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A study in Nature Medicine has reported for the first time promising results for the use of engineered targeted T-cell immunotherapy to treat multiple myeloma.

Figure. Myeloma... - Click to enlarge in new windowFigure. Myeloma

Patients received an infusion of altered T-cells-roughly 2.4 billion-after undergoing stem cell transplantation of their own stem cells. In 16 of 20 patients with advanced disease, there was a significant clinical response. The researchers called the therapy generally well-tolerated and found that modified immune cells traveled to the bone marrow, where myeloma tumors typically are found, and showed a long-term antitumor response. Relapse was generally associated with a loss of the engineered T-cells.


"This study suggests that treatment with engineered T-cells is not only safe but of potential clinical benefit to patients with certain types of aggressive multiple myeloma," principal investigator Aaron P. Rapoport, MD, Director of the Blood and Marrow Transplant Program at the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center, said in a news release. "Our findings provide a strong foundation for further research in the field of cellular immunotherapy for myeloma to help achieve even better results.


The research was a collaboration between the University of Maryland School of Medicine, the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and the funder of the study, Adaptimmune, which owns the core T-cell receptor technology. Rapoport's coauthors were Chief of the Section of Hematologic Malignancies at the University of Pennsylvania Abramson Cancer Center; and Gwendolyn K. Binder-Scholl, PhD, of Adaptimmune.


Of the 20 patients treated, 14 (70%) had a near complete or complete response three months after treatment. Median progression-free survival was approximately 19 months and overall survival was 32 months. Two patients had a very good partial response three months post-treatment. Half the patients were treated at the University of Maryland Greenebaum Cancer Center and half at the University of Pennsylvania Abramson Cancer Center.


The researchers noted that the response rate was better than would be expected for a standard autologous stem cell transplant, and that patients did not have the side effects that have been associated with chimeric antigen receptors (CARS) T cell therapy used to treat other cancers.


Good Collaboration

Also commenting in the news release, E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, Vice President for Medical Affairs at the University of Maryland and the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor and Dean of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, said: "This study reveals the promise that immunotherapy with genetically engineered T-cells holds for boosting the body's ability to attack the cancer and provide patients with better treatments and control of their disease. The trial is also an excellent example of significant scientific advances that result from collaborations between academic medical institutions and private industry."