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Doctoral Student’s Research Shows Huge Potential for Cancer Treatment

Doctoral Student’s Research Shows Huge Potential for Cancer Treatment

The research-work of a DUT Chemistry student, who is passionate about conducting multidisciplinary research using organic chemistry knowledge, has produced novel compounds showing good anti-cancer properties; with some (compounds) completely inhibiting lung cancer cell proliferation without affecting normal human cells.

The research has huge potential for the treatment of cancer, since current drug treatments also have negative effects on the body.

A novel pharmaceutical compound refers to any chemical entity that has never been tested in animals or is in the preliminary stages of animal testing. Anand Krishnan, the student behind the research, graduated with a Doctor of Technology degree today (Wednesday, September 2014) at the DUT Fred Crookes Sports Centre, Steve Biko Campus.

Krishnan hails from Aruppukottai, a village in South India. Handpicked from many applicants, he made his supervisors proud by obtaining his DTech degree in the minimum time of study of four years.

“This research study focused on the synthesis of novel active compounds and their application in biological and catalytic systems,” said Krishnan’s research supervisor; Professor Robert Gengan, Associate Director in the Chemistry Department and Head of Synthesis and Nanotechnology Research Group at DUT. Prof AA Chuturgoon, from the University of KwaZulu-Natal also supervised the research.
“Organic compounds are widely used as potential drugs in human diseases such as cancer and infectious diseases. These compounds are obtained from natural sources or conveniently synthesised in highly specialised laboratories. Although there are millions of such compounds, those containing nitrogen and or fluorine are most effective as pharmaceuticals. Anand prepared over 40 novel nitrogen and fluorine containing aromatic heterocyclic compounds. To achieve this, he had to design new methods and pathways incorporating shorter and mainly green chemistry principles. In particular, his innovative use of a multi-component system enabled the production of the novel compounds with high biological activity. Most of the compounds showed good anti-cancer properties with three compounds, CTN 3, DTau 7 and FAF 18, completely inhibiting lung cancer cell proliferation without affecting normal human cells. These compounds are undergoing further tests and have high potential for a patent,” said Prof Gengan.

Krishnan also prepared a novel catalyst used in the preparation of 21 compounds, with the new catalyst being recyclable several times and minimising cost. This catalyst has potential use in the petroleum industry. Further, he prepared metal based nanoparticles (NPs) from indigenous medical plant extracts, and these NPs were highly effective against lung cancer cells and also showed excellent activity in degrading dyes. “These NPs have potential use in wastewater effluents in the textile and other dye based chemical industries. Several manuscripts were published in high impact journals,” said Prof Gengan.

Krishnan said his DTech research was no walk in the park, as he sometimes had to work day and night. He however plans to continue his studies.

– Sinegugu Ndlovu

Pictured: Anand Krishnan

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