Meet Dr Smita Srivastava, Leading Groundbreaking Research In Anti-Cancer Drugs

smita srivastava

A research team led by Dr Smita Srivastava at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Madras has reportedly made a breakthrough in the field of cancer medicine. The researchers have identified a sustainable alternative source for the anti-cancer drug camptothecin, currently derived from two highly endangered plants.

Dr Srivastava, Associate Professor at the institute, with her colleagues has developed a microbial fermentation process as an alternative method of camptothecin production, which seeks to meet the medicinal demand, and at the same time, “conserve the natural sources.” This research has been published in the Journal of Scientific Reports.

Talking about the progress their research has made and its potential benefits, Dr Srivastava says, “The novelty of the work lies in the fact that unlike other potential microbial strains reported, this strain has been found to show sustainable production even beyond 100 generations.”

Who Is Dr Smita Srivastava?

Dr Smita Srivastava is notably an Associate Professor in the Department of Biotechnology at IIT Madras. She holds a doctorate from IIT Delhi and is a published researcher, counted among one of the founding members of the Biological Engineering Society (BESI).

With a specialisation in Biochemical Engineering, Dr Smita Srivastava’s expertise lies in plant cell and microbial technology, from which stems her latest research in alternative anti-cancer drugs.

For the strides of contribution she has made to science, she has been the recipient of numerous recognitions and prestigious awards, both national and international, over the years. In 1995, she was honoured with the Herdilla Award for chemical engineering research and in 2004, she became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, to name a couple.

Dr Srivastava served on the Editorial Board of Chemical Engineering, McGraw Hill in the US between 2003 and 2017. She is currently also serving on the editorial board of Indian Institute of Chemical Engineering.

About The Alternative Drug In The Fight Against Cancer

Camptothecin, used as the lead molecule in producing anti-cancer drugs Topotecan and Irinotecan, is typically derived from the Chinese tree Camptotheca acuminata and the Indian tree Nothapodytes nimmoniana.

Reports say close to 1000 tons of plant material is required to extract just one ton of Camptothecin, as a result of which over-harvesting has critically endangered these plants. The IIT-M research team, led by Dr Smita Srivastava, now aims to identify a sustainable plant as an alternative source for commercial Camptothecin production.

Elaborating on the future vision of how this alternative will see implementation, Dr Srivastava says, “The plan now is to use the isolated novel strain for the development of a microbial fermentation based sustainable bioprocess for large scale in vitro production of Camptothecin, preferably in collaboration with interested Industrial partner(s).”

Image Credit: IIT-M, YouTube