Measurement of ex vivo resistance to proteasome inhibitors, IMiDs, and daratumumab during multiple myeloma progression

Blood Adv. 2020 Apr 28;4(8):1628-1639. doi: 10.1182/bloodadvances.2019000122.


The oncogenic drivers and progression factors in multiple myeloma (MM) are heterogeneous and difficult to target therapeutically. Many different MM drugs have emerged, however, that attack various phenotypic aspects of malignant plasma cells. These drugs are administered in numerous, seemingly interchangeable combinations. Although the availability of many treatment options is useful, no clinical test capable of optimizing and sequencing the treatment regimens for an individual patient is currently available. To overcome this problem, we developed a functional ex vivo approach to measure patients' inherent and acquired drug resistance. This method, which we termed myeloma drug sensitivity testing (My-DST), uses unselected bone marrow mononuclear cells with a panel of drugs in clinical use, followed by flow cytometry to measure myeloma-specific cytotoxicity. We found that using whole bone marrow cultures helped preserve primary MM cell viability. My-DST was used to profile 55 primary samples at diagnosis or at relapse. Sensitivity or resistance to each drug was determined from the change in MM viability relative to untreated control samples. My-DST identified progressive loss of sensitivity to immunomodulatory drugs, proteasome inhibitors, and daratumumab through the disease course, mirroring the clinical development of resistance. Prospectively, patients' ex vivo drug sensitivity to the drugs subsequently received was sensitive and specific for clinical response. In addition, treatment with <2 drugs identified as sensitive by My-DST led to inferior depth and duration of clinical response. In summary, ex vivo drug sensitivity is prognostically impactful and, with further validation, may facilitate more personalized and effective therapeutic regimens.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Humans
  • Multiple Myeloma* / drug therapy
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local
  • Proteasome Inhibitors


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Proteasome Inhibitors
  • daratumumab