25 July 2023

Scientists working on an EU project to develop a multiple myeloma treatment are assessing its progress as the first phase comes to an end.

The CARAMBA project focused on developing a virus-free chimeric antigen receptor T cell (CAR-T) therapy.

During the project, the researchers tested the effectiveness of a CAR-T therapy for multiple myeloma that alters and reinfuses the patient’s own white blood cells. The T cells are provided with a CAR that acts like a sensor, detecting a surface molecule called SLAMF7 on myeloma cells, to mark them for destruction.

Normally, the CAR gene is transferred into the human genome using a viral vector, which is expensive and risky. Instead, the team employed a virus-free approach using transposon technology, in which the element “jumps” from one DNA molecule to another.

Safety testing of the CAR-T therapy was carried out on nine patients, and found to be well-tolerated with no dose-limiting toxicities. The researchers believe it is “feasible and safe, paving the way for safer and less costly CAR-T therapies”.

Team leader Professor Michael Hudecek of the University Hospital of Würzburg, Germany, explained that due to the novelty of this medicinal product and the challenges of the pandemic, “it was always very important for us to stay in close dialogue with the regulatory authorities to flag disproportional burden on clinicians and patients desperately waiting for new treatments”.

He added: “Finally, we are very proud that CARAMBA was one of the pathfinders in Europe, paving the way for future CAR-T trials, which from now can benefit from the simplified and accelerated process.”

The five-year project ended on 30 June 2023. The team now plan to continue with the CARAMBA-1 study, giving the therapy at higher doses.

Source: CARAMBA Project


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