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Prez Murmu launches first homegrown CAR T-cell therapy for cancer patients

Speaking at the launch event, Murmu said indigenous development of the therapy was an example of the Make in India initiative

President Droupadi Murmu addresses during the launch of the first indigenous CAR-T cell therapy, in Mumbai, Thursday, April 4, 2024. (PTI Photo)

President Droupadi Murmu addresses during the launch of the first indigenous CAR-T cell therapy, in Mumbai, Thursday, April 4, 2024. (PTI Photo)

Press Trust of India Mumbai

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President Droupadi Murmu on Thursday launched India's first indigenously-developed CAR T-cell therapy for cancer treatment, hailing it as a major breakthrough that provides "new hope for humankind" in the battle against the disease. Developed by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay and Tata Memorial Centre, the gene-based therapy is being rolled out in India at about one-tenth of its price outside the country, a senior official said.

Speaking at the launch event at IIT Bombay here, Murmu said the indigenous development of the therapy was an example of the Make in India initiative. A CAR T-cell therapy involves modifying a patient's T cells (a type of immune system cell) in the laboratory and using them to attack and destroy cancer cells. The 'NexCAR19 CAR T-cell therapy' is the country's first 'Made in India' CAR T-cell therapy which is expected to bring down the cost of treatment significantly. This therapy is considered a phenomenal advance in medical sciences, the president said in her speech.
 

"The development of this therapy is also an example of the 'Make in India' initiative and speaks volumes about Indian scientists and physicians," she said.
"The launch of India's first gene therapy is a major breakthrough in our battle against cancer. As this line of treatment, named CAR T-cell therapy, is accessible and affordable, it provides a new hope for the whole of humankind," Murmu added. Sudeep Gupta, director of the Tata Memorial Centre, said the CAR T-cell therapy was enormously expensive and out of the reach of an overwhelming majority of people.

NexCar19 needs to be custom manufactured for every patient under the most stringent conditions, but it has been rolled out at approximately one-tenth of the price at which it is available outside India, he said. IIT Bombay director Prof Subhasis Chaudhuri said the treatment costs approximately Rs 4 crore abroad against Rs 30 lakh in India. The low-cost CAR T-cell therapy is a huge achievement for the country and for cancer patients, and places India firmly on the global map of cell and gene therapy, he said.

"Just like Chandrayaan-3 that launched India's entry into elite space club, the CAR-T cell therapy heralds India's entry into the cell and genetic engineering group," Chaudhuri said. Gupta said the treatment will help some 20,000 Indians every year, and its rollout is a milestone in the field of cancer care and genetic engineering. "This treatment is not only a scientific achievement of the highest order, but also has immense practical application. NexCAR19 will save many, many lives and wipe many, many tears," he said.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Apr 04 2024 | 5:58 PM IST

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