By Jennifer Ahlstrom | Posted - Oct 21st, 2021





A New Type of CAR Multiple Myeloma Therapy: CAR NK Cells


Researchers in Spain believe that a new type of CAR therapy using natural killer cells, could be more effective and have fewer side effects in treating blood cancers like multiple myeloma than CAR T cell therapy. 

CAR T cell therapy is a growing field of myeloma research, but it can come with significant side effects like cytokine release syndrome (CRS) and neurotoxicities. Researchers are looking for both ways to improve CAR T therapies and to develop new approaches that may be equally good with fewer toxicities.

Spanish researchers of the H12O-CNIO Haematological Malignancies Clinical Research Unit, led by hematologist Joaquín Martínez, found that a similar CAR treatment using natural killer cells (NK cells) instead of T cells was more effective and had fewer side effects in mice with multiple myeloma. Early in-human trials are now planned. 

The researchers hypothesized that CAR-NK cells could be less toxic when targeting resistant myeloma cells. In their study, they analyzed the anti-tumor activity of activated and expanded NK cells (NKAE) and CD45RA- T cells from multiple myeloma patients that were engineered to express an NKG2D-based CAR that target antigens of the NKG2D receptor, which are not typically found on normal cells but are present in over 70% of human cancers.

“Overall, our results show that it is possible to modify autologous NK cells from multiple myeloma patients to safely express a NKG2D-CAR. These cells […] could be an effective strategy against multiple myeloma”, says Martínez-López. 


The study results showed that although memory T cells were more stably converted, the CAR NK cells had greater killing power towards the myeloma cells while showing minimal activity against healthy cells. In mouse models, 25% of the mice remained disease free. Overall, the study showed that it is possible to modify a myeloma patient's own NK cells to create a CAR therapy. 

The researchers hope they can begin an in-human clinical trial at the 12 de Octubre University Hospital in Spain soon. 






Jennifer Ahlstrom
About the Author

Jennifer Ahlstrom - Myeloma survivor, patient advocate, wife, mom of 6. Believer that patients can help accelerate a cure by weighing in and participating in clinical research. Founder of Myeloma Crowd by HealthTree and the HealthTree Foundation.


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