Abstract

The course of multiple myeloma (MM) from initial diagnosis to a relapsed/refractory state is characterized by acquisition of drug resistance as well as progressive immunologic dysfunction. Despite this, however, a number of novel therapies that work in part or solely via immune stimulation are in development for MM, with promising early clinical results. Several new whole-cell or multiepitope vaccine approaches are demonstrating immunologic efficacy in smoldering MM or as posttherapy consolidation, with trials ongoing to see whether this translates into delayed progression or elimination of minimal residual disease. Programmed death-1 (PD-1)/programmed death ligand-1 (PD-L1) inhibition in combination with immunomodulatory drugs demonstrated excessive toxicity in randomized trials; however, antibodies targeting PD-1/PD-L1 and other checkpoint molecules continue to be explored in combination with tumor-targeted antibodies and other T cell–directed therapies. B-cell maturation antigen (BCMA) has emerged as the next big antigen target, with multiple BCMA-specific antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) and T cell–directed bispecific antibodies/bispecific therapeutic engagers (BiTEs) entering the clinic. In initial trials, the ADC GSK2857916 and the BiTE AMG 420 have demonstrated high response rates in relapsed/refractory patients, with depth and durability of responses that may end up rivaling chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapies. These agents have unique toxicities that require close monitoring, but they are moving forward in larger registration studies and in combination with standard MM agents. Additional ADCs and bispecific antibodies targeting BCMA and other surface antigens (eg, CD38, CD46, CD48, FcRH5, and G protein–coupled receptor, class C group 5 member D) are moving forward in phase 1 trials and may provide even more options for MM patients.

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