NexCAR19: India’s own CAR-T Cell Therapy

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The Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) has approved NexCAR19, India’s first domestic CAR-T cell therapy, marking a major advancement in the country’s fight against cancer. NexCAR19, created by ImmunoACT, an IIT Bombay incubator firm, is poised to revolutionize and lower the cost of cancer therapy in India.

What is CAR-T Cell Therapy?

  • Groundbreaking Method: CAR-T cell treatment converts T-cells, a subset of white blood cells, into highly effective cancer-fighting units.
  • Targeting Cancer: After being reintroduced into the patient’s body, these genetically modified cells locate and destroy cancer cells. They are especially successful in treating blood malignancies including lymphomas and leukemia.
  • Changer of the Game: CAR-T therapy is a revolutionary treatment option since it has the ability to cure patients and provide lifelong benefits, unlike immunotherapy or chemotherapy.

NexCAR19: India’s Indigenously Developed CAR-T Therapy

  • In order to improve therapeutic accuracy, NexCAR19 is engineered to specifically target cancer cells that express the CD19 protein, a hallmark for cancer cells.
  • Reducing reliance on imports, India becomes one of the few countries with its own CAR-T and gene therapy platform.
  • First licensed for B-cell lymphoma patients (15 years of age and older) whose lymphomas did not improve with conventional therapy, resulting in relapse or recurrence.

Effectiveness and Unique Features

  • With NexCAR19 therapy, about 70% of patients respond; a full remission is attained by some. • Reduced drug-related toxicities, such as decreased neurotoxicity and Cytokine Release Syndrome (CRS), are shown by laboratory and animal research.
  • At Tata Memorial Hospital, trials for pediatric patients are being conducted to ensure wider applicability.

Availability and Affordability

  • ImmunoACT is currently obtaining permits and forming partnerships with several hospitals around various cities, such as Tata Memorial, Nanavati, Fortis, and Jaslok.
  • If all official approvals are obtained, CAR-T therapy should be accessible in a few months or less.
  • ImmunoACT intends to gradually lower the cost to Rs 10–20 lakh, making the therapy more affordable after it is initially priced at Rs 30–40 lakh.
  • Though the amount of insurance coverage may differ after approval by regulatory bodies such as CDSCO, talks with insurers and the government are still under progress.

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