Oncologists at the immunology department at Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem used the revolutionary CAR-T, or Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-Cell Therapy, to achieve remission of multiple myeloma in 90% of the 74 patients who undertook the experimental treatment.
Multiple myeloma is a kind of bone marrow cancer that distinguishes itself by developing in several areas at once, including the pelvis, ribs, skull, and spine. It accounts for one-tenth of all blood cancers.
CAR-T cell therapies are changing the world of cancer treatments by utilizing the patient's own immune system to target and kill cancer tumors. Until the 1990s, it was almost completely unknown how to accomplish this, since cancers disguise themselves to avoid immune responses.
"We have evidence of a very positive overall response rate with minimal side effects, and they are mild," Professor Polina Stepensky, head of the department at Hadassah. "These are dramatic results. This is a huge hope for patients with a disease that has not yet had a cure."
Jerusalem Post reports that the treatment will also be available across the US in the coming months, quoting Dr. Stepensky.
"IMMX Bio has acquired a patent license, and we are about to open a clinical trial in the US," Stepensky said. "The plan is to reach commercialization and FDA approval as a drug within a year."
The way this particular CAR-T cell therapy treatment works is by taking donated blood and separating out the red blood cells from the white blood cells. Then, a genetic engineering procedure is undertaken in which a deactivated virus is filled with the necessary signals to train the white blood cells, in particular the immune weapon known as a T cell, how to target the cancer tumors.