Dr. Manitha Nair, Assistant Professor, Amrita Centre for Nanosciences and Molecular Medicine, Kochi, recently received the prestigious Innovative Young Biotechnologist Award.
Instituted by the Department of Biotechnology, under the Ministry of Science and Technology, the award is given every year to outstanding young scientists in India to undertake innovative research in the area of biotechnology.
The award carries a cash prize of Rs. 3,00,000 as well as additional financial support for research for upto three years.
Dr. Manitha was selected for the award in recognition of the potential of her work in the area of Bone Tissue Engineering.
“Nowadays bone related problems such as bone infection (osteomyelitis), trauma and tumor represent a big medical and socioeconomic challenge. In India, 1.26 million fractures were reported in 1990 and this is expected to double to 2.6 million by 2025,” shared Dr. Manitha.
“There are various clinical treatment modalities such as autograft, allograft and distraction osteogenesis for treating these bone defects,” she pointed out.
While autograft refers to a tissue or an organ becoming grafted in a new position in the body of an individual, in allograft, tissue is taken from another person and incorporated into the recipient’s body.
Distraction osteogenesis is a surgical technique used to reconstruct skeletal deformities. It helps induce new bone formation by dividing a bone and applying tension through an external device to lengthen the bone.
These remedies to bone defects require the use of natural and synthetic materials to stimulate the formation of bone tissue.
Dr. Manitha elaborated on her work that can help address problems currently faced in the above-mentioned treatment modalities.
“Bone Tissue Engineering makes the extensive use of porous 3D scaffolds that provide appropriate bone extracellular environment. These scaffolds are cultured with mesenchymal stem cells and growth factors such as Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor and BMP-2 in vitro to synthesize tissues, which can then be implanted into an injured site to enhance the regeneration process.”
“The reconstruction of small-to-moderate-sized bone defects is technically feasible with bone tissue engineering, while it remains challenging for large volume defects caused by tumours due to vascularisation (blood vessels related) problems.”
“With the grant received, we will investigate the usage of genetically modified stem cells to enhance vascularisation for Bone Tissue Engineering.”
Dr. Manitha is a recipient of several awards and achievements, viz., Best Poster Presentation Award at NANOBIO (2009), Young Scientist Award in Health Sciences category (2007), Zeiss Best Photomicrograph Award (2006) and First Hitachi High Technologies Best Poster Award (2006).
She is also a member of Society for Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine (India) and Electron Microscope Society of India. We congratulate her on this achievement and wish her all the best.
June 18, 2013
Health Sciences Campus, Kochi