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Killing cancer without death ray

IAM-B'lore is working on a process that kills diseased cells while sparing others, reports Shreevatsa Nevatia.

india Updated: Mar 11, 2006 10:13 IST

As anyone who has been treated for cancer will tell you, the cure destroys as much as it heals. But research being conducted at the Institute of Aerospace Medicine (IAM), Bangalore — on a procedure that kills the malignant cells while leaving the healthy ones unharmed — holds out hope.

With some help from the Centre for Advanced Research and Development, Wing Commander Dr VG Vasishta has invented Cytotron, a computer-controlled device that generates precise high intensity Quantum Magnetic Resonance (QMR) beams from 288 specially designed guns.

The non-invasive treatment, termed Rotational Field Nuclear Quantum Magnetic Resonance (RFQMR), is a far better alternative to chemotherapy. Here’s why.

Chemotherapy kills cancerous cells but also decimates other normal cells. These beams, on the other hand, induce the cancerous cells to commit suicide and do not affect surrounding cells. The radio frequency used is non-ionising and non-thermal making it perfectly safe.

Tests on humans have been conducted and the results are encouraging. "Of the patients treated, 60 per cent are still alive, 90 per cent have or had experienced symptomatic relief and 30 per cent of those alive have even gone back to work," said Vasishta.

The method will significantly help those suffering from brain cancer: "Tumours in the brain have a knack of coming back. In chemotherapy, other functional cells of the brain might also be killed leading to hair-loss and other side effects. But with Cytotron , we are able to cover a larger area safely, making sure the malignancy does not resurface," says the doctor.

Vasishta is confident of curing patients soon, and reach the mark required by Indian Council of Medical Research for approval.