A small trial conducted in China found that an experimental therapy using altered cells to recruit the body’s immune system to attack cancer can induce remission in most patients with advanced multiple myeloma, a blood plasma cancer.
The study of 35 patients tested a chimeric antigen receptor T-cell (CAR-T) therapy developed by China’s Nanjing Legend Biotech Co. The drug candidate, known as LCAR-B38M, targets a protein called BCMA found on cancerous blood plasma cells – the same target being pursued by Bluebird Bio Inc and Celgene Corp with their CAR-T called bb2121. The American Society of Clinical Oncology, which featured the data here at its annual meeting, said that out of 19 trial patients followed for more than four months, 14 reached complete remission.
One patient had a partial response and four patients reached “very good partial remission,” but the cancer did get worse in one of those patients. Eighty five percent of trial patients experienced cytokine release syndrome (CRS), a potentially life-threatening inflammatory condition, but researchers said the side effect was temporary and manageable in most patients. Two people had severe CRS, but recovered after treatment with Actemra, an anti-inflammatory drug.
The study is being conducted at Second Affiliated Hospital of Xi’an Jiaotong University in Xi’an, China.