Several months ago, the CDSCO, India’s drug regulator, granted approval for the commercial use of CAR-T cell therapy. The therapy involves altering a patient’s immune system genetically to combat cancer.
According to a report by the Indian Express, the therapy has proven to be extremely beneficial for numerous patients, including Dr. V. K. Gupta, a highly experienced gastroenterologist based in Delhi who has served in the Indian Army for 28 years.
He was able to access the therapy at a significantly lower cost of INR 42 lakh, or $50,000, compared to the much higher cost of up to INR 4 crore, or $480,000, abroad.
According to doctors at the Tata Memorial Hospital, Gupta has been declared cancer-free after the procedure. Gupta is the first patient to have achieved this status, a remarkable accomplishment that seemed unimaginable just a year ago.
The doctor who conducted the therapy on Gupta confirmed that he was completely cancer-free. According to Dr. Hasmukh Jain, a hemato-oncologist and associate professor at the Advanced Centre for Treatment, Research and Education in Cancer (ACTREC), Tata Memorial Centre, it is too early to declare a permanent cure, but the patient is currently cancer-free.
Still too Early to Predict Success
However, the doctor mentioned that it was too early to determine the success rate of the therapy. According to him, the preliminary results indicate that patients in the early stages of cancer have a higher likelihood of survival and lower rates of remission.
“It takes years of data to determine if there are any potential relapse timelines for patients,” Jain stated.
ImmunoACT, a business supported by the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IIT-B), Tata Memorial Hospital, and IIT-B, is creating the treatment, NexCAR19. It focuses on treating B-cell tumors, which include lymphoma and leukemia and are cancers that develop in immune system cells.
In October 2023, the CDSCO gave its commercial use approval. Currently, the treatment is offered in more than ten Indian cities and over thirty hospitals. Patients with B-cell malignancies who are older than 15 years old may be suitable for this treatment.