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Indigenous CAR-T cell therapy (NexCAR19)

Why is it in the news?

  • NexCAR19, an indigenously developed CAR-T cell therapy for B-cell cancers, is now approved for commercial use.
  • NexCAR19 is a result of collaborative efforts between ImmunoACT, a company incubated at the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IITB), and Tata Memorial Hospital, a renowned cancer treatment and research centre in India.

About CAR-T Cell Therapy

  • CAR-T cell therapy, short for chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapy, represents a revolutionary form of immunotherapy used to treat certain types of cancer, including B-cell malignancies like leukaemia and lymphoma.
  • The therapy involves genetically modifying a patient’s own T cells, a type of white blood cell involved in the immune response, to express chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) on their surface.
  • These engineered CAR-T cells are then infused back into the patient, where they can recognize and target cancer cells expressing specific antigens, leading to their destruction.
  • B-cells and T-cells are specialized types of white blood cells known as lymphocytes, playing crucial roles in the body’s immune defence mechanisms.
  • T-cells, categorized into cytotoxic, helper, and regulatory subtypes, are involved in directly killing infected or cancerous cells, coordinating immune responses, and maintaining immune balance, respectively.
  • B-cells are responsible for producing antibodies in response to antigens, with differentiating into plasma cells and memory cells upon activation, thus contributing to long-term immunity.

Significance and Impact

  • NexCAR19’s availability for commercial use holds profound significance, particularly for patients in India and other resource-limited countries, providing access to a life-saving therapy at a fraction of the cost compared to international standards.
  • With a price tag of ₹30-40 lakh per patient, NexCAR19 offers a more affordable alternative to the exorbitant costs of CAR-T therapy abroad, addressing financial barriers to treatment access.
  • India’s success in developing NexCAR19 places it among the elite group of countries with access to CAR-T therapy, highlighting its technical prowess and contribution to global healthcare innovation.
  • This breakthrough therapy has the potential to transform the treatment landscape for B-cell cancers, offering hope for improved survival rates, enhanced quality of life, and better overall outcomes for patients.

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