Breakthrough in Cancer Treatment: India’s NexCAR19 CAR-T Cell Therapy Declared Successful, Making it Affordable for Patients

In a historic moment, a patient has become the first to be declared cancer-free using India’s CAR-T cell therapy, NexCAR19, recently approved for commercial use by the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO). The groundbreaking therapy, designed to genetically reprogram a patient’s immune system to combat cancer, has provided hope and a cost-effective solution for patients like Dr (Col) VK Gupta, a Delhi-based gastroenterologist.

This indigenous CAR-T cell therapy involves modifying a patient’s T cells in the laboratory to express a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) protein, enabling them to recognize and combat cancer cells. The patient, Dr Gupta, availed of the treatment at a significantly reduced cost of Rs 42 lakh, compared to the Rs 4 crore it would have cost him abroad.

NexCAR19, developed by ImmunoACT, a company incubated at the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IITB) and Tata Memorial Hospital, received CDSCO approval in October 2023. Specifically designed for B-cell cancers like leukemia and lymphoma, NexCAR19 is now available in over 30 hospitals across more than 10 cities in India. Eligible patients aged 15 and above, suffering from B-cell cancers, can benefit from this groundbreaking therapy.

The history of NexCAR19 traces back to 2015 when Dr Alka Dwivedi and her colleagues pioneered the modification of CAR-T cells, introducing a more human-like antibody. This innovative approach led to the development of India’s indigenous CAR-T cell therapy, NexCAR19, exhibiting promising results for blood cancers like leukemia and lymphoma. Notably, NexCAR19 not only showcases efficacy but also addresses the long-standing issues of accessibility and affordability in cancer treatment within India’s healthcare system. With cancer diagnoses reaching nearly 1.6 million in 2023, NexCAR19’s success marks a significant stride in revolutionizing cancer care in the country.