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Research by Indian couple at Oz varsity brings ray of hope to prostate cancer patients

A medical scientists’ team, at the Deakin University, Australia, claims to have achieved a breakthrough in prostate cancer treatment. Dr Rupinder Kanwar and her husband Prof Jagat Kanwar, along with two others, said by piggy backing a chemotherapy drug onto a known milk protein could create a combination that is lethal for cancer cells without any side-effects.

When coupled with the milk protein ‘lactoferrin’, the Dox can be delivered directly into the nucleus of prostate cancer cells and will burn them as well as drug resistant cancer stem cells, without any side-effects. This was recently published in international journal Scientific Reports, (http://www.nature.com/articles/srep32062).

According Dr Rupinder Kanwar, a senior research fellow with the Deakin Medical School’s Centre for Molecular and Medical Research, doctors had stopped using Dox to treat prostate cancer because of the side-effects. 

She said, “Dox is used widely for treating several types of cancers and known for causing toxicity to heart, brain, kidneys and leading to cardiac arrest/heart failure.”

She added prostate cancer is one of the few cancers, where chemotherapy is not the primary treatment. This is because these cancer cells are able to flush out the drug and become resistant to it, while the administered Dox continues to kill the normal cells, causing side-effects, the most damaging of which is heart failure. 

“With this latest study, we have shown that by coupling Dox with lactoferrin cancer cells take in the drug rather than pump it straight out,” Dr Rupinder said.

Lactoferrin is an iron-binding protein found in cow and human milk. It is known for its immune boosting and antimicrobial properties. It is lactoferrin’s ability as an iron transporting protein to mop up much needed iron for growth of microbes (bacteria and parasites) from the site of infection and its cancer cell killing activities that are exploited by the Deakin scientists to create an anticancer bio-drug that has no side-effects and improves the immune system.

Previous work by the team with other types of cancer, funded by the Australia-India Strategic Research Fund (AISRF) to Prof. Jagat Kanwar and Dr Rupinder Kanwar, found that lactoferrin is not digested by the gut enzymes when fully saturated with iron and given as smart nano-capsules.
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