Taking part in a clinical trial may be the best treatment choice for some myeloma patients. Clinical trials are under way to develop treatments that increase the remission rate of myeloma or cure the disease. Today's standard treatments for cancer are based on earlier clinical trials. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) continues to invest funds in myeloma research.
Clinical trials can involve new drugs, new combinations of drugs or approved drugs being studied to treat patients in new ways such as new drug doses or new schedules to administer the drugs. Clinical trials are conducted worldwide under rigorous guidelines to help doctors find out whether new cancer treatments are safe and effective or better than the standard treatment.
Current Myeloma Research and Clinical Trials
Below are some types of research and clinical trials under way:
New drugs and drug therapies. Myeloma cells tend to resist drug therapies. Researchers are looking at new approaches and drug combinations to ward off drug resistance. Some of the drugs and regimens they're studying include:
- Elotuzumab (HuLuc63). A monoclonal antibody that targets proteins on the surface of myeloma cells. It is being studied in combination with either Velcade® or Revlimid®, plus low-dose dexamethasone.
- Panobinostat (LBH589). An oral histone deacetylase inhibitor that prevents the breakdown of proteins in tumor cells; it is being studied in combination with Velcade or Revlimid and dexamethasone.
- Velcade with vorinostat (Zolinza®), which has been successful in treating some non-Hodgkin lymphoma cases. Researchers hope it will have the same success for myeloma.
- Siltuximab (CNTO 328), a monoclonal antibody that targets a protein called IL-6, which helps myeloma cells reproduce. The therapy also has shown good results in slowing the growth of myeloma cells and enhancing the effect of some other myeloma drugs like Velcade.
- Ixazomib (MLN9708). An oral proteasome inhibitor being studied with Revlimid and dexamethasone versus placebo plus Revlimid and dexamethasone for relapsed/refractory myeloma patients.
Immunotherapy. Scientists continue to study immunotherapy, looking for more ways to boost the body's natural defenses to kill or prevent the growth of myeloma cells. Immunotherapy agents, such as vaccines, are being studied to target proteins on the surface of myeloma cells, making them more vulnerable to the body's own immune system. To read more about blood cancer vaccines, download or order LLS's free fact sheet Immunotherapy Facts.
Stem cell transplantation. Doctors are looking at several ways to improve treatment using stem cell transplantation. Autologous stem cell transplantation is the standard of care for myeloma patients. Allogeneic stem cell transplantation is being used in clinical trials and can be a good option for patients younger than 55 and who aren't responding well to other treatments. It also eliminates the chances of re-infusing the patient's own myeloma cells back into the body.
Researchers are also investigating whether two stem cell transplantations may be better than one. They're looking at the benefits of autologous transplantation and a reduced-intensity transplant.
Reduced-intensity transplant. Doctors are studying a reduced-intensity stem cell transplantation, also called nonmyeloablative stem cell transplant, which may help some patients such as those who are older or have poor overall health better tolerate stem cell transplantation. Unlike standard transplantation, nonmyeloablative transplantation doesn't completely destroy the patients' diseased marrow and relies on donor immune cells to fight the disease.