IIT-Guwahati develops chemo strategy for cancer patients that ‘reduces side effects’


GUWAHATI: Researchers at IIT-Guwahati have developed a new strategy to deliver chemotherapeutic drugs directly to the infected cells of a cancer patient, thereby significantly reducing side effects.

Explaining it, professor Debasis Manna of the Department of Chemistry said the researchers had two needs in the development of chemotherapy drugs — it must be targeted at the cancer cells and must be released by an external trigger whenever it is required.

“The problem with existing chemotherapeutic drugs is that they kill healthy cells of the body in addition to cancerous cells, leading to numerous undesirable side effects,” IIT-Guwahati said in a statement on Monday.

In fact, it is believed that cancer deaths are as much due to the side effects of chemotherapy as the disease itself, it added.

“There is worldwide research to overcome the drawbacks of secondary toxicity of chemotherapeutic drugs. Some strategies that are being explored include target-specific delivery of the drugs and on-demand delivery of appropriate drug doses to cancerous cells and tissues,” it said.

The molecules developed by the IIT-Guwahati researchers self-assemble as capsules to hold the drug, which then attaches only to cancer cells, the statement said.

“When infrared light is shone on it, the shell breaks and releases the encapsulated drug into the cancerous cell. The IIT-G scientists rightly believe that their approach would allow the development of drug carriers for chemotherapy with enhanced efficacy and negligible side effects,” it added.

The research papers have been co-authored by Manna, along with his research scholars Subhasis Dey, Anjali Patel, and Biswa Mohan Prusty among others.

Anti-cancer activities were carried out in collaboration with professors Siddhartha Sankar Ghosh and Plaboni Sen of IIT-Guwahati, and professors Arindam Bhattacharyya and Soumya Chatterjee of Calcutta University.

“The path-breaking results of this research have been published in prestigious journals of The Royal Society of Chemistry, including ‘Chemical Communications’ and ‘Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry’,” the statement said.

The premier technical institute said that the societal impacts of this work cannot be overstated given the number of cancer patients in India anticipated to be 30 million by 2025.

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