An Expert’s Positive Outlook on Advances in Multiple Myeloma

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Topics include: Treatments

Dr. Robert Orlowski, director of the myeloma department at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, joined Patient Power to discuss exciting advancements in multiple myeloma treatment and research. Dr. Orlowski expands on new research in biomarkers, the impact of monoclonal antibodies, and advances in immunotherapy for high-risk myeloma.

Sponsored by the Patient Empowerment Network through educational grants from Onyx Pharmaceuticals, Novartis, and Millennium: The Takeda Oncology Company

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Transcript

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of MD Anderson Cancer Center, its medical staff or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

Andrew Schorr:

Hello and welcome to Patient Power. I’m Andrew Schorr. Our job at Patient Power is to keep you, the person or family affected with multiple myeloma abreast of all the latest news and thank goodness it continues to be evermore positive as research rushes ahead. One of the leaders in the field is Dr. Robert Orlowski. He is director of the myeloma department at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. He joins us once again as a regular guest on Patient Power. Dr. Orlowski, thanks for being with us. What are you excited about now when it comes to research in myeloma and what it means for patients?

Dr. Orlowski:

I think there are three areas that I'm really excited about right now in myeloma, which combine laboratory as well as clinical work. One is in identifying biomarkers, which may be able to help predict which patients and whether their disease will respond to one drug or another.  Right now, the way things are is we have sort of a standard playbook that we apply to every patient, but we know that not every patient has the same disease. 

And we do have we think now some biomarkers, such as certain genes which are expressed or not which we think may help to predict whether one class of drugs or another will be better. 

A secondary I'm really excited about are monoclonal antibodies.  These are proteins which we can give intravenously, and what they do is they often attach to myeloma cells and make them more visible to the patient's own immune system.  And we have trials right now that are ongoing with antibodies for people with smoldering myeloma, for newly diagnosed myeloma, and also for patients who have myeloma that has relapsed after prior therapy. 

And the third area I'm really excited about is some studies that we're doing in high-risk multiple myeloma.  Outcomes with most patients have really improved over the last decade, but those people who have high-risk disease, which is defined by certain chromosome abnormalities, still don't do well.

We recently were awarded a pilot so-called Moon Shot by MD Anderson, which was based on a proposal to develop new immunotherapies which will specifically target the abnormalities in high-risk myeloma that are responsible for making that form more aggressive. And as we move those into the clinic, we're hopeful that they will make a major impact in overcoming the poor prognosis of those patients and improve their survival. 

Andrew Schorr:

So moving forward and recognizing there are various subtypes of myeloma and everybody’s situation is different, are you hopeful for, if you will, a brighter time in myeloma?

Dr. Orlowski:

I think it's an exciting time for myeloma research.  Survival has doubled for myeloma patients in the past decade.  If we are able to continue that trend, which I think we will in the current decade and then for the next decade, we'll be at the point where I think we're going to be curing the majority of people with this disease, which will be I think really exciting. 

Andrew Schorr:  

Well, there you have it. It is certainly a very positive time in myeloma, and it gives anyone affected by the conditions a great deal of hope for now and for years down the road. Dr. Robert Orlowski, from MD Anderson Cancer Center, thanks for being with us on Patient Power once again.

Dr. Orlowski:

Thank you for having me. 

Andrew Schorr:

I’m Andrew Schorr. Be sure to be signed up for alerts on our website, so you’ll know whenever we post something new. Remember, knowledge can be the best medicine of all. 

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of MD Anderson Cancer Center, its medical staff or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

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Page last updated on January 28, 2015