MGRC aims to make the treatment available to patients in South-East Asia for a fraction of that cost
by ASILA JALIL / pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL
MALAYSIAN Genomics Resource Centre Bhd (MGRC) is aiming to make its chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-Cell treatments available in the country for approximately RM200,000, which is a fraction of the treatment prices in Europe and the US.
Its CEO Sasha Nordin (picture) said MGRC has partnered China’s ICARTAB Biomedical Co Ltd, which is developing the technology specifically for solid cancers, as similar treatments for liquid or blood cancers are commercialised in Western countries.
“Part of our mandate is to increase accessibility to new products. What we have been able to do is put an agreement where we can make it available to patients in South-East Asia for a fraction of that cost.
“So, we are working at making it available for less than RM200,000 versus US$400,000 (RM1.61 million) at minimum in Europe and the US,” he told The Malaysian Reserve in an interview yesterday.
Apart from Malaysia, MGRC will also be the exclusive distributor of CAR T-Cell treatment in Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.
Sasha Omar said the company currently has products for six out of the 10 most deadly cancers in the region — namely, liver, pancreas, mesothelioma, oesophagus, brain and stomach. The CAR T-Cell immunotherapy for solid cancer is not a therapy that can be mass produced, he said.
Every treatment under the therapy is unique to the patient as it involves taking a patient’s cells and enabling the patient’s T-cell, an important white blood cell in one’s immune system, to recognise the tumour the patient has.
The T-cell will then be reinfused into the patient’s body to identify the cancerous cell and fight against it to prevent further spread.
“Everytime we encounter a patient, they have to go through a process of qualification to see whether they are suitable for CAR T-Cell therapy. If they pass all the requirements, we will then manufacture T-cells for that patient only.
“That is why we think it is important to make it available at a much lower cost. By fitting our own lab, we can control the cost a little bit more,” he said.
Sasha Omar said its new laboratory will be ready by the end of March this year and operations will resume immediately to meet the demand for the therapy.
The new 12,000 sq ft space will be located in Kota Damansara, where about 7,000 sq ft of the space is dedicated to the laboratory, while the remaining space will be occupied by its office structure.
Sasha Omar expects the segment to contribute 25% to the company’s earnings in its financial year 2022.
MGRC’s share price has rallied by 45.3% or 34 sen higher in the past month to close at RM1.09 yesterday, valuing the company at RM112.83 million.