2016 November 16

The Josep Carreras Leukaemia Research Institute participates in an important clinical study on multiple myeloma

Dr. Albert Oriol, a hematologist at the Catalan Institute of Oncology/Germans Trias i Pujol Hospital and researcher at the Josep Carreras Leukaemia Research Institute, has taken part in an international study to assess a promising combination of drugs in the treatment of multiple myeloma.

Multiple myeloma is still an incurable disease, but over the last ten years considerable progress has been made in expanding the range of treatments available. One of these promising drugs is called daratumumab

In Spain there are 40 new cases a year of multiple myeloma per million inhabitants

Dr. Albert Oriol, a hematologist at the Catalan Institute of Oncology at the Germans Trias i Pujol Hospital, and a researcher at the Josep Carreras Leukaemia Research Institute(IJC) has participated in an international research project on treatment for multiple myeloma.

Dr. Albert Oriol's team is trying tofind new combinations of drugs to prolong and improve the quality of life of patients. Before the use of chemotherapy became widespread, the average period of survival for patients with multiple myeloma was only a few months, but with the introduction of new treatments, the prognosis has improved significantly.

In October Dr. Albert Oriol was co-author of a paper in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study involved 569 patients who had relapsed* after one or more previous treatments. The paper describes a 63% reduction in the risk of relapse when daratumumab is combined with one of the standard treatments for relapsed patients, such as lenalidomide and dexamethasone. The combination ofdexamethasone, lenalidomide and daratumumab increased the percentage of patients responding to treatment from 60% to 93% and increased the percentage of patients achieving full remission from the disease from 20% to 43%. 83% of patients treated with a combination of the three drugs were free of the disease a year after the start of treatment, where as this was true for only 60% of those patients treated with lenalidomide and dexamethasone.

Daratumumab has been shown to combine perfectly well with commonly used drugs, improving their results without significantly increasing the levels of toxicity. Its use with other drugs is therefore also being explored, both for relapsed patients and for newly-diagnosed patients. Daratumumab's main unwanted side effects are infusion reactions (allergic reactions during intravenous administration, especially during the first doses, which can be reduced or avoided with appropriate prophylactic treatment),andneutropenia(a reduction in the number of white blood cells), which can also be avoided with treatment to stimulate their growth.

Josep Carreras Foundation video about multiple myeloma: watch the video here.

Link to publication: N Engl J Med. 2016 Oct 6;375(14):1319-1331.