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Anti-Cancer, Anti-TB Molecules Identified
Dec 25, 2014

Several molecules screened for anti-cancer and anti-tuberculosis properties at the National Mole Bank (NMB), Hyderabad have shown efficacy at the cellular level, raising scientists’ hopes of developing drugs by 2020.

Jointly funded by the (Department of Science & Technology) DST and (Council of Scientific & Industrial Research) CSIR, the mole bank was established in 2011 at the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT) in Hyderabad to store diverse molecules (either synthesised or isolated from natural resources) and to provide a platform for biologists and chemists to join hands in developing drugs.

The unique facility is meant to give a fillip to the drug discovery process by enabling collaborative research. The chemists can store their samples at NMB, while the biologists can retrieve them for biological screening.

More than 20,000 compounds from different agencies, including universities, have been stored in NMB since its establishment. The highly-automated storage and retrieval facility can at present store 1.6 million molecules and the capacity can be expanded when required. The compounds can be stored both in solid and liquid states and will be preserved at -20 degrees C to ensure long-term integrity of the molecule.

As many as 200 hits (when a molecule or compound is effective at a very low dose or concentration at cellular level) were achieved with anti-TB molecules and 150 with anti-cancer compounds. The next stage was to make the compound more potent and put it in Zebra fish or small mice to get the proof-of-concept. This would be followed up converting it into a lead optimized molecule and the same chemical would be studied in large animals by adopting manufacturing good practices.

By the end of 2016, scientists should have lead optimized molecules and by 2020 they should get into first phase of clinical trials. On the cancer tests, IICT has been collaborating with National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Mayo Clinic Rochester, U.S. 

IICT was adopting a cautious approach although many MNCs had approached it for collaboration. It would take a call only after obtaining sufficient data.

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