Thanks to the development of nano-technology, it will now be possible to measure how effective a round of cancer therapy is, within hours of the treatment. This project has been kick-started by a group of Indian scientists from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard Medical School.
The development is a major breakthrough because it will be possible to prevent the side-effects of chemotherapy right from the start in case the treatment plan is not working for the patient, and will help prevent long agonizing months of waiting.
Picture for representation only. Source: Sadasiv Swain/Flickr
“We have developed a nano-technology, which first delivers an anticancer drug specifically to the tumour, and if the tumour starts dying or regressing, it then starts lighting up the tumour in real time,” Shiladitya Sengupta, a principal investigator at MIT’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), told PTI.
The breakthrough was published online in ‘The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.’ One of the authors of the paper is Ashish Kulkarni, who hails from a tiny village in the state of Maharashtra. Kulkarni pursued his Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Cincinnati. “Our long-term goal is to find a way to monitor outcomes very early so that we don’t give a chemotherapy drug to patients who are not responding to it,” he said.
Most of the team members are Indian researchers except for one. This development will help keep track of the effectiveness of immunotherapy, which signals significant progress.
Current tracking methods, which are based on the measurements of the size or the metabolic state of the tumour, don’t always manage to detect the effectiveness of the treatment.