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IIT-M works on India-specific cancer data

The data developed could also help to identify drug targets for novel therapeutics, said experts part of the research.

IIT-M works on India-specific cancer data


NEW DELHI: The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Madras, has established a first-of-its-kind Centre of Excellence that is undertaking research to develop biomarkers for early detection of pancreatic cancer.

The sequence data from the “Centre of Excellence on Cancer Genomics and Molecular Therapeutics” will help develop an India-specific cancer genome database, which is critical to identifying and developing biomarkers for early detection and understanding the drug response. The data developed could also help to identify drug targets for novel therapeutics, said experts part of the research.

As pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide and is projected to be the second within a decade, pharmaceutical companies are on the lookout for India-specific genome data to establish biomarkers for specific therapeutics. However, as there is no Indian population-specific cancer genome data available currently, studies are based on what is available from the Western population. Due to this, the patient survival rate is very low compared to Western societies due to genomic heterogeneity.

Elaborating on the research, its principal investigator S Mahalingam, Department of Biotechnology, IIT-Madras, said: “Biomarkers identified from the proposed work will be critical for developing real-time quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR) and sequencing-based early diagnostic kits. Also, identified drug targets will be used for developing novel anti-cancer therapeutics for pancreatic cancer.

“The preclinical cancer models will be of immense help for drug screening and understanding the in-vivo cancer pathogenesis. The successful development of an organoid will facilitate high-throughput cancer drug screening. A similar approach will be extended to other cancers prevalent in India, and this will help to initiate a start-up company on cancer therapeutics and diagnostics,” he added.

“This CoE is a unique collaborative initiative between cancer biologists, bioengineers, computational biologists, and clinical experts, and one of the first-of-its-kind in India. This scale of interdisciplinary effort is required to create significant breakthroughs in improving the healthcare infrastructure of India, for cancer treatment and beyond,” he added.

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