Dr Harish Srinivas notices lack motivation among chemistry professionals towards research

Dr Harish Srinivas notices lack of motivation among chemistry professionals towards research

8:42 PM, 8th November 2011
Dr Harish Srinivas notices lack of motivation among chemistry professionals towards research
Dr Harish Srinivas, PhD, Instructor of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, University of Pittsburgh.

Welcome to the World Of Chemicals – Academic View newsletter. This week, Shivani Mody, Principle Correspondent, World Of Chemicals News, discusses with Dr Harish Srinivas, PhD, Instructor of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, University of Pittsburgh, about cancer research and latest developments. Srinivas mentions the general cancer research trends, challenges and the need for the hour.

Importance of cancer research

In the US, cancer continues to be the leading disease, causing large number of deaths. These numbers are on the rise globally as well. Cancers of the lung, prostate, and colon/rectum in men, and cancers of the lung, breast, and colon/rectum in women continue to be the most common causes of cancer death. These four cancers account for almost half of the total cancer deaths among men and women. Of the total deaths caused by cancer, lung cancer tops the chart. Considering lung cancer, 80 per cent is caused by smoking while 20 per cent is the non smoking group.

“For lung cancer among non-smokers, women are more prone to lung cancer than men which suggest that the issue can be hormone related. Our research focuses on understanding the function of estrogen (female hormone) receptors and their behaviour. Currently I lead a research group to identify novel targets that can potentially be developed to treat lung cancer,” informs Srinivas.

Identifying unique functions and the corresponding action paves the way for new drugs. “We look for new targets and get an understanding of which gene is active, leading to the disease. Each lab looks to identify new pathways for curing cancer.” adds Srinivas.

Research in India

Considering earlier times, nearly 10 years ago, quality of research in India was limited. At the same time, US had well developed infrastructure and access to expert advice. Now with changing times, Indian research scenario is fast catching up with global R&D. “As a cancer researcher, one needs to have access to more number of molecules and reagents. Sharing of these resources is also essential while carrying out research. In India this reagent pool is limited and it will take time for the country to build up the resource base. India is fast catching up but it will be sometime before the research gap can be shortened. The access, availability and knowledge sharing among cancer researchers in India presently do not support speedy results,” said Srinivas.

Additionally, India is focussed on contract services and clinical trials while research and development is yet to tap the potential. “With the recent policies and WTO norms, India needs to change its outlook and consider growing as a R&D hub. The talent, skills and expertise needs to be nurtured in India for it to make progress for research and development for cancer,” adds Srinivas.

Challenges in cancer research

For cancer research, a researcher can join a laboratory and get trained in a specific methodology. But with research developing rapidly, one cannot predict the future path or growth. As the difficulty in research progresses, awareness is must and one needs to constantly be aware of latest technology developments in their specific research area.

“A couple of years back pharma companies were interested in G protein coupled receptor (GPCR). These GPCRs are involved in many diseases, and are also the target of approximately 30 per cent of all modern medicinal drugs. Currently researchers are looking at targeting receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs). In addition, one of the recent development in cancer research is use of stem cells” says Srinivas.

Advantage of International Year Of Chemistry 2011

The IYC 2011 was an initiative by the chemistry fraternity to attract chemistry professionals towards higher studies especially research. To this Srinivas  says, “Nowadays, we see less people in research due to diminishing funds. The government funding is dampening and the onus lies on the pharma and biotech companies to carry on the research work.”

Collaborating with universities is beneficial for pharma companies in a competitive market place. Such joint work can help pharma companies target new drugs and shorten the time taken to the market for launching the new drugs.

Further, the research mechanism and data sharing can help pharma companies develop new ideas. This information sharing can lead to many new drugs helpful for disease treatment. “Surely with the rising awareness and financial support from pharma as well as biotech companies, many chemistry professionals will be motivated to take up research,” informs Srinivas.

(C) WOC News




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