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ICT chalks out pan India foray to widen reach of Denvax, scouts for VC & PE investments

Nandita Vijay, Bengaluru
Monday, December 24, 2012, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

Institute Of Cellular Therapies (ICT), which has customised dendritic cell immunotherapy (DCI) under the brand name, Denvax, for cancer control has devised its game plan to increase its presence in India with an investment between Rs.50 crore and Rs.100 crore. It will collaborate with hospitals to set up out- patient departments (OPDs). Plans are underway to establish its second lab in the country at Bengaluru which will focus not just on cancer but chronic conditions like hepatitis B and C besides HIV. The Institute already has a technology in hand to control HIV.

ICT has already invested around Rs.50 crore over the last eight years to set up its first advanced lab of global standards at Noida and for conducting clinical trials of Denvax. “Now we will need a VC or PE to chip in assistance for our future forays,” Dr Jamal A Khan, founder, Institute Of Cellular Therapies told Pharmabiz in a telecom.

For the last eight years, Denvax has proved its safety and efficacious profile, devoid of any toxicity. So far all the blood samples have been airlifted to the lab at Noida. There are many patients from southern India particularly Bengaluru who are educated, with required finances and comprehended the time-bound need for DCI which has enhanced the quality of response to the treatment. This led us to consider Bengaluru as the next centre of choice not just for treatment to have our second lab, stated Dr Khan who is also the member American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) and the Indian Medical Association (IMA).

“So far we have treated 1500 cancer patients and cost of four-month treatment is between Rs.4 - 6 lakh, he added.

Dendritic Cells are key antigen presenting cells (APCs) of the immune system. They initiate, and regulate immune responses. Now Denvax is a targeted and an autologus treatment where mononuclear (CD14+) cells are extracted from the patient’s own blood. The cultured cells, are re-infused into the patient on the eighth day of blood collection. The cancer fighting ‘dendritic cells’ recognises the patient’s tumour cells and targets them inside the body. This therapy sans contraindications. We have several case studies published in Pubmed, highlighting DCT’s preventing relapse of cancer and giving a new lease of life to patients,” said Dr Khan.

The DCI’s biggest advantage is that it treats solid tumours of the breast, bone, brain, bladder, gastrointestinal tract, head and neck, pancreatic, gallbladder, liver, renal, lung, lymphoma, multiple myeloma, ovarian, pancreatic, prostate and testicular. It benefits best immediately after surgery when the tumour load is minimal. The therapy is also used for palliation in advanced cancers, he said.

Cancers recur when cells are left behind. These remain dormant for some time, but eventually multiply resulting in a relapse. Surgical resection, chemotherapy and radiation are mostly ineffective to control micro metastasis or cell clusters shed by solid cancers and disseminated to various body organs. But DCT targets the micro metastasis and destroys these cells, said Dr Khan.

Denvax has proven to treat childhood brain malignancies too. Lancet study in March 2012 reports on India’s rising cancer deaths where 71.1 per cent of fatality occurred in patients of 30 to 69 years. “Now in order to ensure early DCI administration, ICT has sought for pan India expansion,” said Dr Khan.


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