Home   »   BPSC Syllabus   »   CAR T-Cell Therapy

CAR T-Cell Therapy

Context: Globally, there is a growing interest in CAR T-cell therapy, a new form of systemic therapy for cancer treatment.

What are the Major forms of Cancer Treatment?

  • The three major forms of treatment for any cancer are:
    • surgery (removing cancer),
    • radiotherapy (delivering ionising radiation to the tumour), and
    • systemic therapy (administering medicines that act on the tumour).
  • Surgery and radiotherapy have been refined significantly over time – whereas advances in systemic therapy have been unparalleled.

What are T Cells?

  • T cells, also known as T lymphocytes, are a type of white blood cell that play a central role in the immune response.
  • Significance: T cells play a crucial role in the adaptive immune response, which is the part of the immune system that is capable of recognizing and responding to specific pathogens or abnormal cells.
  • Production:  T cells are produced in the bone marrow and mature in the thymus gland.
  • Important types of T cells:
    • Helper T cells: These cells play a crucial role in coordinating the immune response.
    • Cytotoxic T cells: These cells play a key role in destroying cells that are infected with viruses or cancer cells.
    • T regulatory cells (Tregs): These cells play a crucial role in maintaining immune tolerance and preventing autoimmunity.

Evolution of Systemic Therapy in Cancer Treatment

  • Chemotherapy: Systemic therapy’s earliest form was chemotherapy: when administered, it preferentially acts on cancer cells because of the latter’s rapid, unregulated growth and poor healing mechanisms.
    • Disadvantages: Chemotherapeutic drugs have modest response rates and significant side effects as they affect numerous cell types in the body.
  • Immunotherapy: The next stage in its evolution was targeted agents, a.k.a. immunotherapy: the drugs bind to specific targets on cancer or in the immune cells that help the tumour grow or spread.
    • Disadvantages: This method often has fewer side effects as the impact on non-tumour cells is limited. However, it is effective only against tumours that express these targets.
  • CAR T-cell therapy: Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapies represent a quantum leap in the sophistication of systemic cancer treatment.

What is CAR T-cell Therapy?

  • CAR T-cell therapy is a type of immunotherapy used to treat certain types of cancer, such as leukemia and lymphoma.
  • It involves removing a patient’s T cells (a type of immune cell) and modifying them in a laboratory to produce special cells known as chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells.
  • The modified T cells are then infused back into the patient’s bloodstream, where they can recognize and attack cancer cells that express specific targets, or antigens, on their surface.
  • Because the CAR T cells are a product of the patient’s own immune system, they are less likely to cause side effects compared to other forms of cancer therapy.
  • Procedure for the CAR T-cell therapy:
CAR T-cell therapy
CAR T-cell therapy
  • Current Applications of CAR T-cell therapy:
    • As of today, CAR T-cell therapy has been approved for leukaemias (cancers arising from the cells that produce white blood cells) and lymphomas (arising from the lymphatic system).
    • CAR T-cell therapy is also presently used among patients with cancers that have returned after initially successful treatment or who haven’t responded to previous combinations of chemotherapy or immunotherapy.
  • Efficacy: Its response rate is variable. In certain kinds of leukaemias and lymphomas, the efficacy is as high as 90%, whereas, in other types of cancers, it is significantly lower.
  • Side effects: the potential side effects are also significant, and associated with
    • cytokine release syndrome (a widespread activation of the immune system and collateral damage to the body’s normal cells) and
    • neurological symptoms (severe confusion, seizures, and speech impairment).
  • Other challenges associated:
    • Preparation: The difficulty of preparing CAR T-cell therapies has been a major hindrance to their widespread use.
    • Affordability: Critics argue that developing CAR T-cell therapy in India may not be cost-effective as it will still be unaffordable for most people.

Sharing is caring!


What is CAR T-cell therapy?

Globally, there is a growing interest in CAR T-cell therapy, a new form of systemic therapy for cancer treatment.

Download your free content now!


We have received your details!

We'll share General Studies Study Material on your E-mail Id.

Download your free content now!

We have already received your details!

We'll share General Studies Study Material on your E-mail Id.

Incorrect details? Fill the form again here

General Studies PDF

Thank You, Your details have been submitted we will get back to you.