LLS Grant to Support Research on Immune-Based Therapeutics, Single-Cell Genomics for Myeloma
Francesco Maura, M.D., a researcher with Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami, is part of a multi-institutional team that has received a grant from the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to study therapies for myeloma.
The team received nearly $750,000 to study ways to improve immune-based therapies for the blood cancer known as multiple myeloma.
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society–Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada Translational Research Program will provide research funds for three years, starting July 1, for the team’s project entitled “Development of a novel BCL2L1 armored CAR T-cell and a tumor-immune interactome in multiple myeloma.”
Dr. Maura, associate director of Sylvester’s Myeloma Research Institute and assistant professor at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, has partnered with Nizar Bahlis, M.D., of the University of Calgary in Canada, and others to discover new ways to boost the effectiveness of immunotherapies — in particular, chimeric antigen receptor T-cell (CAR T-cell) therapy — for multiple myeloma.
CAR T-Cell Therapy
Immunotherapies for multiple myeloma have employed patients’ own T-cells, which have a natural ability to fight cancer. Specifically, CAR T-cell therapy involves the extraction of tumor T-cells that are genetically engineered with new receptors so they can bind and kill tumor cells.
Despite the treatment’s unprecedented response rate and efficacy, most patients who receive it relapse, and the mechanisms of resistance responsible for this clinical behavior are largely unknown. Dr. Maura and his colleagues hope to close the gaps in understanding these mechanisms and, through pre-clinical studies, develop new and more effective CAR T-cell therapy for clinical trials.
“Based on our preliminary data, we think that alterations in the genome play an important role in resistance to these therapies,” said Dr. Maura, who aims, together with Dr. Bahlis, to develop cells more likely to attack tumors.
Myeloma is a cancer that forms in a type of white blood cell called a plasma or B cell. The cancer cells accumulate in the blood marrow and crowd out healthy cells. Patients may receive a variety of therapies, including novel ones that help the immune system fight cancer.