‘Nano’ cancer killer offers hope
A group of Indian researchers has modified a cancer drug in a way that is likely to make it several times more potent. The team has developed a “nano” version of carboplatin, a drug used in treating many cancers through chemotherapy, reports Neha Bhayana.india Updated: May 09, 2009 00:38 IST
A group of Indian researchers has modified a cancer drug in a way that is likely to make it several times more potent.
The team has developed a “nano” version of carboplatin, a drug used in treating many cancers through chemotherapy.
Essentially, the innovation lay in the way the researchers manipulated the drug molecule to make it smaller and render it more effective. The team has applied for patents in India and in the US.
During trials on rats, the researchers found that 75 per cent of the modified drug reached the cancerous cells, as opposed to just 5 per cent for the normal drug.
“This is a very good development,” said CH Mohan Rao, head of the Hyderabad-based Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology. “If this nano version works in humans, it’ll dramatically decrease toxicity and increase the chances of cancer patients’ survival.”
The research is being published in the next edition of the US medical journal, Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences.
The research team, headed by eye cancer expert Dr Debraj Shome, who works at Apollo Hospital in Hyderabad, has tested carboplatin for retinoblastoma (a cancer of the eye) in rats, but they’ll start human trials soon and also test it for brain and kidney tumours.
The nano carboplatin particles, which are one-billionth the size of a pinhead, have smaller molecules so they are more potent even in smaller doses, explained Dr Jayesh Bellare, who was part of the team with other colleagues from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay.
Dr Shome said they injected the nano carboplatin around one eye of 24 rats and normal carboplatin around the other eye. “We found that 75 percent more of the drug reached the eye near which we had injected the nano version,” he said.
Every year, retinoblastoma affects 1,200 Indian children under the age of three. In the majority of cases, doctors have to remove the patients’ affected eye and some children even die as the cancer spreads rapidly.