Updated on 21 March 2014
Q: Can you tell us something about your current research activities?
Dr Gokhale: We are in the process of understanding the tuberculosis pathogen, Mycobacterium Tuberculosis (MTb), the one which causes tuberculosis in humans.
What is known about this pathogen is that it has a very complex cell wall surface, completely coated with lipid. This is a very unusual survival method in an environment for a longer period of time. One of the biggest problems in tuberculosis is that, patients have to undergo a six-month therapy with four different tablets, since the bacterium can survive for prolonged time, reactivating itself when needed.
What is not known is how this bacterium itself produces molecules which are very hydrophobic, making its cell wall surface strong and rigid.
During the course our work, we have identified how this bacterium produces these complex molecules. This is the basic discovery done at my lab with substantial amount of work.
In the future, it has tremendous potential in the area of drug discovery and identifying targets. Now, we are in collaboration with many pharmaceutical companies.