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About the CAR T-cell therapy


Recently, the IIT Bombay-incubated company Immuno Adoptive Cell Therapy has received Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSO) approval of the first humanized CD19-targeted Chimeric Antigen Receptor T cell (CAR-T cell) Therapy product called NexCAR19 (Actalycabtagene autoleucel) for use in cases of relapsed/refractory B-cell Lymphomas and Leukaemia in India.


GS III: Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. CAR T-cell Therapy
  2. What are ‘cell therapies’?

CAR T-cell Therapy

Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapies use a patient’s own cells that have been modified in a laboratory to attack tumors.

  • Blood is drawn from the patient to harvest T-cells.
  • The T-cells are modified in the laboratory to express chimeric antigen receptors (CAR) that have an affinity for proteins on the surface of tumor cells.
  • The modified cells are infused back into the patient’s bloodstream after being conditioned to multiply more effectively.
  • The CAR T-cells bind to the tumor and destroy it, with the patient’s immune system clearing the debris.
  • More clinically effective than chemotherapy or immunotherapy as it directly activates the patient’s immune system against cancer.
  • More specific than targeted agents as it uses the patient’s own cells.
  • Considered as “living drugs”.
Where is it used?
  • Currently approved for treating leukaemias and lymphomas
  • Used among patients with cancers that have returned after initial treatment or not responded to previous chemotherapy or immunotherapy
  • Efficacy varies, with response rate as high as 90% in certain kinds of leukaemias and lymphomas and significantly lower in other types of cancers
  • Complex preparation process
  • First clinical trial demonstrating effectiveness published almost a decade ago
  • Requires technical and human resources to administer, with treatments in the U.S. costing more than a million dollars
  • Significance potential side-effects such as cytokine release syndrome and neurological symptoms

What are ‘cell therapies’?

  • Cell therapies are a form of cancer treatment that involves using a patient’s own cells.
  • One form of cell therapy is CAR T-cell therapy, which modifies T-cells to attack cancer cells and has been approved for certain types of leukemia and lymphoma.
  • The treatment is complex and expensive, but has shown high response rates in certain cancers.
  • Cell therapies also have potential to help understand the complexities of cancer and offer new treatments, including personalised anti-cancer vaccines and tumour infiltrating lymphocyte therapies.
  • Despite the challenges, the field holds promise for developing more sophisticated cancer treatments with fewer side-effects.

-Source: The Hindu

December 2023