Treatment paradigms have changed rapidly for multiple myeloma, and immune therapies have taken center stage. Advances in therapies for myeloma have led to a dramatic improvement in the survival of patients with this incurable malignancy. The immune system is significantly impaired in patients with myeloma as a result of the disease leading to suppression of normal plasma cells as well the negative effects on cellular immunity. Given this scenario, immune approaches have not been successful until recently. Monoclonal antibodies directed against CD38 (daratumumab) and SLAMF7 (elotuzumab) are already in the clinic, and several other antibodies directed against different plasma cell antigens are under evaluation. Although immune checkpoint inhibition with PD-1 inhibitors had no clinical efficacy when the inhibitors were used as single agents, it has led to some dramatic results when the inhibitors are combined with immunomodulatory drugs such as lenalidomide and pomalidomide. Vaccination strategies have shown in vivo immune responses but no clear clinical efficacy. Newer approaches to vaccination with multiple antigens, used in combinations with immunomodulatory drugs and in the setting of minimal residual disease, have all increased possibility of this approach succeeding. Ex vivo effector cell expansion also appears to be promising and is in clinical trials. Finally, a chimeric antigen receptor T-cell approach appears to have some promise based on isolated reports of success and remains an area of intense investigation. Immune-based approaches can potentially augment or even supplant some of the current approaches and, given the low toxicity profile, may hold great potential in the early treatment of precursor-stage diseases. Clin Cancer Res; 22(22); 5453–60. ©2016 AACR.
See all articles in this CCR Focus section, “Multiple Myeloma: Multiplying Therapies.”
- Received July 27, 2016.
- Revision received September 20, 2016.
- Accepted September 22, 2016.
- ©2016 American Association for Cancer Research.