Team of researchers from IIT Hyderabad stumble upon new discoveries for cancer treatment

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A team of researchers from Indian Institute Technology, Hyderabad along with a team from the National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR), Goa have stumbled upon a new discovery that could lead to provide better solution for curing dreaded cancer disease in children with less side effects.

According to Dr. Devarai Santhosh Kumar, Associate Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering and Dr. Asif Qureshi, Department of Civil Engineering from IIT-Hyderabad, during their exploration study in Antarctica, they found a fungi proliferating under adverse temperatures as low as -20 Degree Celsius in Antarctic circle and upon further studying the fungi it was discovered that the fungi contained L-Asparaginase, an enzyme based chemotherapeutic agent, which is used to treat acute lymphoblastic leukaemia(ALL).

“The new discovery gains significance because, the current procedures involved in manufacturing the L-Asparaginase is very expensive. It requires extensive purification steps before the drug is derived from commonly found bacteria like E.Coli and E. Chrysanthemi. However with this new discovery, now the drug used for chemotherapy can be produced with less cost and it could be more effective with less side effects,” said Dr. Devarai Santhosh Kumar.

The researchers felt that the present procedure to treat the ALL is more complex and costly and it is also having possibilities of more side effects. They felt there is a need to devise new medical procedure that could be more cost effective.

The researchers said that in ALL, the bone marrow produces an excess of immature lymphocytes, a form of white blood cells. One of the most frequently used chemotherapy drug to treat ALL is the enzyme L-Asparaginase, this enzyme reduces the supply of asparagines, an amino acid that is essential for the synthesis of protein to cancer cells. This prevents growth and proliferation of the malignant cells. The enzymes derived from the E.Coli and E. Chrysanthemi is always associated with the two other enzymes, Glutaminase and Urease, both of which cause adverse side effects in patients such as pancreatitis, haemostasis abnormalities, central nervous system dysfunction and immunological reactions.

The team of researchers identified and isolated 55 samples of fungi of which 30 isolates had pure L-Asparaginase. The discovery by the researchers was published in scientific reports of Natures Open Source Journal recently.

The team of researchers from IIT Hyderabad included Dr Devarai Santhosh Kumar, Dr. Asif Qureshi both Associate professors who were associated by their research students Anup Ashok, Kruthi Doriya and Jyothi Vithal Rao and Dr. Anoop Kumar Tiwari from NCPOR.

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