In the latest episode of the State of the Economy Podcast, PT Jyothi Datta along with Dr. Hasmukh Jain, Professor of Medical Oncology at Tata Memorial Hospital, talk about the home-grown CAR-T cell therapy product and its use in treating cancer.

This product, locally developed through an industry-academia collaboration, involves key players such as the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay, Tata Memorial Hospital, and industry partner ImmunoACT, (in which Hyderabad-based Laurus Labs holds about 34 percent equity).

Tata Memorial’s Dr Hasmukh Jain explains that CAR-T cell therapy works on a personalised approach, where a patient’s T cells are genetically engineered and re-introduced to target and eliminate cancer cells effectively.

Since its approval last October in India and launch in December, approximately 25 patients have been treated with positive results consistent with clinical trial outcomes. Differentiating CAR-T cell therapy from stem cell therapy, Dr Jain explains its potential to cure a specific type of blood cancer. He highlights the therapy’s effectiveness in treating B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia and lymphomas, which historically had dismal outcomes with conventional treatments.

The podcast also looks at the cost and accessibility of CAR-T cell therapy. While the locally developed version is more affordable than its international counterparts, it remains expensive for many patients. However, efforts are underway to make it more accessible through governmental assistance, CSR funds, and insurance coverage.

Challenges such as scaling up production and managing post-infusion complications are addressed. Dr Jain explains the need for skilled manpower and continuous monitoring to ensure patient safety.

Looking forward, Dr Jain discusses ongoing research to expand CAR-T cell therapy’s application to other cancers and autoimmune disorders. Additionally, advancements in manufacturing processes aim to enhance scalability and reduce costs further.

(Host: PT Jyothi Datta, Producer: Siddharth Mathew Cherian)