doi:10.1038/nindia.2014.120 Published online 29 August 2014

New cancer institute to boost research

AIIMS Director Mahesh Misra (left) and DBT Secretary K. VijayRaghavan sign an MoU for the Cancer Research Institute.
A new cancer research institute funded by the Indian government is expected to boost research while also identifying new technologies that can be used in cancer treatment protocols, especially cancers prevalent in India.

The institute, set up jointly by India's Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), will  help identify, develop and evaluate biomarkers and therapeutics for cancer. "For instance, research at the institute will try to understand the cost effectiveness of cervical cancer screening tools in the Indian context or identify lung cancer biomarkers and therapeutics-companion diagnostics," says Bindu Dey, DBT advisor handling the project.

The institute, set up by AIIMS at its Jhajjar campus in Haryana, will design clinical trials and institute fellowships to train manpower in clinical research and trials, quality control, intellectual property rights (IPR) and regulations. AIIMS Director Mahesh Misra says the comprehensive cancer research institute will provide an opportunity for researchers to take a broad-based look at cancer research, diagnosis and care. 

The research institute is a long term strategic alliance to explore co-developing research labs that would focus on India specific cancers such as gall bladder cancer, early breast cancer, cervical cancer, tobacco-induced lung cancer. "The idea is to look at cancer research in a very holistic way. We plan to work on different aspects, be it co-development of research labs, coming up with cost effective diagnostic or preventive technologies and supporting post-doctoral research in cancer," Dey adds.

The cancer research institute will help direct India's national public health policy by including economic analysis and forecast of technologies with a potential for use in public health. The idea is to establish scientific research collaborations for developing new affordable technologies or bolstering existing ones, with a special focus on cancers unique to India.