The third day of the 58th Annual ASH Meeting offered numerous exciting presentations about several up-and-coming approaches to treating myeloma with immunotherapy. A morning session focused enhancing the effectiveness of stem cell transplant, an important treatment option for eligible patients. Afternoon presentations focused on treatment with antibodies that help the immune system recognize myeloma cells and other new types of therapy.
The MMRF has been instrumental in advancing immunotherapy research, conducting trials using its clinical research network, the MMRC; funding novel immunotherapy approaches; and working to understand how to match individual patients with the immunotherapy approach that would work best through the CoMMpass Study. To learn more about how immunotherapy as a treatment for myeloma, visit themmrf.org/immunotherapy/. To learn about the latest research presented at ASH today, read on!
Exciting progress with many new immunotherapy approaches!
Immunotherapy approaches that use the power of a patient’s own immune system to help kill cancer cells have proven successful in myeloma. The latest results with promising therapies in very early clinical trials were presented today.
CTL019 CAR T-cell Therapy
CTL019 uses an approach called CAR T-cell therapy, which engineers a patient’s own T cells to teach them to recognize and attack myeloma cells. CTL019 is designed to attack myeloma stem cells, a cell type that can give rise to many more myeloma cells. This pilot study reported that this approach was safe and feasible and showed very preliminary effectiveness. As with many approaches, it will be critical to identify patients most likely to benefit from this treatment approach, as the results have varied significantly even in this small study. A phase 2 trial evaluating this approach is ongoing.
BCMA CAR T-cell Therapy
This CAR T-cell therapy approach teaches T cells to recognize myeloma cells through a protein called B-cell maturation antigen (BCMA). This approach was reported to have promise in treating myeloma in patients who had already received many types of therapies. However, it also had reports of severe safety concerns—including delirium, seizures, and brain swelling—that were able to be reversed. There are several ongoing trials with BCMA as a target.
First-in-human study with an antibody-drug conjugate, GSK2857916
GSK2857916 is a new therapy that combines an antibody that recognizes myeloma cells by attaching to the protein BCMA and the drug monomethyl auristatin F (MMAF), which kills the cells after they’re recognized. This is the first time this drug has been studied in humans, and the primary purpose of the study was to find a dose that is safe. While most patients experienced side effects, they tended to be manageable, with eye problems (blurriness, redness, dryness, inflammation) being the most common reason for reducing the dose.
Second-generation CD38 antibody, MOR202
Darzalex, a CD38 antibody, has been shown to work well against myeloma. However, newer antibodies in development hope to improve upon safety by limiting infusion reactions that can occur with this type of therapy. Early-phase investigations into a new antibody, MOR202, have preliminary results suggesting that the drug is effective against myeloma. Only 7% of patients experienced infusion-related reactions.
Empliciti (elotuzumab) to treat high-risk smoldering myeloma
A paradigm shift in approach to high-risk smoldering myeloma is underway. Instead of watching and waiting, researchers are investigating the value of treating patients at high risk of progressing to multiple myeloma. This study investigated the combination of Empliciti, Revlimid and dexamethasone and showed that this combination had a strong clinical benefit, with 71% of patients showing a significant response to the therapy. This study and others support the idea that patients with high-risk smoldering myeloma may benefit from early intervention rather than waiting for multiple myeloma to develop.
Our sincere gratitude to all the patients and caregivers participating in clinical trials
Throughout the course of this conference, we’ve heard researchers express their gratitude for all of the patients who have participated in these clinical trials. Only through patient participation in research can we hope to cure this disease. The MMRF will continue to conduct and fund the most promising clinical studies to rapidly advance the options for myeloma patients. To get help finding a clinical trial, go to the MMRF CoMMunity Gateway to access MMRF’s easy-to-use, customized clinical trial search tool. You’ll find more than 4,000 other members to share experiences, experts to answer your questions, patient and caregiver support, and trusted information about treatments, side effects, and more.