Revolutionary Cancer Treatment Saves Veteran Doctor’s Life

Dr. V K Gupta, a 64-year-old gastroenterologist based in Delhi and a former army officer, has defied the odds by defeating cancer thanks to a groundbreaking therapy. Despite a failed bone marrow transplant in 2022, Gupta has been declared “free of cancer cells” and has even returned to work.

Image credit: Indian Express news

Gupta’s journey to recovery involved a cutting-edge treatment called CAR-T cell therapy, which genetically reprograms the patient’s immune system to fight cancer. This therapy, which costs millions abroad, became accessible to Gupta after India’s drug regulator approved its commercial use. Gupta underwent the procedure at Tata Memorial Hospital, where doctors successfully eliminated his cancer cells.

Developed collaboratively by ImmunoACT, IIT Bombay, and Tata Memorial Hospital, this indigenous therapy, called NexCAR19, targets B-cell cancers like leukemia and lymphoma. It works by modifying the patient’s T-cells to specifically recognize and attack cancer cells, offering a potent and targeted immunotherapy.

For Gupta, whose cancer had relapsed despite previous treatments, CAR-T cell therapy proved to be a lifesaver. After just two weeks post-treatment, his cancer cell count significantly decreased, and he experienced a boost in his health indicators.

Gupta’s success story is not isolated. Fifteen patients, including him, have accessed this treatment commercially, with promising results observed. Two crucial evaluation points, at 28 days and three months post-treatment, help determine the therapy’s success. Gupta, along with the first three patients, has achieved complete remission, marking a significant milestone.

Importantly, this therapy’s approval by the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) opens doors for similar innovative treatments in India. Other hospitals, like PGIMER in Chandigarh, are also conducting groundbreaking clinical trials in CAR-T cell therapy.

With pioneers like Gupta leading the way, the future looks brighter for cancer patients in India, offering hope for effective treatments and improved outcomes.

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