A revolutionary blood cancer treatment that genetically modifies patient cells to fight the disease cut the risk of it progressing by 74%, according to a world-first clinical trial.
The study found that the treatment, ciltacabtagene autoleucel, significantly slows or stops the progression of multiple myeloma in patients who have stopped responding to other treatments. The results were presented in Chicago at the Asco annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the world s largest cancer conference.
A blood cancer known as multiple myeloma, which affects a type of white blood cell, found in the bone marrow, is known as multiple myeloma. In 2020, Asco calculated that an estimated 176,404 people worldwide were diagnosed with multiple myeloma.
Carvykti, a drug known as Ciltacabtagene autoleucel, is part of a group of drugs known as CAR-Ttherapies. They use a patient's own disease-fighting T-cells, genetically engineering them to target specific proteins on cancer cells, and replacing them to seek out and attack cancer.
The first and only clinical trial of its kind is the CARTITUDE 4 study. The worldwide late-stage trial included 419 people with multi-faceted myeloma who had already had one to three forms of treatment, including lenalidomide, which was no longer effective. Lenalidomide is the most common treatment for multiple myeloma.
Lenalidomide has become a foundation of care for people with myeloma, but as its use has increased, so has the number of patients whose disease will no longer respond to the treatment, said Dr Oreofe Odejide, an Asco expert who was not involved in the study.
Ciltacabtagene autoleucel has not only demonstrated that it provides remarkably effective outcomes compared to patient current options, but also that it can be used safely earlier in the treatment phase. The study enrolled participants from 16 countries, including the US and Australia.
The groundbreaking treatment works by removing some T cells from a patient's blood, which are then modified in a laboratory so they have specific proteins called receptors. The receptors enable the cells to recognize the cancer cells.
The cells in the patient's body are harmed by the modified T-cells, who search out and destroy cancer cells.
After an average follow-up of 16 months, the researchers found that ciltacabtagene autoleucel reduced the risk of cancer spreading or growing by 74% compared to standard treatments.
Lenalidomide-based treatments are frequently used as frontline treatments in both young and elderly patients, including those who are transplant-eligible and transplant-ineligible, said Dr Binod Dhakal, lead researcher at the Medical College of Wisconsin.
The number of cases where the disease fails to respond early in the course of the disease is increased due to an increase in the number of cases where the disease no longer responds to lenalidomide. The results demonstrated that ciltacabtagene autoleucel is highly effective in patients with lenalidomide-refractory multiple myeloma as early as after first relapse. The treatment is already available to some patients in the US and parts of Europe but not yet available in the UK.