A collaboration between University Medical Center and Harvard University in the States has resulted in a very promising new treatment for multiple myeloma, the most critical form of bone marrow cancer. After treatment with this new drug, called daratumumab, the cancer cells in the bone marrow of 40 percent of the patients in the test group largely disappeared, UMC Utrecht announced on Thursday.
This combined Phase I/II study was the first time this new drug was tested. The patients involved in the study are patients who have already had several prior treatments. The researchers administered daratumumab to 50 end-stage patients in various doses. In eight of the 20 patients who received the highest dose, the cancer cells in the bone marrow decreased or even completely disappeared. The patients suffered little or no side effects.
This is a break through. Especially since with this disease, patients require increasingly aggressive treatment, according to hematologist Monique Minnema “And so we have to combine progressively more drugs”, she said on UMC Utrecht’s website. “Achieving this effect with just one medicine is definitely an improvement for patient care, especially since daratumumab has hardly any side effects.”
Multiple myeloma is an incurable disease which affects about 900 people in the Netherlands every year, according to UMC Utrecht. The disease usually occurs around the age of 60 and gives patients a life expectancy of around 6 years. Daratumumab is a monoclonal antibody that binds very specifically to the CD38 protein component on a cancer cell.
The hope is that this drug will soon be available on the Dutch market for end-stage multiple myeloma patients. Further studies have also been launched to make the daratumumab available for patients as soon as they are diagnosed.