Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Guwahati, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with North East Cancer Hospital and Research Institute (NECHRI), Jorabat, Assam, on Tuesday 12th January 2021 at IIT Guwahati. The collaboration between IIT Guwahati and NECHRI started in 2014.
Both IIT Guwahati and NECHRI have been engaged in identifying novel biomarkers for cancer diagnosis, prognosis, therapy and recurrence. Both the institutes have also been engaged in identifying cancer susceptible population from North East India. This collaboration has already identified novel targets for oral cancer (a leading cancer burden in India) drug discovery. This research has been published in highly reputed International Journal “Biomolecules” in 2019 (https://www.mdpi.com/2218-273X/9/7/253). More research publications are underway.
IIT Guwahati and NECHRI combatting cancer issues
Based on these results both IIT Guwahati and NECHRI have been conducting research to develop novel drugs for the treatment of oral cancer. In addition, both the institutions are engaged in developing various strategies to help cancer patients from North East region. The MoU will enable IIT Guwahati and NECHRI to strengthen more collaborations and to help cancer patients from NE region. In addition, studies have been already started to identify different cancer susceptible populations from North East region and to help to prevent this deadly disease among these population.
The institute has already obtained over 500 cancer samples from patients registered with from NECHRI. The researchers involved in this collaboration are currently examining these samples to identify novel prognosis, therapeutic and recurrence biomarkers for the better management of the patients from North East region. Recently, a joint project proposal has been submitted by NECHRI and IIT Guwahati to ICMR to identify novel therapeutic targets for Triple Negative Breast Cancer from North East patients. In addition, both the institutions have shared their expertise as resource persons in different conferences and workshops organized.
Commenting on the MoU, Prof. T. G. Sitharam, Director, IIT Guwahati, said, “IIT Guwahati has world-class expertise and infrastructure in cancer research and is committed to helping the North East region. The aim of this MoU is to initiate more active collaboration with NECHRI and to identify different biomarkers for the early diagnosis of cancer and cancer drug discovery. This MoU would help both the institutions to conduct interdisciplinary research in cancer and share the expertise between clinicians and scientists. In addition, more focus will be given in the prevention of cancer in NE region. Moreover, different cancer awareness programs will be initiated jointly by IIT Guwahati and NECHRI to educate the people about different risk factors of cancer to avoid them. The main aim of this MoU is to eradicate cancer from North East region, which is known as the hub of cancer in India.”
Prof. Kunnumakkara from the Department of Biosciences and Bioengineering, IIT Guwahati, said, “Today is an important milestone for the people in North East Region as a world-class science and technology institute joins hands with one of the prestigious cancer hospitals and research institutes to eradicate cancer from North East region. This initiative will specifically focus more for the prevention of cancer in North East region and to identify the high-risk population.
Dr. Munidra Narayan Baruah, Managing Director and Chief Physician of NECHRI said, “Cancer diagnosis and treatment is expensive, therefore most patients in India cannot afford it. However, this collaboration with IIT Guwahati is historic and would help us to develop indigenous instruments, diagnostic devices and drugs that are affordable for our population through an interdisciplinary approach.”