The following article was originally published in the Hadassah International 2022 Year In Review. To access the complete Hadassah International 2022 Year in Review – click here: Cure. Innovation. Humanity.
Considered a costly treatment, this experimental immunotherapy has only been available in the US, where it is restricted to American patients, and in China. Today, Hadassah is working to liberalize the therapy and render it more readily accessible.
“After a very difficult year in which I received two different treatments for myeloma, my condition deteriorated rapidly. Numerous large tumors appeared in my right arm and a smaller tumor in my left arm; and my right leg exhibited terrible edema, causing extreme stiffness and excruciating pain. I could hardly walk. I was referred from Ichilov Hospital to Hadassah for CAR-T Therapy. Following a week of preparation and within just five days of the treatment, the inconceivable started to happen right before our eyes – all of my lesions began disappearing. Furthermore, there was a dramatic reduction in swelling in my leg, the pain subsided completely, and all of the side effects vanished. I feel like I did before I got sick. The team at Hadassah was exceptional and I thank each and every one of my medical team from the bottom of my heart!” – Yoram Kaduri
Kaduri is a “miracle man” whose case is nothing short of astounding. We met him radiating positivism, while he was waiting for treatment.
In the company of his wife Yafa and daughter Limor, leaning gently on a black cane, his face beamed triumph. He quietly shared his immense satisfaction for the treatment he received, for the wonders that it worked in his body, and for his most intimate wish – to live life without pain.
“This is one of the most amazing cases we have had!” confided Prof. Polina Stepensky. “We accepted Yoram to the trial as a ‘last resort,’ having significant extramedullary disease and no other viable treatment options. His response to the treatment was really impressive and our profound hope is that he will continue to improve and keep his cancer in remission. Yoram’s response to the treatment reminds us of the importance of our commitment to research and development. It reminds us why we are here!”
An Israeli cancer treatment, developed by Prof. Polina Stepensky, Director of Hadassah’s Bone Marrow Transplant and Immunotherapy Department, is on target to become the world’s first affordable, out-patient, CAR-T cell therapy for multiple myeloma, AL amyloidosis, and other BCMA-positive malignancies.
California-headquartered Immix Biopharma licensed the therapy, known as NXC-201. In an ongoing Phase 1 clinical trial with 20 multiple myeloma patients, NXC- 201 has shown an 85% overall response rate and 71% complete response. When the therapy was tested on six patients with amyloidosis, all six went into remission, even though it is a chronic disease that is very difficult to treat.
“This is the first immunotherapy of its type developed entirely in Israel, a blue-and-white cancer treatment,” said Stepensky, predicting that it could be in mainstream use within five years. The new CAR-T treatment was developed by Prof. Polina Stepensky in collaboration with Prof. Cyrille Cohen of Bar-Ilan University.
CAR-T IMMUNOTHERAPY IN A NUTSHELL
So what exactly is CAR-T and how does it work? Chimeric Antigen Receptors (CARs) are receptor proteins used to target cancer cells. They are particularly useful because they can also be used to bind to the body’s T-cells – white blood cells that play a key role in our immune response – and activate them.
Since T-cells don’t attack just any antigen in the body, the ability to engineer their targets is the true power of CAR-T cell therapy. This Israeli-born technology is changing cancer therapy worldwide.
The method involves extracting T-cells from the patient and introducing a re-engineered chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) on their surface. These T-Cells can now bind to cancerous tumors. Essentially CAR-T therapy allows the immune system to target cancer – and only cancer (as opposed to traditional radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and surgery).
Main photo caption: Yoram Kaduri with wife Yaffa and daughter Limor