Biopsies to cost less with RGUHS scientist's invention

A stain developed by a Bengaluru-based researcher from jamun fruit (Indian blackberry) now promises to bring down the cost of biopsies by at least 70%. This invention also happens to be the first patent publication at Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences (RGUHS) and the researcher, Dr Vasudha Kulkarni, too claims that she is the first anatomist in the country to get the patent publication.

A biopsy is a close examination of body tissues, a procedure that is commonly used for detecting cancer. Dr Kulkarni works at the Dr B R Ambedkar Medical College under RGUHS.

Currently, two materials are being used for staining cells — Hematoxylin and Eosin. While Eosin, a chemical, is used to stain the cytoplasm, Hematoxylin is used to stain the nucleus of a cell.

Dr Kulkarni explained that Hematoxylin is currently being used widely.

“It is a stain that is extracted from the heartwood of a logwood tree. The tree is grown only in the West and India has been dependent on it for procurement.”

This comes at a cost. Hematoxylin is priced between Rs 2,500 and Rs 5,000 for 25 gms in the market. Kulkarni said that the stain that she has invented from nerale hannu (jamun) will be available at Rs 750 a kilo if commercially produced.

“The cost of biopsies is high as the price of the stain itself is very high and costs at least Rs 9,000, including pathologist charges. With the new stain, the cost of biopsies can be reduced by 70%,” Dr Kulkarni added.

Dr Kulkarni said that even previously, attempts have been made to develop stains from organic material. However, they failed as the cytoplasm and nucleus both took the same stain, making its reading under the microscope tough.

Kulkarni has received Rs 2 lakh from RGUHS for the research, which she began in 2015. “It is a great breakthrough in my career. Even as a student, was interested in working on stains and Histology has been my field of interest,” she added.

Dr S Sacchidanand, vice-chancellor, RGUHS said that it was a great achievement for RGUHS.

“We will have the copyright for this. It is to be seen how best the invention can be used for the community. We have five more in the pipeline and hope the patenting process is completed soon,” he said.

 

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