Sunday, March 25, 2007
As a master's student in India, Shiladitya Sengupta developed an anti-inflammatory gel that's now sold in India under the brand name Nimulid. During his doctoral studies at the University of Cambridge, he revealed how a protein that causes liver regeneration promotes blood vessel growth, and cofounded Dynamic Biosystems to turn the discovery into treatments for chronic wounds such as pressure sores. But a child's toy--several small balloons encapsulated in a bigger one--inspired what may be his greatest innovation: a nanoscale device to treat cancer.The device, developed by Sengupta in Prof. Ram Sasisekharan’s lab at MIT, is actually a nanocell that can burrow into a tumor, cut off its blood supply and detonate a lethal dose of anti-cancer toxins - all while leaving healthy cells unscathed. The double-action therapy, which has proved safe and effective against melanoma and a form of lung cancer in mice, comes packed in a tiny double chamber. Details of the technique have been published in the 2005 July 28th edition of Nature.The technique effectively combines two methods of combating cancer - poisoning tumor cells and cutting off the blood supply to the tumor.