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March 25, 2020 Wednesday 05:11:34 PM IST

IIT Bombay INSPIRE fellow develops software for radiation therapy

Leadership Instincts

Recipient of the INSPIRE Faculty Award instituted by Department of Science & Technology,  Dr. Achintya Kumar Dutta from IIT Bombay along with his research group is working to develop new methods for quantum chemistry and implement them in efficient and free software to study electron attachment to aqueous DNA which has big implications in radiation therapy-based treatment of cancer.

Indian scientists are at the forefront of the new theory development for quantum chemistry. Dr. Dutta’s research group in IIT Bombay is a collaboration of chemists, computer scientists, and engineers who are united towards a common goal of development of efficient quantum chemistry methods and free software, which can be routinely used by scientists all over the globe to solve their chemistry problems.

“My inspire fellowship has allowed me to establish a state of the art computing facility for developing and testing a new and efficient quantum chemistry software. It also allows me to train quality manpower from all over India who can contribute to the further progress of Indian science,”  tells Dr. Dutta.

The efficiency of these newly developed quantum chemistry methods allows the research group to solve the Schrodinger equation for the attachment of electrons to DNA in the presence of the bulk aqueous environment. The deoxyribonucleic acid or DNA is the carrier of genetic information in the human body, and electron attachment to DNA is one of the crucial steps in radiation damage to human cells. His team has shown that the electron attachment to DNA solvated in bulk water happens through a doorway mechanism, and the presence of the aqueous environment allows this electron attachment to take place at an ultrafast time scale. This newly proposed mechanism of electron attachment to aqueous DNA has big implications in radiation therapy-based treatment of cancer.

This study can help in the development of a new class of radio-sensitizers, which makes tumor cells more sensitive to radiation therapy and thereby protects the normal cells. Computational modeling can greatly reduce the development cost of new radio-sensitizers, both in terms of money and time.

Dr. Dutta wants to use the inspire fellowship to further develop new quantum chemistry methods, benchmark efficient computational protocols to study radiation damage to genetic material and pursue science for the betterment of our society and humankind.

(For more details please contact: Dr. Achintya Kumar Dutta, Email: achintyachemist@gmail.com)