Saturday, February 4

Kolkata scientists make nanodrug to treat jaundice in newborns

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A team of scientists in Kolkata have found a safe and cost-effective nano drug that promises accurate treatment of neonatal jaundice. The drug combines nanoparticles extracted from manganese salt with citrus extract, like from lemon. This combination of manganese salt and citrus extract can break down bilirubin, providing a cure for hyperbilirubinemia in the newborn. Developed by scientists at SN Bose National Centre for Basic Sciences, Kolkata (SNBNCBSK), the findings have been published in international journals, including ‘Nanomedicine London’. In January this year, the project made it to the top three finalists in the competition for nanotechnology discoveries in India held in New Delhi, a collaborative initiative under India and the US. “Once injected this nanodrug has the potential to bring the bilirubin back to normal within two-and-a-half hours. We have finished the trial on mice. We are now looking for sponsors so that we can start the clinical trial on humans,” said Professor Samir Kumar Pal, who led the research team at SNBNCBSK. Bilirubin is a yellow pigment found in bile, a fluid secreted by the liver. An abundance of it causes jaundice. At present, there is no medicine to treat neonatal jaundice. Doctors use either phototherapy or blood transfusion to treat the ailment that most newborns — specially pre-term babies — tend to develop. “Around 80% of pre-term babies develop jaundice. And if the bilirubin level of such newborns is not brought under control in time, they stand the risk of brain damage. Phototherapy is a safe procedure, apart from some short-term side effects like skin rashes, loose stools and dehydration. There is no drug to treat this condition now,” said Dr Suchandra Mukherkee, neonatology head at SSKM Hospital.

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