STAb T-Cell–Based Immunotherapy in Multiple Myeloma

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A novel immunotherapy based on STAb T cells may be more effective at treating multiple myeloma than chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy, according to a recent study published by Díez-Alonso et al in Science Translational Medicine.


Multiple myeloma is the second most common hematologic malignancy in adult patients.

Immunotherapy is already improving treatment options for many types of cancers, but new studies continue to explore ways to boost the body's immune response against cancer. CAR T-cell therapy—which involves the modification of the patient’s T-lymphocyte immune cells in a laboratory setting to enhance their ability to recognize and attack tumor cells—is currently the preferred treatment option among patients with multiple myeloma.

“In recent years, these [malignancies] have begun to be treated with CAR T-cell immunotherapy, which has meant a substantial improvement over previous therapeutic tools,” explained senior study author Luis Álvarez-Vallina, MD, PhD, Head of the Cancer Immunotherapy Clinical Research Unit at the 12 de Octubre University Hospital and Spanish National Cancer Research Center. “In spite of this, and although patients now have longer survival times, a significant proportion of patients experience relapse, and relapse treatments are needed.”

Study Methods and Results

In the recent study, researchers compared the efficacy of STAb T-cell–based cellular immunotherapy with CAR T-cell therapy. Both of the therapies involved cells modified to recognize B-cell maturation antigens only present in the tumor cells.

The researchers demonstrated that STAb T cells outperformed CAR T cells by recruiting natural, unmodified T cells within the body to also attack the tumor cells, thus amplifying the therapeutic efficacy.

In some patients with multiple myeloma, the B-cell maturation antigen may be found in soluble form when there is a high tumor burden. This can hinder the activity of CAR T cells; however, the researchers found that STAb T cells overcame this element.

"Finally, we also demonstrated that STAb T cells generate immunological memory," highlighted Dr. Álvarez-Vallina.

After recapitulating the disease in animal models and treating them with STAb T cells, the researchers obtained cells from various organs—chiefly the spleen and bone marrow—and observed the production of new memory STAb T cells.


“This is important because the persistence of CAR T cells in the body … is related to the extent of the antitumor effect and, therefore, to a better control of the disease. The fact that we have shown that memory cells are also generated in [STAb T-cell–based] immunotherapy probably indicates that we could have long-term control of the disease in treated patients,” underscored Álvarez-Vallina. 

The researchers emphasized that despite the positive findings, the novel therapy has yet to pass clinical trials and will consequently not be available to patients for at least 2 years. They plan to conduct a clinical trial to treat patients with this new STAb T-cell–based immunotherapy.

Disclosure: For full disclosures of the study authors, visit

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