and humoral immune responses against JEV.

Dr. T. Jebasingh, delivered his lecture on “Studies on NIa Protease of Cardamom Mosaic Virus”. He has given a research atmosphere for the students through his talk that involved planning of experiments towards the specified objective of the research. The talk was on Cardamom Mosaic Virus that is found infecting the Cardamom plants in the Western Ghat region in South India that remained his source of virus. The virus belongs to one of the largest group of virus called Potyviridae. He started the talk with development of vectors, containing the gene of interest and expression of the cloned genes and purification through chromatography. The protein had two diverse functions; one being DNA binding ability investigated through Electrophoretic Mobility Shift Assay or shortly Gel Shift assay and the other serine protease activity. The exposure of the students to the process of basic research planning and understanding enabling them to solve the fundamental issues related to diseases in plant and human system remained the take home message of the two lectures from diverse areas of research that was presented in the Seminar.

Students and faculty members from across the state have participated in this seminar and enriched with research ideas of India’s eminent research minds. Indeed this seminar is fruitful for the young minds and stresses the importance to perform innovative, application oriented clinical and agricultural research in the field of Molecular Virology to benefit the Indian community.

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The Department of Biotechnology, Mepco Schlenk Engineering College (Autonomous), Sivakasi organized a National Seminar on “Applications of Proteomic Technologies in Clinical Biochemistry” on 28.02.14. This seminar is sponsored by Board of Research in Nuclear Sciences (BRNS), Department of Atomic energy (DAE), Govt. of India, Mumbai. Dr. K. Dharmalingam, Distinguished Professor in Biotechnology, Department of Biotechnology, Govt of India, Dr. V. Adaikkalam, Associate Professsor Center for Biotechnology, Anna University, Chennai and Dr. Bob Kennedy Dass, Scientist, GE Healthcare, Bangalore were resource persons. Dr. M. L. Stephen Raj, Head of the department, Biotechnology welcomed the chief guest Professor K. Dharmalingam and other resource persons. The seminar started after auspicious lighting of Kuthuvilakku.

Professor K. Dharmaingam focused his lecture on application of Proteomics in the diagnosis of ophthalmic keratitis caused by fungi. He is currently pursuing clinical research work in Aravind Eye Research Foundation, Madurai. He said that if a drug is prescribed for a fungal infection to group of patients having same infection, some respond to the drug and some may be unresponsive to the drug. He stressed that this is due to the differential expression pattern of proteins among patients. His research focused on collecting tears, cornea sample from different patients with same fungal infection and analysis of differential expression of proteins in response to fungal infection. He explained about how automated Mass Spectrometer made his research easier.

Dr. V. Adaikalam, delivered his lecture on basis of Mass spectrometer and elaborated the different types of mass analyzers available till date. He mentioned about how mass spectrometer is used to find the mass of a protein/peptide and also its sequence. He also shared his research findings on how deregulation of hormone androgen might be possibly a reason for prostate cancer based on proteome analysis using Mass Spectrometer. He used two different types of mass analyzers for understanding the proteome profile of same sample and made a comparison of data obtained and inferred the results.

Finally, Dr. Bob Kennedy Dass delivered his address on application of 2-Dimensional Gel Electrophoresis (2-DGE) in proteomic analysis. His talk is more like a practical demonstration of this method. He mentioned about the experimental steps involved in this method pointing out the possible errors that would occur at each step. He explained the possible means of troubleshooting the errors. He also cited various peer reviewed journal articles, where in 2-DGE is applied for analysis of various diseases.

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The Department of Biotechnology of Mepco Schlenk Engineering College, Sivakasi organized a National seminar titled 'Advances in Agricultural Biotechnology' on the 16th of March, 2013. The objective of this seminar involving lectures by experts in the field of Agricultural Biotechnology is to stimulate the intellect of students and faculty of biotechnology and related disciplines and to serve as motivation to specialize in the field. The event was inaugurated by the chief guest, Professor K. Veluthambi from Madurai Kamaraj University, Madurai. The Head of the Department, Professor M. L. Stephen Raj welcomed the gathering and set the proceedings in motion.

Professor Veluthambi centered his lecture on lessons learnt from his extensive research on genetically engineered rice for sheath blight disease resistance. The resistance is conferred by altering the genetic makeup of rice cells to produce enzymes that can degrade the cells of fungi that infect it. He further explained how he went about his discovery of 'Trans - Transcriptional Gene Silencing' phenomenon wherein the presence of a particular gene under a particular promoter at the origin of an inverted T-DNA repeat causes the silencing or inactivation of other genes under the same promoter in the repeat.

Yet another illustration of the potential of the plant cell was given by Professor Smitha Srivastava from IIT Madras, Chennai. She highlighted the fact that plants cells produce a major percentage of antibiotic and medically potent drugs and that the ability to grow plants cells as discrete suspended cells offers substantial advantage over field cultivation and tissue culture. The application of engineering principles to grow plant cells in large volume reactors to meet the market drug demands was elaborated. She further addressed the problems associated with plant cell suspension culture and how hairy root culture without growth hormones can be used.

The technology of expressing unmodified or modified viral gene products in plants which leads to interference in viral life cycle during plant virus attack was discussed by Professor R. Usha from Madurai Kamaraj University, Madurai. She further elaborated on the use of virus chimeras where fragments of animal viruses are fused with plant virus coat protein ad used as vaccines. Intellectual insight offered by the eminent speakers was grasped by student participants from other colleges in the state, realizing the seminar objective which was to enable participants to understand recent advances in molecular breeding, disease diagnosis, crop protection and improvement for sustainable productivity through Genetic Engineering.

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The Department of Biotechnology organized National Seminar on 'Advances in Medical Biotechnology' on 29.09.12. The resource persons were Dr. R. Karunagaran, Professor, IIT Chennai, Dr. R. Anuradha, Associate Professor, CBT, Anna University, Chennai and Dr. S. B. Anand, Asst. Professor , Madurai Kamaraj University , Madurai. The seminar focused on role of miRNA in cancer research, stem cell technology and development of vaccine for filariasis. Almost seventy students from various institutions across the state attended the seminar.

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A National seminar series titled 'Advances in Computational Biology' was conducted by the Department of Biotechnology at Mepco Schlenk Engineering College, Sivakasi. The goal of this seminar was to provide a forum for discussion of the latest research in developing computing solutions to data intensive and computer intensive problems arising from molecular biology and related life sciences areas. The event was inaugurated on the 26th of March, 2011 by the chief quest, Dr. P. Gautham, Professor at Anna University, Chennai. The Convener and Head of the Department Dr. M. L. Stephen Raj welcomed the gathering and set the proceedings in motion.

Professor Gautham centered his lecture on the use of molecular simulation to predict and understand the behavior of proteins and enzymes away from ideal/ optimum micro environment conditions. Data on protein structure is available at the conditions in which the protein is crystallized. The capability of computational models to provide information on structural changes occurring in the protein at actual working conditions was highlighted in his lecture. Yet another example of the potential of computing power in understanding and predicting cellular behavior was given by Professor Mukesh Doble of IIT, Madras. His simulation of the progression of Parkinson's disease, taking into account the metabolic pathways involved, further reinforced the above concept in the audience - the host and other participating colleges.

The seminar series includes a presentation by Professor S. Krishnaswamy of Madurai Kamaraj University detailing the use of computational tools to analyse and assist modify the very fabric of life, the genetic algorithm. The seminar series effectively made people take home the message that harnessing the vast computational power to develop and solve mathematical models is the way ahead in predicting complex biological phenomena. 

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The Department of Biotechnology of Mepco Schlenk Engineering College, Sivakasi organized a National seminar titled 'Advances in Bioprocess Technology' on the 17th of September, 2011. The objective of this seminar involving lectures by experts in the field of Bioprocess Technology is to stimulate the intellect of students and faculty of biotechnology and related disciplines and to serve as motivation to specialize in the field. The event was inaugurated by the chief guest, Professor Vijayalakshmi from VIT University, Vellore. The Head of the Department, Professor. M. L. Stephen Raj welcomed the gathering and set the proceedings in motion. Professor Vijayalakshmi centered her lecture on the development of biological drugs or large molecular weight compounds produced by genetically modified microbial and animal cells in the pharmaceutical industry. She highlighted that purification of the drugs amounts from 50 to 80 percent of the production cost and that huge scope for improvement lies in this line referred to as down stream processing. Further, intellectual input in her specialty - pseudo affinity chromotography was provided to the audience hoping to trigger their appetite for this niche area.

Yet another illustration of the power of the microbe was given by Professor S. Meenakshi Sundaram of Anna University, Chennai. His work encompasses genetically manipulating a type of yeast called Pichia pastoris to produce an anti-depression drug and developing technology for arriving at the ideal nutrient compositon for the yeast under which it produces maximum amount of drug. He addressed the problem of supplying enough oxygen for supporting the fast growth rate of yeast in bioreactors. Strategies to lower the oxygen demand and achieve high biomass by controlled addition of nutrients were discussed.

The technology currently available in the fermentation / bioprocess industry for monitoring the process relies on taking samples at regular intervals from the bioreactor. An alternative, continuous monitoring technology by the name of bio-calorimetry was presented by Dr. S.Suryanarayanan from Centre for Leather research Institute, Chennai. This high input technology which measures the heat given out by the microbe during growth is being developed by select groups in the world. The vote of thanks was delivered by the programme coordinator Mr. R. Karthikeyan.

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A ten day staff development programme titled 'Application of Microbial and Molecular Techniques in Biotechnology' is being conducted by the Department of Biotechnology at Mepco Schlenk Engineering College, Sivakasi. This programme sponsored by AICTE will focus on dissemination of knowledge in niche areas to faculty and staff of biotechnology and related disciplines from a varied list of colleges/ universities. The event was inaugurated on the 19th of May, 2010 by Senior Professor Dr. K. Dharmalingam of Madurai Kamaraj University, Madurai. The Principal, Dr. S. Balakrishnan presided over the function and highlighted the importance of such programmes in improving the quality of education imparted in academia. The Convener and Head of the Department Dr. M. L. Stephen Raj welcomed the gathering and set the proceedings in motion.

Professor Dhramalingam centered his lecture on the use of proteomic technologies for the identification of proteins which are specifically expressed in the diseased state, more specifically referred to as biomarker discovery. A normal human cell at any given point of time has a multitude of proteins within it. Identifying the few proteins that are expressed abnormally by a diseased cell, for example a cancer cell out of the entire set is akin to picking a needle from a haystack. This complexity necessitates the separation of proteins in two dimensions, the first by virtue of charge and the second by virtue of molecular size. Once, the proteome is resolved sufficiently, the normal and the diseased cell protein profiles are compared to spot the odd one out. He further elaborated on the second genetic code that exists within the cell that enables a single gene to produce more than one protein and the technology used to identify the subtle changes in these proteins via precise measurement of molecular mass.

He later emphazised the relevance of conducting faculty development programmes to update the skills of teaching faculty. He also advised the faculty to keep track of the latest technologies in biotechnology and asked them to spend considerable amount of time on performing research in their respective laboratories.