CAR T-cell gene therapy shows promising results in multiple myeloma patients

A new multiple myeloma treatment that infuses patients with genetically modified chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cells offered promising results, according to results of the first phase of a clinical study published in the New England Journal of Medicine on May 2.

The interim results describe the reactions of the first 33 patients to undergo the immunotherapy, all of whom had relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma, and had undergone at least three previous treatments for the disease, a blood cancer that targets plasma cells.

The CAR T-cell infusions completely stopped the disease from progressing for a median 11.8 months, and the genetically modified cells remained detectable in the blood for, on average, up to a year after each infusion. Fifteen of the patients experienced complete remission of the cancer after the treatment, though six of those have since had a relapse.

Biotech companies Celgene, based in Summit, N.J., and bluebird bio, headquartered in Cambridge, Mass., are developing the treatment, which they anticipate will receive FDA approval in the second half of 2020.

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