Pune IISER professor’s ‘cancer treatment’ research gets Bronze medal from CRSI

CRSI is a professional body that promotes and facilitates research and education in all branches of chemistry. Speaking to Ananya Barua, Pinaki Talukdar, an associate professor of Chemistry, at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Pune elaborated upon his research and its implications.
“This research contributes to anti-cancer treatment as it can cause cell death as well,” said the scientist.(HT PHOTO)
“This research contributes to anti-cancer treatment as it can cause cell death as well,” said the scientist.(HT PHOTO)
Updated on Jul 27, 2017 12:38 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Pune | By

Pinaki Talukdar, an associate professor of Chemistry, at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Pune, became one of 19 young Indian researchers to receive the prestigious Bronze Medal for 2018, from the Chemical Research Society of India (CRSI). CRSI is a professional body that promotes and facilitates research and education in all branches of chemistry. Speaking to Ananya Barua, the scientist elaborated upon his research, its depth and the overall scenario of opportunities in the field of scientific research in India.

How does it feel to receive such an award?

It is obviously an honour for me. CSIR is one of the best Chemistry research societies in India. The silver and gold medals are given to senior researchers, while bronze is awarded to young researchers for their original contributions in the field of research with respect to Chemistry. Being one of the 19 researchers who have individually received this honour is of course a huge encouragement and will motivate me to do better. But, at the end of the day, as a researcher, our work is more important than recognition.

About your work that won you this honour, please elaborate?

My work is in the area of Supra-Molecular Chemistry, in particular, to develop Synthetic Mimics of Ion Channels. To break it down, in any living organism there exists some machinery which helps maintain the ion balance inside and outside the cell, these are called the ion channels. Through our work we have created small organic molecules which will aggregate in an ordered manner to form a channel-like supramolecular structure. We have used these channels to selectively deliver chloride ions into cells and this resulted in the cell death by disturbing the ion balance.

What is the depth of this research and will it benefit society?

This research contributes to anti-cancer treatment. So, through the process that  I just shared with you which can cause cell death, our research involves employing it to selectively and to specifically deliver chloride ions into the cancer cells to cause their death, thus, facilitating the treatment of cancer. 

What stage are you at with the research?Any similar work done in India?

Right now, we are just at the beginning of the research. Although there are some three to four groups across the globe who are researching on this aspect. In India we, a team of eight PhD and under-graduate students and myself are the only ones working in this line of research.

What are the challenges you expect to face with this research?

As we are just at the beginning of our research, most challenges are yet to come. For now, the biggest is the most fundamental one, which is to specifically target the cancer cells and facilitate their death without affecting the other cells. Apart from that, funding is usually a challenge for most researches, but for now, it is not a problem for us. We had previously received a grant of some Rs 50 lakhs from the Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB), and now we have got Rs 80 lakhs as a grant.

 

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