India’s First Patient Declared Cancer-Free with this New Treatment

cancer treatment car t india

In a landmark achievement for medical science in India, the first patient has been declared cancer-free after undergoing the country’s own CAR-T cell therapy. This innovative treatment, recently greenlit for commercial use by the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO), represents a significant stride in the fight against cancer. But what exactly is CAR-T cell therapy, and how does this development impact cancer treatment in India?

CAR-T cell therapy is a form of immunotherapy that harnesses the body’s immune system to combat cancer. The process involves extracting T cells, a type of white blood cell crucial for immune defense, from the patient’s blood. These cells are then genetically modified in a laboratory to produce a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) on their surface. Once infused back into the patient, these engineered T cells can better identify and kill cancer cells. This cutting-edge treatment has shown promising results, particularly in cases of B-cell cancers like leukemia and lymphoma, where traditional therapies have failed.

The patient, Dr. (Col) VK Gupta, a gastroenterologist based in Delhi, underwent this therapy at a fraction of the international cost — paying Rs 42 lakh in India compared to the Rs 4 crore it might have cost abroad. This cost-effective treatment option opens new doors for cancer patients in India, offering hope where there was previously little.

India’s journey to developing its CAR-T cell therapy culminated in October 2023, with the CDSCO’s approval of NexCAR19, the first indigenously developed CAR-T cell therapy. NexCAR19 was created through a collaboration between ImmunoACT, a company incubated at the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IITB), and Tata Memorial Hospital. This partnership underscores the potential of combining academic research and clinical expertise to address complex health challenges.

Now available in over 30 hospitals across more than 10 cities in India, NexCAR19 is accessible to patients over 15 years old suffering from B-cell cancers. This widespread availability marks a significant advancement in India’s healthcare landscape, positioning the country as a leader in affordable and innovative cancer treatment.

The successful treatment of the first patient with India’s CAR-T cell therapy is not just a personal victory for Dr. Gupta but a monumental step forward for cancer care in India. It highlights the country’s capabilities in developing and implementing advanced medical treatments, promising a new era of hope for cancer patients nationwide.

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