Landmark multiple myeloma studies from Winship

June 2, 2015

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Catherine Williams
404-971-0726
catherine.s.williams@emory.edu

Winship Cancer Institute's Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Sagar Lonial describes the results of a phase III study with elotuzumab in treating myeloma patients.

Winship Cancer Institute-led studies presented today at the 2015 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting in Chicago show effective use of two different immune-based therapies that could significantly increase treatment options for multiple myeloma patients.  Both studies were presented by lead author Sagar Lonial, MD, Chief Medical Officer of Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University and an internationally recognized expert in the research and treatment of multiple myeloma.

The studies are significant because currently there are no monoclonal antibodies approved for treatment of multiple myeloma.

Lonial first presented results of ELOQUENT-2, a Phase III study demonstrating that the addition of the drug elotuzumab to standard treatment cuts the risk of myeloma progression by 30 percent. In the study, relapsed multiple myeloma patients were randomly assigned to receive lenalidomide and dexamethasone (control group) or lenalidomide and dexamethasone with elotuzumab. The study shows that patients in the elotuzumab group experienced a significantly longer period without disease progression than those in the control group.  Lonial's article on the study, "Elotuzumab Therapy for Relapsed or Refractory Multiple Myeloma," is published today online in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Elotuzumab is a monoclonal antibody that is known to generate a two-pronged attack by targeting myeloma cells directly and by activating the immune system.  This study represents the first use of a monoclonal antibody in a multiple myeloma phase III trial. Lonial says the potential of this immune-based approach can be seen in the overall response rate as well as the longer duration of progression-free survival.  

"It appears that, for patients with relapsed multiple myeloma who would otherwise be offered lenalidomide and dexamethasone, addition of this new targeted drug makes the outcomes even better," says Lonial.  "It was particularly striking that the difference between the elotuzumab and control groups seems to get bigger over time, which really speaks to the power of this immune-based approach."

Lonial also presented results of a Phase II study showing an overall response rate of 29.2 percent for daratumumab as a single agent therapy for refractory multiple myeloma patients.  The study enrolled patients who have already received at least three different lines of therapy. Lonial reported that roughly one in three patients across the board responded to daratumumab as a single agent, independent of what treatments they had already received or their age and other factors.  

"This represents the first single agent activity we have for a monoclonal antibody in treating multiple myeloma. The future hope for daratumumab is in our  ability to bring this active agent to earlier lines of therapy and combine it with drugs where you may get synergy," says Lonial.    

Both studies were featured in ASCO's official press programs.   A complete list of ASCO abstracts, including these studies, can be found at abstracts.asco.org.