The American Society of Hematology (ASH) Conference and Exhibition is filled with much excitement and buzz about the approval of two monoclonal antibodies Darzalex (daratumumab)and Empliciti (elotuzumab). Monoclonal antibodies are a class of drugs that we’ve all been eagerly awaiting – the Exhibit Hall is splashed with large images of “Now Approved,” and “It’s here.”
These drugs offer a targeted approach to attacking myeloma cells that previous drugs have not done for us.
Now that they are here – what does that mean for myeloma patients and our local hematologists? In simple terms it means more choices, more treatment combinations, and more hope. In life, I often subscribe to the saying that “less is more,” but in the case of myeloma, less is definitely NOT more! More is great!
However, another “more” is – more questions? When is it best to move to these treatments? Which monoclonal antibody should you try first? These were questions asked in today’s sessions as the local hematologist tried to glean as much information from the presenting researchers as possible. This same conversation continued around the table at our working breakfast which followed the 7 a.m. sessions. There are no absolute answers at this point; however, I don’t want that to take away from what a huge deal this is for myeloma patients. We’re accustomed to being educated advocates for ourselves as we discuss options with our doctors. The reality of knowing that other options which bring a new approach to fighting our disease is well worth some “what ifs.”
In true myeloma fashion, the myeloma community of international researchers isn’t resting on the laurels of this monumental advancement – additional trials are on-going to determine if Darzalex and Empliciti could work even better when combined with other agents such as Velcade (bortezomib) and Pomalyst (pomalidomide). I’m sure we’ll also see head-to-head trials with Darzalex and Empliciti to help answer some of the current unknowns. And, additional monoclonal antibodies are already being tested for myeloma. In the future, we’ll hear more about Pembrolizumab, Istauximab, and others.
Check out this link that discusses some of the scientific details surrounding Darzalex and Empliciti – http://www.hematology.org/Thehematologist/Diffusion/4495.aspx
Don’t be overwhelmed by the “more” – consider it just another challenge that will help us defeat our myeloma!
by Linda Huguelet
Follow Linda on Twitter: @IMFlindaMYELOMA
Chattanooga Mulitple Myeloma Networking Group