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A Promising New CAR-T Therapy on the Horizon
Posted: Aug 08, 2023
A Promising New CAR-T Therapy on the Horizon image

CAR T-cell therapy has taken the myeloma world by storm and has undoubtedly changed myeloma patient outcomes within a short number of years. Common, deep responses thought impossible only five years ago are proving themselves again and again across the myeloma population who receives CAR T therapy.

While the therapy is not a cure, and too many patients still find themselves relapsing after CAR T, it's a demonstration of a promising future for immunotherapy treatment in multiple myeloma. 

The two FDA-approved CAR T-Cell therapies in the United States both target BCMA, a protein commonly expressed on multiple myeloma cells. However, BCMA also exists on healthy cells in the body, causing these therapies to occasionally induce serious immune reactions in myeloma patients receiving CAR T. 

The good news? Myeloma specialists and researchers are making their goal to make CAR-T cell therapy less toxic for myeloma patients. 

Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine have worked to develop a CAR T-cell therapy that targets CD229, another protein commonly found on myeloma cells but not as present on healthy cells. Their hope is that this less toxic therapy will be just as effective for patients and come with less risk. 

The University of Maryland Baltimore website quotes: 

“We could see clearly in our preclinical studies that this new therapy efficiently eliminated the tumor cells without attacking healthy cells. We’re very optimistic about the potential of this as a new and safer cancer treatment,” said study corresponding author Tim Luetkens, MD, assistant professor of microbiology and immunology at UMSOM.

Dr. Luetkens and his colleagues used an approach called affinity tuning to engineer the T-Cells to only target the myeloma cells, and ignore any other healthy cells that might be producing CD229. They tested over 300 different variations to laboriously determine the optimal sequence of CAR T cells to make this possible. 

When these engineered cells seemed to be growing too slowly, they problem solved again using an approach that allowed the cells to grow faster naturally. 

Clinical trials are being initiated at the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center (UMGCCC), a leading facility in CAR-T research for both lymphomas and blood cancers. Other partner sites will open up as well to provide the clinical trial at their facility. 

This is an exciting time in myeloma research and it's especially encouraging to see physicians take an already successful treatment and find ways to make it even more appealing and efficacious for the myeloma patient community. 

Curious about what other targets are being investigated for CAR T Therapy? Check out our HealthTree Video here: 

Curious about CAR-T Experiences? Join our CAR-T group here: HealthTree Connect CAR-T Group 

Wondering more about Immunotherapy? Watch our past educational webinars here: Immunotherapy Webinars for Myeloma 

Want to learn more about CAR-T? Read here: CAR-T Therapy Information 

Watch more free videos about the CAR-T Process here: HealthTree University Immunotherapy Units 



The author Audrey Burton-Bethke

about the author
Audrey Burton-Bethke

Audrey is the Editor for the HealthTree Foundation for Multiple Myeloma. She originally joined the HealthTree Foundation in 2020 as the Myeloma Community Program Director. While not knowing much about myeloma initially, she worked hard to educate herself, empathize and learn from others' experiences. She loves this job. Audrey is passionate about serving others, loves learning, and enjoys iced chais from Dutch Bros. She also loves spending time with her supportive husband and energetic three-year-old. 

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