Wednesday November 20, 2019

A new cancer treatment developed by Indian scientists in US

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Washington: A team of Indian scientists from the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard Medical School has made an important breakthrough by developing a nano-technology which will help monitor the effectiveness of cancer therapy within hours of treatment.

“We have developed a nano-technology, which first delivers an anticancer drug specifically to the tumour, and if the tumour starts dying or regressing, it then starts lighting up the tumour in real time,” said Shiladitya Sengupta, a principal investigator at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH).

“This way you can monitor whether a chemotherapy is working or not in real time, and switch the patients to the right drug early on. One doesn’t need to wait for months while taking a toxic chemotherapy only to realise later and after side effects that the drug hasn’t worked,” Mr Sengupta, a co-corresponding author of the breakthrough research published online this week in ‘The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences’, told news agency PTI.

The first author of the paper is Ashish Kulkarni, who comes from a small village in Maharashtra. A junior faculty at Harvard, Kulkarni trained as a Chemical Engineer at ICT Mumbai, then did a PhD in chemistry at the University of Cincinnati.

Mr Kulkarni said by using this approach, the cells light up the moment a cancer drug starts working.

“We can determine if a cancer therapy is effective within hours of treatment. Our long-term goal is to find a way to monitor outcomes very early so that we don’t give a chemotherapy drug to patients who are not responding to it,” he said.

“We’ve demonstrated that this technique can help us directly visualise and measure the responsiveness of tumours to both types of drugs,” Mr Kulkarni said.

Other members of the research team are Poornima Rao, Siva Natarajana, Aaron Goldman, Venkata S Sabbisetti, Yashika Khater, Navya Korimerla, Vineethkrishna Chandrasekara and Raghunath A Mashelkar. Except Goldman, all are Indian researchers.

“Current techniques, which rely on measurements of the size or metabolic state of the tumour, are sometimes unable to detect the effectiveness of an immunotherapeutic agent as the volume of the tumour may actually increase as immune cells begin to flood in to attack the tumour,” Mr Kulkarni said.

He said reporter nanoparticles, however, can give “us an accurate read out of whether or not cancer cells are dying”.

The technology developed by the group can be used for monitoring the effectiveness of immunotherapy, a report said.

Using a nanoparticle that delivers a drug and then fluoresces green when cancer cells begin dying, they were able to visualise whether a tumour is resistant or susceptible to a particular treatment much sooner than currently available clinical methods, said a statement from BWH.

Credits: NDTV

 

 

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Uber India Rolls Out Driver Reward Programme “Uber Plus”

Uber India has planned free doctor access and micro loans for drivers

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Uber
Uber has rolled out a reward programme for drivers in India. Wikimedia Commons

Global ride-hailing major Uber on Wednesday rolled out a driver rewards programme called “Uber Plus” in India that will let drivers earn points for rides so that they can win free doctor consultations, concessions on education modules, access to micro loans, faster airport pick ups and savings on vehicle maintenance costs.

These points will be earned by the driver partners in 13 cities over a fixed period of every three months and can be then accumulated to unlock higher rating tiers such as blue, gold, platinum and diamond which, in turn, will let them access better rewards, informed the company.

“Under the programme, the Uber drivers get access to four tiers. To unlock these awards, they need to maintain a certain threshold rating and keep a low cancellation rate to unlock access to these benefits,” Prabhjeet Singh, Head of Cities, Uber India and South Asia, told IANS.

Uber Plus
Under this programme, Uber drivers get access to four tiers. Pixabay

“We have always worked towards prioritising their welfare and making them feel valued, respected and appreciated. ‘Uber Plus’ is an effort in that direction and will enable our driver partners to access greater benefits during their everyday journeys,” he added.

The rewards and offers are only available to drivers who use the Uber driver app, are participating in Uber Plus and meet applicable criteria.

Asked if this initiative will help in bringing down the number of cancellations, Singh replied: “We encourage ri ders to flag such cases if the driver cancels because the mode of payment is not cash, etc. That will help us take strict action against such drivers.

“We want to encourage behaviour which helps improve the marketplace reliability. Less the cancellation, the chances of the trip getting completed goes up and, overall, the network efficiency increases.”

An initial pilot phase was carried out in Delhi-NCR, Chandigarh and Mumbai and now, Uber Plus is being rolled out across 10 new cities, including Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai, Kolkata, Lucknow, Ahmedabad, Pune, Kochi, Guwahati and Jaipur.

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“We also want to reward drivers who have lower cancellations,” said Uber.

Under the driver programme, Uber has partnered with “Ayushman Bharat” to provide access to free healthcare to its drivers, wherein they have access to free healthcare of up to Rs 500,000 in empanelled hospitals. (IANS)