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By design, research at CI MED fosters engineering-based innovation. Naik has used his engineering background to develop a new potentially life-prolonging treatment for glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) patients. GBM is the most aggressive form of brain cancer, usually taking the patient’s life within 12-24 months of diagnosis. He and classmate Emily Smith teamed up to show that just one dose of photodynamic therapy (PDT) in the operating room immediately after brain tumor surgery significantly improved patient survival by selectively destroying remnants. We researched, designed, and prototyped a device built on proven science that showed that it could be extended to cancer cell. “At this time, Optune is the only PDT device approved by the FDA for the treatment of glioblastoma. It’s about showing that we’re doing our part to help,” Naik said.
The team’s proposed new treatment, dubbed “Beacon,” involves transcranial surgical implants, administration of a drug called 5-ALA that can selectively destroy residual cancer cells, and photodynamic therapy to activate the drug. It consists of several components that work together, such as centralized delivery. The implant miniaturizes the PDT beam, allowing repeat treatments outside the operating room as a complement to standard radiation and chemotherapy after surgery.
The team won third place and $20,000 in funding by placing third in the Cozad New Venture Challenge Finals. In addition, he earned an additional $25,000 for winning the Grand Prize in the innovation category of the contest’s new healthcare track, Health. The prize money, along with prototyping and mentoring support awarded by mHub in Chicago, will help the team refine existing prototypes and initiate proof-of-concept testing. If the new device proves to be as safe and effective as Naik and his team hoped, Beacon could give new hope to patients facing a grim prognosis. and set an ambitious goal of bringing the new device to market in 2027, subject to regulatory approval.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought unexpected and unprecedented challenges to CI MED students during their clinical residency. Medical students were unable to provide bedside care, so Naik decided to channel his energy and artistic talents into humanitarian causes that mattered to him. He has written and published children’s books such as: Pandemic hero, It explains how the virus started and celebrates the everyday heroes who have emerged, including doctors, nurses, truck drivers and postal workers. He launched his own social media campaign in exchange for his artistic talent by creating custom portraits and sketches of his friends. His creative thinking has raised $600.
A first-generation immigrant from India, Naik and his family eventually made Minnesota their home. He attended the University of Minnesota with the help of financial aid and a full-ride scholarship offered to all members of the first class brought him to CI MED. Born in a resource-poor environment, Naik says he was “naturally drawn to accessibility issues” from his early days as a medical student. This is a commitment he plans to carry over into his professional practice.
Five years ago, Naik came to CI MED with a desire to become a medical scientist. Along the way, he achieved this goal, serving as President of the Student Union, being named a long-awaited Illinois He Innovation Award finalist, and many other goals. Winner of CI MED’s King Li, MD, MBA Physician Innovator Award in 2023. He credits his parents, family, friends, and mentors at Carle Health and CI MED for providing a solid foundation to make his dreams come true. Anant, who sets the compass for his residency in Minnesota, it is clear that Naik is ready to overcome whatever challenges lie ahead.
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