First Private Hospital in India to Successfully Complete CAR T Cell Therapy. Now introduces Made in India, CAR T Cell Program

Chennai, – February 2024 – In a ground-breaking development, Apollo Cancer Centres (ACCs) has emerged as the first private hospital group in India to have a successfully complete CAR-T cell program and to further augment it, the group will now provide access to ‘Made in India’ 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.

Marking a historic moment in the country’s medical landscape, Dr. T Raja, Director of Medical Oncology at ACC, Chennai, spearheaded the development of this revolutionary clinical program, and has successfully treated six patients till date.

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 recognize a protein which is abnormally expressed on certain cancer cells. They are then multiplied to a desired dose and infused directly intothe patient. 

More than 25,000 patients have received this treatment modality. It is currently primarily indicated for patients with aggressive B cell Lymphomas, B cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia(B-ALL) and Multiple Myeloma.

Dr. Raja, said, “The successful treatment of six patients using CAR-T Cell therapy, using both clinical trial option and with commercial option, 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 program, he further added, “Having successfully treated patients with imported drugs, we are now poised to treat them with the indigenously built therapy.” 

On the occasion, Ms Preetha Reddy, Executive Vice Chairperson, Apollo Hospitals Enterprise Ltd, said “Our successful clinical CAR-T cell program at Apollo Cancer Centres stands as a testament to our commitment to advancing precision oncology. Under the visionary leadership of Dr. T Raja, Director of Medical Oncology, our journey into gene-modified cell therapy signifies a new era in innovative cancer treatments, ensuring cutting-edge solutions for those facing B-cell lymphomas and B-acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. This further solidifies Apollo’s dedication to delivering state-of-the-art clinical interventions, shaping the future of cancer care in India.”

Dr Revathi Raj, Senior Consultant – Paediatric Haematology Oncology, Apollo Cancer Centressaid, “I amthrilled to witness the groundbreaking success of Apollo Cancer Centres’ CAR-T Cell Therapy program, particularly the introduction of NexCAR19™, as it offers new hope for cancer patients fighting B-cell lymphomas and acute lymphoblastic leukemia. The achievement of successful clinical trials and commercial treatments at Apollo Cancer Centres represents a significant milestone in advancing cancer care, making it a historic moment in the country’s medical landscape. This transformative and accessible treatment will undoubtedly have a profound impact on cancer patients, reaffirming our dedication to pushing healthcare boundaries and delivering cutting-edge solutions to the community.”

Apollo Cancer Centres has been a trailblazer in the Indian medical community, consistently introducing pioneering medical infrastructure and achieving numerous milestones. The introduction of CAR-T Cell therapy represents a new era for cancer treatment in the country.