Introduction

Dhoolpet Leprosy Referral Centre (DLRC) was transformed into Blue Peter Research Centre (BPRC) in 1997 with the support from Lepra UK and Blue Peter Children Fund. Eventually, the centre has been recognised as Scientific Industrial Research Organisation (SIRO) by the Department of Science and Technology with a state-of the art facility to undertake applied bio medical research in the disciplines of Clinical/ Immunology/ Molecular Biology aspects of leprosy.

In 2010, the public health component was incorporated into BPRC with an emphasis on clinical and epidemiological research in TB, leprosy, and NTDs, of immediate relevance to the people affected.

The Blue Peter Public Health and Research Centre (BPHRC) was established from the funds raised by a BBC television show for children, ‘Blue Peter’. It is a nodal research centre towards implementing organisation strategic research areas Leprosy, Tuberculosis (TB) and, Lymphatic Filariasis. The BPHRC functions in line with the above strategic aim of the LS with a clinic and two laboratories (immunology and molecular biology, Microbiology) as core components within the center. The BPHRC brings uniqueness to LEPRA Society as an NGO with a centrally located laboratory that works closely with clinics and outreach programme across multiple regions in India endemic to leprosy, TB and LF.

Research Governance – Mechanisms governing research at BPHRC are well in place. The Research Advisory Committee (RAC), Institutional Ethical Committee (IEC) and Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBSC) which comprise well-known scientists, doctors, and other socially responsible individuals, oversee the research activities.

Capacity Building

Research training: A wide range of training programmes for undergraduates, postgraduates and post-doctoral researchers to develop knowledge and skills are offered. The research-based teaching and hands-on training offered to the trainees, the state-of-the-art equipment and well-equipped labs, serve as the basis for attracting and holding on to young researchers.

Academic and Technical training: Medical education programme for medical graduates and post-graduates. Skill enhancement training for field and laboratory staff working on leprosy and TB.

Dissemination of knowledge: The knowledge accrued is disseminated through peer reviewed journal publications at national and international levels (84), presentations at various conferences (45) and community awareness programmes (45).

Training

BPHRC offers training for students/researchers from other academic institutes/organisations and imparts knowledge transfer in the field of molecular biology, microbiology, immunology of leprosy, TB and LF. A wide range of training programmes for undergraduates, postgraduates and postdoctoral researchers to develop knowledge and skills are offered. The research-based teaching and hands-on training offered to the trainees, the state-of-the-art equipment and well-equipped labs, serve as the basis for attracting and holding on to young researchers.

Academic and Technical training

  • Continuing medical education programme for medical graduates and post graduates.
  • Skill enhancement training for public health staff working on leprosy and TB.

Clinical & Laboratory Services

The clinical services include a referral centre, for diagnosis and management of leprosy and its complications; with physiotherapy and supply of customised footwear; TB services under designated microscopy centre for diagnosing and treatment of TB; Facilitated integrated counselling centre for HIV provides voluntary counselling and testing services for HIV suspects and prophylaxis and referral services for PLHIV. Morbidity management services for persons affected with lymphatic filariasis are a recent addition. The BPHRC conducts community outreach activities in its operational area covering about 315,210 and more people.

Laboratory research of the centre focuses on the areas of immunology, molecular biology, and microbiology of leprosy and TB. Research activities at the centre focus on early case detection and antimicrobial drug resistance and host immune mechanism towards infections in leprosy, TB and TB-HIV. Earlier research at this laboratory established research-based evidence for better local policies in managing drug-resistant TB. Research interests in leprosy include investigating Vitamin D supplementation for improved therapeutic outcomes, develop tests that determine infection, early biomarkers (pathogen and host) for diagnosis and prognosis of leprosy in general and leprosy reaction in particular and identify potential vaccine candidates. Molecular screening for the detection of anti-leprosy drug resistance is being conducted on specimens transported from field projects of LEPRA.

For more details contact:

Dr. Aparna Srikantam, M.D
Head – Research
LEPRA India – Blue Peter Public Health & Research Centre
Near TEC Building, Cherlapally,
Hyderabad – 501 301, India.
Phone: + 91 40 27264547, 27261262
Fax: +91 40 27264547
Email: aparna@leprahealthinaction.in, bphrc@leprahealthinaction.in

Current Research Projects 

  1. Anti-microbial peptides (Bacteriocins) as alternative to conventional antimicrobial agents – novel interventional study for treating infected plantar ulcers in leprosy and diabetes – funded by ICMR.
  2. Investigating the links between mental health status and treatment outcome in people affected by leprosy – funded by Lepra UK.
  3. Innovative approaches for early detection and management of leprosy in marginalized communities – A CSR research grant.
  4. Pitts India – TB-HIV research capacity building – Fogarty grant, Funded by NIH, USA.
  5. Bacterial biofilms and their implications on clinical outcome of leprosy plantar ulcers-DST-SERB.
  6. Mycobacterium tuberculosis FadE as a novel biomarker for diagnosis and prognosis of pulmonary and extra pulmonary TB – Pilot Funded by Lepra UK.
  7. Evaluation of filarial Leucine Amino Peptidase (LAP) as a biomarker for active filarial infection- a pilot observational study- Pilot Funded by Lepra UK.

Major Projects Completed Recently

  1. Evaluation of molecular methods PCR immunohistochemistry against conventional methods histopathology culture AFB staining in endometrial samples) and laparoscopy in detection of genital tuberculosis in infertile women (Funded by ICMR).
  2. Pilot study on finding suitable intervention for plantar ulcers in leprosy patients in India (Funded by WHO).

Technical Advisory Group (TAG)

Research at BPHRC is directed by the Technical Advisory Group (TAG). The committee meets annually with the following objectives:

  • Guiding the overall direction of research
  • Identifying priority areas for research
  • Approval and monitoring of scientific proposals

Institutional Ethics Committee:

  • To review biomedical research projects to safeguard the dignity, rights, safety and well-being of the volunteers- patients and healthy subjects.
  • IEC meets as need based.

Institutional Biosafety Committee (DBT, GoI)

  • To review SOPs for infective material, biosecurity of equipment, DNA banks, bio waste disposal management.
  • IBSC meets twice in a year.

International

  • University of Pittsburgh, US
  • Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Oslo, Norway

National

  • National JALMA Institute for leprosy, Agra, India
  • Indian Institute of Chemical technology, Hyderabad, India
  • BITS Pilani, Hyderabad
  • Center for DNA finger printing and Diagnostics, Hyderabad
  • National Institute for TB research, Chennai, India
  • Gandhi medical college and hospital, Hyderabad, India

LEPROSY

TUBERCULOSIS

HIV and AIDS

ILEP