Advanced Centre for Treatment_ Research and Education in Cancer

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					                   Advanced Centre for Treatment, Research and
                        Education in Cancer (ACTREC)
                                                     Dr. S.M. Zingde
                                                 Deputy Director, ACTREC

   The Advanced Centre for
Treatment, Research and Education                                   Tata Memorial Centre
in Cancer (ACTREC) - as it is called                                      (TMC)
today - was originally established in
1952 as the Indian Cancer Research
Centre (ICRC) and re-christened
Cancer Research Institute (CRI) in
1966. ICRC was the brainchild                                  Advanced Centre for Treatment,
Dr. V.R. Khanolkar, then Director of                          Research and Education in Cancer
Pathology and Biochemistry                                              (ACTREC)
Laboratories, Tata Memorial Hospital
(TMH). ICRC was set up under the
purview of the Ministry of Health,
Government of India. In 1966, CRI
was amalgamated with the Tata
Memorial Hospital (TMH), creating
the first comprehensive cancer centre
in India - Tata Memorial Centre
                                                  Cancer Research Institute          Clinical Research Institute
(TMC), a grant-in-aid institution of the
                                                          (CRI)                                (CRC)
Department of Atomic Energy
(DAE). ICRC and its alter-ego CRI
were the flagships of biomedical

                                           ACTREC campus at Kharghar, Navi Mumbai

research in independent India,             Immunology, Neuro-oncology,                   l Data from studies providing a
serving as cradles for several             Tobacco Carcinogenesis and                sequence of genetic events leading
institutions that emerged from them -      Virology. On-going research studies       from leukoplakia to frank cancer have
Biomedical Division of BARC,               at the Centre focus on human cancers      led to a multi-institutional study of
Institute of Immunohaematology and         relevant to the Indian subcontinent,      specific molecular markers, which can
National Institute for Research in         and address basic research queries        predict the onset/prognosis of oral
Reproductive Health.                       using animal models and cells in tissue   cancer.
    In subsequent decades, a               culture.                                      l ACTREC is a partner in the
succession of eminent scientists led                                                 global analysis of genes and proteins
the institute and guided its activities,       Oral Cancer: This cancer              along with five leading national
bringing it to its present stature –       represents about 30% of cancers in        institutions, thus contributing to CSIR’s
where it is recognised worldwide as        the country and is associated with        new Millennium Indian Leadership
a premier institute for research on        chewing of tobacco and pan masala/        Technology Initiative (NMITLI).
Cancer. In an era that brought in a        gutkha. On-going investigations on            A xenograft model of human oral
revolution in biology, the institute’s     oral cancer have included study of        cancer has also been developed in
research programmes turned from the        alterations in oncogenes and tumour       nude mice for studies on gene therapy.
cellular to the molecular level. As the    suppressor genes, analysis of gains       The Centre has also initiated a
institute grew, gross inadequacy of        and losses of chromosomes, gene and       programme to use a ‘suicide gene’ to
space was felt at the Parel campus         protein expression, gene alterations in   kill oral cancer cells.
leading to the idea of seeking a larger    DNA repair/xenobiotic metabolizing
campus. ACTREC was first                   enzymes, role of intermediate                 Breast Cancer: Studies have
envisaged over a decade ago, and was       filament proteins in epithelial cell      investigated the importance of human
nurtured by successive directors of        transformation, presence of novel         leukocyte antigen (HLA) in breast
TMC.                                       HPV (human papilloma vir us),             cancer predisposition in ethnic groups
    In 2001, the Cancer Research           molecular mechanisms in immune            such as Parsis and Maharashtrians,
Institute, moved to Navi Mumbai to         surveillance, and development of          and its relation to age at onset of the
become the basic research wing of          single chain antibodies against tumour    disease, since ~5% of breast cancer
the Advanced Centre for Treatment,         antigens.                                 patients show an early onset familial
Research and Education in Cancer               l Animal studies show that gutkha     pattern. Specific genetic alterations
(ACTREC), and started functioning          has tumour promoting/progressor           and weakened immune responses
from its new premises from August          activity suggesting that gutkha           have also been identified as potential
19, 2002.                                  consumption poses carcinogenic risk       markers for the identification of
    ACTREC comprises two wings:            to chronic habitués.                      individuals with a high risk for breast
a basic research wing - CRI and a              l Studies on tobacco-mediated         cancer. Epigenetic mechanisms
clinical research wing – CRC.              carcinogenesis have encompassed           regulating genes involved in cell
    Research at CRI is br oadly            chemical analysis, examination of the     proliferation have also received
grouped under the following areas:         bioactivity of various tobacco            attention.
Biochemistr y & Cell Biology,              products,             tr ansplacental
Chemical            Car cinogenesis,       carcinogenesis and biomonitoring of          Other Cancers: On-going
Chemotherapy, Genetic Engineering,         habitués and bidi workers.                investigations include analysis of
                                                                                     cytokine profiles, role of antibodies to
                                                                                     viral E6 and E7 proteins and Human
                                                                                     Papilloma Virus analysis in cervical
                                                                                     cancer, cytokine imbalance in lung
                                                                                     cancer, significance of T-cell
                                                                                     repertoire in T-ALL, and urinary
                                                                                     cytokines in intravesical BCG therapy
                                                                                     of superficial bladder cancer. The
                                                                                     role of HPV in esophageal cancer
Pre-clinical Studies for Gene Therapy of Oral Cancer using a Xenograft Nude Mouse    and HHV6 in lymphoproliferative
Model of Squamous Cell Carcinoma of Pyriform Fosa and HSV/tk-GCV Strategy            disorders is also under investigation,

                                                                                     l An alternate method for syn-
                                                                                     thesis of methotrexate
                                                                                     l    Isolation of topoisomerase
                                                                                     inhibitor podophyllotoxin
                                                                                     l    A 2kb-nucleotide sequence
                                                                                     specific for the early detection of
                                                                                     oral cancer.
   Transgenic mice generated by injecting pK14-EF into single cell embryos.
while studies in liver cancer assess     cell proliferation, cell death and            Young researchers who have just
the utility of viral mRNA for HBx gene   functional differentiation - many of       completed Ph.D./M.D. and are
and circulating antibodies towards       which are altered during cellular          interested in pursuing a career in
HBx protein as markers of chronic        transformation. A national facility for    Cancer Research are inducted into
hepatitis B virus infection.             screening anticancer drugs using a         ACTREC as Research Associates .
    The Centre was the first to          panel of human malignant cell lines           The Centre is recognised by the
develop transgenic mice. Further         has recently been established at           University of Mumbai for the M.Sc.
studies have revealed that this mouse    ACTREC. This facility also                 and Ph.D. degrees. At present,
model, carrying a gene for a growth      undertakes in vivo drug testing using      15 scientists of CRI are recognised
factor modulator, can serve as a good    murine tumours and human tumour            guides for Ph.D. in Applied Biology /
animal model for squamous cell           xenografts in nude mice.                   Biochemistry, and 45 students are
carcinoma.                                                                          registered for the PhD degree.
    Chemoprevention studies have             Other studies involve cultivation of   Affiliation to the University of
shown that the dietary constituent       Indian isolates of HIV-1 and HIV-2,        Mumbai allows scientists of the
‘haldi’ and its active component         and in-depth study of HIV-2 biology        Centre to participate in teaching
curcumin have chemopreventive            with a view to develop an indigenous       activities, by delivering lectures in
effect. Interesting leads are expected   retroviral vector for gene transfer. An    their area of specialisation at degree
for the prevention of cancer with the    indigenous sero-diagnostic Western         colleges/departments of the
components of tea and grapes.            blot kit for HIV-1 and HIV-2 has been      University.
    Studies using cultured cells         developed with support from                   Each year, over a 2-month period
address queries about chromatin          Department of Biotechnology (DBT)          during their summer break, ~20 M.Sc/
structure, signal transduction           and a private party.                       M.B.B.S. students undertake short
pathways,            molecules    and                                               projects supervised by mid-level/
intermolecular interactions mediating                                               senior scientists of ACTREC. The
                                                                                    trainees learn a specific basic
                                                                                    technique used in cancer research,
                                                                                    use it to answer a small scientific
                                                                                    query and present their results in a
                                                                                    project report, which earns them
                                                                                    points that are added to their overall
                                                                                    percentage by their college. This
                                                                                    programme has helped create in the
                                                                                    minds of br ight youngster s an
                                                                                    awareness of cutting-edge research,
                                                                                    attr acting them towards cancer
                                                                                    research as a full time career.

                                                                                       Once a year, ACTREC holds an
                                                                                    Open House where students and
                                                                                    professors of colleges affiliated to

Mumbai University visit the Centre.
After an introductory lecture on the              Accreditation of Laboratory For Personnel
thrust research areas at ACTREC,
they are taken to different
                                                   Monitoring Of Radiation Workers Using
departments/facilities where scientists             Thermoluminescence Dosimeter (TLD)
from each group demonstrate latest
techniques used in Cancer Research.             Indigenous development of TLD devices at BARC has provided a
This activity has helped focus the          simple and accurate technique for country wide personnel monitoring
attention of youth on research in           service for radiation workers incurring exposure to X, Gamma and Beta
general as well as cancer research          radiation. This service is in use at BARC for more than twenty-five years.
programs and career opportunities
                                            Two accredited laboratories performing similar service are already
available at the Centre.
                                            operational. The equipment needed for monitoring are developed indig-
Future Challenges                           enously and are commercially available. As the monitoring service is eco-
    ACTREC has been established as          nomically viable and could be carried out by competent agencies other
a specialised centre for frontline basic    than BARC, it was decided to grant accreditation to interested agencies/
and clinical research in cancer to meet     institutions/ such as radiation therapy centres, regional/national laborato-
the challenges of the new millennium.       ries, private agencies manufacturing radiation equipment etc. Private agen-
Basic research at CRI will henceforth       cies must have good financial background and experience or interest in
focus on genomics, proteomics,              radiation protection work. The accredited laboratory will work under the
bioinformatics, gene therapy, vector        supervision of BARC.
development, molecular immunology,
                                            Further details can be had from :
targeted drug development, molecular
carcinogenesis, chemoprevention,               Head, Technology Transfer & Collaboration Division,
signal transduction and glycobiology.          Bhabha Atomic Research Centre,
    CRC will specialise in pediatric           Trombay, Mumbai - 400 085
oncology and cancer genetics. Being            Tel : 091-022-25505337/25593897
fully equipped with a 50 bed-hospital,         Fax : 091-022-25505151
phase I/II clinical trials of new anti-        Email :
cancer drugs developed nationally/
internationally will be carried out; this
will also cover emerging areas of
single chain monoclonal antibodies          The 2 nd National Symposium on Advances in
and gene therapy. Molecular                 Control and Instrumentation (SACI)- 2005
Pathology and Pharmacokinetics will
also receive attention. An important            The DAE-BRNS Symposium on Advances in Control and Instrumen-
focus of ACTREC will be the                 tation (SACI – 2005) will be held at Mumbai during February 16-18, 2005.
application of           cutting-edge
                                            This symposium will act as a forum for researchers and practitioners in-
technologies to address the problem
of cancers relevant to our country          terested in the areas of modelling, design, analysis and simulation of con-
and, where there are internationally        trol and instrumentation systems of nuclear reactors and processes. SACI
competitive opportunities, the use          – 2005 aims to strengthen relations between industry, research laborato-
state-of-the-art technology in joint        ries, and universities.It is being organised by BARC and sponsored by the
partnership with industry and leading       Board of Research in Nuclear Sciences, Mumbai.
institutions in India and abroad.
Another important mandate of
ACTREC will be to conduct                      For details please see
educational programs and undertake          brns1.html.
human resource development in
different disciplines of oncology.