DBT has funded more than 300 projects on different aspects on cancer including biomarkers for early diagnosis; prognosis; molecular pathology of different cancers, target identification, synthetic chemistry for target inhibition, animal- model system development better chemotherapeutic agents etc. The focus is on cancer with national relevance i.e. oral, cervical & breast as also the ones which are unique to India such as Gall bladder, nasopharyngeal, triple-negative pre-menopausal breast cancer. Major genomics & proteomics based studies on ovarian cancer & gliomas resulted into interesting leads.
DBT continues to organize workshops for analysing lagre data emerging from large genomics and proteomics- based studies funded by DBT on different cancers.
Several clinical trials using curcumin as an immuno-modulator with conventional therapy and/or preventive strategy on different types of cancers have been completed.
The data have been analyzed and currently under acceptance by the regulatory bodies. Phase II trial of Curcumin in advance Head and Neck cancer treatment at the Cancer Research Institute, Dehradun with DBT support indicated the therapeutic potential of curcumin and piperine in the palliative treatment of advance head and neck cancers as a cost-effective substitute.
Further studies on similar line with larger patient numbers seem warranted. Curcumin soft gelatin capsules and curcumin containing Basant polyherbal vaginal cream has been proved to be effective and safe in the clearance of cervical Human Papilloma Virus infection.
In a multicenter, Phase II chemoprevention study, wherein the primary objective was to evaluate the clinical efficacy and safety of oral curcumin therapy (3.6 gms/day) for a period of 6 months in subjects with oral premalignant lesions (OPL) by clinical response i.e. reduction in size of all lesions, prevention of malignant transformation in the index lesion and occurrence of any new lesions and histological response, it was found that response between the two arms at 6 months was statistically significant, but not at 12 months.
Outcome of Histological Partial Response group at 6 months treated for additional 6 months was again statistically significant. The full interpretation of the results is being made.
DBT gave a call inviting proposals to set-up Units of Excellence in Cancer and also linking groups excelling in Cancer Biology through a Virtual National Cancer Research Initiative (VNCRI) during the 12th/13th Plan period.
For the UOE, it is conceptualized to fund outstanding scientists working on contemporary, novel, globally recognized themes and select their labs as Units of Excellence (UOE).
The purpose of the creation of UOE is to develop a few leaders in cancer biology research with national relevance but globally competitiveness and to develop future human resource. Under the VNCI scheme, it is proposed to fund excellence in small places and network them around distinct themes such as:
An interesting outcome of the research is the use of MIP, an immunomodulator developed at NII primarily for leprosy and then clinically tested for tuberculosis to be useful in non-small cell lung cancer as an adjunct to chemotherapy.
DBT had funded projects on MIP for its activity against
Dr. Sandhya R. Shenoy
Joint Director/Scientist ‘E’
Medical Biotechnology Division