CAR T-cell Therapy

CAR T-cell Therapy

Why in news :

  • The three major forms of treatment for any cancer are surgery (removing the 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.
  • A new development on this front, currently holding the attention of many researchers worldwide, is the CAR T-cell therapy.

What are CAR-T cells :

  • Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapies represent a quantum leap in the sophistication of cancer treatment.
  • Unlike chemotherapy or immunotherapy, which require mass-produced injectable or oral medication, CAR T-cell therapies use a patient’s own cells.
  • They are modified in the laboratory to activate T-cells, a component of immune cells, to attack tumours.
  • These modified cells are then infused back into the patient’s bloodstream after conditioning them to multiply more effectively.
  • The cells are even more specific than targeted agents and directly activate the patient’s immune system against cancer, making the treatment more clinically effective.
  • This is why they’re called ‘living drugs’.

Working mechanism behind it :

  • In CAR T-cell therapy, the patient’s blood is drawn to harvest T-cells which are immune cells that play a major role in destroying tumour cells.
  • Researchers modify these cells in the laboratory so that they express specific proteins on their surface, known as chimeric antigen receptors (CAR).
  • They have an affinity for proteins on the surface of tumour cells.
  • This modification in the cellular structure allows CAR T-cells to effectively bind to the tumour and destroy it.
  • The final step in the tumour’s destruction involves its clearance by the patient’s immune system.

Syllabus : Prelims + Mains; GS3 – Science and Technology

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