Nanomedicine for liver cancer developed by Amrita researchers gets US, Australia patent

The medicine, that gets triggered by external radio waves, can be used not only for medical imaging of tumors but also for targeted drug delivery.

Researchers from School of Nanosciences & Molecular Medicine at Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham have won a patent in the US and Australia for a novel nanomedicine that holds great promise for early detection and treatment of liver cirrhosis and liver tumor.

The invention is the outcome of a research project funded by the Nanobiotechnology Taskforce of Dept. of Biotechnology, Govt. of India.

Dr. Shantikumar V Nair and Professor Dr. Manzoor Koyakutty from Amrita School of Nanosciences & Molecular Medicine in Kochi led a team of four researchers – Dr. Anusha Ashokan, Dr. Ida M Anna, Dr. Vijay Harish, Dr. Badrinath Sridharan – to create a special type of nanomedicine that responds to radio wave signals sent from outside the body.

Nanomedicine, Once the nanoparticles are injected into a tumor, they can be heated up using external, medically approved radio waves. Doctors can visualize the tumor using an MRI machine and burn it off in a controlled manner.

Amrita researchers have demonstrated that the novel technology can be used for early detection of liver cirrhosis and liver tumor, early-stage image-guided treatment of liver tumor using radio-frequency ablation therapy as well as labelling and tracking the movement of stem cells inside the body after stem-cell transplantation to assess how effective the therapy has been.

“We have made a unique nanomedicine that can be used for medical imaging and drug delivery. Its particles are made of synthetically prepared calcium phosphate, a biomineral present in our bones. Generally, chemically prepared inorganic nanoparticles cause safety issues when used as nanomedicines. However, as a biomineral, calcium phosphate is biocompatible and biodegradable, hence totally safe for human use.”

Dr. Manzoor Koyakutty, Professor, Amrita Centre for Nanosciences & Molecular Medicine

“We have engineered the nanoparticles by a process called ‘doping’ where a few hundred calcium atoms are replaced with Iron atoms. This makes the material ‘magnetic’; thus, its movement inside our body can be visualized with a device such as the MRI. By utilizing this property, we have demonstrated early-stage liver cirrhosis and liver tumor detection. In another study, we showed this nanomedicine’s therapeutic application in treating liver tumors by thermally ablating (burning) cancer cells by activating the nanoparticles using radio-frequency waves.”

He added:

“We labeled stem cells using these nanoparticles and demonstrated the possibility of tracking their movements in the brain using MRI, after stem-cell transplant therapy. At present, doctors cannot see the fate of stem cells after transplantation. But calcium phosphate nanoparticles can give magnetic contrast to the stem cells under MRI, such that we can visually estimate if the stem cells are migrating to the site of damage. This helps us understand if stem cell therapy has been effective or not for a patient.”

Dr. Shantikumar V Nair, Dean of Amrita School of Nanosciences & Molecular Medicine said:

“Firstly, it makes the nanomedicine imageable inside our body using medical-imaging modalities such as MRI. Secondly, we can activate these nanoparticles externally using radio-frequency waves. This enables us to see the precise location of the nanomedicine particles inside the body and externally activate them when they are exactly at the site of a disease like cancer. These features are not available in any other nanomedicine available today.”

Dr. Shantikumar V Nair said that two critical features make the Amrita nano-medicine unique.

“We are currently investigating cancer-immunotherapy application potential of these nanoparticles with support of Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) and an Indo-Swiss collaboration with Ludwig Cancer Research Institute, University of Lausanne, and University of Geneva, Switzerland. With support from the Dept. of Biotechnology, Govt. of India, we are now testing regulatory safety studies in large animal models. We expect to conduct human trials of the nanomedicine within the next one year.”

He added:

About Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham

Ranked in the 5th position in the country by the government, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham is a multi-campus, multidisciplinary university accredited with an A++ rating, the highest possible, by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC).

It is also ranked as India’s 5th Best University in the 2022 National Institution Ranking Framework (NIRF).

On the international level, Amrita is ranked 41st in the world, the only Indian university in the top 50, by the Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Rankings, 2022—a system of global indicators to assess the progress of universities towards the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In addition, the United Nations has awarded the university two UNESCO Chairs, namely the UNESCO Chair for Experiential Learning for Sustainable Innovation & Development and the UNESCO Chair on Gender Equality & Women’s Empowerment.

Educating a vibrant student population of over 24,000 by 1700+ strong faculty. Accredited with the highest possible ‘A++’ grade by NAAC, Amrita offers more than 250 UG, PG, and Ph.D. programs in Engineering, Management, and Medical Sciences including Ayurveda, Life Sciences, Physical Sciences, Agriculture Sciences, Arts & Humanities, and Social & Behavioral Sciences.
With seven campuses at Amaravati, Amritapuri, Bengaluru, Chennai, Coimbatore, Kochi, and Mysuru and a new upcoming campus at NCR Delhi (Faridabad) and spread over 1200+ acres with 100 lacs square feet of built-up space, Amrita is one of India’s top-ranked private university.
Amrita is headquartered at Coimbatore and spread across seven campuses in four states—Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh. The university globally partners with academic, industry, and governmental institutions to accomplish human-centered, translational, and groundbreaking research.
To date, Amrita has more than 500 collaborations from more than 200 signed Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs).
Some of its partners include Harvard University, Columbia University, King’s College London, KTH – Royal Institute of Technology, VU Amsterdam, the British Geological Society, University of Oxford, Italian National Research Council, Deakin University, and the University of Tokyo.
Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi (Amma) is a world-renowned humanitarian leader who is the founder, Chancellor, and guiding light of Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham. Amma’s words, thoughts, and vision for education and research founded upon universal values have shaped the university’s mission and vision.
This article was shared with Prittle Prattle News as a Press Release.
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