• CAR-T cells are a patient’s own immune cells that are genetically engineered in the laboratory to fight cancer.
    • CAR-T cell is a prospective therapy that has ushered in a new era of curing refractory and stubborn cancers.
  • CAR (Chimeric Antigen Receptor) T cell therapy is used as third or second-line treatment for patients of specific types of cancers of blood and lymph nodes. In India, those willing to undergo this treatment have to travel to other countries, mostly the US. 
  • T-cell receptor is widely used in developed nations for immunotherapy during cancer treatment.
    • However, the technology was not available in India yet.

How does it work?

  • The therapy targets leukaemia and lymphoma.
    • Leukaemia is cancer of blood-forming tissues, including bone marrow.
    • Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system, which is part of the body’s germ-fighting network.
  • It uses lentiviral technology.
    • In gene therapy, this is a method of inserting, modifying, or deleting genes in organisms using lentivirus, a family of viruses responsible for diseases such as AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome).
  • As part of the treatment, a specific type of white blood cells called T cells are changed in the lab so they can find and destroy cancer cells.
  • It is also sometimes referred to as a type of cell-based gene therapy because it involves altering genes inside T cells to help them attack cancerous cells.

CAR T-Cell Therapy Process

  • First, T cells are extracted from the blood of a patient to produce chimeric antigen receptors (CAR). This is done so that T-cells can recognise a specific protein on tumour cells.
  • Later, CAR T cells are grown in large numbers in the lab and are then infused into the patient.
  • CAR T-cells binds to the cancer cells and kill them.
CAR T-cell Therapy
Significance of CAR-T cell Therapy
  • Chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapy (CAR T-cell therapy) is used to treat specific types of blood malignancies, and it is also being researched for other cancers. 
  • The Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-cell (CAR-T) therapy has proven to be a game-changer in cancer treatment, particularly for patients with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia. 
In What types of cancer can it be used?
  • The therapy is mostly effective in blood cancer and lymphoma (cancer beginning in the cells of the lymph system).
    • In India, about 40,000-50,000 patients of these cancers are diagnosed every year.

What are T-Cells?

  • T cell, also known as T lymphocyte, is a type of leukocyte (white blood cell) that plays an important role in the immune system.
  • T cells are one of two primary types of lymphocytes, the other being B cells, that determine the specificity of the immune response to antigens (foreign substances) in the body.
  • T-cells are classified into two types: helper T-cells and killer T-cells. Helper T-cells stimulate B-cells to produce antibodies and aid in the development of killer cells. Killer T-cells kill cells that have already been infected by an invading foreign invader.
  • T-cells also use cytokines as messenger molecules to send chemical instructions to the rest of the immune system, causing it to respond more aggressively.
CAR T-cell Therapy UPSC
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