Group of scientists from India and US on the verge of new cancer treatment


A group of scientists from India and the US has been working together in an attempt to find a novel cancer treatment method that does not involve the dreaded chemo and radiation therapies.

Led by Yong Li, a professor of Cancer Biology from the Cleveland Clinic of the United States, and assisted by Munish Pandey, an assistant professor of biochemistry from Allahabad University (AU), the team consists of 8 other scientists.

The team’s findings were recently published in the prestigious international journal Oncogene of Nature Publishing Group.

The scientists claim that their experiments conducted on mice were successful, and efforts are now being intensified to do the same for a human trials.

“The study may give relief to cancer patients who undergo chemotherapy. Chemotherapy uses radiation and other drugs which have many side effects and evoke immune system response that causes severe pain and allergic reactions. Our team had earlier developed knockout mice (a lab mouse in which one or more genes have been turned off or “knocked out” using genetic engineering) for miR-21 and same was published in PNAS journal,” Pandey said.

He said his team was on way to discovering an alternative to chemotherapy and drugs in the treatment of cancer which damages normal cells along with cancer cells during cancer treatment. In this successful experiment in the Cleveland Clinic of US the team, while experimenting on mice, injected its anti-sense (non-coding DNA strand of a gene) into mice to make miR-21 ineffective.

After this, it was found that the tumor formed in the body of the mice gradually became smaller. Some tumors even disappeared. This experiment went on for a year in the US. However, it has not yet got approval for a human trial.

During the research, the team also found that microRNA i.e. miR-21 significantly expressed in most cancer types. “This makes cancer cells more effective in presence of miR-21,” Pandey said. “The group is further working on other programmed cell death mechanisms, microRNAs and Chimeric Antigen T-Cell therapy (CAR-T) to tackle carcinogenicity in mice model,” he added.