Sylvester Researchers Help Identify Mechanisms by Which Multiple Myeloma Escapes Targeted Immunotherapy


Press Release

In Partnership With:

Researchers at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine are part of an international team of scientists who identified mechanisms by which some multiple myelomas become resistant to initially effective T-cell therapies.

Researchers at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine are part of an international team of scientists who identified mechanisms by which some multiple myelomas become resistant to initially effective T-cell therapies.

Targeted T cells can be rendered useless if the antigen they’re tracking mutates, essentially disappearing from the radar screen. Here, the researchers report mutations that thwart immunotherapies engineered to seek out two targets in multiple myeloma, allowing previously treated cancers to adapt, escape treatment and relapse.

“Recognizing these mutations and gaining a clearer understanding of the resistance mechanisms to these potent immunotherapies is pivotal,” said Francesco Maura, M.D., whose lab at Sylvester conducts myeloma computational and translational research. “This knowledge plays a crucial role in devising tailored strategies and making informed choices regarding the selection of products and targets for individual patients.”

Maura is a senior author of an article in Nature Medicine. (Link will go live when the embargo lifts.)

“Antigenic drift” is well established as a mechanism that tumors employ to develop resistance to immunotherapy. In this study involving 30 patients, the researchers focused on changes occurring in two potential targets on plasma cells: B cell maturation antigen (BCMA) and G-protein coupled receptor family C group 5 member D (GPRC5D). Chimeric antigen receptor T cells, or CAR-T cells, and “bispecific T-cell engagers,” called TCE, are immunotherapies that can be engineered to target these antigens and have shown promise in treating relapsed or treatment-resistant multiple myeloma.

Over time, however, and as the cancer cells change, effectiveness often wanes. Few studies have been done to identify the reasons for this diminishing clinical response – and this is believed to be the first genomic study of “intrinsic” mechanisms of cancer cells that permit antigen escape in patients who relapsed after undergoing these immunotherapeutic approaches.

“We identified distinct and novel genomic events responsible for resistance to anti-BCMA and anti-GPRC5D immunotherapies,” said C. Ola Landgren, M.D., Ph.D., who conducts computational and translational research in myeloma and is a co-author of the Nature Medicine paper.

“One important aspect of our findings is that mutations in the extracellular domain of BCMA have a distinct impact: They impede the binding of the therapeutic T cells without exerting any influence on the protein’s expression or downstream signaling pathways. This finding revealed that the proportion of patients with myeloma who experience relapse due to antigen escape is considerably more extensive than initially anticipated,” Landgren said.

The discovery of these mutational events that precipitate multiple myeloma relapse underscores the critical need to screen patients for these variants, according to the article. Additionally, “detailed characterization of these binding interactions will permit the rational design of next-generation T-cell redirecting agents and inform the optimal sequencing and combination of these immune-therapeutic approaches,” the authors said.

Other Sylvester co-authors include Bachisio Ziccheddu, Monika Chojnacka, Anthony Cirrincione and Michael Durante. The senior and corresponding author is Nizar J. Bahlis, M.D., of the Arnie Charbonneau Cancer Institute, University of Calgary in Canada. The first author, also at Arnie Charbonneau Cancer Institute, is Holly Lee. Additional authors include researchers at the University of Calgary in Canada; Munich Leukemia Laboratory in Germany; Tom Baker Cancer Center in Calgary, Canada; University Hospital in Wurzburg, Germany; Nuremburg General Hospital in Germany; Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts; University of Wurzburg, Germany; Translational Genomics Research Institute in Phoenix, Arizona; and City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center in Duarte, California.

The authors acknowledge the following funding sources:

  • Terry Fox Foundation
  • Leukemia Lymphoma Society of Canada
  • International Myeloma Society
  • Myeloma Canada
  • International Myeloma Society
  • Judy and Bernard Briskin Center for Multiple Myeloma Research at City of Hope
  • Paula and Rodger Riney Multiple Myeloma Research Program Fund
  • The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF)
  • The Perelman Family Foundation
  • Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center NCI Core Grant (P30 CA 240139)
  • City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center NCI Core Grant (P30 CA 033572)
  • German Cancer Aid and The Paula and Rodger Riney Foundation

Full disclosures of funding and conflicts of interest are published with the paper.

Article: Nature Medicine: Tumor Intrinsic Mechanisms of Antigen Escape to Anti-BCMA and Anti-GPRC5D Targeted Immunotherapies in Multiple Myeloma.

Related Videos
Marijo Bilusic, MD, PhD
Elisa Krill-Jackson, MD
Experts on NSCLC
Estelamari Rodriguez, MD, MPH
Justin W. Taylor, MD, assistant professor, lab head/ PI, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of Miami Health System
Amer M. Beitinjaneh, MD
Justin W. Taylor, MD
Gina Z. D’Amato, MD
Estelamari Rodriguez, MD, MPH of Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center