A Revolution in Treating Multiple Myeloma: Anti-BCMA CAR-Based Immune Cell Therapies

A Glimpse at the Current Landscape

Multiple Myeloma (MM) is the second most common blood cancer. It’s characterized by the build-up of harmful plasma cells in the bone marrow. As of 2016, MM cases have surged by 126% since 1990, affecting hundreds of thousands globally. Thankfully, advancements in treatments have led to improved survival rates. However, the recurring problem remains: most MM patients relapse post-standard treatments.



The Hope and Limitations of Autologous Anti-BCMA CAR-T Cells

Currently, one FDA-approved remedy is the Autologous anti-BCMA CAR-T cell therapy. These are engineered T cells designed to target and kill specific cancer cells. When MM patients relapse or become refractory, these cells have shown promise in treatment. But there’s a catch. Their manufacturing is pricey and time-consuming. For some, the process takes so long that the patient’s condition deteriorates before they can receive the therapy.

Turning the Tables: The Promise of Allogeneic Immune Cell Therapies

Researchers like Zhicheng Du, Sumin Zhu, and their team have looked beyond this conventional method. Their paper dives deep into the potential of using allogeneic (or donor-derived) immune cells, moving the anti-BCMA CAR-T therapy from autologous (patient-derived) to allogeneic. Imagine an “off-the-shelf” treatment, ready for immediate application, slashing wait times. Not just that, it could significantly cut down the treatment costs. Among the frontrunners in this research are the gene-edited αβ T cells and Natural Killer (NK) cells. While they’re making strides with ongoing clinical trials, other immune cells like γδ T cells and invariant Natural Killer T cells are still in the labs, undergoing pre-clinical studies.

 The Road Ahead for CAR-based Immune Therapies

While autologous CAR-T cells remain the standard therapy, the allogeneic immune cells are catching up. For these treatments to reach more patients, it’s crucial to determine the optimal time and method of administration. Perhaps, in the not-so-distant future, combining CAR-based therapies with standard treatments might be the game-changer for early-stage MM patients. The journey is long but filled with hope.




Du, Zhicheng, Sumin Zhu, Xi Zhang, Zhiyuan Gong, and Shu Wang. 2023. “Non-Conventional Allogeneic Anti-BCMA Chimeric Antigen Receptor-Based Immune Cell Therapies for Multiple Myeloma Treatment” Cancers 15, no. 3: 567. https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers15030567