Research Digest

Lab notes: Testing new painkiller-metal drugs combinations against cancer

The drug complexes showed can stop growth of cells in lung, breast and cervical cancer to some extent.

Combining commonly used pain killers with a metal belonging to the platinum group may prove effective in treatment of cancer, a new study by Indian scientists has indicated.

Researchers have combined ruthenium, a metal which is part of the platinum group, with commonly used pain killers (categorised as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) to develop four new drug complexes. These have been found effective in treatment of cancer. The two groups of drugs used in the study work against cancer cells in different ways thus creating a more effective and holistic way of treating the disease, researchers have claimed.

The use of metals such as platinum in anti-cancer drugs is not new but such drugs result in side effects which also need to be treated. Drug combinations using ruthenium are believed to be more effective and are better tolerated by patients. Drugs like ibuprofen, diclofenac and aspirin are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and are commonly used for their pain relieving effects. These drugs also have a role to play in cancer treatment by blocking the enzymes responsible for pain, swelling and causing changes to normal cells in the body.

In the new study, anti-cancer activities of four new combination drugs with ruthenium – complex 1 (with naproxen), complex 2 (with diclofenac), complex 3 (with ibuprofen) and complex 4 (with aspirin) – were tested against lung, breast and cervix cancer cell lines in laboratory.

Results of the study, published in journal Dalton Transactions, have indicated that complexes 2 and 3 have shown remarkable effects in stopping growth of cancer cells in lung, breast and cervical cancer. Though complex 1 has also shown less but effective activity against increase of cancer cells in lung and breast cancer, it is relatively ineffective active against cervical cancer. Complex 3 is more effective in preventing the enzyme causing pain and swelling, followed by complex 2 and complex 1.

“We find that if the action of a particular enzyme – cyclooxegenase – is prevented, cancer might be controlled. This is a significant and throws open various possibilities for developing drugs which specifically target cyclooxygenase,” pointed out Dr Suman Mukhopadhyay, a member of the research team at the Indian Institute of Technology, Indore.

However, other experts have sounded a note of caution. “Though the rationale and research methodology of this study is sound and academically interesting, it may still be regarded as indicative rather than conclusive. It is still preliminary to be adjudged as mainstay treatment,” noted Dr Siddhartha Kundu, associate professor in Department of Biochemistry at Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar Medical College and Hospital, Delhi.

The researcher team included Poulami Mandal, Bidyut Kumar Kundu and Dr Komal Vyas from Indian Institute of Technology, Indore; Vidya Sabu and Dr. A. Helen from University of Kerala (Kariavattom Campus); Sandeep Singh Dhankhar and Dr CM Nagaraja from Indian Institute of Technology, Ropar; Debojit Bhattacherjee and Krishna Pada Bhabak from Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati. The study was funded by the Department of Science and Technology.

This article was first published by India Science Wire.

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Following a mountaineer as he reaches the summit of Mount Everest

Accounts from Vikas Dimri’s second attempt reveal the immense fortitude and strength needed to summit the Everest.

Vikas Dimri made a huge attempt last year to climb the Mount Everest. Fate had other plans. Thwarted by unfavourable weather at the last minute, he came so close and yet not close enough to say he was at the top. But that did not deter him. Vikas is back on the Everest trail now, and this time he’s sharing his experiences at every leg of the journey.

The Everest journey began from the Lukla airport, known for its dicey landing conditions. It reminded him of the failed expedition, but he still moved on to Namche Bazaar - the staging point for Everest expeditions - with a positive mind. Vikas let the wisdom of the mountains guide him as he battled doubt and memories of the previous expedition. In his words, the Everest taught him that, “To conquer our personal Everest, we need to drop all our unnecessary baggage, be it physical or mental or even emotional”.

Vikas used a ‘descent for ascent’ approach to acclimatise. In this approach, mountaineers gain altitude during the day, but descend to catch some sleep. Acclimatising to such high altitudes is crucial as the lack of adequate oxygen can cause dizziness, nausea, headache and even muscle death. As Vikas prepared to scale the riskiest part of the climb - the unstable and continuously melting Khumbhu ice fall - he pondered over his journey so far.

His brother’s diagnosis of a heart condition in his youth was a wakeup call for the rather sedentary Vikas, and that is when he started focusing on his health more. For the first time in his life, he began to appreciate the power of nutrition and experimented with different diets and supplements for their health benefits. His quest for better health also motivated him to take up hiking, marathon running, squash and, eventually, a summit of the Everest.

Back in the Himalayas, after a string of sleepless nights, Vikas and his team ascended to Camp 2 (6,500m) as planned, and then descended to Base Camp for the basic luxuries - hot shower, hot lunch and essential supplements. Back up at Camp 2, the weather played spoiler again as a jet stream - a fast-flowing, narrow air current - moved right over the mountain. Wisdom from the mountains helped Vikas maintain perspective as they were required to descend 15km to Pheriche Valley. He accepted that “strength lies not merely in chasing the big dream, but also in...accepting that things could go wrong.”

At Camp 4 (8,000m), famously known as the death zone, Vikas caught a clear glimpse of the summit – his dream standing rather tall in front of him.

It was the 18th of May 2018 and Vikas finally reached the top. The top of his Everest…the top of Mount Everest!

Watch the video below to see actual moments from Vikas’ climb.


Vikas credits his strength to dedication, exercise and a healthy diet. He credits dietary supplements for helping him sustain himself in the inhuman conditions on Mount Everest. On heights like these where the oxygen supply drops to 1/3rd the levels on the ground, the body requires 3 times the regular blood volume to pump the requisite amount of oxygen. He, thus, doesn’t embark on an expedition without double checking his supplements and uses Livogen as an aid to maintain adequate amounts of iron in his blood.

Livogen is proud to have supported Vikas Dimri on his ambitious quest and salutes his spirit. To read more about the benefits of iron, see here. To read Vikas Dimri’s account of his expedition, click here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Livogen and not by the Scroll editorial team.