May 8, 2011

Key Takeaways from IMW, Sandra Wear

The XIIIth International Myeloma Workshop that was held this past week in Paris, France featured nearly four full days of presentations and discussions on the latest multiple myeloma research. The organizers created an incredibly comprehensive and thought-provoking program featuring the world’s leaders in the field. The MMRF was on-site all week to listen to the latest data and hypotheses, bring you highlights, and meet with current and potential collaborators. For those of who you interested in more substantial coverage, we encourage to watch archived webcasts and read our blog.

For those interested in a few key takeaways, following is our attempt to synthesize so much information into the points we found to be most relevant to patients:

  1. New data shed further light on the benefits of Revlimid when used as maintenance therapy following high-dose chemotherapy and stem cell transplant. One large randomized trial, performed in the US, showed a survival benefit for those patients who had received Revlimid (vs. those who had received a placebo). Other large trials have not (yet) shown a survival benefit, though they have shown a delay in disease progression for Revlimid. While there does continue to be a slightly increased incidence of secondary cancers seen when Revlimid is used after melphalan, more data are needed, and for most patients, the consensus among many of the researchers is that the benefits likely outweigh the risks.

  2. Next-generation proteasome inhibitors (like Velcade) and IMiDs (like Revlimid and Thalomid) continue to show promise in clinical trials. Carfilzomib, a second-generation proteasome inhibitor that has been studied in MMRC-facilitated clinical trials, appears to work in Velcade-refractory patients and lacks the associations with peripheral neuropathy. Similarly, pomalidomide, an IMiD, has been shown to work in patients who are refractory to Velcade and Revlimid, and the MMRC has been proud to help to accelerate the early phase trials. Both drugs are in Phase 3 clinical trials, though they also stand a chance at an accelerated approval based on their ability to work in such a difficult to treat patient population.

  3. New classes of drugs continue to emerge, from histone deactylase inhibitors like Zolinza and panobinostat to antibodies like elotuzumab, that appear to significantly enhance the effectiveness of currently available treatments like Velcade and Revlimid and, for some patients, overcome resistance to those drugs.

  4. It is increasingly clear that multiple myeloma is not a single disease, but many diseases. There are numerous genomic mutations and alterations, which will mean that in the future, there will be a number of subsets of patients, each of which is treated according to the features of their disease. Understanding this segmentation has been and continues to be a priority for the MMRF in terms of research investment, beginning with the Genomics Initiative, which resulted in the complete sequencing of the myeloma genome, and continuing into the future.

  5. The international myeloma research community remains steadfastly and intensely committed to improving outcomes for patients extending their lives and eventually finding a cure. The MMRF is proud and grateful to partner closely with such collaborative and dedicated researchers and clinicians, as well as pharmaceutical and biotech companies.


Stay tuned for further updates next month from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting!

The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation