Thursday, March 30

Presidency-CNCI tie-up for ‘next generation’ cancer fight

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A premier cancer research institute is tying up with the country’s oldest general education institution in a first of-its-kind collaboration that aims to research and develop diagnostic tools to tackle cervical cancer.

Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute (CNCI) has inked a deal with Presidency University to collaborate on using next generation sequencing (NGS), a modern sequencing technology that helps researchers sequence DNA and RNA much faster than earlier techniques. Depending on the outcome, this research would be used to investigate other forms of cancer.

“Cervical cancer is the second leading cause of death among women after breast cancer,” said Abhik Saha, Presidency University assistant professor and programme coordinator. “It is typically caused by a virus. We want to do an overall sampling of patients.”

NGS holds “a lot of promise”, said Saha. “Sequencing has been around for a long time, but NGS is of a new kind. Through this research, we want to see whether any other microbe can cause the disease, apart from the virus. This could be known through this sequencing technique. Secondly, we hope to develop a diagnostic kit, with which we can test samples from patients. The samples can be put through this technique to determine whether the person is vulnerable to cervical cancer.”

Access To Several Labs

Interdisciplinary research to tackle a killer disease

The project lends itself to inter-disciplinary work. “We have initiated the collaboration with CNCI because it is a research institute and hospital. They have access to patients,” said Saha. “Typically, students from the life science department will be involved in the research programme, which may be later extended to departments like statistics and chemistry, among others.” Sources said this research would be open to students pursuing MSc, PhD and post-doctoral studies.

The MoU inked by CNCI and Presidency University also envisages exchange of faculty, staff, technical personnel on a part-time basis to implement joint tasks.

The agreement also covers training programmes for faculty, staff, students and technical personnel for sponsored and consultancy projects. “This is only the beginning,” said a Presidency source. “We have more such collaborations coming up in medical research.”

Saha pointed out that researchers would benefit immensely from this collaborative programme. “In the Master’s degree programmes, the last two semesters are dedicated to research work. In such cases, students can reap benefit as they will gain access to several laboratories involved in the project,” he said.

CNCI director Jayanta Chakrabarti was unavailable for comment. “CNCI focuses on both basic and clinical research to include need-based contemporary as well as futuristic research areas. The current research approach in CNCI is based on programme-oriented research in areas of identification of risk factors predominantly responsible for the development of cancer. Different areas of investigations are going on to fight cancer. A blend of basic as well as translational research is on,” said a source.

Source: Times of India

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