Twenty-five – Twenty-five

Yelak Biru |

When I was diagnosed with myeloma at age 25 and was told “You have myeloma. It is incurable but it is highly treatable. Come to my office tomorrow, and we will discuss your options.”  And when, soon after that, I was told the life expectancy of myeloma patients is 2-3 years. Or, with outstanding response it could be 4-5 years, I don’t think the I understood the implications of it, or the reality didn’t really sink.

When 25 years later, I am able to check on my stem cells that were harvested and stored in 1996, before I opted out of a transplant, I continue to work, lead support groups, participate in various patient advocacy initiatives and I continue to just l*i*v*e*, and in parallel be able to attend #ASH20, be it virtually, I consider myself exceptional, lucky, blessed,…

The current published life expectancy of myeloma patients, for standard risk, is upwards of 10 years. The introduction of proteasome inhibitors and immunomodulatory drugs (such as Velcade and Revlimid) has changed the trajectory of outcomes for myeloma patients. The introduction of Darzalex (daratumumab), Ninlaro (ixazomib), Xpovio (selinexor), among others, is continuing to make the outcome and quality of life even better. Anti-BCMA therapy has recently been approved by the U.S. FDA, and CAR-T-based therapies have been evolving and are at the cusp of being generally approved as well. Most of these cell-based therapies are for late-stage myeloma—myeloma that has become either refractory or has relapsed three or more times. Companies are now starting to test CAR-T in combination with monoclonal antibodies, such as Darzzlex, for early stage or newly diagnosed myeloma. The complete list of FDA-approved myeloma drugs can be found at the IMF site here 

The precursor to the approval of all of this drugs are clinical trials. American Society of Hematology is a premier conferences where the results or progress of these trials can lead to drug approval, or where trials can change the treatment approach will be presented.

Although ASH this year will be virtual, I am looking forward to hearing about the result for many of these trials and seeing if there are any ‘treatment-changing’ results that will be presented. @myelomateacher has shared the top abstracts as captured by Dr. Thompson. @Imfnursemyeloma has shared the abstracts that she is interested in. @jackaiello as usual has summarized what we should be looking for at #ASG20. All this to say, I highly recommend you follow this year’s @imfmyeloma social media team. I am looking forward to IFM 2009 tria; it evaluates the effect of early versus late (at first-relapse) transplant options for myeloma patients and the CAR-T- based combinations.

Sharing the Hope,

Yelak @northtexas  

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