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First CAR-T cell therapy in India

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    Science & Technology
  • Published
    9th Jun, 2021


Tata Memorial Hospital (TMH) recently conducted the first CAR-T cell therapy (a type of gene therapy) at the Bone Marrow Transplant unit at ACTREC in Mumbai. The CAR-T cells were designed and manufactured at Bioscience and Bioengineering (BSBE) department of IIT Bombay.

What is CAR-T therapy?

  • The Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-cell (CAR-T) therapy has emerged as a breakthrough in cancer treatment.
  • Clinical trials conducted globally have shown promising results in end stage patients, especially in patients suffering from Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia.
  • Though this technology has a remarkable therapeutic potential for cancer patients, at present this technology is not available in India.
  • Each patient's CAR-T cell therapy costs 3-4 crore (INR). The challenge therefore is to develop this technology in cost-effective manner.
  • The development of CAR-T cell technology for diseases including acute lymphocytic leukemia, multiple myeloma, glioblastoma, hepatocellular carcinoma and type-2 diabetes is supported through DBT.

 “First in India” gene therapy

  • The design, development, and extensive pre-clinical testing was carried out by IIT-B as a collaborative project with Tata Memorial Center, Mumbai.
  • National Biopharma Mission-BIRAC has approved 19.15 Cr crore to the team for conducting a first-in-human phase-1/2 clinical trial of the CAR-T cells.
  • The clinical trials are being done by Tata Memorial Hospital, and the novel CAR-T cells that will act as drugs that were manufactured by IIT Bombay.

National Biopharma Mission

  • The National Biopharma Mission (NBM) is an industry-academia collaborative mission for accelerating biopharmaceutical development in India, co funded by the World Bank.
  • Launched in 2017, it is being implemented by the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC).
  • Under this Mission the Government has launched Innovate in India (i3) programme to create an enabling ecosystem to promote entrepreneurship and indigenous manufacturing in the sector.

About Organizations


  • The Department of Biotechnology (DBT), under the Ministry of Science & Technology, promotes and accelerates the development of biotechnology in India.
  • Its prime objective is to promote growth and application of biotechnology in the areas of agriculture, healthcare, animal sciences, environment and industry.


  • Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) is a not-for-profit Section 8, Schedule B, Public Sector Enterprise, set up by Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Government of India.
  • It has been set up as an Interface Agency to strengthen and empower the emerging Biotech enterprise to undertake strategic research and innovation, addressing nationally relevant product development needs.