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DBT’s Multipronged Approach tackles Cancer Challenge

worldcancerday0602Rapid fire

  • R&D support in multifarious areas of cancer
  • Cancer research strengthened by supporting established “Leaders in Cancer Biology”
  • “Excellence in small places” being connected through virtual National Cancer Institute in breast and oral cancer
  • Hundred and thirteen pilot projects supported for young investigators
  • Cancer Vaccine developed with antigen SPAG9 discovered at NII at phase 2 trials

Department of Biotechnology (DBT) supports R&D projects in multifarious areas of cancer like epidemiology, molecular biology, genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, epigenetics, genome-wide association studies, biostatistics, imaging, cell line and animal models.

Apart from this, DBT has strengthened cancer research through established “Leaders in Cancer Biology” in the form of Unit of Excellence.

“Excellence in small places” is being connected in the form of Virtual National Cancer Institute on the thematic area of breast cancer.

This project envisages to identify novel protein kinases that are activated in hormone refractory breast cancer and also to identify key pathways and the therapies that target those pathways. The other Virtual National Cancer Institute in the area of Oral cancer is under consideration by the Department.

DBT is also currently supporting 113 pilot projects for young investigators.

The recent release of National status of Cancer in India (as of December 2014) by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) National Cancer Registry Program (NCRP) has revealed an estimated total cancer burden of ~14.5 lakh new cases for the year 2016 and is expected to be ~17.3 lakh new cases in 2020. The aetiology of cancer in India is mostly linked to tobacco use.

The bottlenecks include poor access to oncologists, lack of awareness programmes on prevention and awareness strategies and limited diagnostic infrastructure.

The increased cancer disease burden in India can be attributed to:

  • Demographic changes such as:
    • Increased life expectancy and age
    • Increase in population size
    • Improved literacy and changes in lifestyle
  • Higher risk factor exposures
  • Gap in demand and supply (paucity of oncologists, human resources, skill upgradation of general physicians, hospital infrastructure)
  • Costly treatment, cancer care delivery and screening
  • Acuity of state-of-the-art diagnostics cum monitoring protocols
  • Lack of access to cancer care providers and awareness
  • Lack of indigenization (of cancer drugs, vaccines, tools and technologies)
  • Absence of national standard guidelines and protocols for diagnosis, management, validation and quality assurance.

DBT has been addressing these challenges through a multipronged approach to alleviate the country’s cancer burden and bring solutions for this global challenge.