Amrita School of Biotechnology conducted a seminar titled "Phytochemicals: validation of Mother Nature’s values: A brief glimpse of evidence based research", on 14th August, 2017, and the resource person of the event was Dr. Sanjit Dey, Professor at the Department of Physiology, University of Calcutta. 

Dr. Dey has been pursuing research on the novel role played by phytochemicals in the alleviation as well as prevention of DNA damage caused by radiation. Phytochemicals, according to him, are a gift of Mother Nature and have immense properties that are yet to be explored. Dr. Dey’s extensive work in this area has led to a number of publications in high impact factor journals, some of which stem from collaborative research with Dr. Asoke Banerji, Distinguished Professor, Amrita School of Biotechnology.

With the simple yet profound concept in mind, “One must be prepared before the meteor strikes”, Dr. Dey began the session. In his talk, Dr. Dey elaborated on some key aspects of his research. Radiation therapy, especially in the cases of cancer treatment, has the risk of causing irreversible damage to neighboring normal cells. Common markers of radiation include an increase in the amount of Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS), p-ATM, p-DNA, and protein kinases. To counter the rise in ROS production, an increase in several enzymes such as GSH, SOD and catalase can be seen as well. A major part of Dr. Dey’s seminar concerned ferulic acid (FA), an anti-oxidant and highly bioactive molecule. Through research done at Dr. Dey’s lab, it was shown that FA successfully inhibits and prevents radiation damage focusing on dose-response relations of FA in murine models. Data from his lab showed that FA is scavenges ROS, blocks the p53 pathway, and provides more time for repair by blocking GADD 45a. An FA-induced increase in localization of Ku70 protein to the nucleus is a hallmark of non-homologous end joining (NHEJ), indication that FA causes an up-regulation of DNA repair. Dr. Dey also showed that FA inhibits inflammation and apoptosis, revealing yet another key property of this compound.

Dr. Dey’s lab has also worked on several other phytochemicals such as Gossypetin and Naringin, as well as a study on smokeless tobacco consumption and stress response patterns. He expressed that phytochemicals can be used as therapies against a wide array of disease conditions, for example obesity, neuronal diseases and hepatic damage. and that his lab is currently exploring these areas. Perhaps with the continuation of his valuable research in the areas of phytochemicals and their beneficial properties, each one of us will be prepared before the meteor strikes. 

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