CAR-T cell therapy advances treatment for multiple myeloma
Multiple myeloma is a rare and incurable type of cancer that affects cells in the bone marrow called plasma cells. An EU-funded project is using revolutionary cell technology to tackle multiple myeloma, developing a viable and commercially attractive treatment for it and other rare diseases.
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Multiple myeloma is a malignancy that develops in bone marrow plasma cells, part of the immune system. Plasma cells make proteins called antibodies when the body responds to infections. Treatment for multiple myeloma can be very expensive and has only limited availability in socio-economically underdeveloped countries.
Investigators working under the EU-funded CARAMBA project are conducting clinical trials using CAR-T cell therapy. During this treatment, a patient's own T cells, a type of immune system cell, are altered in the laboratory so that they will attack cancer cells.
T cells are taken from the patients own body and a receptor that binds to a certain protein on cancer cells is then added in the laboratory. This receptor is called a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR). Numbers of these CAR-T cells are grown in the laboratory and then used to treat the patient.
Under the CARAMBA project, researchers are engineering T cells to express a CAR specific for the myeloma antigen known as SLAMF7. This is a robust marker of malignant multiple myeloma plasma cells that is uniformly expressed on all such cells in every patient. This means, for example, that SLAMF7 treatment is equally effective in women and men.
The efficacy and safety of SLAMF7 CAR-T cells have been validated in preclinical testing. CAR-T cell therapy has already been recognised as a breakthrough therapy in leukaemia and lymphoma.
The CARAMBA team is building on novel, cutting-edge CAR technologies to substantially reduce the cost of CAR-T cell manufacturing. The project is thereby establishing CAR-T cell therapy as an effective, commercially attractive and affordable treatment in multiple myeloma and potentially other rare diseases for patients worldwide.