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New drug for cancer patients

The drug, which will cost a mere 50 paise, is developed by RGCB

Special Correspondent

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology (RGCB) here has developed a drug based on a `one-time ayurvedic remedy' to fight the side effects of radiation.

The drug, which was subjected to clinical trials at the Regional Cancer Centre here, had given excellent results and is now being put up for patent, director of the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology M. Radhakrishna Pillai told a news conference here on Saturday.

Mr. Pillai said the drug was the result of a collaborative research project involving a scientist, cancer physician and an ayurvedic medic using herbs, commonly available in the courtyards of homes in Kerala. He said this was the first time such a collaborative effort was being made. The final product of this effort should be available to those suffering from cancer for a mere 50 paise. A similar drug being sold in the U.S. was priced at $200.

The drug, Mr. Pillai pointed out, was the product of translational research, which was based on the bench-to-bedside concept that sought to transfer the benefits of basic research findings in the laboratory to the bedside of cancer patients in the shortest possible time.

The Rajiv Gandhi Centre, he said, was also working on a drug by separating the cancer fighting properties of cucumin. The Departments of Science and Technology and Biotechnology had already cleared the project. Clinical trials of the new drug would be held at a hospital in Mumbai, the Regional Cancer Centre here and the Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences, Kochi, he added.

The importance of translational research, Mr. Pillai said, was that it had brought together basic researchers and clinical practitioners who had so long been moving on parallel lines. He said it had become a major movement in most developed nations, particularly in relation to treatment of cancer. Translational research opened up new avenues in the search for a viable and credible treatment methodology for cancer, he said.

Mr. Pillai said it had great relevance in the current Indian context and, in view of this, the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology would be organising an international symposium on `Translational Research: Apoptosis and Cancer' here from December 18 to 21.

President A. P. J. Abdul Kalam would inaugurate the symposium which would be attended by 150 pioneers in cancer research from various countries, besides 300 Indian delegates. Chief Minister Oommen Chandy would chair the inaugural session.

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