‘We have pioneered a fast RNA conjugation process which works in water within minutes’

Dr Ishwar Singh, Senior Lecturer, School of Pharmacy, University of Lincoln, UK discusses about his areas of research, their objectives and the evolving sphere of pharma research, with Lakshmipriya Nair

Give us an overview about your research on fast ribonucleic acid (RNA) conjugations. How far has it progressed and what does it seek to achieve?

The research on fast RNA conjugations seeks to achieve two objectives. One is to label the RNA with different labels for different diagnostic applications and second is to conjugate the RNA to different delivery vehicles for its therapeutic applications. RNA is a sensitive (easily degradable), water soluble molecule, however, most of the conjugation done in the laboratory uses organic solvents. We have pioneered a fast RNA conjugation process which works in water within minutes. The results from this project are very exciting we have been able to label RNA with diverse molecules. This conjugation also worked very well on deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA).

You are part of a project which aims to develop a nanodevice to improve treatment options for cancer patients. Can you elaborate on in it? Will it be a cost-effective option as well?

The nanodecoder (nanodevice) has different components such as a scaffold and would offer nanometer precision with different functions to detect multiple markers in one test rather than doing multiple tests from skin cancer samples. It is a platform technology and later on we would like to develop it for other cancers also. It will be a cost-effective option because it will have the capability to do multiple marker tests in one run.

What is your team’s contribution to the project? Who are the others involved? When is the project likely to be concluded?

The diagnostic nanodecoder project is a very interesting project. It brings together experts from different countries (UK, Italy, the US and Argentina) with diverse expertise. For instance; the scaffold of the nanodecoder is designed by one group, we are installing the functions to detect multiple markers in one test rather than doing multiple tests, it will be tested by two different groups on samples of skin cancer. The current project will be concluded in 2019.

What are your other areas of research? What are their objectives?

Our other areas of research comprise broad spectrum antibiotics, novel antimicrobials based on a rational design against clinically important resistant bacteria, biologics delivery, peptides, sequence selective DNA cross linking, nanoparticles modifications for drug delivery and diagnostic applications. Our objectives are developing effective antibiotics against resistant bacteria, non-toxic biologics delivery, and sequence selective detection of dsDNA.

What are the major challenges in the arena of pharma research globally? What are the steps needed to mitigate them?

Limited collaborative research. More interactions and collaborative projects among industries as well as universities are the need of the hour.

How has R&D segment in pharma evolved?

R&D is pharma is evolving quite fast however we need more collaborative projects between different stakeholders to address complex challenges such as antimicrobial resistance and cancer.


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