December 23, 2014 | by Nicole White
Many cancer patients have benefited from targeted therapy – medications that can identify cancers by their genetic properties and help eradicate them – but such therapy has been largely a pipe dream for multiple myeloma patients. Until now.
Currently, two medications are emerging as especially promising in the treatment of multiple myeloma: daratumumab and SAR650984. Each of the drugs targets different sites on the same receptor for multiple myeloma. Each was the subject of research presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology.
The drugs are offering new hope to patients who have already tried many other therapies with less-than-ideal results. “The most important thing is that these are targeting the patients who have high-risk disease who have been refractory to the other agents we’ve had standardly available,” said Amrita Y. Krishnan, M.D., director of the Multiple Myeloma Program at City of Hope. “To see responses in these very advanced patients is extremely compelling.”
Data supporting the drugs’ effectiveness has been building, and Krishnan expects it to continue to develop in the coming year.
Because the drugs have different targets, if a patient does not respond to one of them, the other may prove beneficial.
“This is going to be a very interesting question as time goes on,” she said. “Right now, I don’t think we have enough to be able to pick out a patient who is going to respond to one compound versus the other.”
Myeloma is a cancer of the plasma cells, which normally produce anitibodies to help fight infections. Ultimately, it can interfere with production of normal blood cells and cause serious complications in bones and kidneys. When these cancerous cells form tumors throughout the body, it is classified as multiple myeloma. One of the treatments for the diseases, beyond chemotherapy and radiation, is stem cell transplantation.
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