A new cell therapy for multiple myeloma, CAR-T cell therapy has been administered for the first time at Sheba Medical Center

CAR-T Cell Therapy for Multiple Myeloma Given at Sheba for the First Time

As part of a clinical study, revolutionary CAR-T therapy was administered to patients with multiple myeloma who experienced a change in their disease following previous treatments. At Sheba, this progressive treatment offers hope to people with multiple myeloma.  

Under the treatment of Dr. Hila Magen, Director of the Multiple Myeloma Unit at Sheba Medical Center, the first myeloma patient underwent CAR-T cell therapy last week. He had been treated previously with several different methods of therapy, including bone marrow transplant, but the cancer returned. After careful review of his case, it was determined that he satisfied the criteria to be a candidate for CAR-T cell therapy.

“Multiple myeloma is a secondary hematologic malignancy. Some of the patients complete the possible treatment methods and are still left with progressive disease,” said Dr. Magen. “The expansion of CAR-T cell therapy for multiple myeloma arms patients with a new option for battling their disease.”

CAR-T cell therapy involves collecting cells from the patient and engineering them in a laboratory to target and attack myeloma cells before returning them to the patient. Once infused back into the patient, the modified cells can proliferate in the body.

Dr. Magen explained, “This is an advanced immunotherapy that ‘educates’ the patient’s immune system to respond against malignant myeloma cells. Genetic engineering actually transforms the patient’s immune system so it can identify and fight cancer cells. This is an innovative, breakthrough approach that never before existed in previous myeloma treatment programs.”

Until now, CAR-T cell therapy has been used to treat lymphoma and acute lymphocytic leukemia. The Department of Health in the United States, Israel, and Europe, respectively, have approved these applications of CAR therapy.

In Israel, Sheba Medical Center is the only facility capable of manufacturing CAR-T cells on-site for treating lymphoma and acute lymphocytic leukemia. Use of this cutting edge treatment for multiple myeloma is only available as part of a clinical research study, such as the one currently being conducted at Sheba.

Prof. Arnon Nagler, President of the Sheba Hemato-Oncology Center and lead researcher in the application of CAR-T cell therapy for myeloma, explained, “Over the past four years, many efforts have been made to engineer effective CAR-T cells against myeloma cells. The cells are domesticated against the BCMA protein, which is found in large quantities on myeloma cells. The treatment has been proven effective in myeloma patients, including people who had undergone multiple treatments and turned to CAR-T as a final option. In action, 60-70% of patients who achieved a full response to the treatment did not see a change in their myeloma for a year and a half.”

CAR-T cell therapy for multiple myeloma represents one more tier of leading innovations that Sheba, and the Hematology Division in particular, offers.

“We are involved in many new developments in the field of immunotherapy and cellular therapies, all of which are on the cutting edge of the therapeutic future of cancer. This is a real revolution and truly impressive achievement in the treatment of myeloma,” said Prof. Nagler.