Ehsan Malek, MD, joined Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center last fall after spending the past 10 years specializing in multiple myeloma and other plasma cell disorders. Dr. Malek completed his residency in internal medicine at the University of Utah and his fellowship in hematology oncology at the University of Cincinnati.
As the Director of the Multiple Myeloma Translational Research Program at Roswell Park, Dr. Malek brings with him a passion for finding new and innovative treatments for this disease and other plasma cell disorders. His research efforts include minimal residual disease testing and developing pioneering approaches for patients facing high-risk conditions.
“My mission is to understand the mechanism of resistance in CAR T-cell therapies and how we can find new targets to improve patient outcomes by prolonging their survival,” he says. “CAR T-cell therapy has been a paradigm shift for myeloma in the past 10 years.”
I'm a so male associate professor of medicine and director of translational research in multiple myeloma. Roosevelt Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. I went to a school in Iran in Middle East, a school called uh Sha Beji Medical School. I specialize in myeloma because I was fascinating by complexity of this disease. You know, myeloma is a systemic disease. Every cancer, you know, impact other systems. But myeloma even without treatment, it arise from bone marrow but impact other systems and make it very complex scenario with the heterogeneous nature of presentations that make diagnosis treatment very challenging. And I thought that by focusing on myeloma the last 10 years, I would say I can really impact patients' lives people that really they are in the danger of under diagnosed, over diagnosed and so forth. And I like it so far. My research specifically is in immune therapy of myeloma. Immune therapy is a type of therapy that rely on patients immune system to fight with cancer rather than all the school chemotherapy that you just give lots of poisons and kill all fast replicating cells including cancer and specifically a subtype of immune therapy, Coryell that is sort of new in last I would say three or four years maximum that comes to the horizon. My mission is to understand the mechanism of resistance to Cardell mostly how we can find the new targets to card the cells and how we can improve patients outcome. And by prolonging survival of these carols in the patients. Myeloma uh field has been very uh interesting in the last 10 years. Myeloma is top cancer in terms of number of FDA approved drugs last 10 years. So it's been me a massive moment of massive advancement in research and available therapeutic options for myeloma. I would say the cortisol is the main paradigm shift for myeloma, you know, immune therapy, generally speaking, um let's say 10 years ago, came to the horizon, it rely on patient immune system to fight with cancer. However, the immune system in cancer in general, but in myeloma specifically is compromised. So patients own immune cells, they are exhausted is the energy t cell energy is a phenomenon that we are dealing with that. And that's the limiting factor for all immune therapy. So patients immune system is weak. Therefore, you apply immune system, patients own immune system to fight with cancer, you can get so far. So one of the translation of this concept is new therapy called by specific that is very promising. However, is it has a ceiling and that ceiling is the strength and fitness of patients immune system. Essentially this very specific bring the immune cells next to cancer cells and kill them. But if immune cells that are weak, you can get so far. But Carol is not just another new kids in the block is a paradigm shift in cancer treatment and specifically in myeloma. And that's the from human experience of myeloma is very important from patient aspects. And that I think is, is a new era, is a leap in the care of myeloma. I think that's the most fascinating focus of the myeloma. The goal of all myeloma doctors as well as myeloma patients is curing and eradicating myeloma. And that should be a goal, long term goal. But however, I think in the near future, we're gonna see that myeloma is not a terminal cancer anymore, is a manageable chronic condition, synergy of three factors. They're gonna play around a lot. And one of them is cortisol. I think it is very important because it gives us uh all of a sudden a new platform to act upon that that is not dependent on patients, my immune cells. Another one also is uh genomic heterogeneity of myeloma that we start to understand that one of the groups that contribute a lot to this knowledge was from Roswell under uh you know, Jan Hia that he proved that different patch of disease have different genomic makeup. And I think in the future, we're going to find out more of this type of knowledge and that's very important and with synergy of this cortic, that is new therapy, with all this genomic knowledge that we have. I think A I artificial intelligence machine learning can bring these two fields together because genomic gonna give us lots of data and corti new therapy, the mechanism of resistance also is a new therapy, how we can marry this together. And that I think I should be able to do that at some point. And I think this three factors, energy of these three factors is gonna shape myeloma field. And, um you know, I'm honestly, I'm very thrilled to be part of this future. Roswell has been a big name in myeloma, is a Roswell pioneer, one of the biggest maintenance therapy in myeloma in back in 2000, I believe, 11 or 12. However, the reason I joined Roswell is the massive momentum that they had for car Cell since 23 years ago. And the investment on Infra the real institute is doing that. What I wanna do in the Corti arena, it needs lots of different cellular therapy infrastructure that I think Roswell has it. And we are on a trajectory a very, I would say massive momentum that uh hopefully we're gonna be uh offering our patients with a variety of Coric for myeloma. Basically, we're gonna have Corell for every single myeloma patients. And that's I think is the goal of the program