CAR T-cell Therapy – Uses, Cost of Car T-cell Therapy in India, UPSC Notes

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

CAR T-cell Therapy stands for Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T-cell Therapy, and it is gaining massive attention in the field of cancer treatment. With the recent development of CAR T-cell Therapy, systemic therapy has advanced significantly. Various research is still going on, and researchers have claimed that locally created CAR T-cell Therapy for patients in India has shown promising outcomes and it can be the safest and most effective therapy in treating certain types of cancer so far.

In this article, we are going to cover some important facts and information related to CAR T-cell Therapy, such as the procedure, cost, and significance. The information can be vital for UPSC exam preparation as well, and candidates searching for CAR T-cell Therapy UPSC Notes can certainly refer to this article.

What is CAR T-cell Therapy?

So far, there are three basic cancer treatments available, namely- surgery, systematic therapy, and radiation. Among these, systematic therapy has shown more promising results. However, with the recent development of CAR T-cell Therapy, systematic therapy has shown even more outstanding results.

  • T cells are a type of white blood cell, and it plays a crucial role in increasing the immune response of the body.
  • In CAR T-cell Therapy, the immune cells of the patients are genetically engineered in the laboratory.
  • Patients with a certain type of lymph node malignancies get CAR T-cell Therapy as 2nd or 3rd line treatment against cancer.
  • CAR T-cell Therapy is used against only certain types of cancer, such as leukaemia and lymphoma.

What are T-Cells?

T lymphocytes which are white blood cells are referred to as T cells. These cells play a key role in the immune response of the body. These cells can also help in fighting cancer and protect the body.

T cells have two subtypes- Helper T cells and cytotoxic T cells. The helper cell assists the other immune cells of the body, and on the other hand, the cytotoxic T cell works to destroy the infected cells.

How does CAR T-cell Therapy Work?

In CAR T-cell Therapy, the T cells of patients are removed and get modified in a laboratory to produce CAR T-cells.

  • These Car T-cells are special as they have the ability to fight cancer.
  • These modified T cells are infused into the patient’s bloodstream during CAR T-cell Therapy, and these cells attack the specific antigens and targets on their surface.
  • As the T-cells are made from the patient’s own immune system, they are less likely to cause any harm or side effects when compared to other cancer therapy.
  • CAR T-cell Therapy is also called cell-based gene therapy, as it alters the genes of patients and helps them to fight against cancerous cells.

Application of CAR T-cell Therapy

The application of T-cell therapy has been authorized for cancer originating from the cells or lymphatic system, e.g. Leukaemias and lymphomas.

  • CAR T-cell Therapy can also be used for patients whose cancer has relapsed after successful treatment and who haven’t shown any promising signs against immunotherapy or chemotherapy.
  • The response rate of CAR T-cell Therapy is 90% in the case of leukaemias and lymphomas. But in the case of other types of cancer, the response rate is lower.

Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-cell Therapy Cost in India

CAR T-cell Therapy in India is not accessible yet, and one of the primary reasons behind it is the high cost.

  • T-cell therapy can be very expensive, and most Indians are not able to afford it.
  • The patients who have money travel to different countries for this therapy. India must find a way to make the treatment more affordable for patients with weak economic backgrounds.
  • Two startups are already working on CAR T-cell Therapy in India.
  • Both these startups claim the therapy will be less expensive as compared to other nations. In the US, the CAR T-cell Therapy cost may go high as 2-3 crores.

Car T-Cell Therapy Side Effects

The side effects of CAR T-cell Therapy is less when compared to other therapy used for cancer treatment.

  • However, there are some common possible side effects of this therapy, such as High fever and chills, feeling tired, nausea, headaches, vomiting, and trouble breathing.
  • However, there is still a chance of various significant side effects, such as neurological symptoms or cytokine release syndrome.
  • Other serious side-effects of Car T-cell Therapy include allergic reactions to the infusion, low blood cell count, weak immune system, and there is a chance of life-threatening infection.

Challenges in CAR T-cell Therapy

The response rates of CAR T-cell Therapy are only higher in the case of lymphomas and leukaemias. In other cases, it is much lower. It is very challenging to create CAR T-cells in India.

As we have mentioned above, affordability is a big concern when it comes to this therapy.

The side effects can be significant as they can lead to severe confusion, speech impairment, and seizures or cause harm to healthy cells. CAR T-cell Therapy has shown great results in treating cancer, but these challenges need to be addressed so that many people can be benefitted from it.

CAR T-cell Therapy UPSC

Biotechnology is an important topic in the UPSC Syllabus, and candidates preparing for the upcoming UPSC exam must have knowledge of CAR T-cell Therapy. In the previous year’s IAS exam, questions from CAR T-cell Therapy were asked. UPSC aspirants can refer to this article to prepare for this topic and answer the questions asked about this particular topic with accuracy. In addition, following the right UPSC Books and newspapers can also be helpful.

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