According to a story from Medpage Today, a recent phase II clinical trial of an experimental dual-action CAR-T cell therapy has yielded an impressive 95 percent response rate. The drug was tested in patients with the rare blood cancer multiple myeloma. The results of this study were first published in the medical journal Lancet Haematology.
About Multiple Myeloma
Multiple myeloma, which is occasionally referred to as plasma cell myeloma, is a blood cancer that affects plasma cells. These are white blood cells that produce antibodies. The overall cause of multiple myeloma is not well understood, however, some risk factors have been identified. These include obesity, family history, smoldering myeloma, and monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance. These last two conditions have the potential to develop into multiple myeloma. Symptoms of this cancer include bone pain, infections, anemia, kidney failure, overly thick blood, confusion, fatigue, headaches, and amyloidosis. Treatment includes chemo, stem cell transplant, and other medications for relapsed disease, which is common. Five year survival rate is 49 percent in the US. To learn more about multiple myeloma, click here.
About CAR-T Cell Therapy
CAR-T cell therapy is a relatively new and unique approach to treating cancer. CAR-T cell therapies work by extracting T-cells (critical immune system cells) from the patient. These cells are then modified in such a way that they can target and destroy cancer cells. These cells are then propagated in the lab setting before being reintroduced into the patient’s body. While the approach carries some significant safety risks, it can be an effective option for patients who are no longer responding to other, more conventional methods.
The CAR-T cells in the study were modified to respond to two distinct receptors: anti-B-cell maturation antigen (BCMA) and CD19, therefore creating a dual action CAR-T cell. 20 of the 21 patients in the study responded to the treatment. At six months, 43 percent had what were deemed “stringent” complete responses and 14 percent had complete responses. “Very good” partial responses were observed in 24 percent and partial responses were seen in 14 percent.
The study authors suggest that dual CAR-T cell therapy could be a viable therapy in patients that have been extensively treated with other methods; however, the patients in this study were not as heavily pre-treated as in many other CAR-T cell trials.
Regardless, further research will be necessary to compare this therapy to single-action CAR-T approaches.