India’s first home-grown gene therapy for cancer


The President of India recently launched India’s first home-grown gene therapy for cancer.


GS – 03 (Scientific Innovations & Discoveries, Biotechnology, Health)

Key Highlights:

  • It is developed by IIT Bombay and the Tata Memorial Centre to help cure different types of cancer.
  • The NexCAR19 CAR T-cell therapy represents India’s inaugural domestically produced CAR T-cell therapy, aimed at substantially reducing the expenses associated with cancer treatment.
  • This treatment has been rolled out at approximately one-tenth of the price it is available outside India (where it costs approximately Rs 4 crores).

Gene therapy:

  • Gene therapy involves modifying the genetic material of cells to treat or prevent diseases by introducing a normal gene to compensate for a defective one.
  • It encompasses various approaches, including gene replacement, inactivation of mutated genes, and introduction of new genes, targeting the root genetic causes within cells.
  • Clinical trials explore techniques like ex vivo modification of stem cells and in vivo delivery of genes.
  • Types of Gene therapy:
    • Somatic cell gene therapy
    • Germline gene therapy
  • Gene therapies can have an autologous or allogenic sources of cells.
    • Autologous therapy uses the patient’s cells, while allogeneic therapy uses donor cells.

Applications of Gene therapy:

  • Gene therapy holds immense potential in providing long-term treatment benefits with a single dose for certain patients, making it a promising avenue for addressing various diseases.
  • It finds applications in treating genetic disorders such as ADA-SCID, haemophilia, muscular dystrophy, sickle cell anaemia, and retinitis pigmentosa by replacing defective genes with functional copies, offering hope for effective treatment.
  • In cancer treatment, gene therapy techniques involve manipulating genes to enhance the immune system’s response, inhibiting tumor growth promoters, targeting cancer-specific antigens, and halting angiogenesis, thus presenting innovative approaches against various types of cancers.
  • Furthermore, in neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), gene therapy shows promise by delivering nerve growth factors and utilizing gene-edited stem cell therapy, potentially providing breakthrough treatments for these debilitating conditions.