Studies at cancer conference show new therapies changing outlook for blood cancer patients
Studies presented at the 2006 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Hematology
Orlando, FL and North Hollywood, CA, December 8, 2006 -- The International Myeloma Foundation (IMF) – conducting research and providing education, advocacy and support for myeloma patients, families, researchers and physicians – today noted that multiple studies presented at the 2006 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Hematology (ASH) illustrate the breadth of the gains being made in the treatment of multiple myeloma and related blood cancers. The findings show that new treatment regimens that began with THALOMID® and extend to both VELCADE® and the newest oral treatment REVLIMID® are helping a growing range of myeloma patients when used alone, sequentially and in various combinations. Collectively, these studies represent a significant increase in knowledge of how myeloma responds to treatment, which is already becoming applicable to other cancers.
The patient groups studied cover the full range, from relapsed patients to the newly diagnosed, young to old, and include patients with an otherwise poor prognosis due to chromosomal abnormalities. In some cases the data being presented at the conference significantly advances previous studies to show long-term response in newly diagnosed patients. In one of the most significant studies, researchers from the Mayo Clinic report 67% of patients using REVLIMID (plus the steroid dexamethasone) as primary therapy, achieved a response categorized as complete or very good, with a low rate of disease progression continuing even after two years.
"The many studies being presented at ASH not only confirm the good news we have been experiencing firsthand in our work with myeloma patients, but show that working with new classes of drugs is actually teaching us about treating cancer," said Brian G. M. Durie, M.D., myeloma specialist and chairman and co-founder of the International Myeloma Foundation. "We are learning to attack not just the cancer cell, but the environment in which it lives. We know that drugs like REVLIMID, for example, have multiple mechanisms of action, blocking the growth of tumor blood vessels, sensitizing the cancer cells to natural killer cells and suppressing TNF-alpha, a growth factor associated with inflammation. Understanding these mechanisms of action helps us increase the efficacy of our treatments, decrease their side effects, and apply them to a growing range of cancers including MDS, non-Hodgkins lymphoma and chronic lymphocytic leukemia."
In addition to the previously mentioned study from Mayo clinic, other key studies show that REVLIMID and VELCADE can be used together effectively even in patients who have already failed therapy on each drug alone. Studies cover long-term experience using each of THALOMID, REVLIMID and VELCADE in newly diagnosed patients, and possibly using them in various combinations as part of powerful new cocktail treatments. Also, studies from the IMF myeloma DNA-bank, Bank On A Cure®, look at the origins of side effects in some patients, while other groups use genetic profiling to better understand drug resistance.
"Blood cancers, including myeloma, are the third most common form of cancer, and today novel therapies are transforming the way we treat them," said Susie Novis, president and co-founder of the International Myeloma Foundation. "Studies presented at this meeting confirm our own experience as the premier organization dedicated to myeloma patient advocacy and support - while most cancer treatment benefits are measured in months, we are seeing many of our patients experience long-term responses measured in years and achieved without the ravages of chemotherapy. As a result, a growing number of myeloma patients are now able to live active, productive lives."
Myeloma, also called multiple myeloma, is a cancer of the bone marrow that affects production of red cells, white cells and stem cells. It is the second largest of the blood cancers affecting an estimated 750,000 people worldwide; in industrialized countries it is growing in number and affecting increasingly younger people.
Dr. Durie continued: "The wide range of presentations at ASH should enable us and our partners to continue to improve the outlook for our patients. This is perhaps the most encouraging meeting of ASH in the many years that I have been working in the myeloma field."
ABOUT THE INTERNATIONAL MYELOMA FOUNDATION
The International Myeloma Foundation is the oldest and largest myeloma organization, reaching more than 125,000 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 100 educational seminars worldwide, maintains a world-renowned hotline, and operates Bank On A Cure®, a unique gene bank to advance myeloma research. The IMF can be reached at (800) 452-CURE or www.myeloma.org, and in Spanish at www.myelomala.org
International Myeloma Foundation
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