In a recent development, Kochi-based Amrita Centre for Nanosciences and Molecular Medicine has developed a nano-medicine for drug-resistant blood cancer.
After this invention, it can be expected that the statistics of improved treatment of drug-resistant chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) would improve significantly, when used in combination with Imatinib, the standard drug for the disease.
In another important invention, the 2006-founded Amrita Centre has discovered a mechanism that can prevent recurrence of glioma or brain tumour effectively.
In India, about four out of every 100,000 people are affected from this disease and the life expectancy of high-grade glioma patients is about one to two years.
Both the projects will be formally unveiled on Sep 26 at Amritavarsham60, the 60th birthday celebrations of the hugging saint or Amma as she is popularly known to among her devotees.
CML affects approximately two out of every 100,000 Indians every year and around 40 per cent of these cases are resistant to Imatinib. For such patients, treatment options are extremely limited.
"What we have done at Amrita is to take a particular 'small-molecule inhibitor' class of anti-cancer drug, currently available in the market and encapsulate it into a protein nano-capsule," said Shantikumar Nair, the centre's director.
"This allows the drug to be absorbed directly into the cancer cells circulating in the patient's bloodstream. This has a marked increase on its efficacy in killing cancer cells. Further, the circulation lifetime of the drug in the blood is increased, which also enhances its efficacy," he added.
The nano-encapsulated version of the newly invented drug claims to be non-toxic in healthy mice in tests conducted by his department, and it has similarly demonstrated itself to be effective in tests involving blood samples of people with Imatinib-resistant CML.
Manzoor Koyakutty, professor at the Centre, says the next step is to evaluate its efficacy in fighting CML in mice. "If it continues to remain non-toxic and effective, we can move on to clinical trials," added the expert and drug co-inventor.
-With inputs from IANS