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Exciting Advances in Treating Multiple Myeloma

Exciting Advances in Treating Multiple Myeloma
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Published on June 9, 2020

The practice of oncology is as much an art as it is a science. This was evident from the discussion among hematologists, oncologists and other healthcare providers during a recent Meet the Professor Series: Clinical Investigator Perspectives on the Current and Future Management of Multiple Myeloma1.

Webinar participants discussed the latest research findings from ASCO20 Virtual, this year’s annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). Here are the highlights.

New FDA-Approved Treatments

In March 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved isatuximab-irfc (Sarclisa), in combination with pomalidomide (Pomalyst) and dexamethasone (Decadron), for the treatment of adult patients with multiple myeloma. Patients must have received at least two prior therapies, including lenalidomide (Revlimid) and a proteasome inhibitor, which is a type of drug that prevents proteasomes, the garbage disposal system of the cell, from chewing up excess proteins. 

Smoldering Myeloma

The discussion was led by Dr. Sagar Lonial, Chief Medical Officer at the Winship Cancer Institute, and Chair and Professor of the Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology at Emory University School of Medicine.

Dr. Lonial talked about smoldering myeloma, which is the precursor to the rare blood cancer multiple myeloma. In regard to treatment, he said it’s important for patients to understand the goals of therapy.

“It’s not about curative therapy, it’s about prevention,” [of damage to kidney function] he said. 

CAR T-Cell Therapies

There is still a lot of excitement around CAR T-cell therapies, and there are many CAR T-cell clinical trials going on. Several companies are developing new CAR-T cells that differ from one another, so it will take some time to discover which one is most effective. 

Several studies at ASCO20 showed very similar overall response rates and had similar safety and neurotoxicity (damage done to the nervous system), so further trials are needed to differentiate the best treatment. There was good news about kidney function, which in some cases came back to normal shortly after therapy began. 

Some patients did experience a relapse in multiple myeloma following CAR T-cell treatment, and Dr. Neil Love of Research to Practice talked about the option of reinfusing CAR-T cells.

Dr. Lonial had great news to share on this topic. He treated patients who effectively went into remission following the reinfusion of CAR-T cells. He wants to keep the momentum going with further trials down the road.

“It’s really important to use what we have in data and build on that. We need to see the Phase III results,” Dr. Lonial said.

The other good news is around eligibility criteria. Often times, people older than 65 are not eligible for clinical trials based on age alone, but it appears that older patients may be able to safely participate.

COVID-19 Treatment

The race is on to find the best treatment for the coronavirus that has plagued us globally. We have recently published articles and expert interviews at Patient Power about whether certain treatments for cancer can help combat this virus. 

There are several ongoing clinical trials to prevent viral uptake, which is the earliest stage of infection in the viral life cycle. Additionally, some radiation oncologists are trying very low dose radiation to try to treat the inflammation caused by COVID-19. The responses have been rapid.

There was much great information that came out of ASCO20 for hematologic malignancies, and it sounds like research scientists have much to build on. We’ll continue to bring you the latest news and updates.

~Lauren Evoy Davis

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  1. Clinical Investigator Perspectives on the Current and Future Management of Multiple Myeloma: A Meet The Professor Series. Slide Presentation.


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