May 22, 2024
Immuno-Oncology Drugs

India’s Emergence as a Leader in Immuno-Oncology Drugs

Emergence of Immuno-Oncology and its Promise for Cancer Treatment

Immunotherapy or Immuno-oncology is an innovative approach to cancer treatment that utilizes the body’s own immune system to fight cancer. It harnesses the power of the immune system by either boosting the existing immune cells or engineering new cells to recognize and destroy cancer cells. Immuno-oncology promises durable responses, improved long-term survival and quality of life for cancer patients. The early encouraging results have made immuno-oncology one of the most promising areas of oncology research.

Key Immuno-Oncology Drugs and their Mechanisms of Action

Checkpoint inhibitors: These drugs help immune cells recognize and attack cancer cells by blocking inhibitory checkpoint molecules like PD-1 and CTLA-4 expressed on T-cells and tumor cells. Some of the FDA approved checkpoint inhibitors include Opdivo (nivolumab), Keytruda (pembrolizumab), Tecentriq (atezolizumab) and Bavencio (avelumab).

CAR T-cell therapy:
This involves collecting T-cells from the patient’s blood and engineering them genetically to express chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) targeting specific tumor antigens. The modified CAR T-cells are infused back into the patient where they proliferate and attack cancer cells expressing the targeted antigen. Kymriah and Yescarta are the first two FDA approved CAR T-cell therapies.

Cancer vaccines: These therapeutic vaccines harness the power of one’s Immuno-Oncology Drugs system by training it to recognize tumor-specific antigens and mount an immune response against cancer cells. Sipuleucel-T is an FDA approved autologous cellular immunotherapy for prostate cancer.

India’s Growing Immuno-Oncology

India, with its large cancer burden, generics expertise and cost advantages, is well-positioned to become a leader in the global immuno-oncology. Some key trends driving India’s growing immuno-oncology include:

Increased awareness and demand: With encouraging clinical trial results, awareness about immuno-oncology among oncologists as well as patients in India has increased significantly over the last few years. This is translating to higher demand for these novel targeted therapies.

Government push: The Government of India has launched the National Cancer Grid to promote affordable and equitable access to advanced cancer care including immunotherapies. Several public-private partnerships are also being formed to conduct more immuno-oncology clinical trials in India.

Domestic manufacturing capabilities: India has strong generics manufacturing capabilities and several local players like Dr. Reddy’s, Biocon, Zydus Cadila, etc. are developing biosimilars of popular immuno-oncology drugs and building local manufacturing capacities.

Cost advantages: Being 60-70% cheaper than the original drugs, Indian biosimilars will make immuno-oncology accessible to more patients. Various industry-academia collaborations are also optimizing treatment protocols to derive maximum benefit from minimal resource utilization.

Pipeline of indigenous drugs:
R&D hubs like Mumbai’s Haffkine Institute are conducting research on novel indigenous vaccines, oncolytic viruses and other immune-modulatory combinations tailored for Indian cancers. This will address the unmet needs of the local population.

India’s Immuno-Oncology Drug Pipeline and Potential

Some of the key immuno-oncology drugs in the pipeline in India include:

– PD1 inhibitors: Myl-1401O (Myeloid Therapeutics), IND-21 (Innaccel), IND-22 (Innaccel) – Biosimilars of Opdivo, Keytruda etc.

– CTLA4 inhibitor: ZYCL04 (Zydus Cadila) – Biosimilar of Yervoy

– NK cell therapy: HaCaT (Hetero Biopharma) – Allogeneic activated NK cells

– Oncolytic viruses
: Reovirus (Haffkine Institute) for various cancers

– Cancer vaccines: OV-19 (Zyduz Cadila), HBI-1500 (HBI) for cervical cancer

With over 1.5 million new cancer cases annually in India, the potential for Immuno-Oncology Drugs, cost benefits of Indian innovations and collaborations with global pioneers will help fulfill this potential and make India one of the leading hubs for immuno-oncology globally.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it