LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A new cutting-edge treatment for Multiple Myeloma patients at UAMS is the first of its kind in Arkansas.

Dave Puente was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma in 2008. He lives in California, but he and his wife started traveling to UAMS in Little Rock for treatment. After years of treatment and a stem cell transplant, he was in remission, until it returned, and the treatment wasn’t working.

“I was just running out of options,” Dave Puente said.

Though in 2021, UAMS gained approval to provide cellular therapy for myeloma patients, which doctors say is a game-changer. Dave became the first myeloma patient in Arkansas to receive the treatment.

“The results have been amazing. I’m cancer-free at this point. The cancer was not detected in my body within a week of the treatment,” Puente said.

The new chimeric antigen receptor t-cell immunotherapy uses the patient’s own immune cells, so they don’t have to rely on chemotherapy.

“The patient’s immune cells are being collected and then sent to a facility where the cells are genetically altered in a way that they can recognize and attack the patient’s myeloma cells,” Dr. Frits Van Rhee with UAMS said.

The cells are frozen and shipped back to the treatment facility. They are infused and they rapidly find the myeloma cells and kill the tumor.

“The treatment is very impressive that it puts patients into remission,” Dr. Rhee said.

For Dave, it was life-changing. He now looks forward to walking his daughter down the aisle this summer, which is something he once worried he wouldn’t be able to do.

“I feel more free. I can look at a future more long term that I didn’t have before,” Puente said.