Dr Hem Chandra Jha with his research team members
Dr Hem Chandra Jha with his research team members

Indore: Raman Scattering technique can be a very cost-effective tool for patients undergoing brain biopsy for diagnostic purposes, according to a study conducted by scientists of the Indian Institute of Technology Indore.

The study was conducted for understanding the mechanism of propagation of the widely known cancer-causing virus, Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) in brain cells utilising Raman Spectroscopy (RS).

The study team was led by IIT Indore faculty members Dr Hem Chandra Jha and Dr Rajesh Kumar, assisted by three research scholars Deeksha Tiwari, Shweta Jakhmola, and Devesh Pathak.

EBV can cause cancers like nasopharyngeal carcinoma (a type of head and neck cancer), B-cell (a type of white blood cells) cancer, stomach cancer etc.

“Interestingly, more than 95 percent of the adult population is positive for EBV. However, the infection is mostly asymptomatic, and very little is known about the factors which trigger the development of such disease,” Jha said.

The recent reports of the consistent presence of EBV in brain tissue of the patients suffering from neurological disorders such as Alzheimer, Parkinson and multiple Sclerosis, have made it important to study the mechanism and its probable role in neurodegenerative pathologies.

“The phenomenon of Raman Scattering, first discovered by the Nobel laureate and Bharat Ratna, CV Raman, provides information on the structure of any material based on the vibrations produced in them,” he said.

“Similarly, the light falling on the virus generates vibrations in the biomolecules, depending on the make of the virus. Using RS, the light that is scattered by the virus can be captured and analyzed to understand its structure and behavior. Interestingly, every virus has a different biomolecular composition and thus generates a unique Raman Spectrum that serves as a fingerprint to its identity,” he added.

Jha's team has elucidated the infection pattern of EBV in the brain cells showing that the virus is also capable of infecting the glial cells in the brain. The RS based study noticed a differential pattern of infection progression in different glial cells.

Jha said "We found that the virus may take different time intervals to establish and spread infection in various types of glial cells of the brain".

Apart from the timeline of infection progression, their team also tried to reveal the biomolecules involved at each step of the virus infection and relate it to various neurological manifestations.

Rajesh added "Our study showed that molecules like phospho-inositols (PIP); a type of lipid, glycerol and cholesterol, are predominantly altered during EBV infection in the brain cells.”

This study is helpful in advancing the application of Raman Scattering as a technique for rapid and non-invasive detection of virus infection in clinical settings. Since, all the techniques available for viral load detection in the brain by far include invasive methods, RS can be a sigh of relief for patients undergoing brain biopsies for diagnostic purposes. Furthermore, it can be helpful in determining the stage of infection based on biomolecular markers and thus aid in early diagnosis.

Further, findings of the team in collaboration with Dr Fouzia Siraj from National Institute of Pathology, ICMR-Delhi, include detection and grading of brain tumors using Raman Scattering. Other scholars who contributed in the work are Ritika, Neeshu, Chanchal, Manushree, Anjali, Omkar Indari, Dharmendra Kashyap and Buddhadev Baral.

(To download our E-paper please click here. The publishers permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

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