Tata Memorial Hospital, IIT Bombay Collaborate for ‘First in India’ CAR-T Cell Therapy for Cancer Treatment
In a first for India, Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-cell (CAR-T) therapy, a type of gene therapy for blood cancer treatment, was successfully conducted last Friday at the Bone Marrow Transplant unit at the Advanced Centre for Treatment, Research and Education in Cancer (ACTREC), Tata Memorial Hostpital in Mumbai in collaboration with IIT Bombay. The Central government has now allocated Rs 19.15 crore to conduct first-in-human phase-I/ II clinical trials of the CAR-T cells, the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), part of the Ministry of Science and Technology, said on Thursday. The CAR-T therapy has emerged as a breakthrough in cancer treatment, and clinical trials across the globe have shown promising results in end-stage patients, particularly the ones suffering from acute lymphocytic leukemia.
Despite a proven therapeutic potential for cancer patients, this gene therapy is still not available in India. A patient’s CAR-T cell therapy costs Rs. 3-4 crore and, therefore, the challenge lies in not just developing the technology at scale but also bring the cost down. And last Friday’s success may just be the first step in that direction. The CAR-T cells were designed and manufactured at IIT Bombay’s Bioscience and Bioengineering (BSBE) department.
Subhasis Chaudhuri, the director of IIT Bombay, said: “Our scientists along with Tata Memorial Hospital have come out with the most sophisticated therapy in cancer treatment. If the trials are successful, it may save millions of lives by making the treatment available in India at an affordable cost.”
The clinical trials for the “first in India” gene therapy are being conducted by Dr. (Surg Cdr) Gaurav Narula, Professor of Paediatric Oncology and Health Sciences, and his team from TMC, Mumbai. The novel CAR-T cells that will act as drugs were manufactured by Professor Rahul Purwar, Bioscience and Bioengineering (BSBE) department, and his team at IIT Bombay. The design, development, and extensive pre-clinical testing were carried out by IIT-B as a collaborative project with Tata Memorial Center, Mumbai by the two investigators, DBT said via a press release.
The work is partly supported by Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC). The National Biopharma Mission, under DBT-BIRAC, is also supporting the TMC-IIT Bombay in the Phase I/II trial of their CAR-T product.
Besides this, the National Biopharma Mission is also supporting the development of a Lentiviral vector manufacturing facility for packaging plasmids used to transfer the modified T cell inside the body, a cGMP facility for T-cell transduction, and the expansion for CAR T-cell manufacturing to two other organisations.
Aditya L1 Solar Mission Begins Studying Energetic Particles in Solar Wind
After India’s solar mission, Aditya L1 began its journey towards Lagrange point 1 following a key manoeuvre, it has started studying energetic particles in the solar wind from space and will continue to do so for the rest of its life, a senior astrophysicist said. The study of the solar wind, the continuous flow of charged particles from the sun which permeates the solar system, will be carried out with the help of a device named Supra Thermal & Energetic Particle Spectrometer (STEPS), a part of the Aditya Solar wind Particle Experiment (ASPEX) payload.
“STEPS is now working from space. However, it was not sitting idle earlier. It has started functioning from within the magnetic field of the Earth since September 10 when Aditya was 52,000 kilometres above our planet,” Dr Dibyendu Chakrabarty, professor of Space and Atmospheric Sciences at the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL) said.
STEPS was developed by the PRL with support from the Space Application Centre (SAC) in Ahmedabad.
“During the travel time of four months (till Aditya L1 reaches its destination), it will study energetic particles in the solar wind. The data will help maintain the health and performance of our space assets in a better way,” Dr Chakrabarty told PTI.
The key aim of STEPS is to study the environment of energetic particles from the spacecraft’s position on the L1 point till it will function, he said. “The data from STEPS in the long term will also help us understand how space weather changes,” the space scientist said.
STEPS comprises six sensors, each observing in different directions and measuring supra-thermal and energetic ions. The data collected during the Earth’s orbits helps scientists to analyse the behaviour of particles surrounding the planet, especially in the presence of its magnetic field.
Aditya-L1, launched by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on September 2, will go up to the First Lagrangian point, about 1.5 million km from the Earth ISRO on September 18 said on X: “Off to Sun-Earth L1 point! The Trans-Lagrangean Point 1 Insertion (TL1I) manoeuvre is performed successfully. The spacecraft is now on a trajectory that will take it to the Sun-Earth L1 point.” Lagrangian points are where gravitational forces, acting between two objects, balance each other in such a way that the spacecraft can ‘hover’ for a longer period of time.
The L1 point is considered the most significant of the Lagrangian points, for solar observations, which were discovered by mathematician Joseph Louis Lagrange.
Elon Musk’s Neuralink Receives Approval to Start Brain Implant Human Trial
Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk‘s brain-chip startup Neuralink said on Tuesday it has received approval from an independent review board to begin recruitment for the first human trial of its brain implant for paralysis patients.
Those with paralysis due to cervical spinal cord injury or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis may qualify for the study, it said but did not reveal how many participants would be enrolled in the trial, which will take about six years to complete.
The study will use a robot to surgically place a brain-computer interface (BCI) implant in a region of the brain that controls the intention to move, Neuralink said, adding that its initial goal is to enable people to control a computer cursor or keyboard using their thoughts alone.
The company, which had earlier hoped to receive approval to implant its device in 10 patients, was negotiating a lower number of patients with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) after the agency raised safety concerns, according to current and former employees. It is not known how many patients the FDA ultimately approved.
Musk has grand ambitions for Neuralink, saying it would facilitate speedy surgical insertions of its chip devices to treat conditions like obesity, autism, depression and schizophrenia.
In May, the company said it had received clearance from the FDA for its first-in-human clinical trial when it was already under federal scrutiny for its handling of animal testing.
Even if the BCI device proves to be safe for human use, it would still potentially take more than a decade for the startup to secure commercial use clearance for it, according to experts.
© Thomson Reuters 2023
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
ISRO’s Aditya-L1 Performs TL1I Manoeuvre, Set to Reach Sun-Earth L1 Point
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) announced on Tuesday that its maiden solar mission — Aditya-L1 — has performed the Trans-Lagrangean Point 1 Insertion (TL1I) manoeuvre successfully and the spacecraft was now in a trajectory that will take it to the Sun-Earth L1 point. ISRO also informed that it marked the fifth consecutive time that the ISRO had successfully transferred an object on a trajectory toward another celestial body or location in space.
A post on the ISRO official handle on social media platform X read, “Aditya-L1 Mission | Off to Sun-Earth L1 point | The Trans-Lagrangean Point 1 Insertion (TL1I) manoeuvre is performed successfully. The spacecraft is now on a trajectory that will take it to the Sun-Earth L1 point. It will be injected into an orbit around L1 through a manoeuvre after about 110 days. This is the fifth consecutive time ISRO has successfully transferred an object on a trajectory toward another celestial body or location in space.”
Earlier, a launcher carrying the Aditya-L1 spacecraft blasted off from the Satish Dhawan Space Station at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh. The primary objectives of India’s maiden solar mission include collecting scientific data and marking another milestone in India’s solar exploration efforts.
The agency had earlier posted on X, “Aditya-L1 Mission: Aditya-L1 has commenced collecting scientific data. The sensors of the STEPS instrument have begun measuring supra-thermal and energetic ions and electrons at distances greater than 50,000 km from Earth. This data helps scientists analyze the behaviour of particles surrounding Earth. The figure displays variations in the energetic particle environment, collected by one of the units.”
The Supra Thermal and Energetic Particle Spectrometer (STEPS) instrument, a part of the Aditya Solar Wind Particle Experiment (ASPEX) payload, also started its data-gathering operations earlier.
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