IIT-Indore Develops Low-cost Medicine To Treat Leukemia
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The Indian Institute of Technology, (IIT) Indore, has developed a cost-effective new asparaginase drug (MASPAR) using protein engineering approach to treat Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL), having less side-effects. ALL is a type of blood cancer representing nearly a quarter of cancer cases diagnosed among children.

The institute said repeated administration of asparaginase currently in use for the treatment of ALL patients cause serious side- effects such as allergic reactions, neurotoxicity, immunogenicity, hypersensitivity and toxicity to the pancreas, liver and spleen as well as other organs.

“M-ASPAR asparaginase is significantly less immunogenic, could kill leukemic cells, is more stable, and causes fewer toxicities, including neurotoxicity in non-clinical studies. Thus, it can be expected to reduce the cost of treatment, alleviate side-effects and also improve outcomes of ALL,” said Sonawane.

IIT-Indore in collaboration with Advanced Centre for Treatment, Research and Education in Cancer, Tata Memorial Centre (ACTREC, TMC), Mumbai, and a Mumbai-based biopharmaceutical company are going to start phase-I and II clinical trials of M-ASPAR. In phase-1 clinical trial the safety, tolerability and pharmacokinetics of the drug will be studied in 25-30 patients.

The number of patients for subsequent phase-2 and 3 trials will be determined during the planning stage of these trials. Prof Neelesh Jain, director (officiating) said, “Research has always been the forte of the IITs. Such development in the field of human health is vital as it would lead to significant reduction in the side-effects and most importantly, reduce treatment cost. The institute will strongly support the phase-I and II trials till we reach a logical conclusion.”

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