Connect with others who understand.

sign up log in
Resources
About MyMyelomaTeam

Connect with others who understand.

sign up log in
Resources
About MyMyelomaTeam

Gene-Based Therapy May Thwart a Tough Blood Cancer

Posted on December 20, 2018


By Dennis Thompson, HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, June 5, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Genetically tuning a person's own immune cells to target cancer appears to provide long-lasting protection against a blood cancer called multiple myeloma, an early trial from China shows.

The treatment, called CAR T-cell therapy, caused 33 out of 35 patients with recurring multiple myeloma to either enter full remission or experience a significant reduction in their cancer.
The results are "impressive," said Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society.

"These are patients who have had prior treatment and had their disease return, and 100 percent of the patients are reported to have had some form of meaningful response to these cells that were administered," Lichtenfeld said.

The new therapy is custom-made for each patient. Doctors collect the patient's own T-cells -- one of the immune system's main cell types -- and genetically reprogram them to target and attack abnormal multiple myeloma cells.

Lead researcher Dr. Wanhong Zhao likened the process
to fitting immune cells with a GPS that steers them to cancer cells -- making them into professional killers that never miss their target.

Zhao is associate director of hematology at the Second Affiliated Hospital of Xi'an Jiaotong University in Xi'an, China.

CAR T-cell therapy is promising because the genetically altered T-cells are expected to roost in a person's body, multiplying and providing long-term protection, Lichtenfeld said.


"The theory is they should attack the tumor and continue to grow to become a long-term monitoring and treatment system," Lichtenfeld said. "It's not a one-shot deal."

The technology represents the next step forward in immunotherapy for cancer, said Dr. Michael Sabel, chief of surgical oncology at the University of Michigan.

"Immunotherapy is now really providing hope to a lot of patients with cancers that were not really responding to our standard chemotherapies," Sabel said.

CAR T-cell therapy previously has been used to treat lymphoma and lymphocytic leukemia, Lichtenfeld said.

Zhao and his colleagues decided to try the therapy to treat multiple myeloma. They re-engineered the patients' T-cells and then reintroduced them to the body in three infusions performed within one week.

Multiple
myeloma is a cancer that occurs in plasma cells, which are mainly found in bone marrow and produce antibodies to fight infections. About 30,300 people will likely be diagnosed with multiple myeloma this year in the United States, researchers said in background notes.

"Multiple
myeloma is a disease that historically was fatal in the course of a couple of years," Lichtenfeld said. During the past two decades, new breakthroughs have extended survival out 10 to 15 years in some patients, he noted.

To date, 19 of the first 35 Chinese patients have been followed for more than four months, researchers report.

Fourteen of those 19 patients have reached the highest level of remission, researchers report. There hasn't been a relapse among any of these patients, including five followed for more than a year.

"That's as far as you can go in terms of driving down the amount of tumor that's in the body," Lichtenfeld said.

Out of the remaining five patients, one experienced a partial response and four a very good response, researchers said.

However, about 85 percent of the patients experienced cytokine release syndrome (CRS), a potentially dangerous side effect of CAR T-cell therapy.


Symptoms of cytokine release syndrome can include fever, low blood pressure, difficulty breathing, and impaired organ function, the researchers said. However, most of the patients experienced only transient symptoms, and "now we have drugs to treat it," Lichtenfeld said.

History suggests the therapy will cost a lot if it receives approval, Lichtenfeld said. However, prior to approval, much more research will be needed, he added.

The Chinese research team plans to enroll a total of 100 patients in this clinical trial at four hospitals in China. They also plan a similar clinical trial in the United States this year, Zhao said.

The study was funded by Nanjing Legend Biotech Co., the Chinese firm developing the technology.


Note: This article was published more than one year ago. The facts and conclusions presented may have since changed and may no longer be accurate.

SOURCES: Len Lichtenfeld, M.D., deputy chief medical officer, American Cancer Society; Wanhong Zhao, M.D., Ph.D., associate director, hematology, Second Affiliated Hospital of Xi'an Jiaotong University, Xi'an, China; Michael Sabel, M.D., chief, surgical oncology, University of Michigan; June 5, 2017, presentation, American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting, Chicago

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved.
What do you think about gene-therapy treatment?
Share in the comments below or directly on MyMyelomaTeam.
All updates must be accompanied by text or a picture.

Related articles

Solitary plasmacytoma and multiple myeloma are types of cancer that form from plasma cells....

Solitary Plasmacytoma vs. Myeloma: How Are They Different?

Solitary plasmacytoma and multiple myeloma are types of cancer that form from plasma cells....
M protein is a molecule that is not normally made by the body. The “M” technically stands for “...

The Role of M Protein in Myeloma

M protein is a molecule that is not normally made by the body. The “M” technically stands for “...
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with multiple myeloma, treatments are available. Take...

How Much Do You Know About Myeloma Treatments?

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with multiple myeloma, treatments are available. Take...
By: Robert Preidt, HealthDay Reporter WEDNESDAY, March 27, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- The chances...

Ancestry Matters When Seeking Matched Bone Marrow Donors

By: Robert Preidt, HealthDay Reporter WEDNESDAY, March 27, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- The chances...
By Steven Reinberg, HealthDay Reporter TUESDAY, Jan. 8, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- Over the past 25...

U.S. Cancer Deaths Continue to Decline

By Steven Reinberg, HealthDay Reporter TUESDAY, Jan. 8, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- Over the past 25...

Recent articles

Every myeloma therapy option comes with potential benefits and potential risks.Your doctor will...

Weighing the Risks and Benefits of Myeloma Treatment Options

Every myeloma therapy option comes with potential benefits and potential risks.Your doctor will...
Working while undergoing treatment for multiple myeloma is a personal decision with several...

Working With Multiple Myeloma

Working while undergoing treatment for multiple myeloma is a personal decision with several...
Thanks to years of cancer research and public-health messaging, most people understand that...

Smoking and Multiple Myeloma

Thanks to years of cancer research and public-health messaging, most people understand that...
Around 63 percent of people newly diagnosed with myeloma are also living with — or have a history...

Understanding Heart Disease and Myeloma Treatment

Around 63 percent of people newly diagnosed with myeloma are also living with — or have a history...
Multiple myeloma is a cancer in which white blood cells called plasma cells develop abnormalities...

Myeloma and Ethnicity: Is Race a Risk Factor in Multiple Myeloma?

Multiple myeloma is a cancer in which white blood cells called plasma cells develop abnormalities...
Feelings of worry, fear, and anxiety are common when living with cancer such as myeloma. In fact,...

Managing Anxiety and Myeloma

Feelings of worry, fear, and anxiety are common when living with cancer such as myeloma. In fact,...
MyMyelomaTeam My myeloma Team

Thank you for subscribing!

Become a member to get even more:

sign up for free

close