Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Tuesday, Nov 23, 2004
Industry & Economy
Global symposium on steroid hormones begins tomorrow
Thiruvananthapuram , Nov. 22
THE Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology (RGCB) here is holding a three-day international symposium on `Steroid hormone receptor super family and molecular signalling' from Wednesday.
Announcing this to newspersons here, Dr Raghava Varman Thampan, Director, said that the focus of the symposium would be on the molecular signalling mechanisms that are fundamental to the action of steroid hormones.
These hormones (estrogens, androgens, corticosteroids, vitamin-D) are inevitable agents for the proper functioning of the human system.
Any hormone, if it has to function in a cell, has to bind to a receptor protein in the cell. This hormone receptor protein complex will then initiate multiples of molecular mechanisms within the cell, ultimately bringing about a total change in the cellular chemistry.
However, any slight change in the molecular signalling mechanisms in the action of any given hormone can lead to drastic effects in the human function, and can lead to serious diseases.
For example, breast cancer in women and osteoporosis (brought about by increased rate of bone loss) in post-menopausal women are related to aberrant functions of estrogens.
Alzheimer's disease, prostate cancer and benign prostatic hyperplasia (overgrowth) among the older men are associated with aberrant functions of androgens.
Alert on HRT: Dr Thampan observed that it is time the Government issued guidelines to prevent unregulated practice of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) among post-menopausal women.
While seen as being helpful in reducing the incidence of osteoporosis, HRT is widely known to increase the risk of breast cancer.
Researchers all over the world are seized of the issue of developing oestrogen, the main hormone used in HRT, which would not just prevent osteoporosis but would also cause no cancer in the bargain.
A research team under Dr Thampan at RGCB is also part of the larger global initiative. The in-house molecular endocrinology laboratory here is trying to isolate oestrogen molecule from medicinal plants as part of a three-year project.
In order to device ways and means to counter the malfunctioning of a steroid hormone, it is essential to have full knowledge of the molecular details that are basic to the hormone function. Renowned practitioners will make scientific presentations on this area of research in the symposium.
Among those attending are Professors Pierre Chambon of France, J.R. Tata of the UK, Constantin Sekeris of Greece and Virendra Mahesh of the US and Prof G.P. Talwar, former director of the National Institute of Immunology.
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