As leader of the Orange County Multiple Myeloma Support Group, I was excited to learn that the 57th American Society of Hematology (ASH) Annual Meeting and Exposition is being held at the Orange County Convention Center. Then I realized it’s in Florida (Orlando), not California. Being three time zones to the east of my home will put me at many events in the middle of my night. Because I am no longer on dexamethasone, I might as well be traveling to a foreign country!
If you watched the International Myeloma Foundation’s (IMF) Living Well with Myeloma Teleconference on November 19, 2015, you heard Dr. Brian G. M. Durie say, “This is a special year, I believe, for ASH, where there is information that can be applied very soon to the day-to-day care of myeloma patients”. Much of that information will relate to new drugs and immunotherapy, and that will be the focus of my blog posts.
Immunotherapy is any type of treatment that induces a patient’s immune system to fight disease. Immunotherapies that are already approved for use against various types of cancer include vaccines, checkpoint inhibitors, and monoclonal antibodies (mAbs). In the myeloma world, mAbs are at the forefront of emerging immunotherapy. Antigens are present on the surface of myeloma cells, and each mAb attacks a specific antigen. The first mAb to be approved for myeloma, Darzalex (daratumuab), is an anti-CD38 mAb that was approved by the FDA on November 16, 2015.
Ninlaro (ixazomib) is not a new Lamborghini model, but a new oral proteasome inhibitor, and was approved by the FDA on November 19, 2015. Ninlaro (ixazomib) is in the same class as VELCADE® (bortezomib) and Kyprolis® (carfilzomib), but will allow patients to adopt fully oral treatment regimens. I will be very interested to learn and report about the new combinations that arise from its availability.
I also reported on the new drugs in the pipeline last year. Of those, Darzalex (daratumumab), Ninlaro (ixazomib), and Farydak (panobinostat) have been approved. For the other drugs that are still lingering in the pipeline, I will report on the state of their progress in clinical trials. There are new ones, and I already have Selinexor and KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab) on my radar, or at least on my Twitter feed @IMFtomMyeloma. I’m sure there will be others.
Upon further review (yes, I’m writing this on an NFL Sunday), it appears that the OC in Florida has Walt Disney World. Here at the OC in California, we have Disneyland. Maybe it’s not such a foreign country. It’s a small world after all!