CSIR-CDRI felicitates young researchers for their contribution in drug discovery

Dr Bushra Ateeq, Dr Surajit Ghosh and Dr Ravi Manjithaya received the Prestigious CDRI Award 2020 for their outstanding contribution in unfolding the knot of cancer

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New Delhi: With an aim to promote drug discovery and development research in India, CSIR-Central Drug Research Institute, Lucknow has instituted CDRI Awards in the year 2004 to promote scientific excellence in the country and to recognize outstanding contribution in the area of Drug Research and Development.
This year, Dr Bushra Ateeq, Dr Surajit Ghosh and Dr Ravi Manjithaya received the Prestigious CDRI Award 2020 for their outstanding contribution in unfolding the knot of cancer.
These prestigious awards are given annually to the Indian Nationals below 45 years of age who have carried out outstanding research work in the area having a direct bearing on Drug Research and Development. There are two separate individual awards in the area of Chemical Sciences and Life Sciences. Each award carries a cash prize of Rs 20,000/- and a citation.
After the CDRI Awards-2020 orations and felicitation program Director, Prof. Tapas Kundu and Ex-Director Dr VP Kamboj congratulated the winners. The program was live-streamed through the YouTube channel of the Institute and participants were present through MS Team.
Dr Bushra Ateeq’s quest for new therapeutic avenues for prostate cancer bagged her CDRI Award-2020
Recipient of CDRI Award 2020 in Biological Sciences, Dr. Bushra Ateeq currently holds a position as an Associate Professor and a Senior Fellow of the Wellcome Trust/DBT India Alliance at the Department of Biological Sciences and Bioengineering, Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur.
She has shared her notable contribution during the award oration, entitled “Mechanistic insights into etiology of aggressive SPINK1-positive prostate cancer: a quest for new therapeutic avenues.” She discovered the underlying molecular mechanism involved in SPINK1 (A Pancreatic secretory trypsin inhibitor (PSTI) which is also known as serine protease inhibitor Kazal-type 1: SPINK1) upregulation, wherein miRNA-338-5p and miRNA-421 plays a critical role in posttranscriptional regulation of SPINK1.
Her findings showed that these miRNAs are epigenetically silenced in SPINK1-positive Prostate Cancer (PCa), and restoring their expression using synthetic mimetics or drugs targeting epigenetic modifications could abrogate SPINK1-mediated oncogenesis.
Collectively, her findings provide an explanation for the paradoxical clinical-outcomes after Androgen Deprivation Therapy (ADT), possibly due to SPINK1 upregulation, and offers CK1 inhibition as a strategy for Prostate Cancer adjuvant therapies.
Dr Surajit Ghosh’s contribution in Discovery of Nuclear Localizing Cell Penetrating Peptide (CPP) for anticancer drug paved the way for his CDRI award 2020
Dr Ghosh received CDRI Award 2020 in Biological Sciences, for the development of efficient cell penetrating peptides (CPPs) which has tremendous implications in medicine. Dr Ghosh is presently working as Professor in the Department of Bioscience and Bioengineering at Indian Institute of Technology Jodhpur.
His extensive research work enlightened us about the importance of two amino acids, arginine and tryptophan in the cell penetration. In his award oration Dr Ghosh has  focused on a top-down approach to show how spatial positions of two tryptophans regulate the cellular entry and nuclear localization. This enables us to develop short nontoxic tetrapeptides with excellent potential of cell penetration and nuclear localization. Among them Glu-Thr-Trp-Trp (ETWW) tetrapeptides emerges as most promising one. It enters into the cancer cell following endocytic pathway and binds at major groove of nuclear DNA, where successive tryptophan plays major role.
His study provides major fundamental insights about the positional importance of tryptophan and opens new avenues towards the development of next generation cell penetrating peptides (CPP) and major groove specific anticancer drugs.
Dr Ravi Manjithaya’s outstanding work on Chemical genetics-based identification of autophagy-modulating small molecules which provides mechanistic insights and therapeutic potential, paved the way for his CDRI award 2020
Dr Ravi Manjithaya, received CDRI Award 2020 in Chemical Sciences. He is presently working as Associate Professor at Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, Bangalore.
In his award oration, he sneaked about Autophagy, a cellular waste recycling process which is critical for maintaining organellar, cellular and organismal homeostasis. Dysfunctional autophagy results in a plethora of diseases including neurodegeneration, intracellular infections, and cancer.
Using sensitive, kinetic and phenotype-based HTS assays, He has identified and characterized several autophagy-modulating small molecules. Elucidating their effect on autophagy has provided mechanistic insights regarding autophagic flux. These include initiation of autophagosome biogenesis, expansion and completion, its eventual fusion with lysosomes, and degradation of cargo.
In addition, these molecules have revealed regulatory aspects of selective forms of autophagy such as aggrephagy (selective autophagic degradation of protein aggregates) and xenophagy (selective autophagic clearance of intracellular pathogens).
In his award oration, he also discussed how, using cellular and a preclinical mouse model of Parkinson’s, some of these molecules can have therapeutic potential. Thus, chemical genetics approach, while shedding light on basic cellular principles, also reveals potential therapeutic avenues towards diseases that currently have no cure.
Since 2004, total 34 scientists (17 outstanding scientists in Chemical Sciences and 17 in Biological Sciences) received this prestigious award for their notable contribution in drug discovery and development research in India. Out of these 34 CDRI Awardees, Dr Shantanu Chowdhury, Dr Sathees C Raghavan, Dr. Balasubramanian Gopal, Dr. Suvendra Nath Bhattacharyya, Dr. D Srinivasa Reddy, Dr. Souvik Maiti, Dr. Govindasamy Mugesh, Dr. Gangadhar J Sanjayan, Prof. Sandeep Verma, Prof. Santanu Bhattacharya, Prof. Uday Maitra also got the prestigious Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Award which is considered as Indian Noble Prize in Science and Technology. One of the CDRI awardee Dr Bushra Ateeq also got this year’s Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Award in medical sciences.