IISc's targeted cancer therapy

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For years, cancer patients have been at the receiving end of various drugs administered to them without any certainty about their effectiveness. However, multi-disciplinary research conducted at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) is about to change just that.

Scientists from three departments of IISc — Department of Molecular Reproduction, Development and Genetics, Department of Materials Engineering and Centre for BioSystem Science and Engineering — have combined their efforts to come up with a unique method to identify which cancer drug will work best for any patient.

The technique has the potential to prevent the side effects suffered regularly by cancer patients, according to scientists.

They have detailed the techniques in their paper ‘Tissue mimetic 3D scaffold for breast tumour-derived organoid culture toward personalised chemotherapy’. With the method, scientists will be able to isolate cancer cells and test which drugs work best against them before administering the same to the patient.

How does it work?

Speaking to DH, Prof Kaushik Chatterjee of the Department of Materials Engineering said researchers at IISc cultivated cancer cells extracted from breast cancer patients on a tissue scaffold. “The scaffold was engineered in such a way that the cancer cells could grow naturally, in the manner in which it grows inside a patient. This ‘organoid’ was then exposed to different cancer drugs to see which worked best to prevent the cancerous growth,” he said.

Most of the treatments offered to cancer — which varies from person to person — is dependent on the past experiences of a doctor and have little to do with the patient. “The factors that affect cancer include gender, genes, age etc. By cultivating the cancer cells in a scaffold, it will also be to identify the genetic makeup of these cells and can refine our treatment,” he said.

The carcinogenic cells will take around 10days to grow in the specially designed scaffold — which is also one of the novelties of the technique. After growing them, doctors can check which medicine is more suitable for a patient.

“The success is proof that concept will enable us to test medication for other types of cancer. Since many forms of cancer do not respond to some drugs, this treatment will be a relief to patients,” he said. 

What’s new

1. The new method helps to identify which cancer drug will work best for any patient. 

2.  It will also be able to identify the genetic makeup of cancer cells and help to refine treatment. 

3. The treatment comes as a relief to patients as they will avoid exposing themselves to a wide array of medicine.

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