An Ex Vivo Platform for the Prediction of Clinical Response in Multiple Myeloma

Cancer Res. 2017 Jun 15;77(12):3336-3351. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-17-0502. Epub 2017 Apr 11.


Multiple myeloma remains treatable but incurable. Despite a growing armamentarium of effective agents, choice of therapy, especially in relapse, still relies almost exclusively on clinical acumen. We have developed a system, Ex vivo Mathematical Myeloma Advisor (EMMA), consisting of patient-specific mathematical models parameterized by an ex vivo assay that reverse engineers the intensity and heterogeneity of chemosensitivity of primary cells from multiple myeloma patients, allowing us to predict clinical response to up to 31 drugs within 5 days after bone marrow biopsy. From a cohort of 52 multiple myeloma patients, EMMA correctly classified 96% as responders/nonresponders and correctly classified 79% according to International Myeloma Working Group stratification of level of response. We also observed a significant correlation between predicted and actual tumor burden measurements (Pearson r = 0.5658, P < 0.0001). Preliminary estimates indicate that, among the patients enrolled in this study, 60% were treated with at least one ineffective agent from their therapy combination regimen, whereas 30% would have responded better if treated with another available drug or combination. Two in silico clinical trials with experimental agents ricolinostat and venetoclax, in a cohort of 19 multiple myeloma patient samples, yielded consistent results with recent phase I/II trials, suggesting that EMMA is a feasible platform for estimating clinical efficacy of drugs and inclusion criteria screening. This unique platform, specifically designed to predict therapeutic response in multiple myeloma patients within a clinically actionable time frame, has shown high predictive accuracy in patients treated with combinations of different classes of drugs. The accuracy, reproducibility, short turnaround time, and high-throughput potential of this platform demonstrate EMMA's promise as a decision support system for therapeutic management of multiple myeloma. Cancer Res; 77(12); 3336-51. ©2017 AACR.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Decision Support Techniques*
  • High-Throughput Screening Assays
  • Humans
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Multiple Myeloma / drug therapy*


  • Antineoplastic Agents