• ICCONS, Kavalappara, Shoranur, Palakkad-679523, Kerala (0466) 2224869
  • ICCONS, Pulayanarkotta, Thuruvikkal PO, Trivadrum - 695011, Kerala (0471) 6066061
  • icconssrr@gmail.com

Neurogenetics Department

Department of Neurogenetics has a high throughput Genetics Lab equipped with state-of-the-art facilities such as DNA sequencer (Applied Biosystems 3500 Dx Genetic Analyzer) and next generation sequencer (Ion Torrent Personal Genome Machine).

A research advisory committee comprising of experts from diverse fields including, Human Genetics, Child Psychiatry, Neurology and Neuroimaging guides and co-ordinates the research activities of Neurogenetics Department.

National Seminar on "Genetics of Complex Disorders"

The Department of Neurogenetics is planning to organize a two-day National Seminar on January 12-13, 2018. The theme of the conference is "Genetics of Complex Disorders".

Human genetics and genome analysis is one of the thrust areas of biotechnology. Gaining proper insight into the biological make-up of complex disorders can improve the diagnostic techniques. There is an upward trend in the use of genomic tools for the clinical diagnosis of genetic disorders, and its contribution is likely to increase considerably in the near future. Genomics has benefited significantly in the last few years due to major revolution in DNA sequencing technologies. Innovative approaches for developing genetic screening tests for complex disorders will be discussed in the seminar by pioneer scientists and professionals in this field. It will be an excellent platform for skilled professionals from diverse disciplines to come together and present their views on the cutting-edge technologies that could pave way to improved molecular medicine tools.

The conference will feature recent advances in high throughput sequencing technologies for the detection of polygenic susceptibility, bioinformatics tools for data mining, and ethical, legal and social issues in genetic testing and counseling for complex disorders.

1. Genetics of Autism Spectrum Disorders in the Indian population

The main objective of the study is to elucidate the genetic underpinnings of autism spectrum disorders in the Indian population. During the last decade, scientists from all over the world have worked together to trace autism candidate genes. Data has been collected from thousands of autistic families from different populations across the world. Most of these studies have been carried out in United States and Europe, with limited participation from Asian countries. Consequently, the huge dataset generated so far has been predominantly of Caucasian samples. In the case of a highly heterogeneous disorder like autism, the genetic predisposing factors might be race- or population-specific, warranting the need to study previously unexplored populations. However, there have been very few genetic studies on autism in India. Even though there are a few reports focusing on single genes, it has not been very productive. A comprehensive study involving multiple genes is required to identify the genes involved in the pathogenesis of this complex, often debilitating disorder. Unfortunately, such studies have not been carried out in India until now.

At ICCONS Shoranur, we have a registry of 2,000 clinically and behaviourally evaluated database of ASD patients from different states of India (mainly Kerala). These samples can provide valuable information on genetic and environmental factors leading to autism in Indian population.

2. Mutation screening of candidate genes involved in genetic syndromic form of autism

Several genetic syndrome comorbid with autism (e.g. Rett, Prader-Willi, Angelman, Fragile-X) are caused by mutations or abnormalities in single genes or chromosomal regions. We aim at resequencing the exonic regions of these genes in an effort to identify novel or rare variants in the Indian population.

3. Cytogenetic abnormalities in autism spectrum disorders

Several syndromic forms of autism and other related abnormalities can be diagnosed by cytogenetic tests. Our objective is to identify such cytogenetic abnormalities through Karyotyping. Kryaotyping yields valuable information that can be used in genetic counselling and patient management.

Applied Biosystems 3500 Dx Genetic Analyzer: The 8-capillary 3500 Dx Genetic Analyzer can be used for traditional DNA sequencing and DNA fragment analysis applications (e.g. SNP analysis, mutation detection, microsatellite analysis).

Services include, DNA Sequencing and Fragment Analysis. We offer support services and training in DNA sequencing and genotyping to academic, government and private sector institutions.

Supportive Systems:

  • Spectrophotometer
  • Electrophoresis units
  • PCR machine
  • Gel documentation system

Ion Torrent Personal Genome Machine: Next generation sequencing methodologies have revolutionized almost every aspect of biological research. They have become low-cost enough to the point where it can be introduced at the clinical level for diagnostic testing. By facilitating large-scale marker discovery, it has increased our knowledge on the etiology of several diseases. It is now possible to obtain high-throughput sequence data at an unprecedented pace and coverage

Supportive systems:

  • Ion OneTouch 2 System
  • Ion OneTouch ES

ICCONS has a well equipped genetic laboratory in which karyotyping is done on routine basis. The study of karyotypes is important for cell biology and genetics, and the results have wide application in the field of biology and medicine. It is used to study cytogenetic abnormalities in

  • Autism
  • Mental Retardation
  • Learning Disability
  • Inborn Errors of Metabolism
  • Hard of Hearing
  • Downs Syndrome
  • Kleinfelter Syndrome
  • Turner Syndrome

Instrument used:

  • Leica DM 2000 Microscope

Supportive systems:

  • Biological Safety Cabinet LABLINE BSC-4)
  • Cooling Incubator (REMI CI-105)
  • Cooling Centrifuge (Eppendoff 5810R)

Patient Data Analysis:

1. Title of the Project: Mechanisms behind integration of brain activity across specialized brain regions for cognitive processing and perception

Principle Investigator (PI): Dr. P. A. Suresh

Co-Investigator (Co-I): Dr. Anitha Ayyappan Pillai

Funding Agency: Dept. of Science & Technology-Cognitive Science Research Initiative (DST-CSRI)

Duration: 36 months (2015-2018) Grant Amount: INR 88,00,000 Status: Ongoing

Grant ID: SR/CSRI/135/2014(C)

2. Title of the Project: Extensive mutational analysis of neural and synaptic genes using next generation sequencing approaches in Indian autism families

PI: Dr. Thanseem Ismail

Co-I: Dr. Anitha Ayyappan Pillai

Funding Agency: Kerala State Council for Science, Technology & Environment (KSCSTE)

Duration: 36 months (2016-2019) Grant Amount: INR 21,23,000 Status: Ongoing

Grant ID: 911/2016/KSCSTE

3. Title of the Project: Can microRNAs modulate telomere length in autism?

PI: Dr. Mahesh Mundalil Vasu

Mentor: Dr. Anitha Ayyappan Pillai

Funding Agency: DST-Science and Engineering Research Board (DST-SERB)

Duration: 24 Months (2016-2018) Grant Amount: INR 19,20,000 Status: Ongoing

Grant ID: PDF/2016/003335

4. Title of the Project: Targeted exon sequencing to identify novel, rare and/or common functional genetic variants in autism: A comprehensive twin-family study of autism in Kerala

PI: Dr. Anitha Ayyappan Pillai

Co-I: Dr. Thanseem Ismail, Nisha M. L

Funding Agency: KSCSTE

Duration: 36 months (2017-2020) Grant Amount: INR 22,00,000 Status: Approved

Grant ID: KSCSTE/5167/2017-SRSHS

Peer-reviewed international journals

1. Thanseem I, Vijitha V, Poovathinal SA, Anitha A. Is telomere length a biomarker of neurological disorders? Biomark Med (In press)

2. Poovathinal SA, Anitha A, Puliyappatta P, Viswambharan V, Thanseem I (2017) In Silico target identification of nootropic bioactive compounds from Ayurvedic herbs. Int J Ayurveda Pharma Res 5: 14-19.

3. Anilkumar A, Suresh PA, Devassy D (2017) Speech and language challenges in Indian children with Down syndrome. Asia Pac J Res I(L): 1-3.

4. Viswambharan V, Thanseem I, Vasu MM, Poovathinal SA, Anitha A (2017) miRNAs as biomarkers of neurodegenerative disorders. Biomark Med 11:151-167.

5. Vasu MM, Anitha A, Takahashi T, Thanseem I, Iwata K, Asakawa T, Suzuki K (2016) Fluoxetine increases the expression of miR-572 and miR-663a in human neuroblastoma cell lines. PLoS ONE 11:e0164425.

6. Poovathinal SA, Anitha A, Thomas R, Kaniamattam M, Melempatt N, Anilkumar A, Meena M (2016) Prevalence of autism spectrum disorders in a semi-urban community in south India. Annals Epidemiol 26:663-665.

7. Poovathinal S, Anitha A, Jayachandran N, Thanseem I (2015) Cognitive deficits and behavioral disorders in children: A comprehensive multidisciplinary approach to management. Annals Behav Sci 1:6.

Books/Book Chapter

1. Anitha A, Thanseem I (2015) microRNA and autism. In G. Santulli (Ed.), microRNA: Medical Evidence (pp. 71-83). Switzerland: Springer International Publishing.

ICCONS is an autonomous institute under Govt. of Kerala for the comprehensive multidisciplinary treatment, management, rehabilitation, and research and development in the area of cognitive and communicative disorders.

The Neurogenetics Department of ICCONS has a full - fledged, state - of - art facilities for basic and advanced molecular and genetics research . The primary objective of our research is to unravel the evolutionary,genetic and neurobiological mechanisms involved in basic cognitive functions by integrating current cutting - edge research across multiple disciplines including medical science, paramedical science, and basic and applied sciences . Our research projects are sponsored by central [Dept. of Science & Technology - Cognitive Science Research Initiative (DST - CSRI)] and state government [Kerala State Council for Science, Technology & Environment (KSCSTE)] funding agencies.

The department welcomes candidates interested in training programs, short - term research projects and Ph.D. programs

Dr. Anitha Ayyappan Pillai, PhD

Associate Professor

Department of Neurogenetics

ICCONS, Kavalappara, Shoranur, Palakkad - 679523

Kerala, India

Mobile: 8589970421

Office: 0466 2224869

Email: anitha.a72@gmail.com