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Narayana Health Initiates Phase II Clinical Trial of CAR-T

Narayana Health, one of the leading healthcare chain in India, today announced that they have offered support to Immuneel Therapeutics, to build the most advanced CAR-T cell laboratory at the Narayana Health city Bengaluru. With this Narayana Health will offer hospital-based CAR-T cell generating laboratory and initiate the Phase II Clinical Trial.

Speaking about the development, Dr. Devi Shetty, Chairman and Founder, Narayana Health, said, “At Narayana Health we have always been at the forefront of adopting the latest treatment modalities that will help our patients. The association with Immuneel and the setting up of CAR-T cell laboratory is an extension of this vision. We are planning to set up an in-house facility that offers CAR-T therapy and want to make CAR-T cell therapy affordable to Indians.”

In CAR-T type of treatment the lymphocytes (one type of white cells) are taken from the patient, genetically modified, equipped to kill cancer cells and re-infused back into the patient. These modified cells called CAR-T cells circulate in patients’ body and selectively kill the cancer cells. Unlike chemotherapy, this treatment is highly selective immunotherapy and does targeted killing and hence does not have the side effects of the traditional chemotherapy. CAR-T is highly effective in relapsed and refractory blood cancers like Leukaemia and Multiple Myeloma and has shown promising results in other types of cancers that are difficult to treat as well as resistant to other forms of treatment including bone marrow transplants. 

The occasion also witnessed Narayana Health celebrating the successful completion of 2000 Bone Marrow Transplants. The achievement gives Narayana Health the distinction of being the first healthcare provider in the country to have performed 2000 Bone Marrow Transplants. During the eventdoctors’ also presented the case study of 2-year-old Amyra Sikandar Khan. Hailing from Karachi in Pakistan, the child was recently treated through Bone Marrow Transplant for Mucopolysaccharidosis type I (MPS I), a rare condition that has the potential to impact the functioning of multiple organs including the eyes and brain. Daughter of Cricket Commentator, Sikandar Bakht, the child was saved using the bone marrow of the father, who was the donor. The child was treated at Narayana Health City, Bangalore.

Addressing the gathering, Dr. Devi Shetty, Chairman and Founder, Narayana Health said, “In 2004 when we started our first unit in Bangalore with 2 members, our idea was to provide Bone Marrow Transplant facilities to the residents in and around Karnataka. I am glad and proud that today we have 25 doctors and 300 nursing expert team treating more than 25 -30patients every month and have become the sought-after chain for the treatment modality.

Approximately 2 lakh patients in India get diagnosed every year with various blood disorders, however, there are only few large scale BMT facilities calling for further capacity expansion. We are looking at adding 20 beds and setting up 4 more centres across Ahmedabad, Raipur, Mysore and Gurugram,” added Dr. Emmanuel Rupert, Managing Director and Group CEO, Narayana Health.

BMT is an effective treatment modality for cancerous conditions like acute and chronic Myeloid and Lymphoblastic Leukemia, Hodgkin’s and Non-hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Myeloproliferative Neoplasms, Primary Myelofibrosis and Multiple Myeloma. It is also the suggested form of treatment for blood disorders namely Aplastic Anaemia, Immunodeficiency disorders, congenital storage disorders, congenital errors of metabolism and Haemoglobinopathies such as Thalassemia and Sickle Cell Anaemia.

Elaborating about the potential of BMT, Dr. Sharat Damodar, Chairman – Oncology Services & Oncology Collegium, Clinical Director – MSMC, Sr. Consultant & Head of Adult Haematology & Bone Marrow Transplant Unit, Narayana Health City, said, “Though Bone Marrow Transplant has the potential to cure more than 20 types of diseases and success rate of around 70-80%, awareness about this treatment modality is poor both among patients as well as physicians requiring a holistic approach to educate them, so that this treatment can provide the benefits to more and more patients in our country.’’

“Another key challenge impacting the adoption of this modality is the lack of general awareness in the public and also the medical fraternity. While there has been advances and stem cells of unrelated donors and haploidentical (half matched) donors have been used for those lacking full matched family donors, there is still a mismatch. In a country of over 1.4 billion population, there are only approximately 5 lakh registered donor available while the number of patients been diagnosed with conditions that require BMT is growing, calling for greater awareness and access to facilities,” added Dr. Sunil Bhat, Vice Chairman – Oncology Services & Oncology Collegium, Director & Clinical Lead – Paediatric Haematology, Oncology, Blood and Bone Marrow Transplantation.

A memoir by Manas, a BMT survivor, was also unveiled during the event. The memoir captures his journey though the condition and treatment. The occasion also witnessed more than 100BMT recipients being felicitated for their fighting spirit.

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