It is a promising cure for a disease that is currently incurable. A new treatment would reduce the risk of progression of multiple myeloma, a rare type of blood cancer, by 74%, according to the results of a study published Monday. Autoleucerous ciltacabtagen – also known by its trade name Carvykti – a treatment that involves genetically modifying the body's immune cells, was tested in a clinical trial involving 419 patients with multiple myeloma whose disease did not respond to commonly prescribed chemotherapy treatment.
Multiple myeloma is a blood cancer that affects a type of white blood cell called plasma cells and can cause cascading damage to bones, kidneys and the immune system. It affects 7 out of every 100,000 people each year, according to the Cleveland Clinic. The risk increases with age, with men and Black people more likely to be affected. There is currently no cure, although progression can be slowed or halted for a long time.
Read alsoLung cancer: a tablet would halve the risk of death in some cases
Carvykti involves removing chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells from the patient and genetically modifying them in a laboratory so that they have specific proteins called receptors, which can search for and destroy cancer cells.
In the clinical trial, half of the patients received Carvykti, and the other half a cocktail of drugs typically prescribed today, including chemotherapy and steroids. "After a median follow-up of 16 months, the researchers found that the new treatment reduced the risk of disease progression by 74%, compared to standard of care," said a statement.
Long-term effects scrutinized
Carvykti "offers remarkably effective results compared to patients' current options" and "can be safely used earlier in the treatment phase," explained oncologist Oreofe Odejide at the annual meeting of the American Society of Medical Oncology, where the results were presented, who was not involved in this study. While the use of chemotherapy treatment "has become widespread, so has the number of patients whose disease no longer responds to treatment," Odejide added.
In the clinical trial, the number of serious to life-threatening adverse events was slightly higher in the Carvykti group than in the other group (97% versus 94%), with three-quarters experiencing an overactive immune reaction and about 5% experiencing neurotoxicity syndrome. The researchers will continue to monitor all of these patients to determine the long-term effects and impacts on quality of life of these treatments. The clinical trial was funded by Janssen Research & Development and Legend Biotech USA.