Shantikumar Koyakutty

Oral cancer comes in the list of top three types of cancers in India and accounts for over 30 % of all cancers reported in the country. According to the Oral Cancer Foundation of India, 130,000 people succumb to oral cancer in India annually which translates into approximately 14 deaths per hour. It has become a global health priority and scientists are working to develop various technologies that could help in identifying and prevention of this disease.

Two researchers at Amrita Center for Nanosciences and Molecular Medicine have developed a technology alongside a gadget that will detect cancer within 30 minutes. The researchers Dr. Manzoor Koyakutty (right in above image) and Dr. Shantikumar V. Nair (left in above image) who based out of Kochi claims that the invented technology will enables patients to detect oral cancer in early stage without visiting a hospital. The technology will make possible to cure several forms of oral cancer with right treatment at early stage which is vital for stopping cancerous cells and cure cancer. The technology makes use of a laser with a nano substrate to detect pre-cancerous cells. Scientists took almost two years to develop this Raman nano-sensors based technology.


The two scientists have received two international patents from USA, Europe, Japan and China for a path-breaking invention in cancer-nanomedicine for treating drug-resistant cancers. The US patent publication can be seen here.

“This patent is the first of its kind in the field of ‘Cancer-nanomedicine’ patents won by Indian scientists competing at the international level and Amrita is proud to make such a significant lead in in the emerging area of cancer-nanotechnology,” said Dr. Shantikumar Nair, Director of Amrita Center for Nanosciences and Molecular Medicine.

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What Inspired Researchers to Develop This Technology?

Prior to developing this technology, the both scientists used lasers for detecting toxins present in food with the help of Raman spectroscopy technique. When they were developing this technology, they got idea of developing this technology as Nair thought that why not bounce laser off human tissue to find abnormal cells growth that sometimes leads to disease like cancer. This idea led the way to develop the technology which makes cancer detection easy in early stage without visiting a doctor. Presently, the team is working to develop a portable and hand-held instrument for easy use.

Nair, the dean of research at Amrita University said, “We used the method on samples of oral cancer, normal tissues and pre-cancerous tissues. The first set of positive results came two years ago.” He adds, “This gadget would aid in the screening of cancer at community level and serve the masses without making them to go to hospitals.” “In principle, it can diagnose any cancer from which Raman spectra can be obtained. We have paid more attention to oral cancer because of the possibility of screening for these cancers early and also because oral cancer is on the rise and is curable if detected early,” Nair concluded.

Offered Financial Support

The Department of Biotechnology, Government of India has allotted Rs 60 lakh amount to the researchers’ team who are working on the development of this gadget. It is assumed to be sold for Rs 10 lakh. The device will be comprised of a Raman nano-sensor to get exaggerated signals from the tissues. This will help to stop the spread of cancer with right treatment after detection at early stage.

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Current Status

Currently, Amrita is conducting safety trials in animal models which are mandatory to start human clinical trials. These studies are expected to be completed within next 3-4 years.



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