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Early Research Studies May Advance the Treatment of Multiple Myeloma

By: Celeste L. Dixon
Posted: Monday, January 29, 2018

The results of two investigational studies may help to improve the treatment of patients with multiple myeloma in the future. A pilot study focused on the use of genetically engineered T cells after autologous stem cell transplantation, and another study featured the research and clinical applications of a functional assay in predicting therapeutic response.

Findings from the pilot study were presented at the 2017 American Society of Hematology Annual Meeting & Exposition (Abstract 845). A total of 25 patients whose tumors contained overexpression of NY-ESO-1 and/or LAGE-1a proteins received autologous stem cell transplants. Two days post transplant, each received specific peptide-enhanced affinity receptor (SPEAR) therapy, to strengthen T-cell responses against those proteins. The patients’ median progression-free survival was about 13 months, and median survival was approximately 35 months—both higher rates than would otherwise have been expected, according to the investigators.

“SPEAR T-cell therapy in the setting of autologous stem cell transplant has promising efficacy and acceptable safety,” said presenter Edward Stadtmauer, MD, FACP, of the University of Pennsylvania Abramson Cancer Center.

The second study’s results, reported by a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) team in the Nature Communications, involved measuring the responses of nine patients’ myeloma cells, ex vivo, to various therapies based on the cells’ weight (decreasing mass = sensitivity to therapy). Newly refined equipment to weigh the cells accurately enough was one notable advance; the other was demonstrating the cells’ reactions to therapies mirrored the sensitivity to those therapies of the nine patients themselves.

The findings may be most useful when a patient with multiple myeloma relapses. “In cases where the patients were resistant, we saw that in the clinical biomarkers as well as our measurement,” lead author Mark M. Stevens, PhD, of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and MIT, said in Myeloma Research News.