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Revolutionizing Medicine: CAR T-Cell Therapy



  May 13, 2024

CAR T-CELL THERAPY



CAR T-cell therapy, or Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-cell therapy, is a form of immunotherapy that harnesses the body’s immune system to fight cancer. Here’s a simplified breakdown of how this therapy works and why it represents a significant advancement in cancer treatment:


1. What is CAR T-Cell Therapy?

- Customized Treatment: CAR T-cell therapy involves reprogramming a patient’s T-cells (a type of white blood cell) to recognize and attack cancer cells. This is achieved by genetically modifying the T-cells to produce special structures called chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) on their surface.

- Targeted Action: Once these CAR T-cells are reintroduced into the patient’s body, they are able to bind to antigens on the surface of cancer cells and destroy them. This makes the treatment highly specific to the cancer type based on the antigens targeted.


2. Process of CAR T-Cell Therapy:

- Collection: T-cells are collected from the patient’s blood through a process similar to dialysis.

- Modification: These cells are then sent to a lab where they are genetically engineered to express CARs that specifically target cancer cells.

- Expansion: The modified cells are grown in the lab until they number in the millions.

- Infusion: These CAR T-cells are then infused back into the patient, where they begin to attack the cancer cells.


3. Benefits of CAR T-Cell Therapy:

- Potentially Curative: This therapy can lead to long-term remission and possibly a cure for certain types of cancer, particularly blood cancers like leukemia and lymphoma.

- One-time Treatment: In many cases, a single infusion of CAR T-cells continues to multiply in the body and fight the disease.


4. Challenges and Side Effects:

- Cytokine Release Syndrome (CRS): As the CAR T-cells kill the cancer cells, they release cytokines, which can lead to symptoms ranging from fever and fatigue to severe life-threatening conditions.

- Neurotoxicity: Some patients may experience temporary neurological side effects, including confusion, seizures, or loss of consciousness.


5. Significance of NexCAR19:

- Cost-Effectiveness: Developed by IIT Bombay and the Tata Memorial Centre, NexCAR19 is India’s first indigenously-developed CAR T-cell therapy, offered at about one-tenth the cost of similar treatments available internationally.

- Accessibility: This reduction in cost makes the treatment more accessible to a larger segment of the population, not only in India but potentially in other developing countries as well.


The development and launch of NexCAR19 not only marks a major scientific breakthrough but also demonstrates the potential of national initiatives like 'Make in India' in contributing significantly to global healthcare innovations.



SRIRAM’s


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