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A New Type of CAR Multiple Myeloma Therapy: CAR NK Cells
Posted: Oct 21, 2021
A New Type of CAR Multiple Myeloma Therapy: CAR NK Cells image


Researchers in Spain believe that a new type of CAR therapy using natural killer cells, could be more effective and have fewer side effects in treating blood cancers like multiple myeloma than CAR T cell therapy. 

CAR T cell therapy is a growing field of myeloma research, but it can come with significant side effects like cytokine release syndrome (CRS) and neurotoxicities. Researchers are looking for both ways to improve CAR T therapies and to develop new approaches that may be equally good with fewer toxicities.

Spanish researchers of the H12O-CNIO Haematological Malignancies Clinical Research Unit, led by hematologist Joaquín Martínez, found that a similar CAR treatment using natural killer cells (NK cells) instead of T cells was more effective and had fewer side effects in mice with multiple myeloma. Early in-human trials are now planned. 

The researchers hypothesized that CAR-NK cells could be less toxic when targeting resistant myeloma cells. In their study, they analyzed the anti-tumor activity of activated and expanded NK cells (NKAE) and CD45RA- T cells from multiple myeloma patients that were engineered to express an NKG2D-based CAR that target antigens of the NKG2D receptor, which are not typically found on normal cells but are present in over 70% of human cancers.

“Overall, our results show that it is possible to modify autologous NK cells from multiple myeloma patients to safely express a NKG2D-CAR. These cells […] could be an effective strategy against multiple myeloma”, says Martínez-López. 


The study results showed that although memory T cells were more stably converted, the CAR NK cells had greater killing power towards the myeloma cells while showing minimal activity against healthy cells. In mouse models, 25% of the mice remained disease free. Overall, the study showed that it is possible to modify a myeloma patient's own NK cells to create a CAR therapy. 

The researchers hope they can begin an in-human clinical trial at the 12 de Octubre University Hospital in Spain soon. 






The author Jennifer Ahlstrom

about the author
Jennifer Ahlstrom

Myeloma survivor, patient advocate, wife, mom of 6. Believer that patients can help accelerate a cure by weighing in and participating in clinical research. Founder of HealthTree Foundation (formerly Myeloma Crowd). 

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