An experimental cancer treatment has a 90% success rate in patients with multiple myeloma, one of the most common blood cancers in the world.
Researchers at Hadassah-University Medical Center in Jerusalem, Israel, used a treatment called Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-Cell Therapy, or CAR-T, which stimulates the patient’s immune system to destroy cancer cells.
Of the 74 multiple myeloma patients who received the drug, 90% went into complete remission, meaning they no longer had any signs of cancer.
Using genetically modified cells, researchers at Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem have developed a treatment to destroy malignant cells in patients with the blood cancer multiple myeloma.
“These are spectacular results. This is a huge hope for patients with a disease that has not yet been cured,” Dr. Polina Stepensky, head of the university’s bone marrow transplant and immunotherapy department, told The Jerusalem Post.
The treatment is based on genetic engineering, which involves changing the composition of DNA using laboratory technology.
The goal is to isolate T cells, which are immune cells that develop from stem cells present in the bone marrow.
This is done by apheresis, a process that takes donated blood components and separates white and red blood cells.
Red blood cells carry oxygen from the lungs to all parts of the body, while white blood cells help fight infection.
Then, modified cells are injected into the patient. These target tumors and help destroy the cancer.
Unlike other types of immunotherapy, CAR-T modifies cells in a lab so they can make the CAR protein, which binds to cancer cells to kill them.
Other therapies create large numbers of lymphocytes, immune cells made in the bone marrow, that move in or around the tumor area.
“We have evidence of a very positive overall response rate with minimal side effects, and they are mild,” Dr. Stepensky said.
CAR-T is for patients who have not had success with more common treatments, including steroids, chemotherapy, and stem cell transplants. These treatments can have serious side effects. Stem cell transplants, for example, can lower your overall blood count, which can lead to infections and bleeding.
This treatment is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat multiple myeloma, as well as certain forms of leukemia and lymphoma.
However, it costs between $500,000 and $1 million, which makes it inaccessible to many Americans.
Multiple myeloma is a blood cancer that affects plasma cells. Cancer cells collect in bone marrow, the spongy tissue in the center of bones. These cells infiltrate normal cells that fight infection.
The malignant cells produce the antibody protein M, which has no benefit and causes tumors, kidney damage, bone destruction and impaired immune function, according to the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation.
In the early stages, multiple myeloma may not cause symptoms, but once they do, they include bone pain, nausea, constipation, loss of appetite, mental fog, fatigue , infections, weight loss, weakness or numbness in the legs, and excessive thirst.
The disease is more common in people over the age of 60. Additionally, men and black people are more likely to develop the disease.
According to the American Cancer Society, if detected early, eight out of 10 patients survive more than five years.
After its spread, more than half survive.
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