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Grand challenge for cancer research announced

New Delhi, 9th
October 2019 : An estimated one million new cases of cancer are reported in
India every year. Almost a third of them are preventable cancers. The use of
innovative approaches for screening, early diagnosis as well as treatment and
palliative care can save many lives. To develop such approaches that are cost
effective and affordable, the India Cancer Research Consortium (ICRC) has announced
a grand challenge for researchers.

Best research ideas will get funding of up to Rs 1.5
crore a year for three years. The grants will be given for ideas in six thematic
areas – prevention and epidemiology, diagnostics, therapeutics, palliative
care, basic biology
and innovation. The objective will be to produce
outcomes that are translatable into practice. Those having multidisciplinary
collaborative approach will be preferred.

Research ideas and projects that are ready for implementation or scalability in the form of deliverables and point-of-care technologies will be given priority. Given the fact that India has a huge burden of tobacco-related cancers and cancers among women, new ideas should focus on common cancers like tobacco-related, cervical cancer, breast cancer etc. Considering the high incidence and paucity of data on cancers in the North-East, projects from North-East region will be given preference.

ICRC has been floated by the Indian Council of
Medical Research
(ICMR) and the Department of Health Research to “promote,
articulate and prioritize cancer research” in the country. “We have so many
research institutions engaged in research in basic biology of cancer. Moreover,
research is mostly done in isolation and there is no integration. The idea
behind ICRC is to include all aspects of cancer research like prevention,
diagnostics, therapeutics, palliative care and innovation along with basic
biology, and produce outcomes that can find ready applications,” said Dr Ravi
Mehrotra, chief executive officer of ICRC, while speaking to India Science

The activities under the consortium will complement
the existing scientific and operational research in cancer. The consortium, he
said, would also bring together all relevant stakeholders including researchers,
healthcare professionals, cancer survivors, legislators, public health
representatives, policy makers, caregivers and volunteers to address the
problem of cancer. “We want to harness and reinforce research in a coordinated
way in order to achieve tangible impact on cancer control as well as provide a
framework to the research community through the establishment of a common
platform for a trans-institutional alliance with ICMR at the centre,” he added.

A bulk of the cancer burden in the country is due to
low awareness and closely linked to socioeconomic inequalities in access to
health care. Almost three of five cancer deaths in India are associated with
tobacco or infectious diseases. “We need to encourage
appropriate trans-sectoral and translational approaches in cancer research to
bring ground-level transformation in the way cancer is diagnosed and treated in
India,” said Dr Mehrotra. The last date for sending research proposals is
October 29.

By Dinesh C Sharma

(India Science Wire)

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