Can Tata Institute’s Rs 100 tablet prevent cancer relapse?

In a major medical breakthrough, a study conducted by the Tata Memorial Institute in Mumbai has resulted in the development of a Rs 100 tablet, which the researchers claim will prevent the relapse of cancer.

Dr Rajendra Badve, a senior cancer surgeon at Tata Memorial Hospital, told NDTV that researchers and doctors at Tata have been working on this for almost a decade and the pill is likely to get approval from the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) in June-July this year.

Explaining the science behind the pill, Badve said human cancer cells were injected into rats for the research, which formed a tumour in them.

“The rats were then treated with radiation therapy, chemotherapy and surgery. It was found that when these cancer cells die, they break into tiny pieces called Chromatin particles (cfChPs, or fragments of chromosomes). These particles can travel to other parts of the body through the bloodstream and when they enter healthy cells, they can turn them cancerous,” Badve said.

He added that some of the cfChPs may fuse with healthy chromosomes and cause new tumours. “To find a solution to this problem, doctors gave pro-oxidant tablets with resveratrol and copper (R+Cu) to the rats,” Badve told NDTV. The R+Cu generate oxygen radicals, which destroy the chromatin particles.

Resveratrol is found in the skin of the grapes and its combination with copper helped in regulating toxicity.

When approved, the pill will reduce the side effects of cancer treatment therapy by about 50 per cent. It will be 30 per cent effective in preventing cancer, including in the pancreas, lungs, and oral cancer.

“While the budget for the treatment ranges from lakhs to crores, this tablet will be available everywhere for just ₹100,” Badve said.

The team would now conduct human trials which will take at least 5-6 years.

“The research delves into the mechanism of metastasis that we were not able to uncover for so long. What qualities the cells have that metastasis can happen and what leads to metastasis, we have understood both these things through this research,” Badve said.

“The tablet’s effect on side-effects were tested on both rats and humans, but the prevention test was done only on rats. It will take about five years to complete the human trials for this. There were challenges during the research; many felt it was a waste of time and money. But today, everyone is happy and excited. It is a big success,” he added.