Molecular Microbiology and Human Diseases Research Programme
For a disease free nation
Our research interests revolve around microorganisms and human diseases. We try to understand microbial diversity in the environment; air, water and soil and also within the human body. The study of human diseases includes both communicable and non-communicable diseases namely pulmonary diseases with a special focus on drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) and chronic kidney disease of unknown aetiology (CKDu). In order to achieve our goals, we utilize a variety of advanced molecular and analytical techniques such as real-time PCR, metagenomics, whole genome sequencing, microarray, HPLC, LC-MS, XRD and ICP-MS along with bioinformatics tools.
Why does this matter ?
Microbes are fascinating creatures and have the potential either to be beneficial or harmful to other living beings. Microorganisms in our surrounding environment do not necessarily harm us, but sometimes, their mere existence can affect our health. The human respiratory microbiome, plays a key role in mediating a variety of respiratory diseases. Lung cancer and bronchiectasis are two of the most common non-communicable respiratory diseases in the world and a large proportion of the global population is affected. TB is a major research topic for our team over the past few years. Currently, the team focusses on the prevalence of Multi-Drug Resistant Tuberculosis (MDR-TB) in the country and the conditions in which the tuberculosis bacterium becomes resistant to treatment for the two most powerful first line drugs. Outcomes from this research project will contribute to better TB management programs, improve patient status, and reduce overall healthcare cost spent on TB in Sri Lanka. CKDu a non communicable disease which emerged from the North Central Province (NCP) of Sri Lanka has become a catastrophic health crisis in the country. Assessing and finding a solution to eradicate the possible causative factors for CKDu are national priorities.
Investigations of the microbiome of geothermal springs is important for understanding the biotechnological potency of thermophilic organisms which can be utilized for biotechnological and industrial applications. Thermophiles are becoming an increasingly important topic of interest due to their ability to survive at extremely high temperature and produce various valuable compounds, such as thermostable enzymes, hormones and antibiotics.