CAR-T cell therapy

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Recently, IIT Bombay-incubated company Immunoadoptive Cell Therapy (ImmunoACT) has received Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation’s (CDSO) marketing authorisation approval of the first Chimeric Antigen Receptor T cell (CAR-T cell) therapy product called NexCAR19.

About CAR-T cell therapy:

  • The therapy represents a quantum leap in the sophistication of cancer treatment.
  • Unlike chemotherapy or immunotherapy, which requires mass-produced injectable or oral medication, CAR T-cell therapies use a patient’s own cells.
  • They are modified in the laboratory to activate T-cells, a component of immune cells, to attack tumours.
  • These modified cells are then infused back into the patient’s bloodstream after conditioning them to multiply more effectively.
  • As of today, CAR T-cell therapy has been approved for leukaemias (cancers arising from the cells that produce white blood cells) and lymphomas (arising from the lymphatic system).


How does it work?

  • In this therapy, the patient’s blood is drawn to harvest T-cells – immune cells that play a major role in destroying tumour cells.
  • Researchers modify these cells in the laboratory so that they express specific proteins on their surface, known as chimeric antigen receptors (CAR): they have an affinity for proteins on the surface of tumour cells.
  • This modification in the cellular structure allows CAR T-cells to effectively bind to the tumour and destroy it.
  • The final step in the tumour’s destruction involves its clearance by the patient’s immune system.
  • In CAR T-cell therapy, the immune system is activated when the modified T-cells are reintroduced into the body, which allows a gradual and sustained tumour kill as these cells multiply.


What is NexCAR19?

  • It is an indigenously developed CD19-targeted CAR-T cell therapy.
  • CD-19 is a biomarker for B lymphocytes and can be utilized as a target for leukemia immunotherapies.
  • It is the result of a collaborative effort across a decade between IIT Bombay and Tata Memorial Centre (TMC).


Q1) What is Leukemias?

These are a group of blood cancers that affect the bone marrow and blood. These cancers originate in the cells of the bone marrow, which are responsible for producing blood cells, including white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. Leukemia is characterized by the uncontrolled growth of abnormal blood cells, which can interfere with the body's ability to perform essential functions.

Source: Cancer treatment breakthrough: India's homegrown CAR-T cell therapy, a form of immunotherapy, gets market authorisation