3 Compelling Reasons to Choose CAR T-cell Therapy for Multiple Myeloma in Israel
Multiple myeloma is not a common cancer; however, it is the second most common type of blood cancer diagnosed in the United States. Related to lymphoma and leukemia, multiple myeloma originates in the plasma cells of the immune system, which are white blood cells that produce antibodies to fight infection. As the disease worsens, the malignant cells spread throughout the body damaging other organs.
Over the past decade, survival rates from multiple myeloma have been steadily increasing. CAR T-cell therapy for multiple myeloma, a cutting-edge treatment available in only a few places worldwide, is helping to contribute to this positive trend.
What is The Newest Treatment for Multiple Myeloma?
The latest treatment is CAR-T therapy and it involves collecting cells from the patient and specially engineering them in a laboratory to become “cancer killers.” The modified cells are then infused back into the patient, where they can multiply. Only one infusion of CAR T-cells is necessary because the cells continue to grow in the body and attack the tumor.
Until recently, CAR-T therapy was only used to treat lymphoma and acute lymphocytic leukemia. But now, Sheba Medical Center in Israel is excited to offer innovative CAR T-cell therapy for multiple myeloma too.
Sheba Pioneers CAR T-cell Therapy
Prof. Arnon Nagler, Director of the Division of Hematology at Sheba Medical Center, and lead researcher in the application of CAR-T therapy for melanoma invested years of effort into engineering effective CAR T-cells against myeloma cells. Scientists modified cells to target the BCMA protein, which is present in large quantities on myeloma cells. Subsequently, the treatment has shown success for myeloma patients, including those who had already undergone multiple therapies and turned to CAR-T as a final option.
Who Can Benefit from this Newest Treatment for Multiple Myeloma?
Sheba physicians perform a full diagnostic workup to determine who is a good candidate for CAR T-cell therapy for multiple myeloma. Typically, the treatment is most beneficial for patients who have completed conventional treatment methods but were still left with progressive disease.
Dr. Hila Magen, Director of the Multiple Myeloma Unit at Sheba adds, “Multiple myeloma is a secondary hematologic malignancy… The expansion of CAR T-cell therapy for multiple myeloma arms patients with a new option for battling their disease.”
Prof. Nagler adds, “In practice, 60-70% of patients who achieved a full response to the CAR-T treatment did not experience a change in their myeloma for a year and a half… This is a real revolution and truly impressive achievement in the treatment of myeloma.”
3 Main Advantages of CAR T-Cell Treatment for Myeloma Treatment in Israel
1. Efficient, Comfortable, and Patient-Centric Experience
CAR-T therapy is all-inclusive at Sheba. That means all stages of the process are done on campus, including blood harvesting, genetic engineering of the cells, T-cell injections, and patient observation. The patient experience is therefore as convenient and comfortable as possible, with no running around to different medical centers.
2. Fast Availability of CARs
CARs are more readily available at Sheba because the cells are engineered at an on-site laboratory, a process that only takes about 10 days to complete. In contrast, other medical centers use commercial CARs that must be shipped overseas for engineering, so the time span from lymphocyte collection to delivery can take weeks or even months. The extra wait-time not only gives the disease time to progress, but it also reduces the chances of adequate patient response to the CARs.
3. Experienced Specialists
The physicians at Sheba are some of the most experienced in the world in the field of CAR-T therapy. Prof. Nagler, a renowned expert in the treatment, is one of the three board members of the organizing committee of the largest European conference held annually on CAR T-cell therapy. In fact, he was the keynote speaker at the 2019 conference.