CAR-T-cell therapy clinical trial gives last chance to patients with multiple myeloma
«We see how after undergoing treatment one of the patients goes on a trip abroad, the other returns to her young daughters, and they feel well. This gives us hope that the future lies with our methodology.» (Prof. Polina Stepensky, Hadassah ).
Hadassah and Bar-Ilan University launched the first stage of clinical trial of the first made-in-Israel CAR-T immunotherapy treatment. This method is a real breakthrough in the treatment of myeloma, which until now was not fully curable.
The effectiveness of the new method
The safety and the effectiveness of the new technique was confirmed by a special commission of leading Israeli hematologists and hemato-oncologists.
«We don’t know yet if we can achieve a radical cure,» says Professor Stepensky. «But even if the patients get additional months and years of full life, they will raise their children, they will see grandchildren — our goal is achieved. We are approached by people who already have tried all the methods of treatment. In other places they would probably have been refused.»
Cost of CAR-T in Hadassah
In addition to the high effectiveness of the Israeli study, the cost of treatment matters.
- In the USA the treatment of various diseases using similar methods of CAR-T-cell therapy costs $ 1 million.
- In Europe the prices are about 400 thousand euros.
- In Israel, the cost of the developed technique is at least twice as low — about 140 thousand dollars.
The authors of the new method
Prof. Polina Stepensky
The unique technique involving the production of T-cells with a chimeric antigen receptor, adapted for the treatment of multiple myeloma, was developed by Israeli scientists — prof. Stepensky (Hadassah) and Prof. Syril Cohen (Bar-Ilan University). The development of the methodology took 3 years.
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Areas of CAR-T application in Hadassah
CAR-T therapy has been successfully used in the clinic for several years to treat children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and adults with large cell lymphoma. Both fields are well developed here, which allowed the clinic’s researchers to devote themselves to expanding the scope of this method.
Usually, the patient is offered CAR-T after two lines of treatment if they were not effective enough. This has become a routine practice in the clinic, Hadassah’s specialists have gained extensive experience in using this technique.
The next project of Hadassah — TCR therapy
Prof. Stepensky will conduct this clinical study together with prof. Michal Lotem, Head of the Center for Melanoma Treatment and Cancer Immunotherapy.
TCR is the treatment of solid tumors by genetically modified lymphocytes. Statistically, such tumors are much more numerous than hematological. Hence, the prospects of this study can hardly be overestimated.
A usage of this technique makes the type of tumor less important, the type of protein or antigen expressed in the neoplasm matters much more.
TCR will be investigated for treatment of
- multiple myeloma
And many other tumors.
Contrary to the CAR-T method, which affects the malignant antigens that express on the cell surface (only 30% of them), TCR affects the antigens inside the cell (70% of the malignant antigens).
Hence, it is obvious, what great potential the development of the TCR method has.