Treatments that revolutionize multiple myeloma

New biomarkers and drug development inhibitors and monoclonal antibodies are revolutionizing the treatment of multiple myeloma, a type of bone marrow cancer through DNA degeneration of the plasma cells. Underlying theme at the Congress of Hematology in Orlando.

Dr. Jesus San Miguel, newly appointed president of the International Society of Myeloma and coordinator of the Spanish Myeloma (GEM), a recognized expert in this blood cancer, said that only in the last month have been approved three new drugs targeted therapy and four or five other trials already exist.

“This makes us conceive hopes” to an almost incurable cancer with an incidence of four to five cases per 100,000 inhabitants and a survival rate of five years in the case of elderly patients, and the prevalence is higher in males between 67 and 70.

San Miguel attends the 57th Congress of the American Society of Hematology (ASH) that brings to 8 December in Orlando more than 20,000 specialists in hematology addressing advances in leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma, and other diseases of the immune system.

The Spanish expert, in an interview with a group of journalists, noted that the new drugs are intended for all patient profiles: young and old, with advanced disease, with relapse or new diagnosis, a very different picture makes a fifteen when myeloma was treated with chemotherapy alone.

“Immunotherapy will play an important role in myeloma in the coming years. Do not forget that our immune system is programmed to eliminate cells that are transformed, as the tumor. However, these cells learn to evade mechanisms that control and therefore works to revert to active and passive immunotherapy, “said the also director of Clinical and Translational Medicine at the University Hospital of Navarra.

In addition to drug development, it has been possible to assess more accurately both the diagnosis and the efficacy of the techniques of minimal residual disease.

“In this field – he said -, the GEM has been mundi immunophenotype pioneering techniques (flow cytometry) and sequencing, high sensitivity, allowing us to detect a residual tumor cell among a million normal cells.”

Orlando in Congress have also presented data that consolidate the importance of PET (test nuclear medicine) in the evaluation of the response of patients with myeloma.

“We have good news to be joining in the therapeutic progress with progress in biology to make more personalized treatment. The PET and residual disease biomarkers will become effective treatment that allow us to modify it based on that residual diseaseā€, he said.

Chromosomal translocations and genetic mutations, gene therapy is still an experimental technique, represent another way to study the GEM, which is composed of more than one hundred Spanish hospitals.

“We are still far from personalized medicine, but taking steps to better understand why some patients are resistant to one type of treatment and another are not”, said San Miguel.