November convention to promote autologous gene therapy

City Health

Autologous gene therapy uses a patient’s own stem cells to cure diseases like cancer, HIV, cardiovascular diseases and even eye infections.

Bangalore, April 11, 2018: The National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) will hold a convention in November this year to promote autologous gene therapy for commercialization where 12 countries are likely to participate.

Autologous gene therapy is gaining traction and attention in India.

The procedure entails taking stem cells from the patient’s body, correcting these for faulty genes outside the body and then transplanting the corrected cells back into the body.

Dr. Sunita Agarwal, ophthalmologist, Dr. Agarwal Hospitals & Gene Research Foundation, said, “We take a drop of patient’s blood, draw the bio-information which it contains and use that information for correcting the gene, and then re-inject it into the patient’s blood. The use of the patient’s own cells helps us treat him in a unique manner customised for his body. In fact, India has been doing stem cell therapy in some ways from last 20 years in the form of In-vitro fertilization”

Notably, one such injection costs Rs. 18,000 and the whole treatment requires a minimum of 10 injections.

She added, the organisation had treated 18,000 patients. Of that, more than 1000 were cancer patients and about 200 were HIV patients.

However, expert opinions differ. Dr. Rohit Kulkarni, Managing Director, ReeLabs Pvt. Ltd., said, “Gene therapy by and large has failed to deliver. Research has been ongoing since 10-15 years. Around 1800 clinical trials for the therapy are going on but only 5-10 have hardly been approved for treatment.”

Prof. Ramaswamy S, Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, said, “The therapy can be used to treat genetic disorders and not all cancers are genetic in nature. We cannot claim that this can treat cancer in general.”