Immunotherapy Advances May Now Help Patients with Reoccurring Multiple Myeloma

Immunotherapy Can Expand Options for Those With Limited Cancer Treatment Options
Immunotherapy Can Expand Options for Those With Limited Cancer Treatment Options

One of the benefits of immunotherapy for cancer is that these treatments often have positive results where others have failed. Results of two recent studies show that immunotherapy has real possibilities for treating multiple myeloma.

What Is Multiple Myeloma?

Multiple myeloma is the second-most diagnosed form of blood cancer, just behind non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. In patients with multiple myeloma, infection-fighting plasma cells grow out of control, causing bone tumors and chronic infections.

Immunotherapy for Cancer: A Promising Treatment for Multiple Myeloma?

In 2017, a research team from Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania conducted two separate studies involving patients with multiple myeloma that had proven resistant to other therapies.

Patients in the first study received a single dose of chemotherapy before being infused with CART-BCMA, a specific form of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy developed by Penn researchers in collaboration with Novartis. Results indicated that 64 percent of the group had a positive response.

In the second study, sponsored by GlaxoSmithKline, patients received an experimental monoclonal antibody known as GSK2857916. The drug specifically targets delivery of a chemotherapy drug directly to cancer cells. Overall response rate was 60 percent, with more than half the responding patients experiencing a greater than 90 percent reduction in myeloma protein levels.

Both treatments target BCMA, which is a protein expressed by multiple myeloma cells.

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