“Cancer fields are similar to magnetic fields. If a cell is affected by cancer, the surrounding cells and blood will bear the cancer signature.That’s what we are trying to use to ascertain the presence of cancer using a mathematical algorithm,” said Asoke Talukder, co-founder of Interpretomics, a data sciences and systems biology company, which is do ing cancer research. “I am not a biologist but a mathematician. Our research is based on a cohort study conducted in Delhi,” Talukder told TOI on the sidelines of a global cancer summit in Bengaluru on Wednesday. He said his research aims to provide accurate and complete information to an oncologist.
“If we can build a ‘compass’ that will sense the ‘cancer field’, we will be able to detect the presence of cancer.Then there would be no need for tissue biopsy. According to cancer biology, tumour signatures are present in ad jacent cells. Our hypothesis is that if tumour signatures are present in noncancerous cells, the DNA of peripheral blood will carry some of these tumour signatures,” he explained. This test will be called a blood biopsy.
Dr GK Rath, head of medical oncology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, told the gathering that 70% of cancer can be cured if detected early. “About 40% of cancers are due to tobacco consumption, 20% due to infection and 10% due to lifestyle. All these can be prevented by a healthy lifestyle,” he said.
At the summit, five doctors were presented the Edward Kennedy Memorial Awards for their research in cancer.Dr Jaydip Biswas, director, Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute; Dr Prabha Sampath, principal investigator, A Star Institute, Singapore; Dr Raghuram, founder, Ushalakshmi Breast Cancer Foundation; Dr HR Nagendra, Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana and Dr M R Rajagopal, founder and chairman of Pallium India, received the awards.