MSU’s earthworm research to aid US study on bio artificial liver

Vaithi Arumugaswami.— Photo: A. SHAIKMOHIDEEN  

A research being conducted on the Manonmaniam Sundaranar University (MSU) campus here on the earthworm’s regenerative capacity and its genome has attracted the attention of a researcher from the Department of Regenerative Medicine from Cedars – Sinai, the United States, who, along with a team of fellow researchers, is on the path of inventing bio artificial liver.

Since liver, like an earthworm, has got regenerating capacity even though 80 per cent of the glandular organ gets damaged, it is believed that some of the crucial findings of the research being done on MSU campus on earthworm may help in devising the bio artificial liver through the research projects going on in the highly sophisticated laboratories of the Cedars – Sinai campus.

Manonmaniam Sundaranar University’s Department of Biotechnology that has established one of the well-equipped labs in the country is conducting research on earthworm and mice to study their regenerative capacity after almost completing the gene mapping of earthworm by a team of researchers led by S. Sudhakar, Head, Department of Biotechnology, MSU.

“Since many of the genes of the earthworm resemble the gene found in humans, we, through stem cell research, can make a breakthrough in the field of regeneration of organs like liver. We’re working towards this direction,” says Dr. Sudhakar, who had worked in the US for several years.

When he recently met Prof. Vaithi Arumugaswami of Regenerative Medicine Institute, Cedars – Sinai, US, who is actively working with a team of scientists on bio artificial liver through stem cell research for the past few years, the meeting gave a lot of confidence for both sides about significant progress in their respective researches and taking it to the next level with their findings.

“Since viral infection or alcoholism causes liver cirrhosis and liver cancer that ultimately leads to death, we’ve to look for liver transplantation involving huge sum of money and have to wait indefinitely for cadaveric transplantation or for a brain-dead patient. As liver has got regeneration capacity, we, through our research, try to devise a bio artificial liver,” says Dr. Vaithi, who was at MSU for delivering lectures for the students of biotechnology on Monday.

Towards this direction, Dr. Vaithi, who hails from Kadayam in Tirunelveli district and had done his masters degree in veterinary science in Indian Veterinary Research Institute, Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh, and his team are now conducting researches on mice, rat and pig by overloading its liver with liver-toxic medicines like paracetamol or dimethyl-nitro-amine.

“With the gene mapping we have done showing a lot of similarities between earthworm, mice and pig, we hope that we can take the research on realizing the dream of bio artificial to the next level,” hope Dr. Vaithi and Dr. Sudhakar.