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The cup that cheers may cure too

Posted On December 29, 2014 at 8:28 am by / Comments Off on The cup that cheers may cure too

India-born Prof Kattesh Katti’s research shows green tea, gold can treat prostate cancer

Green tea and gold can help treat prostate cancer. Sounds incredible? Meet Professor Kattesh Katti, whose research claims to prove that.

“Not every day is a great day in research. But I’m hoping that one day, I’ll be able to develop nanoparticles that work when injected only around the tumour to minimise toxicity,” said Katti, who is visiting to Indian Institute of Science-Bangalore.

In the past two weeks, India-born Katti has won two major recognitions – the Hevesy Medal Award 2015, which honours outstanding achievement in radioanalytical and nuclear chemistry, and the elite fellowship of the National Academy of Inventors. Katti’s research was instrumental in the discovery of radioactive nanoparticles of gold that can be used to target cancerous cells and destroy tumours.

Nanoparticles can be produced in different ways. “When toxic chemicals interact with gold, they produce gold nanoparticles,” said Katti. But he discovered that the same effect can be achieved by using a “green” process. Chemicals extracted from natural substances like cinnamon, mango skin or soybeans have similar powers. “Since nanoparticles are being injected to the body, it’s better to reduce toxicity of the chemicals used to produce them,” said Katti.

With many awards and citations to his credit, Katti is a top scientist today. But he traces his roots back to a small town in Karnataka and modest beginnings.

“There were times when we had to choose between dinner and lunch. But that’s the beauty of the system in India. If you intend to succeed it allows you to do that,“ said Katti who lives in the US with his wife, a senior research scientist at the radiology department in the Missouri University , and two children.

Born in Dharwad in a joint family of 30 members, Katti went to a nearby school and picked up an interest in science early on. He was hoping to become a teacher, but a stint at the Indian Institute of Science here changed the course of his life.

“I was trained to be a teacher but going to IISc changed the whole pathway ,“ said the 58-year-old, who completed his PhD from Indian Institute of Science in 1984.

Many scientists like Katti have left to the US, mostly because of the bigger opportunities abroad. According to “Global mobility: Science on the move,“ published by the Nature in 2012, India sends the largest number of scientists abroad and the US is the top destination for foreign scientists.

“India needs to spend more money on science and technology ,“ said Katti, who also advocates for higher contribution from the private sector to science.