Kolkata Apollo introduces CAR-T cell therapy in cancer treatment

A glimpse of the launching event at the Apollo Hospitals in Kolkata on 8 February, 2024.Courtesy

The Apollo Cancer Centres (ACCs) in Kolkata, India has launched CAR-T cell therapy programme, introducing a new era for cancer treatment in the region, according to a press release.

It will now provide access to Indian CAR-T cell therapy, beginning with NexCAR19™ (Actalycabtagene autoleucel), for the treatment of B-cell lymphomas and B-acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in patients aged 15 years and above.

CAR-T cell therapies, often known as living drugs, involve the extraction of a patient’s T-cells (a type of white blood cells whose function is to fight cancer cells) through a process known as Apheresis.

These T-cells are then genetically modified by a safe vehicle (viral vector) in a controlled laboratory setting, so that they express modified connectors on their surface called Chimeric Antigen Receptors (CARs). These CARs are specifically designed to recognise a protein which is abnormally expressed on certain cancer cells. They are then multiplied to a desired dose, and infused directly into the patient.

CAR-T cell therapies have gained global recognition for their unparalleled success in transforming the lives of patients with challenging B-cell malignancies. Over 25,000 patients worldwide have benefited from this therapeutic model.

Dr Anupam Chakrapani, senior consultant of Haematology and BMT Specialist, ACC, Kolkata, said, "The successful treatment of three patients using CAR-T Cell therapy at the commercial level, represents a significant leap forward in our fight against B-cell lymphomas and acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. These cases highlight the efficacy and potential of this transformative therapy in providing new hope for patients facing these challenging conditions."

Sharing insights into the success of the programme, he further said, "Having successfully treated patients with imported drugs, we are now poised to treat them with the indigenously built therapy.”

Dr Rajat Bhattacharyya, senior consultant of Pediatric Haematology, ACC, Kolkata, said, “The successful implementation of CAR-T Cell therapy represents a pivotal moment in the advancement of cancer treatment in India. Treating patients with this revolutionary therapy showcases the potential and efficacy of this transformative approach in addressing challenging B-cell malignancies. This milestone signifies a new chapter in our fight against cancer, offering renewed hope and possibilities to those battling these conditions.

On the occasion, Rana Dasgupta, CEO for eastern region, ACC Kolkata, Apollo Hospitals Enterprises Limited, said, "Embarking on a pioneering journey, Apollo Cancer Centres has achieved a remarkable feat in the realm of cancer treatment. With successful treatments, our commitment to advancing CAR-T Cell Therapy is unwavering. Being the first private hospital in India to achieve success in this transformative therapy sets a new benchmark, reinforcing our dedication to groundbreaking healthcare.”