TwinCities – April 2017: Empliciti

We had yet another big turnout for the April 8 meeting where we were joined by Ima Garcia, of Bristol-Myers Squibb Pharmaceuticals, who gave a presentation on their monoclonal antibody,  Empliciti (elotuzumab).  The presentation and following Q&A covered issues including  Empliciti,  monoclonal antibodies, the families of myeloma treatments and myeloma itself.  The two hours went too fast and though we went long we could have gone a lot longer.

One of the points brought up during the Q&A part of the presentation regarded the order that treatments are given to myeloma patients.  The featured article in the current  American Society of Hematology Clinical News is “Order Matters: The Art and Science of Myeloma Drug Sequencing“,  The article looks at the latest approach to treatment as defined by the International Myeloma Working Group (IMWG).  It’s well worth a read.

A big question that came up during the meeting was about the necessity of transplants.  On April 5 MedScape published “Transplantation for Myeloma Patients — Can It Wait?”, which summarizes a study out of France with observations by leading MM researchers in the US, which looks at when to transplant if at all.  You may have to create a MedScape account to read the article but don’t worry, it’s free.

Two members of the group were concerned about high risk myeloma as defined by chromosomal deletions or translocations. The June 16 issue of Blood has a summary of how the IMWG currently views the prognosis of patients with cytogenetic abnormalities along with their preferred treatment strategies.  The entire 39-page article can be found in the National Institute of Health archives at, Treatment of multiple myeloma with high-risk cytogenetics: a consensus of the International Myeloma Working Group.  It is proceeded by a short abstract and is heavily footnoted for those who want to read the source material.

One of our attendees discussed treatment at the University of Iowa’s Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center.  Similar to the University of Arkansas’s Myeloma Institute, the University of Iowa uses a much more aggressive approach to treating myeloma than is currently considered the standard of treatment by the myeloma community as a whole.  If you are interested in learning more about that kind of approach visit their site at: University of Iowa Multiple Myeloma Program.

On a more disturbing note:  CancerCare, which was accepting applications last week for their co-pay assistance program, is now closed to myeloma patients.  That leaves only the LLS, the HealthWell Foundation, and the Patient Advocate Foundation accepting new myeloma patients for co-pay assistance.  Multiple nonprofits still support travel assistance.

That’s all for now.

– Gerry Landy
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