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Dr. Subhash Basu recognized for research

| Monday, October 3, 2016

Despite leaving India in 1961 for the United States, Dr. Subhash Basu, an emeritus professor at Notre Dame, continues to receive recognition in his home country for his achievements in chemistry. His most recent award was a Nonresident Indian 2015 Award, which he accepted at a ceremony in Mumbai, India.

“They collect people who were Indian citizens but now are not, but have made fame in their particular field,” Basu said. “Last year, they collected 30,000 names, and for each category, they select one. They selected my name for the North American Professional category, which is a big honor.”

Basu said he returns to India every year to give lectures and to organize meetings on his current research topics. At the moment, Basu said one of his areas of focus is breast cancer, where he is working to kill cancer cells through a process called apoptosis.

“Like a skin cell, a normal cell is born, lives a certain life, and then dies and a new cell grows,” Basu said. “This automatic killing of the normal cell is called apoptosis.”

Basu said the issue is cancer cells inherently lack the ability to undergo apoptosis.

“A cancer cell doesn’t have this,” Basu said. “A cancer cell becomes wild and it grows and it grows. It doesn’t want to die.”

However, Basu said he has found a way to possibly eliminate cancer cells.

“We have discovered five chemicals which go into the cancer cell and kill the cancer cells by apoptosis,” Basu said.

The current goal of Basu’s research is to get the chemicals to distinguish healthy cells from cancer cells.

“If these apoptotic chemicals go to normal cells, they will kill the normal cells too,” Basu said. “So our goal is to determine how to directly target the chemicals to the cancer cells.”

Basu said he recently started the Cancer Drug Delivery Research Foundation (CDDRF) in an effort to continue this research.

“I have a $1 million recoupment the University gave me almost two years ago, and they said whatever you want to make the lab, do it,” Basu said. “So I founded the Cancer Drug Delivery Research Foundation.”

Basu hopes to open up the CDDRF Lab in Innovation Park within a year and has already hired a lab manager, Dr. Arun Agarwal, a visiting scholar at the University. The lab is still looking for funding, but Basu is not too worried.

“After maintaining my research for 40 years at this institution, and 46 years overall, I have confidence that I’ll bring money in,” he said.

Basu said his other strand of research concerns fighting kidney infections by using gold nanowire antibodies. Basu said this method of combating kidney infections is a vast improvement over the current practice.

“If you have a kidney infection, then you have some bacteria in your kidney, and the bacteria doubles every 10 minutes,” Basu said. “What doctors do these days is they send the sample to the lab, and the lab report comes in two or three days. By that time, your bladder is full of the bacteria and the toxins, and people die many times.”

Basu said the method he is working on is needed to give a diagnosis quickly and possibly save lives.

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