Published: 31st July 2021
IIT-M collaborates with Chennai’s Adyar Cancer Institute to develop a kit for early detection of ovarian cancer
"...We hope to take two years to actually have proof of concept," said the lead investigator of the project
There may soon be a device for early diagnosis of ovarian cancer, which is the seventh most common cancer in the world. This comes after nearly seven to eight years of research, and the Indian Institute of Technology (Madras) will be collaborating with Chennai's Cancer Institute (WIA) for this to be a reality.
The lead investigator of the project and Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering Dr V Raghavendra Sai said, "We have now signed a Memorandum of Understanding, which is an initiation of the collaboration. On the IIT part, the work has been already ongoing. We hope to take two years to actually have proof of concept." Professor Sai told Edexlive that when this technology is validated by clinical samples, the institutes will need a private player to take it forward. "We are looking to involve someone from the beginning."
Ovarian cancer is often known as "the silent killer" as most women do not show symptoms at an early stage. This results in patients seeking treatment only after the disease progresses. As of now, early detection of ovarian cancer has not been possible due to a lack of reliable markers or diagnostic tests. The Department of Molecular Oncology at the Cancer Institute [WIA] had undertaken the research to identify proteins that can be detected in the blood to help in the diagnosis of epithelial ovarian cancers, which accounts for more than 90 per cent of ovarian cancers. This research was funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) under the Govt of India, The research used blood samples from 138 ovarian cancer patients, 20 patients with benign ovarian cancers and 238 healthy subjects.
Incidentally, an ultrasound alone is not enough to diagnose ovarian cancer. "An MRI or CT scan is needed but many don't have the purchasing power to afford the scans, and so it becomes a problem. However, when ultrasound is coupled with this biochemical blood test, it will be able to assess patients' condition as far as ovarian cancer is concerned," Professor Sai said. He added that once the technology is validated, it can also be used for other disease diagnoses such as heart attack. "This kind of research takes a lot of time. The Cancer Institute has analysed hundreds of patients," he said.
IIT Madras has received funding from Indo-German Science and Technology Centre (IGSTC), DST Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB) and Indo-US Science and Technology forum (IUSSTF) to develop point-of-care diagnostic platforms for pathogen detection and disease diagnosis. Both Institutions will establish a review board and will obtain the necessary ethical clearances to evaluate and review the progress arising from this collaboration.