Annual Report 2015
Engineering the Medicines
Nearly one million people
diagnosed with blood
cancer in 2015.
our research: fighting blood cancer
blood cancer cells in
a targeted manner.
our antibody mor208: mode of action
in the treatment
of blood cancer benefiting
the mor208 antibody in clinical development
Hematopoiesis is the formation of blood cellular components from hematopoietic stem cells in the bone marrow. Besides red blood cells (erythrocytes) and platelets (thrombocytes), the most diversified group of blood cells are the white blood cells (leukocytes). An important leukocyte subgroup are the cells of the lymphatic system (lymphocytes) comprising NK cellsNK cells: Natural killer cells of the body’s immune system; cells capable of recognizing and killing abnormal cells, e.g. tumor cells, T cellsT cells: An abbreviation for T-lymphocytes; a subtype of white blood cells that together with B-lymphocytes are responsible for the body’s immune defense, B cells, and plasma cells.
Leukemia is Greek for “white blood.” Because of a malfunction, an excessive amount of malignant, and thus dysfunctional, white blood cells (leukocytes) is formed and released into the blood. They displace healthy blood cells and disturb the immune defense, transportation of oxygen and blood clotting. A characteristic of leukemia is the presence of tumor cells in the bloodstream.
A distinction is made between acute leukemia and chronic leukemia. While acute leukemia can develop into a life-threatening disease within just a few weeks or months, chronic leukemia often spreads insidiously and unnoticed in patients for some time.
Lymphomas are cancers of the lymphatic system.
Everyone is familiar with the lymph system from the swollen lymph nodes that appear with a common cold. The lymph system is an important part of the human body’s emergency warning system – the “police force” of the immune system: White blood cells, called lymphocytes, are formed in the spleen, bone marrow and lymph nodes: T lymphocytes (T cells) recognize pathogens such as viruses and bacteria. B lymphocytes (B cells) produce the body’s own antibodies, which are used to combat these invaders.
Lymphomas are characterized by degenerating and proliferating lymph cells (for example, B cells) displacing the healthy cells of hematopoiesis. The white blood cells no longer function, and the body’s defenses are weakened. This leads to tissue neoplasms such as excessively enlarged lymph nodes. There are two types of lymphomas: Hodgkin’s lymphoma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas. The latter group of diseases include the indication of diffuse large B cell lymphoma (DLBCL).
Diffuse large B cell lymphoma (DLBCL) is the most common type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in adults and represents about 30 % of all cases of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Although this disease is prevalent mainly in the elderly, it can occur at any age. If left untreated, this aggressive disease that occurs within the B cells of the immune system can rapidly lead to death.
There are only limited treatment options available for DLBCL. MorphoSys’s antibody MOR208 is currently in clinical development in this indication.
In the case of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), B lymphocytes (B cells) of the body’s own immune system become malignant. These tumorous cells can no longer fight pathogens, and go on to multiply uncontrollably in the blood. The leukemia cells displace the still functional B lymphocytes and other blood cells, which are formed in the bone marrow. This creates a shortage of platelets as well as white and red blood cells, which results in a weakening of the immune system and, for example, a significantly higher susceptibility to infection.
CLL is the most common form of leukemia in adults. The disease can, initially, be treated relatively well with a new class of drugs called Btk inhibitors. However, for those patients who do not respond or no longer respond to this treatment, there are usually no other effective treatment options. The result is a sharp drop in life expectancy. Since the B cells, that become tumorous, originally form an integral part of the lymphatic system, CLL is considered a type of lymphoma.
MorphoSys’s antibody MOR208 is currently in clinical development in this indication.
Multiple myeloma (MM) results from the malignant proliferation of plasma cells in the bone marrow. Healthy plasma cells contribute to immune defense by producing immunoglobulins – proteins in the human immune system that fight viruses, bacteria and other infectious agents. The disease suppresses normal hematopoiesis and weakens the body’s defenses. As the cancer primarily affects the bone marrow, bone damage is a typical sign of multiple myeloma in contrast to other blood cancers.
Multiple myeloma is the most prevalent form of bone and bone marrow cancer in Western countries and typically occurs in the elderly. Multiple myeloma represents 10 % of all blood cancers and 1 % of all cancers worldwide. Because the infected plasma cells are part of the lymphatic system, the disease is attributed to the group of lymphomas, although lymph node involvement is rarely observed.
MorphoSys’s antibody MOR202 is currently in clinical development in this indication.
Diffuse large B cell lymphoma (DLBCL) is the most common type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in adults and represents about 30 % of all cases of this group of diseases.
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is the most common type of blood cell cancer in adults in the Western world. The incidence of new cases is about four per 100,000 men and about two per 100,000 women.
Multiple myeloma (MM) is the most prevalent form of bone and bone marrow cancer in Western countries, accounting for approximately 10 % of all blood cancers and 1 % of all cancers.