Receiving Myeloma Immunotherapy Earlier May Have Greater Efficacy

Response rate doubled for patients with relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma
Response rate doubled for patients with relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma

HealthDay News — Daratumumab (Darzalex), a recently approved immunotherapy drug for multiple myeloma, can provide better benefits if patients receive it earlier in their treatment, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, held from June 3 to 7 in Chicago.

Antonio Palumbo, MD, of the University of Torino in Italy, and colleagues recruited nearly 500 patients with relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma who had undergone one or more prior rounds of therapy. Participants were randomly assigned to receive either the two-drug standard regimen of bortezomib and dexamethasone or a three-drug regimen that included daratumumab. Patients received eight cycles of either drug regimen, followed by daratumumab maintenance therapy for patients assigned to the three-drug group.

The researchers found that the addition of daratumumab reduced patients' risk of cancer progression by 70%. About 19% of patients given daratumumab experienced full remission, compared with just 9% of those taking the standard treatment. "Very good" response rates doubled to 59% in the daratumumab group from 29% in the standard treatment group.

Not only did daratumumab produce superior results, but it did so in a very short period of time, Palumbo said. "In many cases, tumors shrank in less than a month," he told HealthDay. "As a result of shrinkage and slower tumor growth, patients had less pain and a better quality of life." Adding the drug did not substantially worsen the most common side effects from the standard two-drug regimen, Palumbo added. However, patients receiving daratumumab did have slightly higher rates of hematologic toxicity, infections, and peripheral neuropathy.

The study received funding from Janssen, the manufacturer of daratumumab.

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