Indian scientist develops low- cost cancer detector

An Indian scientist has developed a blood-based cancer biomarker which can potentially work as a low-cost diagnostic tool to detect different human cancers. It is perhaps the world’s first low-cost diagnostic tool for detection of cancer in the human body. Early cancer detection can significantly enhance chances of a patient’s recovery.
“It is a simple blood-test kit, much like a pregnancy or diabetes test. I have developed a bio-molecular marker of cancer in blood, which can easily track cancer through blood test,” Professor R.N. Sharan of the North-Eastern Hills University, said. The bio-molecular tool has passed preliminary trials and is now being vetted through multi-centre tests in the US and Japan. The kit may be ready for mass production in about two to three years’ time, he said. “The test can be performed by any individual at home and it should not cost more than Rs 100-150. What it requires is a small amount of blood, which can be drawn from a finger tip,” he said.

Professor Sharan, a leading biochemist said it took him and his team of PhD students over two decades to develop the bio-molecular marker of cancer.
“Numerous scientific aspects need to be looked into and understood in mouse and cell culture models before a sound hypothesis can be put forward,” he informed. “We have now developed and standardised a minimally-invasive, non-radioactive and highly sensitive immunoassay to quantify the bio-marker in blood samples of patients”, the biochemist said. He added that the phase 1 clinical studies have been concluded.
These involved study of 112 human cancer patients along with 68 normal individuals. “Eighteen different types of cancer were covered in this study and the results support the hypothesis fully,” he informed. As per procedures, clinical phase 2, a multi-centric study, is being initiated in India in collaboration with the Global Discovery Centre of a US-based multinational company covering cancer patients from 3-4 cancer and general hospitals in Delhi.

It is proposed that over 350 human samples from patients with almost all types of cancer will be analysed in this phase. Potentially,the whole test can be packaged in a simple kit. The test can be conducted by following simple procedures by anyone in primary health centres or even at home. The diagnostic kit can be used for regular screening of population for cancer, who are visiting a hospital,health clinic, or a primary health centre for any other medical conditions.

Professor Sharan has already secured an Indian patent. It is planned that appropriate patents for the same will be filed with other countries as well.

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