In a path-breaking discovery, scientists of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and Indian Institute of Chemical Biology (IICB) have created an artificial peptide (a smaller version of proteins which are coded by DNA), which successfully curbed melanoma (skin cancer) in rats.
“The cancerous cell was induced from humans. However, we have not yet conducted clinical trials on humans with the peptide,” said Prof Siddhartha Roy, director of IICB, Kolkata.
Interacting with mediapersons after delivering a lecture on ‘Regulating gene expression by designed synthetic molecules’, at the CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT) here on Thursday, Roy explained that when there is a defect in the transcription process in the cells in the human body, it manifests in the form of a disease.
“With the creation of this new synthetic peptide, we have seen that it can be used to curb these defects in cells. However, the defects can be of various kinds, so to contain such instances, we need to create a specific each time.”
While Roy said the new creation may probably prove to be the way cancers are treated in the future, it will also take decades before something concrete is established. Asked if clinical trials will be held soon to test how this new peptide will help in curbing the defects in human cells, Roy said that currently IICB has collaborated with the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota in the US, and that it will happen at a later stage after the patents they have applied for are given to them.
“Also, clinical trials in India are difficult as the industry is underdeveloped. Besides, it also takes at least 10 years to develop a drug. So, in this case, it will probably take much longer,” Roy said.
Ahmad Kamal, in-charge director of IICT, said about five patents on certain molecules have been licensed to companies in the US after it was discerned that those molecules helped in curing or regulating cancer. “Three molecules have been sent for clinical studies as it was found that they are effective in dealing with breast and lung cancer. We have given the licence for three to four years on the basis of royalties. Those discoveries were made here in our own labs here few years ago,” he said.