ORLANDO, Fla. -- Novel therapies are greatly improving the long-term outlook for patients with multiple myeloma, say researchers at Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, who have led efforts in testing these treatments and moving them quickly into first-line therapies.
At the 2006 American Society of Hematology (ASH) Annual Meeting, these investigators are presenting results from five studies that tested new therapies in myeloma in order to improve effectiveness and reduce toxicity. The primary treatments being studied are the agents thalidomide (Thalomid), lenalidomide (Revlimid), and bortezomib (Velcade), that disrupt the microenvironment -- the cellular habitat -- of the tumor. Lenalidomide and bortezomib are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treatment of relapsed myeloma. Earlier this year the FDA also granted accelerated approval for thalidomide use in patients with newly diagnosed myeloma, based on a cooperative group clinical trial led by Mayo Clinic investigators.
"These treatments represent a revolutionary approach to the care of patients with multiple myeloma, especially in those who are newly diagnosed," says S. Vincent Rajkumar, M.D., hematologist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and lead author of some of the studies presented.
Multiple myeloma, a cancer of plasma cells, is the second most common blood cancer in the United States, diagnosed in about 15,000 people annually. As yet, no cure exists for the disease, and average survival has been about three to four years, says Dr. Rajkumar.
The studies presented at ASH are the latest updates of clinical trials led by Mayo investigators. One study was a large (470 patients) Phase III double-blind clinical trial of thalidomide plus dexamethasone (Thal/Dex) versus placebo plus dexamethasone (placebo/Dex). The Thal/Dex combination resulted in a significantly higher response rate (63 percent) compared to placebo/Dex (46 percent). A tumor load reduction (l
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