Multiple myeloma is a cancer of a specific subset of B-cells. Existing therapies are not sufficient to completely destroy this cancer type, as a small cancer population always escapes the killing and causes relapse. It is our purpose to help combat multiple myeloma by exploiting the body’s natural force, by engineering cells of the immune system so that they more efficiently find and kill the cancer cells.
Cancer cells usually look different from healthy cells, and these differences can be exploited to develop new therapies. In this proposal we aim to design a protein probe called nanobody that can track down multiple myeloma cells in vivo. This probe will be suited for molecular imaging and therefore its cancer-tracing capabilities can be estimated in advance. Then this probe will be incorporated on the surface of T-cells that have previously been extracted from the patient’s
blood. As such, the immune system is taught to recognize the cancer cells. This approach redirects the re-infused, engineered immune cells - called CAR-T cells - specifically to the cancer cells. Because in a cancer environment, the correct functioning of the immune system is often hampered, molecules that block the immune suppression will be incorporated into the CAR-T cells. In this way, we aim to develop a therapeutic approach that uses the potential of the immune system to a maximal extent in the context of multiple myeloma.