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Source: MIL-OSI Submissions
Source: Wintec

Gold is usually associated with all that glitters, but a project led by a Wintec researcher has successfully used it to extract a low-cost cancer drug.

A team of Wintec Research interns recently discovered an anti-cancer drug which is derived from the by-products of meat processing.

The gold in this case is a carrier and it was used in a biomedical experiment which gave two overseas researchers Suhang Zhu (Jinhua Polytechnic, China) and Boeun Kim (Kyungpook National University, South Korea) a chance to extract the anti-cancer drug. The drug is derived from bilirubin, a product from the normal breakdown of red blood cells.

The project was led by Wintec International Research and Internship Manager, Dr Pierson Rathinaraj, who offers internships to international students to carry out collaborative research projects at Wintec.

 “We deliberately wanted to create a low-cost cancer drug from an easily available source – it costs around $20 to extract one gram of bilirubin,” Dr Rathinaraj says.

“Through experiments it has effectively shown it will kill cancer cells.”

The bilirubin was modified by the researchers using gold as a carrier and then as bilirubin folate, it was successfully tested at Annamalai University in India.  

The group have the outcome of their study in Springer Nature (European Journal of Drug Metabolism and Pharma Kinetics) as Bilirubin-gold nanoconjugate induces apoptotic death in multidrug-resistant oral carcinoma cells”.

Since publishing their paper, the first from an International research project at Wintec, the group have looked at how the prototype can be commercialised. They presented their work to companies in Sweden and Denmark to begin the process of taking it to the next step.
 
Dr Rathinaraj says: “In the future, the prototype drug will be tested further by pharmaceutical companies before being available”.

Bouen Kim who initiated the experiment, is currently working as a researcher in SK Bioscience – South Korea.

“Wintec provided an excellent idea of what a job in my selected major would look like while providing valuable “real world” experience,” she says.

“In addition, this internship at Wintec helped me to get a job in my subject area, which is competitive in Korea.”

Suhang Zhu, an Assistant Professor at Jinhua Polytechnic says that research is essential to having a successful academic career.

“Sometimes wanting to be the most productive person in the organisation can get me stuck in a channel and working at the same place. This internship has helped me to understand to grow as a professional person in my research career. I am thankful for the opportunity to have had this joint internship between Wintec and Jinhua Polytechnic.”

Dr Rathinaraj says there are other advantages, including development of English for the research interns, who bring their expertise to Wintec.

“We’ve developed this experience at Wintec, for these interns to participate in research, learn English and make contacts. It gives them confidence. They learn English and gain industry experience. After four months, they can present their research and write a research article in English,” he says.

“Some get great jobs and others join universities at home to do their PhDs.

“Everybody is benefitting.”

MIL OSI New Zealand News