Canadian firm wants to help derail India's cancer train | india | Hindustan Times
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Canadian firm wants to help derail India's cancer train

india Updated: Aug 23, 2013 17:46 IST

A Vancouver based homegrown company, Zecotek Phototonics, is planning to provide high performance, cost effective positron emission tomography (PET) medical scanning device configuration aimed at BRIC nations, especially the Indian and the Chinese markets.

These medical devices, which are used to detect conditions such as cancer, heart disease, epilepsy and Alzheimer's disease, use light from scintillation crystals and no radiation to produce 3D images of metabolic processes in the body that provide very early detection.

Zecotek CEO Faouzi Zerrouk, an English educated PhD in Theoretical Physics, who has became a leading expert in photonics technologies, said the PET systems are also used to define the adequate drugs for the disease as well as defining the real time effect of the selected drug and its progress.

Zecotek makes these crystals, the photo detectors and associated electronics as well as the data acquisition boards, as part of its medical high performance low cost, scanning device configuration.

PET scanners are usually very expensive; each one costs about a million dollars to make and retail at $2 to 3 million dollars. Crystals make up more than third of that cost.

The PET devices are so effective that the World Health Organization recommends two of them for every million people in a population.

Zerrouk said Zecotek's plan for India is to locate a strategic partner in India to manufacture and introduce these PET machines to the nation's medical and pharmaceutical establishments.

"We will seek the support of the local industries, business institutions, the health ministry, in order to jointly build India's national PET program," said Zerrouk.

Every year 1.2 million new cases of cancer are detected in India. The rest of the patients do not get detected on time. About 70% of the cancer patients in India die within the first year of diagnosis, the majority because they were not detected early.

Heart disease is the second biggest killer in the country after cancer. India has 60 million people with heart disease and the number is increasing.

Currently, only about two million people get an angiography in a year.

In a recent published interview, Philips Healthcare India president A Krishna Kumar said India does not have enough quality diagnostics for good therapy to be practiced in the country.

"If you look at cancer, for example, India has 315 cancer centres, but you only have 75 PET /CT scanners that are critical for diagnosing cancer. At the rest of the centres, the treatment is happening blindly without knowing where the tumour actually is, and hence they are radiating the tumour.

In such a case, a patient could feel that this test is unnecessary because the treatment is inaccurate," he had said.