• CAFs are central components of the TME, promote MM growth, and inhibit CART-cell functions.

  • Dual targeting of CAFs and tumor cells with CART cells significantly reverses TME-induced immunosuppression.

Pivotal clinical trials of B-cell maturation antigen-targeted chimeric antigen receptor T (CART)-cell therapy in patients with relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma (MM) resulted in remarkable initial responses, which led to a recent US Food and Drug Administration approval. Despite the success of this therapy, durable remissions continue to be low, and the predominant mechanism of resistance is loss of CART cells and inhibition by the tumor microenvironment (TME). MM is characterized by an immunosuppressive TME with an abundance of cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs). Using MM models, we studied the impact of CAFs on CART-cell efficacy and developed strategies to overcome CART-cell inhibition. We showed that CAFs inhibit CART-cell antitumor activity and promote MM progression. CAFs express molecules such as fibroblast activation protein and signaling lymphocyte activation molecule family-7, which are attractive immunotherapy targets. To overcome CAF-induced CART-cell inhibition, CART cells were generated targeting both MM cells and CAFs. This dual-targeting CART-cell strategy significantly improved the effector functions of CART cells. We show for the first time that dual targeting of both malignant plasma cells and the CAFs within the TME is a novel strategy to overcome resistance to CART-cell therapy in MM.

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