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Innovative Immunotherapy Treatment Demonstrates 90% Success Rate in Patients with Multiple Myeloma

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 09 Jun 2023
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Image: Almost 90% of patients showed improvement with a new immunotherapy for multiple myeloma (Photo courtesy of Freepik)
Image: Almost 90% of patients showed improvement with a new immunotherapy for multiple myeloma (Photo courtesy of Freepik)

Multiple myeloma, the second most prevalent blood cancer, has been notoriously resistant to treatment. Until a few years ago, the prognosis for this disease, accounting for one percent of all cancers and 10% of blood cancers, was a mere two-year average life expectancy. The disease's incidence is on the rise, with a projected 176,000 diagnoses worldwide in 2023. Now, a new ray of hope has emerged for those suffering from blood cancer, after nearly 90% of patients who underwent a novel immunotherapy treatment for multiple myeloma showed signs of improvement. Even more impressively, more than half - 57% - achieved remission. Clinical trials for this treatment, called CAR-T, or chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapy, are set to commence soon in the United States.

CAR-T therapy utilizes a patient’s healthy cells to destroy the cancerous ones. It involves isolating a patient’s T-cells – the proactive cells of the immune system with the ability to fight tumors – using an apheresis machine that separates the blood into red and white cells. Through genetic engineering, a virus and a genetic fragment that encodes a receptor targeting the cancer cells are introduced. These modified cells are then produced in large numbers and reinfused into the patient, where they proceed to seek out and destroy the multiple myeloma cells.

The CAR-T treatment was developed at the Hadassah Medical Organization (New York, NY, USA) in collaboration with researchers at Bar-Ilan University (Ramat Gan, Israel). Immix BioPharma (Los Angeles, CA, USA) has acquired the patent rights to the therapy and plans to soon commence clinical trials in the US with FDA approval likely within a year. The revolutionary concept of harnessing a patient’s own immune system cells to fight cancer cells was first put forward several decades ago. Since then, researchers at the Hadassah Medical Organization have spearheaded the development and promotion of CAR-T. By manufacturing CAR-T at Hadassah, the medical center has managed to make this formerly prohibitive treatment accessible. As the first and sole institution in Israel to develop, produce, and deliver CAR-T treatment, Hadassah is pioneering a field that holds the promise of CAR-T therapies for other cancer types in the future.

“These are dramatic results and offer enormous hope for patients who have a disease that, to date, has been incurable,” said Polina Stepensky, MD, a hematologist-oncologist, pediatrician and stem-cell transplantation expert who directs Hadassah’s Bone Marrow Transplantation Department. “Until now, this treatment has only been available in China and the United States at a cost of nearly USD 400,000 per patient treatment. Only 20% of those who need to receive it in those countries actually get it.”

Related Links:
Hadassah Medical Organization
Bar-Ilan University
Immix BioPharma

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