(HealthDay News) — The drug elotuzumab reduces the risk of cancer progression and mortality by 30% when combined with the standard two-drug therapy for multiple myeloma, according to a new study. The findings were published online June 2 in the New England Journal of Medicine to coincide with presentation at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, held from May 29 to June 2 in Chicago.
Elotuzumab, administered by intravenous infusion, targets the protein SLAMF7. In the study, 646 patients with relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma received lenalidomide and dexamethasone. About half also received elotuzumab.
At an average follow-up period of 24 months, elotuzumab reduced risk of cancer progression and death by 30%, the researchers found. Patients in the elotuzumab group experienced a longer period of remission, about 19.4 months on average compared with 14.9 months for those who had standard treatment. The three-drug combination also produced a response rate of 79%, compared with 66% for the standard treatment. The most common side effects experienced by both groups of patients were lymphocytopenia, neutropenia, fatigue, and pneumonia. Mild infusion reactions occurred after the first few doses in 10% of patients in the elotuzumab group.
Patients receiving the three-drug elotuzumab regimen did not seem to suffer an increase in side effects, compared with those who took the two-drug standard regimen. “Patients who received elotuzumab had a longer duration of remission, had a higher overall response rate, and this improvement in clinical parameters occurred without a significant increase in adverse events or toxicity,” Sagar Lonial, MD, executive vice chair of hematology and oncology at the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, told HealthDay.
Elotuzumab is being developed by Bristol-Meyers Squibb and AbbVie Pharmaceuticals, which helped fund the study.