CAR-T Cells Can Increase Clinical Remission Rates in Multiple Myeloma Patients

August 2, 2017

The new immunotherapy of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T cells has demonstrated the ability to increase clinical remission in multiple myeloma patients by targeting the B-cell maturation protein that participates in disease progression.

The new immunotherapy of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T cells has demonstrated the ability to increase clinical remission in multiple myeloma patients by targeting the B-cell maturation protein that participates in disease progression.

CAR-T cells are constructed from each patient’s personal T cells and therefore are customizable for every patient. These genetically reprogrammed cells include an artificial gene that targets and destroying cancer cells.

A new clinical trial investigates CAR-T cells’ ability to target B-cell maturation protein (BCMA), which is involved in the progression of multiple myeloma. The trial included 35 patients with relapsed or treatment resistant multiple myeloma that received 3 split doses over 1 week. Following 2 months of CAR-T cell therapy, 94% (33 patients) displayed evidence of clinical remission.

“Although recent advances in chemotherapy have prolonged life expectancy in multiple myeloma, this cancer remains incurable,” study author Wanhong Zhao, MD, PhD, an associate director of hematology at The Second Affiliated Hospital of Xi’an Jiaotong University in Xi’an, China, said in a statement. “It appears that with this novel immunotherapy there may be a chance for cure in multiple myeloma, but we will need to follow patients much longer to confirm that.”

Of the 35 patients, 19 continued to be in the study for more than 4 months, the determined amount of time to calculate full efficacy according to the International Myeloma Working Group. Furthermore, 14 of the 19 patients exemplified complete response criteria, 1 patient reached partial response, and 4 demonstrated very good partial remission efficacy.

Disease progression was only found in 1 patient in the very good partial response category. However, 85% of the patients who received CAR-T cell therapy experienced cytokine release syndrome (CRS). Most of those who experienced CRS only faced mild symptoms, while the 2 patients who had severe CRS recovered with the utilization of necessary treatment.

“While it’s still early, these data are a strong sign that CAR-T cell therapy can send multiple myeloma into remission,” concluded ASCO Expert Michael S. Sabel, MD, FACS. “It’s rare to see such high response rates, especially for a hard-to-treat cancer. This serves as proof that immunotherapy and precision medicine research pays off. We hope that future research builds on this success in multiple myeloma and other cancers.”