Mumbai: Physicians from Tata Memorial Hospital and Advanced Centre for Training Research and Education in Cancer (ACTREC), in collaboration with IDRS Labs, Bangalore, have developed India’s first oral suspension of the chemotherapy drug — 6-mercaptopurine (6-MP), named PREVALL.

This groundbreaking development is poised to revolutionise cancer treatment, specifically hematologic malignancies like Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL), providing a more precise and child-friendly alternative to traditional tablets.

Mercaptopurine is a medication used in the treatment of certain types of cancer, particularly ALL. It belongs to the class of drugs known as antimetabolites, which interfere with the growth and division of cancer cells.

PREVALL is easy to prepare — just mix it to make a 100 ml liquid with 10mg in each millilitre. It comes with a syringe and a Press In Bottle Adapter (PIBA) for precise dosing based on a patient’s weight or body surface area.

These tools not only ensure accurate dosage of the medicine, but also reduce the chance of spills and protect caregivers from exposure to harmful compounds.

Dr Girish Chinnaswamy, head of paediatric oncology department at the hospital, emphasised the importance of optimal care for children with curable cancers. He said, “The formulations like PREVALL contribute to dose optimisation, enhancing adherence, and maximising drug efficacy. PREVALL’s launch is a major advancement, offering a more accurate and kid-friendly alternative to tablets. Previously, crushing tablets or alternate dosing was common for children.”

Approved by India’s drug regulator CDSCO, PREVALL assures safety and compliance. Tata Memorial Centre and IDRS Labs published the study in the scientific journal ‘Paediatric Blood and Cancer’ recently, instilling confidence in doctors and patients about its efficacy and quality.

Dr Vikram, Professor of Clinical Pharmacology at ACTREC, highlighted that PREVALL exemplifies the robust capabilities within Indian biopharma. He said, “The powder for oral suspension is designed to ensure stability of the drug in hot/humid conditions and is quite distinct from the liquid formulation available elsewhere in the world”.

The official launch of PREVALL took place at the PHOCON conference in Chennai on November 25. Following its introduction at Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai in early December, PREVALL is set to become accessible in major hospital pharmacies across the country. Anticipated to bring benefits to approximately 10,000 children aged 1-10 diagnosed with ALL each year, this represents a noteworthy progression in the field of paediatric cancer treatment.

“In our pursuit of advancing medical solutions, Tata Memorial Centre remains committed to innovation,” said Dr Sudeep Gupta, Director of Tata Memorial Centre. “A testament to this commitment is the recent groundbreaking development of CAR-T cell therapy, a pioneering achievement resulting from collaborative efforts guided by the same principles that drive our ongoing pursuit of cutting-edge solutions in the field of healthcare.”