Daily News Analysis

CAR-T cell therapy

9th June, 2021 Science and Technology

GS PAPER III: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.

Context: Department of Biotechnology supported First CAR-T cell therapy conducted at ACTREC, Tata Hospital in Mumbai

Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-cell (CAR-T) therapy

  • It 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 and make it available for the patients.
  • The manufacturing complexity is a major reason for the therapy cost.


  • In order to promote and support development of CAR-T cell technology against cancer and other diseases, BIRAC and DBT have taken initiatives and launched specialized calls to invite proposals in the last 2 years.
  • IIT Bombay team and cancer care in India as the first CAR-T cell therapy (a type of gene therapy) was done at the Bone Marrow Transplant unit at ACTREC, Tata Memorial Center in Mumbai.
  • The CAR-T cells were designed and manufactured at Bioscience and Bioengineering (BSBE) department of IIT Bombay.
  • This work is partly supported by BIRAC-PACE scheme.
  • The TMC-IIT Bombay team are further supported to extend this project for conducting Phase I/II trial of their CAR-T product by DBT/BIRAC, through National Biopharma Mission.


About DBT

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

About BIRAC 

  • 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 act as an Interface Agency to strengthen and empower the emerging Biotech enterprise to undertake strategic research and innovation, addressing nationally relevant product development needs.