Tata Memorial Centre

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Tata Memorial Centre

The Tata Memorial Centre, a grant-in-aid institution under the central government, is a leading institute for cancer prevention, treatment and research ever since it was established in 1941. It is currently under the union government’s Department of Atomic Energy.

The Centre receives at least 64,000 patients every year from across India as well as from neighbouring countries. The majority of them receive treatment at the Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai, and 70% of the patients are treated free of charge. The hospital is a 629-bed facility. Every year, the hospital performs over 11,500 major surgeries and 18,500 minor ones, including robotic surgery.

The Tata Memorial Centre’s research wing has, for several years, been at the forefront of advanced cancer research in India. This includes research specific to India and South Asia, and research into treatment options that can be more affordable for the population in these regions.

The project supported by MFE:

Phase 3 randomised study for evaluation of addition of Pembrolizumab immunotherapy to palliative therapy in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

This project aims to provide funding for an innovative long-term study by the Tata Memorial Centre to develop low-cost, affordable treatment for patients of non-small cell lung cancer in India, through the use of an immunotherapy agent called Pembrolizumab. The randomised study is to be conducted on at least 342 lung cancer patients in need of palliative therapy. Half the patients are to receive standard chemotherapy treatment, while the other half are to receive standard chemotherapy plus low doses of Pembrolizumab.

If the low-cost immunotherapy treatment is found to increase the rates of survival among patients, then the study could help bring down the cost of Stage 4 lung cancer treatment from Rs 2-2.5 lakh per month to just Rs 50,000 a month. This would make a significant difference in low and middle-income countries like India, where – according to another study by the Tata Memorial Centre – only 2.8% of lung cancer patients can access treatment with immunotherapy.

Under the study, researchers expect a survival rate of 25% among Stage 4 patients receiving standard chemotherapy. Among those receiving the additional immunotherapy doses, they expect a survival rate of 35%. The study is expected to take four to five years for completion, with the majority of funds required for purchasing the Pembrolizumab medicine.