Molecular Biology

Molecular Biology

General Description

Molecular Biology Laboratory was started in the year 1999 to perform basic science research in leprosy in order to understand the genomic and molecular constituents of Mycobacterium leprae and to utilize the knowledge to identify effective diagnostic, prophylactic and therapeutic measures to combat leprosy. Various studies have been pursued in collaboration with “The American Leprosy Missions (ALM), USA”, “Infectious Disease Research Institute (IDRI – Seattle, Washington, USA)” and “The Leprosy Mission Trust India”.

Apart from the regular research grants from SIH-R & LC, the laboratory was extramurally funded by ALM, TLM, IDRI, National Institute of Health (NIH, Maryland, USA) and Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR, New Delhi, India). The laboratory has state of art facilities for Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) and Real Time PCR based gene amplification and detection systems for mycobacterial genome analysis, chemiluminescence assays, enzyme linked immunosorbent assays, T cell culture systems, microbial culture facility, fully equipped animal house facility for mice as a model for experiments with facilities for irradiation and thymectomy. A central library facility is available to access various books and scientific journals. The lab is facilitated with computers which are connected with high speed WIFI internet. It is a DSIR (Department of Scientific and Industrial Research – Ministry of Science & Technology, Government of India) recognized research laboratory.

Activities in the Department

  • Development of Molecular Biology and Immunology based diagnostic tools for early diagnosis of leprosy.
  • Immunopathology of Reactional States in Leprosy.
  • Development of molecular epidemiological tools to understand focal transmission of leprosy in the endemic areas.
  • To identify effective diagnostic and therapeutic methods for nerve function impairment in leprosy.

Staff- Names and Qualification

  • Madhusmita Das– PhD(Reg), M. Tech(Biotechnology), B. Tech(Biotechnology)
  • Ms. D Diana– M.Sc (Biotechnology), B.Sc (Biotechnology)

Services Provided

  • Screening for Drug Resistance in Leprosy:Molecular Biology Laboratory, SIH-R&LC, Karigiri was recognized as one of the apex laboratories to screen for drug resistance in leprosy in India by ICMR. In this context, drug resistance screening of leprosy patients was initiated with appropriate processing fee (Rs. 2540/- per sample). The investigations included PCR based amplification of genes gyrA, folp and rpoB. This is followed by purification of PCR amplicons and then DNA sequencing to detect mutations that confer resistance.
  • PCR based diagnosis of leprosy: PCR based diagnosis of leprosy is conducted. This was also being carried out with a fee of Rs. 635/- per sample. The investigations include mycobacterial DNA extraction from biopsy samples and PCR for ML1545and rlep gene targets.
  • Viability assessment of Mycobacterium leprae: Real time PCR based detection of 16srRNA to assess the viability status of Mycobacterium leprae is done. The processing fee for this test is 1840/- per sample.

Research Projects

  1. To identify Mycobacterium lepraeassociated transcriptomic and host immune signatures that aid as early signals for determination of reactional states in leprosy.
    Funding Body:  The Leprosy Research Initiative
    Project Duration: Four Years (2016-2020)
    Budget: € 147,676 (Euros)
  1. To Investigate the Whole Transcriptome and Genomic Profiles of Drug Resistant Strains of Mycobacterium lepraein order to identify Molecular Signatures that aid in Determination of Drug Resistance in Leprosy.
    Funding Body:  Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)
    File No: ECD/Adhoc/Leprosy/2014-2674/FY-14-15/22/Karigiri /NGO
    Duration: 2017-2020
    Budget: INR 33, 76,376/- Only for three years starting March 2017.

Short-term Training Programme & Projects


2 – 3 Months (Maximum Period)

Training Modules:

  • Basics of Molecular Biology and Immunology in the context of leprosy.
  • PCR based amplification of Human and leprae specific gene targets and detection through Agarose gel electrophoresis.
  • Real time PCR based gene expression studies.
  • ELISA and chemiluminescence assays for detection of specific immune markers
  • Research Methodology and Data Analysis.


INR 15,000/- (For the entire training program)


Students who are currently pursuing

  • Sc in Life Sciences.
  • Sc. in Life Sciences.
  • Tech Biotechnology
  • Integrated M. Sc in Life Sciences.

DSIR (Department of Scientific and Industrial Research – Ministry of Science & Technology, Government of India) recognized research laboratory, the unit undertakes training programs and student projects in Molecular Biology and Immunology aspects of leprosy apart from the regular research projects.


  • Chaitanya, V.S., Cuello, L., Das, M., Sudharsan, A., Ganesan, P., Kanmani, K., Rajan, L. and Ebenezer, M., 2017. Analysis of a novel multiplex polymerase chain reaction assay as a sensitive tool for the diagnosis of indeterminate and tuberculoid forms of leprosy. The International Journal of Mycobacteriology, 6(1), p.1.
  • Joseph, P., Ponnaiya, J., Das, M., Chaitanya, V.S., Arumugam, S. and Ebenezer, M., 2016. Evaluation of anti-bacterial activity of Rifapentine, Clarithromycin, Minocycline, Moxifloxacin, Ofloxacin and their combinations in Murine Model of Rifampicin Resistant Leprosy. Indian J Lepr, 88, pp.147-158.
  • Arumugam, S., Joseph, P., Ponnaiya, J., Richard, J., Das, M., Chaitanya, V.S. and Ebenezer, M., 2016. Evaluation of New Antibacterial Drugs and their Combinations in a Murine Model to Identify Short Duration Alternative Chemotherapy for Leprosy. Indian J Lepr, 88, pp.159-176.
  • Das, M., Chaitanya, V.S., Kanmani, K., Rajan, L. and Ebenezer, M., (2016). Genomic diversity in Mycobacterium leprae isolates from leprosy cases in South India. Infection, Genetics and Evolution, 45, pp.285-289.
  • Chaitanya, S., Das, M., Bhat, P., & Ebenezer, M. (2015). Computational Modelling of Dapsone Interaction with Dihydropteroate Synthase in Mycobacterium leprae; Insights into Molecular Basis of Dapsone Resistance in Leprosy. Journal of cellular biochemistry, 116(10), 2293-2303.
  • Chaitanya, V. S., Das, M., Eisenbach, T. L., Amoako, A., Rajan, L., Horo, I., & Ebenezer, M. (2016). Mycobacterium leprae specific genomic target in the promoter region of probable 4-alpha-glucanotransferase (ML1545) gene with potential sensitivity for polymerase chain reaction based diagnosis of leprosy. International journal of mycobacteriology, 5(2), 135-141. Diagnostic Microbiology and Infectious Diseases – August 2015
  • Sharma, M., Vedithi, S.C., Das, M., Roy, A. and Ebenezer, M., 2017. Sequence homology and expression profile of genes associated with DNA repair pathways in Mycobacterium leprae. International journal of mycobacteriology, 6(4), p.365
  • Vedithi, S.C., Malhotra, S., Das, M., Daniel, S., Kishore, N., George, A., Arumugam, S., Rajan, L., Ebenezer, M., Ascher, D.B. and Arnold, E., 2018. Structural Implications of Mutations Conferring Rifampin Resistance in Mycobacterium leprae. Scientific reports, 8(1), p.5016.
  • Swain, S.S., Paidesetty, S.K., Dehury, B., Sahoo, J., Vedithi, S.C., Mahapatra, N., Hussain, T. and Padhy, R.N., 2018. Molecular docking and simulation study for synthesis of alternative dapsone derivative as a newer antileprosy drug in multidrug therapy. Journal of Cellular Biochemistry.


Ms. Madhusmita Das
Molecular Biology and Immunology Division
Schieffelin Institute of Health- Research & Leprosy Centre (SIH R & LC)
Karigiri, Vellore
Tamil Nadu 632106
Mb: +91-89407-99691,+91-78732-12211
Office: +91 416 2274227 Extn: 2249
Official Email: