Startup culture in Pune has enhanced pharma sector attracting international collaborations, says Dr Srinivasa Reddy
The high-level science being carried out in Pune-based institutions is very attractive to international collaborations. NCL has active collaborations with various countries like USA, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, UK, Germany, Italy and many other European countries on different areas of research.Updated: Oct 22, 2017 23:44 IST
Dr Srinivasa Reddy, a scientist from the Organic Chemistry Division of CSIR-National Chemical Laboratory (CSIR-NCL), Pune has received the Organisation of Pharmaceutical Producers of India (OPPI) Scientist award 2017, on Friday, for his significant research work in the area of pharmaceutical sciences. Talking to Hindustan Times, about the line of his work in drug discovery, Dr Reddy further elaborated the future opportunities in the field of pharmaceutical sciences.
The OPPI award is for your contribution to pharmaceutical sciences. Could you please elaborate on that?
The award is the recognition of the contributions made in the area pharmaceutical sciences for the last 14 years including 7 years in the pharma industry. In particular, a molecule was discovered by my team during the tenure in an industry which is presently in Phase II clinical trials for treating metabolic disorders. At National Chemical Laboratory, a few early lead compounds were generated which have the potential to be taken for the development of different diseases. They all are protected in the form patents which can have commercial interests.
Please share the body of your work at NCL?
Our group research interests at NCL are related application oriented organic synthesis of societal importance, in particular, total synthesis of biologically active natural products and medicinal chemistry. Efforts on macrocyclic natural compounds and silicon incorporation in known drug scaffolds with an ultimate aim of discovering drugs which have the special interests to his group.
So far, we have accomplished total synthesis of more than 25 natural products at NCL. Along these lines, recently we have synthesized natural product ‘nootkatone’ analogues which are found to be impressive mosquito repellents.
What are the opportunities for the students working in your lab?
Students working in our group get training in organic synthesis and medicinal chemistry and exposure to drug discovery process. After going out of my lab, they have the opportunity to take up a career in academic and pharmaceutical industries.
Could you please elaborate on your work in the aspect of crop protection?
Mealybugs are serious pests which infest a variety of plants and causes huge economic loss. The conventional methods to control mealybugs suffer from several drawbacks such as the development of resistance and so there is a need to develop new methods to control them which we are working on. The female mealybugs produce volatile sex pheromone to attract their male counterparts. In our group at NCL, we synthesized both the enantiomers of the longtailed mealybug pheromone to trap the male mealybugs. Longtailed mealybug infests a variety of plants including grapes, apples, citrus, avocado, potato, sugarcane, guava, hibiscus, mango, orchids, lilies and so on. They affect the beauty of the plant, reduce yield and damages the fruits causing huge economic loss. Field trials of NCL pheromones conducted in the USA (in collaboration with Prof J G Millar, University of California, Riverside) and New Zealand (Dr Andrew Twidle, Plant & Food Research, Lincoln, NZ) have been conducted successfully. We have plans to conduct field trials in India and are on the lookout for suitable collaborators.
What is the current scope of pharmaceutical studies in Pune and the international opportunities in the field?
The atmosphere in Pune for conducting research pharmaceutical studies is very good because of several academic institutions such as CSIR-NCL, IISER, NCCS, Agharkar Institute, Pune University and many pharmaceutical industries present here. Interestingly, startup culture in our city has also picked up this field of work. For example, in NCL venture center alone, close to 40 startup companies have begun. The high-level science being carried out in Pune-based institutions is also very attractive to international collaborations. NCL has active collaborations with various countries like USA, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, UK, Germany, Italy and many other European countries on different areas of research.
First Published: Oct 17, 2017 17:21 IST