The International Myeloma Foundation Says Major Medical Conference Points to Improved Treatment and Survival Options for Blood Cancers
Presentations will highlight:
-- long term survival potential for growing numbers of patients
-- medical options becoming available for newly diagnosed patients
-- powerful new drugs that may delay or replace the need for bone marrow transplants
In addition, key therapies developed for myeloma, are showing promise in other blood cancers. The studies will be presented at the 49th Annual Meeting of The American Society of Hematology in Atlanta beginning December 8th.
"We are seeing longer responses with fewer side effects for a growing range of patients," said Susie Novis president and co-founder of the International Myeloma Foundation. "The findings at this global conference are moving myeloma closer to becoming a chronic disease that can be managed long-term while we continue to search for a cure."
Among the highlights of the conference are improved response and survival in the important category of patients who are newly diagnosed. These patients have had fewer options and less access to the newer medications.
REVLIMID(R) is an oral medication from Celgene and the newest of a group of drugs called immunomodulatory drugs or IMiDs(R) compounds. At ASH, REVLIMID is supported by studies from the two large cancer cooperatives, SWOG (Southwest Oncology Group), which evaluated REVLIMID and dexamethasone, and ECOG (Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group), which evaluated REVLIMID plus low dose dexamethasone as a treatment for newly diagnosed patients. Dr. Vincent Rajkumar of the Mayo Clinic, the lead investigator, called the results "the best one-year survival data that I've seen in a large phase 3 study in myeloma." His ECOG study was selected by the American Society of Hematology to be highlighted at a press conference during the 2007 meeting.
VELCADE(R), co-developed by Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research & Development, L.L.C. outside the U.S., is the first in a new class of medicines called proteasome inhibitors. For newly diagnosed patients, data will be presented from the multi-center international VISTA trial, evaluating the combination therapy of VELCADE, melphalan and prednisone(VMP). The trial was led by Dr. Jesus San-Miguel. According to Millennium, "VELCADE based therapies have unprecedented complete remission rates and survival benefits in multiple myeloma," and data at ASH will support expanding its use to include newly diagnosed patients.
Both drugs are already approved for use in patients who have been previously treated with older therapies.
"Importantly, for some patients, this potent new arsenal may be used to enhance or even replace stem cell or bone marrow transplants," said Brian G.M. Durie, M.D. chairman and co-founder of the International Myeloma Foundation. "Transplants have been a mainstay of patient care, but can be debilitating. The new findings give us more options for patients who are newly diagnosed and more encouragement for patients who turn to these drugs after previous treatments."
Other reports to watch for:
-- VELCADE in combination therapies for newly diagnosed patients in preparation for bone marrow transplant - including VELCADE with thalidomide (THALOMID(R)) and dexamethasone, and VELCADE plus dexamethasone
-- REVLIMID enhancing the ability of other drugs such as Rituxan(R) to attack cancer cells
-- Thalidomide (THALOMID PHARMION) improving survival in elderly myeloma patients
-- BANK ON A CURE(R), the IMF DNA bank with gene pathways that indicate bone disease in myeloma
In addition to helping myeloma patients, the groundbreaking research is paying off with positive results in other blood cancers with findings being presented at ASH. VELCADE is approved for mantle cell lymphoma and other forms of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL). Data about REVLIMID will be presented in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), and NHL.
Added Dr. Durie, "Ultimately which therapies are used when, will depend on how long the benefits last, potential side-effects, patient history and other factors. But we are pleased to have choices and potential, where just a few years ago the outlook was guarded and our options were limited."
ABOUT The International Myeloma Foundation
The International Myeloma Foundation is the oldest and largest myeloma organization, reaching more than 165,000 members in 113 countries worldwide. A 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life of myeloma patients and their families, the IMF focuses in four key areas: research, education, support and advocacy. To date, the IMF has conducted more than 120 educational seminars worldwide, maintains a world-renowned hotline, and operates Bank on a Cure(R), a unique gene bank to advance myeloma research. The IMF was rated as the number one resource for patients in an independent survey by the Target Research Group. The IMF can be reached at (800) 452-CURE, or out of the United States at +1 (818) 487-7455. More information is available at www.myeloma.org.
For The International Myeloma Foundation
Posted: December 2007