WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., July 1, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) today announced a collaboration with Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine to advance a novel adoptive immunotherapy for patients with poor prognosis myeloma, a blood cancer. The approach shows promise for patients with other blood cancers as well.
Under the leadership of Ivan Borrello, M.D., Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, a team of researchers is testing a method using marrow-infiltrating lymphocytes (MILs) - immune T cells that are specifically trained to recognize and kill myeloma cells. MILs are produced from a patient's own bone marrow cells, expanded outside of the patient and then infused back into the patient following an autologous stem cell transplant.
High-risk patients with multiple myeloma can relapse quickly following an autologous stem cell transplant. MILs represent a relatively simple treatment for patients with multiple myeloma and may provide a significant advance over other types of therapies that have utilized the patients' own cells, because it provides killer immune cells that easily travel to the bone marrow to fight their tumors over a longer period.
Through its Therapy Acceleration Program, LLS will support this project with up to $3.5 million over five years. The project evolved from Borrello's previous work supported by LLS through a Translational Research Program grant.
The team plans to enroll 90 multiple myeloma patients in a Phase II clinical trial comparing combination therapy of MILs plus lenalidomide, another drug that treats multiple myeloma, versus lenalidomide alone. The study will involve high-risk myeloma patients being treated at multiple centers, with Johns Hopkins leading the trial and coordinating the cooperating centers.
"LLS is committed to advancing breakthrough therapies, particularly for patients with unmet medical need," said LLS Senior Vice President of Research Richard C. Winneker, Ph.D. "T-cell immunotherapy is emerging as a promising therapeutic option for patients, and we are hopeful that this MILs approach will improve outcomes for patients with high-risk myeloma, and could be applied to patients with other blood cancers as well."
About The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society ® (LLS) is the world's largest voluntary health agency dedicated to blood cancer. The LLS mission: Cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. LLS funds lifesaving blood cancer research around the world and provides free information and support services.
Founded in 1949 and headquartered in White Plains, NY, LLS has chapters throughout the United States and Canada. To learn more, visit www.LLS.org. Patients should contact the Information Resource Center at (800) 955-4572, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET.
SOURCE The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society