We are familiar with monoclonal antibodies like daratumumab and isatuximab that link the immune system to a target like CD38 on the surface of myeloma cells. A new treatment called Engineered Toxin Bodies (ETBs) with a stronger mechanism of action is being developed by Molecular Templates. The ETBs move deeply within the plasma cell instead of just flagging the cell's surface. Unlike other CD38 targeted therapies, ETBs don't rely on the body's own immune system (the patient's T cells or natural killer cells) for effective myeloma-killing responses. ETBs deliver a modified bacterial toxin into the inner liquid material of cancerous plasma cells (the cytosol). When this toxin is internalized, it destroys the ribosomes (the location responsible for cell life or death). Learn more about this up-and-coming therapy that could even work in daratumumab or isatuximab-refractory patients by lead investigator, Shaji Kumar, MD of the Mayo Clinic.
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Shaji Kumar, MD, is a Professor of Medicine and a Consultant in the Division of Hematology at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN. His research focuses on development of novel drugs for treatment of myeloma. His research team evaluates the in vitro activity of novel drugs that, based on their mechanisms of action, are likely to have activity in the setting of myeloma. Dr. Kumar also evaluates novel combinations of different drugs to identify synergistic combinations that can result in better treatment responses and eventually better patient outcomes. His work on drug development is complemented by an active program studying the biology of myeloma, with a focus on the study of bone marrow microenvironment in multiple myeloma and how it influences the tumor cells, especially the increased bone marrow microvessels seen in myeloma. His clinical research focuses on outcomes of patients with myeloma and amyloidosis, especially high-risk disease. Dr. Kumar conducts National Institutes of Health-funded research on translation of novel therapeutic targets in multiple myeloma as well as the role of cereblon pathways in myeloma. He also receives funding from the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation to study the relationship between molecular profiles, treatment regimens for patients with multiple myeloma and outcomes. Additional research, funded by the National Cancer Institute, investigates the prevalence, onset and biomarkers for progression of monoclonal gammopathies. Dr. Kumar was a research associate at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in the Harvard Cancer Center, a fellow at the Mayo Clinic, and received his medical degree and completed an internship and clinical residencies at the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences.
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 the HealthTree Foundation.
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