The SPAG9 antigen developed by the National Institute of Immunology (NII) has received the ASPAGNIITM trademark, the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) said on Friday.
India's first indigenous tumour antigen SPAG9 was discovered in 1998 by Dr Anil Suri who heads the Cancer Research Programme at the NII, a DBT institute.
"Currently, ASPAGNIITM is being used in dendritic cell (DC) based immunotherapy in cervical, ovarian cancer and will also be used in breast cancer," the DBT said in a statement.
Cancer kills 8.51 lakh people in India every year. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one in 10 Indians will develop cancer during their lifetime, and one in 15 will die of cancer, the DBT said.
Therefore, it is all the more critical to make extraordinary breakthroughs and innovations for this deadly disease.
To successfully implement innovation and newer modalities for cancer treatment, researchers at the New Delhi-based NII and clinicians at the Cancer Institute, Adyar, Chennai have been working together to translate new scientific discoveries into improved care.
Over the past two decades, this team has been engaged in translating breakthrough that promises to add a highly potent weapon to the armoury against cancer, especially employing targeted cancer immunotherapy.
Immunotherapy is a new approach that exploits the body's inner capability to put up a fight against cancer. With this approach, either the immune system is given a boost, or the T-cells are "trained" to identify recalcitrant cancer cells and kill them.
In this personalised intervention, those patients expressing SPAG9 protein can be treated with a DC-based vaccine approach.
In DC-based vaccine, a patient's cells, called monocytes, are collected from their blood and modified into what are known as dendritic cells.
These dendritic cells are primed with ASPAGNIITM and are injected back to the patient to help the "fighter" cells, or T-cells, in the body to kill the cancer cells.
DC-based immunotherapy is safe, affordable and can promote antitumor immune responses and prolonged survival of cancer patients, the DBT said.