- Pune saw its first patient who underwent immunotherapy in the last week.
- Ramesh Bhise (name changed) (48), who is suffering from prostate cancer, was being treated with the combination of chemotherapy and radiation. But his battle with cancer was far from over.
- As a last resort, doctors decided to use immunotherapy as a means to tackle the disease.
Dr Minish Jain, senior oncologist at Ruby Hall clinic in Pune, who administered the Dendritic Cell Therapy (DTC) on Bhise for the first time in the city, said, “This technique reaches places where even surgeons hands cannot reach. It is the therapy where one’s own cells fight against cancer. This is a new way of attacking the disease and can be labelled as micro surgery.”
How does Dendritic Cell Therapy (DTC) work?
DCT involves harvesting blood cells (monocytes) in the laboratory into dendritic cells. Dendritic cells are professional antigen presenting cells of the immune system with a capability to ingest and process antigen in peripheral blood and tissues. These are then reintroduced into the body in the form of a vaccine-like injection.
“This therapy does not have any side effects. The patient will undergo six sessions and 15 minute infusion of dendritic cells. We advise this therapy for advance stage cancer patients. It is important to choose the right patient, to show dendritic cells correct antigen and to make the correct vaccine,” said Dr Jain.
How does immunotherapy work?
Immunotherapy with dendritic cell helps the body’s own defence mechanism fight cancer cell. Treatment with dendritic cell therapy (DTC) is only resorted to when treatment with conventional therapy has failed. Experts say that it is interesting to see cancer patients being successfully treated using immune cells from their own body.
Experts say that while the conventional cancer therapy revolves around surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and their combinations; immunotherapy – a technique which had won the Noble Prize for medicine in 2011, is offering a ray of hope for advanced stage cancer patients.
After completion of successful trials in India, drug control authority has given permissions to selected doctors from few cities in India to make the therapy available to patients with cancer.
The drug controller has given an approval for four types of cancers. Accordingly, the therapy can be used in the case of lung, colorectal, ovary and prostate cancers in India.
The trials were concluded in 2014 in India. Dr P T Bapsy, senior oncologist from Apollo hospital Bangalore, who was part of the trials, said, “It is just coming up in India and very few doctors have got approval from drug controller. We had done the trials on terminal patients and it was found to be successful. Oncologists across the country will soon adopt to this technique.”