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Immunotherapy May Be Effective in the Treatment of Multiple Myeloma

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Key Points

  • Researchers used cell lines and fresh myeloma cells from patients to produce genetically engineered T cells with a receptor that targets CS1 and kills multiple myeloma cells.
  • Compared to control T cells, the modified T cells better recognized multiple myeloma cells that overexpressed CS1, and they became more activated following the recognition.
  • In animal models, the modified T cells greatly reduced the tumor burden and prolonged overall survival.

A new study by researchers at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center–Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC–James) provides evidence that genetically modifying immune cells might effectively treat multiple myeloma. The findings by Chu et al were published in Clinical Cancer Research.

Novel Treatment Strategy

The researchers modified T lymphocytes to target a molecule called CS1 (which is found on more than 95% of myeloma cells) and to kill the cells. The researchers grew the modified cells in the lab to increase their numbers and then injected them into an animal model, where they again killed human myeloma cells.

“Despite current drugs and use of bone marrow transplantation, multiple myeloma is still incurable, and almost all patients eventually relapse,” said co-principal investigator and Craig Hofmeister, MD, MPH, Assistant Professor of Medicine and a member of the OSUCCC–James Translational Therapeutics Program.

“This study presents a novel strategy for treating multiple myeloma, and we hope to bring it to patients as part of a phase I clinical trial as soon as possible,” Dr. Hofmeister said. 

“In particular, our study shows that we can modify T lymphocytes to target CS1, and that these cells efficiently destroy human multiple myeloma cells,” said principal investigator Jianhua Yu, PhD, Assistant Professor of Medicine and a member of the OSUCCC–James Leukemia Research Program.

“An important possible advantage to this approach is that these therapeutic T cells have the potential to replicate in the body, and therefore they might suppress tumor growth and prevent relapse for a prolonged period," Dr. Yu said.

Study Details

For this study, Drs. Yu, Hofmeister, and their colleagues used cell lines and fresh myeloma cells from patients to produce genetically engineered T cells with a receptor that targets CS1. The researchers then tested the capacity of the modified cells to kill human multiple myeloma cells in laboratory studies and an animal model.

Compared to control T cells, the modified T cells better recognized multiple myeloma cells that overexpressed CS1, and they became more activated following the recognition. The researchers successfully modified fresh T cells from patients and showed that the cells can be expanded in the lab, and that they efficiently recognized and eradicated myeloma cells.

Finally, in animal models, the modified T cells greatly reduced the tumor burden and prolonged overall survival. All mice that received the modified T cells were alive 44 days after treatment vs 29% and 17% of the study’s two control groups.

The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health, Multiple Myeloma Opportunities for Research and Education, the National Blood Foundation, and an OSUCCC–James Pelotonia Idea Grant.

The content in this post has not been reviewed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Inc. (ASCO®) and does not necessarily reflect the ideas and opinions of ASCO®.


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