A type of blood cancer can now be treated with a special type of antibody, Elizabeth Tracey reports


Antibodies, usually made by our bodies to fight infection, have a unique structure that looks like a Y. Now special antibodies constructed in a laboratory have the two arms of the Y made to bind different things, and are used to fight the blood cancer myeloma. Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center director William Nelson explains.

Nelson: The tactic in play here is that one of the parts of the Y will bind the cancer cell and the other part will bind a T cell which might kill the cancer cell, bringing them kind of like a matchmaker, close together so the T cell can kill them, and they’re called bispecific T cell engagers, or BITES.  :20

Nelson says one of these antibodies is used to treat myeloma.

Nelson: Talquetamab targets something that’s only in myeloma cells by one arm and the T cells in the other arm.  :07

Early results using this antibody are impressive, Nelson says, while many more are under development and trials are ongoing. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.