CRM Nepal takes strides towards revolutionary cancer treatment with CAR-T cell therapy

KATHMANDU: In a significant development for cancer treatment in Nepal, the Center for Regeneration Medicine (CRM Nepal) has successfully tested CAR-T cell therapy in its laboratory, marking a groundbreaking step toward introducing advanced cancer treatment technology in the country.

Surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy have traditionally been the primary methods for cancer treatment, but emerging technologies like biotherapy are gaining traction globally.

Among these, CAR-T cells have proven highly effective in treating cancer, particularly B-cell cancers. Pioneering studies by researchers from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the University of Pennsylvania in the USA have reported a remarkable 90 percent cure rate in terminally ill B-cell cancer patients.

While CAR-T cell therapy has been predominantly limited to developed countries, CRM Nepal aims to change this by working towards introducing the technology for cancer treatment in Nepal. The organization has successfully tested the USFDA certified CD-19 CAR in the laboratory, demonstrating its efficacy comparable to leading international counterparts.

Dr. Sanjivan Gautam, a consultant at CRM Nepal, highlighted the challenges of introducing this technology in Nepal, citing the high cost of reagents and equipment. However, he emphasized CRM Nepal’s commitment to making CAR-T cell therapy accessible to Nepali cancer patients at a fraction of the cost incurred in developed countries.

The initial goal is to make this advanced therapy available to around 100 blood cancer patients per year, expanding gradually to include solid cancer treatment. The lack of a regulatory framework and insufficient information to patients and doctors are identified as major challenges by Professor Sudhamshu KC from the National Academy of Medical Sciences (NAMS).

CRM Nepal organized the first international conference in 2023 to educate government institutions, the public, and doctors about CAR-T cell therapy, addressing the gap in knowledge and access between Nepal and developed countries.

Experts, including Dr. Om Kurmi from Coventry University, UK, emphasized the importance of government institutions involved in health policy making to facilitate the accessibility of CAR-T cell therapy to Nepali cancer patients. Geneticist Mr. Balram Gautam acknowledged the method’s complications due to the need for imported infrastructure and components.

CRM Nepal aims to bring USFDA-approved CART-Cells to Nepal with DDA approval and collaborate with American, German, and Brazilian organizations to produce CART-Cell locally. Training Nepali oncologists by leading CAR-T cell experts from developed countries is also in the pipeline to bridge the knowledge gap.

While it is estimated to take another year for CART-Cell therapy to be available for human use in Nepal, the successful laboratory test brings hope to cancer patients in the country. CRM Nepal is optimistic that collaborative efforts with regulatory agencies and hospitals will bring this revolutionary technology to Nepali cancer patients, providing a ray of hope on World Cancer Day.

Fiscal Nepal |
Monday February 5, 2024, 02:50:27 PM |

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