Immunotherapy trials show positive results against blood disease

A domestically developed treatment for leukemia and lymphoma is now being tested on patients with relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma, doctors announce.

Shanghai's Ruijin Hospital said on Tuesday that clinical trials of a domestically developed immunotherapy have shown positive results in patients with relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma, a serious and generally incurable blood disease.

The disease is often found among people over 45 years old, and cases are growing along with the expansion of China's elderly population.

The treatment uses chimeric antigen receptor modified T (CAR T) cell therapy, a new immunotherapy which has been used against acute lymphoblastic leukemia and malignant lymphoma with promising results.

To study CAR T therapy on multiple myeloma patients, Ruijin Hospital teamed up with another three hospitals to launch a phase-I clinical trial using CAR T products developed by Nanjing Legend Biotech. Among 17 patients, 88 percent showed positive responses to the therapy. Two patients’ bone marrow has regained proper function.

Ma Ying, a patient in the trial, said her disease is now under control.

“I had thought of giving up treatment as all chemotherapy and other treatments failed after I suffered a relapse and my life quality was so poor since 2015,” she said. “I received CAR T therapy in 2017 and now all my blood data are normal. I can take care of myself and do proper exercises now.”

In light of phase-I results, the China State Food and Drug Administration approved a phase-II trial, which has been led by Ruijin Hospital since March.

“We are confident that the innovative CAR T therapy can benefit more patients with multiple myeloma,” said Dr Mi Jianqing from Ruijin and a leading doctor in the trials.

Ti Gong / Ruijin Hospital

Dr Mi Jianqing holds a talk on phase-I clinical trials of CAR T therapy for patients with relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma.

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