Mumbai's Tata Memorial Hospital conducts India's first CAR-T cell therapy
(Sourced from PTI)
The Centre has approved Rs. 19.15 crore for conducting the first-in-human Phase I/II clinical trial of the CAR-T cells, a type of gene therapy, for cancer treatment, the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) said on Tuesday. "On June 4, the country's first CAR-T cell therapy was done at the Bone Marrow Transplant unit at ACTREC, Tata Memorial Center in Mumbai," it added.
The Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-cell (CAR-T) therapy has emerged as a breakthrough in cancer treatment. Clinical trials conducted globally have shown promising results in end-stage patients, especially in patients suffering from acute lymphocytic leukemia. Though this technology has a remarkable therapeutic potential for cancer patients, at present, it is not available in India. Each patient's CAR-T cell therapy costs Rs. 3-4 crore.
The challenge, therefore, is to develop this technology in a cost-effective manner and make it available for patients who need it. The manufacturing complexity is a major reason for the therapy cost.
In order to promote and support the development of CAR-T cell technology against cancer and other diseases, the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) and the DBT have taken initiatives and launched specialized calls to invite proposals in the last two years. The CAR-T cells were designed and manufactured at the Bioscience and Bioengineering (BSBE) department of IIT, Bombay.
This work is partly supported by the BIRAC-PACE scheme. The TMC-IIT Bombay team is further supported to extend this project for conducting Phase I/II trial of their CAR-T product by DBT-BIRAC through the National Biopharma Mission.
The clinical trials are being done by Dr. Gaurav Narula, professor of pediatric oncology and health sciences, and his team from TMC, Mumbai, and the novel CAR-T cells were manufactured by Professor Rahul Purwar, BSBE department, and his team at IIT Bombay. The design, development, and extensive pre-clinical testing were carried out by IIT-B as a collaborative project with the Tata Memorial Center.
IIT-B Director Subhasis Chaudhuri said this was a significant feat for the institute as well as the country. The National Biopharma Mission is also supporting the development of a lentiviral vector manufacturing facility for packaging plasmids used to transfer the modified T cells inside the body, a cGMP facility for T-cell transduction and expansion for CAR T-cell manufacturing to two other organizations.