The Tata Translational Cancer Research Centre (TTCRC) will come up on a two-acre plot near the existing Tata Medical Centre-Cancer Hospital in New Town, Rajarhat, on the north-eastern fringes of the Bengal capital.
“TTCRC will house a biobank..it will be the first in eastern India. The project is starting immediately but the construction will be completed in three years. Its a Rs. 60 crore project,” Mammen Chandy, director of Tata Medical Centre, told reporters on the sidelines of a fund-raising event organised by the Tata Medical Centre and Taj Bengal here.
“The biobank will store cancer tissues for further research…with the consent of the patients of course. The tissues which have been surgically removed will be preserved,” said Chandy.
A biobank is a repository that houses and stores biological samples for future research and diagnostic purposes. Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore have well-recognised biobanks.
The centre will target application oriented research and provide a crucial link between scientific data collated and how clinicians could use the inferences in their treatment of cancer patients.
“It will bridge the translational gap that lies between scientific research, and the solutions to these questions in the laboratory so that solutions can be delivered back to the clinic,” said Chandy.
“We are hoping to get 20 scientists for the centre. Biobanking is one aspect..we are going to do preventive oncology ..we are going to work with TCS to try and develop information technology for genomics,” he added.
The Tata Medical Centre-Cancer Hospital, which receives cancer patients from neighbouring countries, is in its second phase of upgradation that will increase the bed capacity to 400 and include sophisticated therapy methods.
“As many as 70 percent of our patients are from West Bengal, 15 percent from neighbouring states like Odisha, Jharkhand and Bihar….about 5 percent from Bangladesh and one or two (percent) from Pakistan,” said Chandy.
The cancer hospital holds the unique distinction of being the official referral hospital for cancer for the government of Bhutan.
“Any Bhutanese who gets cancer, the primary referal will be to us. If we are not able to handle because we do not have enough beds, then we may send out to other centres. Per year we receive about 250 patients from Bhutan…for a small country that’s really surprising,” observed Chandy.