Clinical human trials on an Ayurvedic cancer drug that reduces cancer tumours when used with routine chemotherapy will begin in Chennai next month.
“We have tested the drug on 10 patients with encouraging results, and the second trial with 30 persons is expected to get over in March 2019, after which we will apply for drug approval from the Ayush ministry. We are hoping to market the drug by next year,” said Deepak Abhaya, managing director, Chennai-based Dhanvantri Nano Ayushadi (DNA), which is conducting the trials.
DNA has secured the licence from US-based researcher and director of the University of Missouri Cancer Nanotechnology Platform, Dr Kattesh V Katti , to develop and market the drug. The treatment course typically lasts six months, with patients taking two capsules a day.
One course is expected to cost Rs 75,000-80,000 .
“Green nanotechnology is chemical free and can treat cancer tumours with no side effects of conventional chemotherapy,” said Dr Katti.
“When the medicines were used in cancer patients as combined therapy along with regular chemo, tumour burden reduced by 6-8%, which is a big deal. It has no side effects like nausea or vomiting associated with chemotherapy,” he said.
Oncologists however, are sceptical.
“It needs to be established that the medicine doesn’t interfere with normal treatment modalities, be it chemo, radiation, immune or hormone therapy…” said Dr PK Julka, former head, radiation therapy department, AIIMS, Delhi.
The drug’s entry into the market depends on government approval.
“New drugs go to CDSCO (Central Drugs Standard Control Organization’s) Ayush vertical for review. Only after they are fully satisfied with the data, will they issue an approval,” said Vaidya Rajesh Kotecha, secretary, ministry of Ayush .