Innovations in Biotechnology and Medical Sciences

Crafted in Indian labs, NexCAR19 takes India to next level in Cancer Care


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Science and Technology; Biotechnology; NexCAR19;

Mains level: Process and Significance of CAR T thearpy;

Why in the News? 

  • President Droupadi Murmu launched India’s first indigenously-developed CAR T-cell therapy, hailing it as a major breakthrough against cancer.
  • This therapy was developed by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay and the Tata Memorial Centre, and it is known as ‘NexCAR19 CAR T-cell therapy’.


What is CAR T cell thearpy? 

CAR T-cell therapy is a type of immunotherapy that involves modifying a patient’s T cells, a type of white blood cell that plays a crucial role in the immune system, to recognize and attack cancer cells. This therapy is designed to target specific proteins found on the surface of cancer cells, such as CD19, which is commonly found on B cells.

How are CAR-T cells made?

Significance of CAR T Thearpy:

  • Promising results:  This therapy has shown promising results in treating some types of blood cancers, including certain kinds of lymphoma, pediatric leukemia, and adult leukemia.  It has shown with approximately 70% of patients responding to the treatment.
  • Less time for treatment: CAR T-cell therapies are generally a single infusion with less than 2 weeks of inpatient care, while stem cell transplants and chemotherapy treatment regimens can take months to complete

Limitiations of CAR-T Therapy:

  • Risks of CAR-T Therapy: The efficacy of CAR-T therapy varies from person to person, and it is too early to declare it a complete cure. While it has shown remarkable progress in challenging cases, its effectiveness is not universal.
  • High Cost Therapy: NexCAR19 is priced at a fraction of its US counterpart, it remains relatively high for many Indians, ranging from ₹40 to 45 lakh.
  • It’s Side Effects includes:
    • Cytokine Release Syndrome (CRS): CRS is the most common side effect of CAR-T therapy, triggering an ‘Inflammatory Response’ that leads to immune system hyperactivity.
    • Neurotoxicity: Although not observed in early-stage clinical trials, neurotoxicity is a common side effect of CAR-T therapy that can manifest as confusion, seizures, or difficulty speaking or walking.
    • Infections and Blood Cell Counts: Patients undergoing CAR-T therapy may experience infections and low blood cell counts as anticipated side effects.

Conclusion: India’s is moving towards heralding a breakthrough in Cancer Care Therapy. Despite cost challenges, Government efforts are aimed to enhance accessibility and better outputs in Healthcare Sector.

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