Chandigarh : Manasi Majumdar, Senior Research Fellow, Department of Virology, PGIMER was awarded with the prestigious Best Young Scientist Award in Medical Virology (poster), for her original research work on “Role of TLRs and Cytokines, two central components of Host Immune response, in the immunopathogenesis of viral hepatitis E” during the XXI Annual conference of Indian Virological Society (VIROCON-2012) held at Mukteswar, Uttarakhand. The work has been carried out under the supervision of Prof R.K Ratho, Prof Y Chawla and Dr. Mini P. Singh.
Globally nearly two billion people live in viral hepatitis E endemic areas and the same has been responsible for large water borne epidemics in the past. A large water borne epidemic of viral hepatitis occurred at Delhi in 1955-56 affecting 30,000 people and eventually led to the discovery of novel hepatitis E virus. The virus commonly spreads by contaminated drinking water. Poorly maintained drinking water pipelines often laid through sewerage systems leads to water leakage. The intermittent nature of water supply helps in-drawing of sewage, contaminating the drinking water. Moreover, the tullu pumps being used to overcome low water pressure aggravates the situation. Department of Virology, PGIMER has been actively involved in investigating outbreaks of Hepatitis E since last decade and reported many such outbreaks in the adjoining areas of Kurali-Manasa, Mandi-Gobindgarh, Lalru, Pulsora, Nawanshahr etc. Though low mortality has been observed in general population, mortality up to 20-30% has been reported in pregnant females. Ms Manasi’s study elucidated that during infection the patients who are able to produce good cytokines and express high levels of toll like receptor 3 (TLR3) are able to limit the disease and recover uneventfully, while the patients lacking them progress to severity and might go into acute liver failure. The study thus, helps in understanding the disease pathogenesis of Hepatitis E virus and will open up future therapeutic strategies to combat against such dreadful disease.