Vancouver firm wants to help derail India’s cancer train

Published: August 23, 2013

Zecotek CEO Faouzi Zerrouk. Submitted photo.

VANCOUVER DESI

Clad in thin woolen blankets and clutching medical documents, groups of farming folk wait anxiously for Train 339 to pull into Bhatinda Junction Railway station in the northern Indian state of Punjab.

As it rolls in around 9 p.m., often late, the sick are rushed onto the passenger cars for the overnight trip some 20 stations away to Bikaner in the neighboring state of Rajasthan.

The train stays for about 30 minutes for the teary goodbyes before it lurches forward on its daily journey that ends in misery for many of the sick and their kin on board.

Like Train 339,  many on the train will be learning of their destiny too late.

They are cancer patients from Punjab’s farming belt impacted by indiscriminate pesticide use.

They are on what the locals have come to call The Cancer Train.

This train has become a magnet for anti-cancer crusader groups in India fighting for better access to early detection medical facilities with positron emission tomography (PET)/CT scanners that can save the lives of thousands.

According to Indian media, the Punjab State government has launched its first door-to-door cancer census across the state to determine the number of people who have cancer or cancer like symptoms. The public hospital to which Train 339 ferries patients — in Bikaner, in the neighboring state of Rajasthan — reports 1,000 more cancer patients a year, on average, according to chief oncologist Ajay Sharma.

The State of Punjab is not alone with alarming cancer statistics as the numbers are similarly grim for the rest of India.

Every year 1.2 million new cases of cancer get detected in India. The rest of the patients do not get detected on time. About 70 per cent of the cancer patients in India die within the first year of diagnosis, the majority because they were not detected early.

Heart disease is the second biggest killer in the country after cancer. India has 60 million people with heart disease in the country and that number is growing. Currently only about two million people get an angiography in a year.

In a recent published interview, President of Philips Healthcare India, A. Krishna Kumar, said India does not have enough quality diagnostics for good therapy to be practiced in the country.

“If you look at cancer for example, India has 315 cancer centers, but you only have 75 PET /CT scanners that are critical for diagnosing cancer. At the rest of the centers, the treatment is happening blindly without knowing where the tumour actually is, and hence they are radiating the tumour. In such a case, a patient could feel that this test is unnecessary because the treatment is inaccurate,” he said.

Kumar said affordability is the key obstacle facing India when it comes to medical imaging for early diagnosis using PET/CT scanners.

A solution to this problem may lie on the other side of the world in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Here a homegrown company called Zecotek Photonics is gaining an increasingly international profile for its development program of high performance, cost effective  PET medical scanning device configuration aimed at BRIC nations, especially the Indian and Chinese markets.

These medical devices, which are used to detect conditions such as cancer, heart disease, epilepsy and Alzheimer’s disease, use light from scintillation crystals and no radiation to produce 3D images of metabolic  processes in the body that provide very early detection.

Zecotek CEO Faouzi Zerrouk, an English educated PhD in Theoretical Physics, who has became a leading expert in photonics technologies said the PET systems are also used to define the adequate drugs for the disease as well as defining the real time effect of the selected drug and its progress.

Zecotek makes these crystals, the photo detectors and associated electronics as well as the data acquisition boards, as part of its medical high performance low cost, scanning device configuration.

PET scanners are usually very expensive; each one costs about $1 million to make and retail at $2 to 3 million dollars. Crystals make up more than third of that cost.

The PET devices are so effective that the World Health Organization recommends two of them for every million people in a population.

Zerrouk said Zecotek’s plan for India is to locate a strategic partner in India to manufacture and introduce these PET machines to the nation’s medical and pharmaceutical establishments.

“We will seek the support of the local industries, business institutions, the health ministry, in order to jointly build India’s national PET program,” said Zerrouk.

 


Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,





Featured

BC-court-statue of justice

Surrey man who sexually and physically abused woman receives six years in prison

TOM ZYTARUK SURREY NOW Warning – extremely graphic content/Discretion advised NEW WESTMINSTER – A Surrey man who cruelly abused a woman over a period of…
Continue Reading »

Surrey BC transport

Surrey LRT plan passes key federal hurdle

ADRIAN MACNAIR SURREY NOW SURREY — A federal agency overseeing public-private infrastructure projects in Canada has given preliminary approval to Surrey’s application to help fund…
Continue Reading »

Jian Ghomeshi

Q producer who alleges Jian Ghomeshi threatened to ‘hate f—‘ her says she complained to boss in 2010

TOM BLACKWELL NATIONAL POST For a 27-year-old journalism-school graduate, it was the perfect job, helping build and produce a brand-new, national show on CBC Radio…
Continue Reading »

LOCAL NEWS

BC-court-statue of justice

Surrey man who sexually and physically abused woman receives six years in prison

TOM ZYTARUK SURREY NOW Warning – extremely graphic content/Discretion advised NEW WESTMINSTER – A Surrey man who cruelly abused a woman over a period of…
Continue Reading »

Surrey BC transport

Surrey LRT plan passes key federal hurdle

ADRIAN MACNAIR SURREY NOW SURREY — A federal agency overseeing public-private infrastructure projects in Canada has given preliminary approval to Surrey’s application to help fund…
Continue Reading »

Jian Ghomeshi

Q producer who alleges Jian Ghomeshi threatened to ‘hate f—‘ her says she complained to boss in 2010

TOM BLACKWELL NATIONAL POST For a 27-year-old journalism-school graduate, it was the perfect job, helping build and produce a brand-new, national show on CBC Radio…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

health check

Parents of six-year-old girl ‘horrified’ after botched vaccination exposes her to HIV

GORDON MCINTYRE VANCOUVER DESI A six-year-old girl is in danger of having contacted HIV after a routine vaccination went awry in Fort St. James earlier…
Continue Reading »

ghost marriage

11 held for digging women’s graves for ‘ghost marriages’

IANS/EFE Beijing – Chinese police have arrested 11 people for allegedly digging up dead women’s bodies from their graves to sell them for rituals known…
Continue Reading »

Jian Ghomeshi

‘Big Ears Teddy’ Twitter account posted Jian Ghomeshi abuse allegations six months ago

ISHMAEL N. DARO CANADA.COM In less than a week, Jian Ghomeshi has gone from one of the most well-known and beloved CBC personalities to an…
Continue Reading »

ATM-snakes

Bank customer flees after snake found sleeping by ATM machine

CEN AGENCY A bank customer in India fled when he went to use a cashpoint machine and found a four-foot cobra coiled up in front…
Continue Reading »

murder-British-India

Honeymoon murder: Accused husband Shrien Dewani met gay escort three times, court hears

IANS London – An Indian-origin businessman from Britain accused of arranging the murder of his wife in South Africa, met a gay escort three times….
Continue Reading »


Bollywood Latest

Bollywood

Super Nani: Wah Rekha, Cina-Ma Zindabad!

SUBHASH K. JHA IANS  Film: “Super Nani”; Cast: Rekha, Sharman Joshi, Randhir Kapoor, Anupam Kher; Directed by Indra Kumar; Rating: *** (3 stars) There is…
Continue Reading »

condom-ads-Durex-sex-booty shake

Bollywood actor Ranveer Singh says ‘I have only been dumped so far’

IANS Mumbai – Actor Ranveer Singh, who has often been chased by link-up rumours, says so far he has not dumped anyone in his life….
Continue Reading »

Bollywood

Parineeti Chopra says stop comparing her with cousin Priyanka Chopra

IANS Mumbai – Her cousin Priyanka Chopra is a star. Now, another family member, Mannara, is all set to enter Bollywood with “Zid” and Parineeti…
Continue Reading »