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Prof. speaks at Chinese conference

Sara Felsenstein | Monday, November 14, 2011

Nanoscience could revolutionize treatments of cancer and bacterial infections, a Notre Dame professor who traveled to China for a conference on the subject, said.

Dr. Subhash Basu, professor emeritus of chemistry and biochemistry, took part in the second Annual World Congress of Nanomedicine in Shenzen, China, from Nov. 3 to 5.

“It was a very important meeting,” Basu said. “This is the age of nanomedicine.”

Basu, who is also the founding president of the Cancer Drug Delivery Research Foundation (CDDRF), said the conference offered a range of research by scientists from all over the world.

“There were 200 [to] 300 people at the conference, all talking about [various aspects] of nanoscience,” he said.

At the conference, Basu presented a talk on biosensors, the subject of his research for over 10 years.

“Biosensors are a convenient and efficient means of detecting pathogenic bacterial strains,” he said.

In his conference abstract, Basu wrote that infectious disease is now the world’s leading cause of premature death and the third overall cause behind cardiovascular disease and cancer.

“This quick quantification and identification of the bacteria for binding with its specific antibodies, under specific optimal binding conditions, would provide quick treatment of the patients with proper antibiotics or other bacteria-killing drugs as soon as possible,” he said.

He said the use of biosensors in medicine could save lives because biosensors can quickly detect the type of pathogenic bacteria in infections.

“If anybody’s kidney is infected, they take a sample of urine and it might take a day, or two days in conventional ways … the bacteria usually doubles every 10 minutes. If there are two bacteria today, tomorrow the whole bladder is full of bacteria,” Basu said. “So if we can devise something which can detect the specific bacteria in five minutes, it saves the life of the patient.”

The theme of this year’s conference was “bridging the gap between engineers and doctors,” according to the conference website.

Basu said the theme of his specific talk focused on how nano-biosensors can be used to detect pathogenic bacteria. His future goal, however, is to determine how these nano-biosensors could be used to help cure cancer.

This research will continue at the CDDRF, which Basu said would officially open in the spring of 2012. The new lab will be equipped with all the instruments from his Notre Dame lab, which were donated to the CDDRF by the University.

“We expect to find rental space for this new lab near the Notre Dame campus,” Basu said.

The CDDRF is listed as nonprofit foundation, independent of Notre Dame.

Charity foundations and national agencies would fund the lab, Basu said.

“The goal of this CDDRF is to take patents on the new potential cancer drugs and their delivery in the patients in non-toxic doses, perhaps through nanoparticles,” Basu said. “Nano-biosensors could be used for quick detection of pathogenic bacteria or cancer cells in the human body.”

He said nanomaterials could be used for drug delivery in the human system of cancer patients.

“For our future research we are going towards application of nano-materials in drug delivery in our CDDRF laboratory, and will be applying for many patents,” he said.

Basu began teaching at Notre Dame in 1970 and became a professor emeritus in May 2011. Now that he has retired from teaching, Basu said he now has more time to devote to his research.

He said the ultimate goal of his research is the targeted delivery of anti-cancer drugs on a nontoxic level.

“Our ultimate goal is to establish this CDDRF laboratory as a world center for cancer drug delivery research,” Basu said.