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Home News and Update Year 2010 Nano-Tech Clinical Trials to go Multicentric

Nano-Tech Clinical Trials to go Multicentric

Times of India
15 February, 2010
Malathy Iyer
Mumbai/Hyderabad, India

Nano Route
Doctors at Tata Memorial Hospital in Parel, and L V Prasad Eye Hospital and Apollo Hospital in Hyderabad, with IIT–B’s scientists, have begun phased clinical trails of nano–particles of an existing drug used to treat retinoblastoma. Last week, Shirin Thakur (17) was injected with nano–particles of carboplatin. The injections were given at the tissues near the eye. Shirin says her vision “gets better” with every passing day

Nano Tech
Shirin and Vasu are the first two patients to undergo clinical trials of the new drug at Apollo’s Hyderabad hospital. “We will do nine more patients here before embarking on a multicentric study beginning at Cleveland Eye Clinic in Ohio next year,” says Dr Debraj Shome, who is part of collaboration between IIT–B scientists and doctors from Tata Memorial Hospital in Parel and Apollo Hospital in Hyderabad. Incidentally, when Shirin travelled to Wills Eye Institute in Pennsylvania, USA, a year ago, she was told that the retinal cancer in her left eye was incurable.

It was a chance meeting between Shome and Prof Jayesh Bellare from IIT–B’s chemical engineering department that started off this nano–drive. “IITB is the pioneer in nano–technology for healthcare applications. We started work on nanotechnology more than six years back,” says Bellare, whose works in the field have appeared in several scientific journals.

At an ophthalmology conference over four years ago, he met Shome and they got discussing how delivering drugs to the cancer–hit retina is always an uphill task. “The retina–blood barrier acts as a natural filter against huge foreign particles. Hence delivering adequate drugs at the retina is a challenge,” says Shome.

That is when Bellare’s 14–member team got into action: they miniaturised carboplatin, a known drug in the market for retinoblastoma. “We first used natural protein or albumin as a carrier for the drug, but decided to look for a new material as there is 0.1% chance that protein could react with normal body tissues and create a side–effect,” says Bellare. That is when his team started working with PMMA (poly methyl methacrylate) that is used to prepare lenses used in cataract surgery. “This is an inert material that doesn’t react with human tissues,” says Bellare, who prepared the PMMA–based carboplatin last year for the ongoing clinical trail at Apollo Hospital. The logic for the entire experiment is that smaller particles can breach the retina–blood barrier, increase the amount of medicine acting on the cancer site and thus cure it.

The first trials of the earlier versions of the nano drug were done in animals at the Tata Memorial Hospital’s research centre called ACTREC in Kharghar in 2006–07. Terming the initial work as “promising”, Dr Rajiv Sarin, director of ACTREC, told TOI that “in a research work done in collaboration with IIT–B, we did work on rabbits in our laboratory to assess whether these nano–particles reached the target tissues better.”

This work was preceded by collaboration between Shome along Santosh Honavar in L V Prasad Eye Hospital in Hyderabad. They devised a new technique to deliver drugs right next to the eye instead of intravenously.

Cure for Rare Eye Cancer in Sight?
RETINOBLASTOMA is a cancer that begins in the retina, the sensitive lining that helps us see. It most commonly affects young children but rarely adults

The cancer mainly affects children. The incidence is one in 10,000 to 15,000 births SIGNS
  • White color in the pupil
  • Eyes that appear to be looking in different directions
  • Eye redness
  • Eye swelling
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