From Miguel Islas-Ohlmayer, MD, hematologist, blood and marrow transplant specialist, and cellular therapy specialist at OHC

April 6, 2022

Patients with multiple myeloma, an incurable blood cancer, face a cycle of remission and relapse and often become resistant to treatments after multiple therapies. As a result of ongoing research, we do have drugs at our disposal that have improved life expectancy. The recent FDA approval of Carvykti offers hope to a heavily pretreated multiple myeloma patient population.

On February 28, the FDA approved Carvykti (Ciltacabtagene autoleucel, cilta-cel) for multiple myeloma patients who relapsed or did not respond to four or more prior therapies. The approval was based on the results of the CARTITUDE-1 study in which 98 percent of the 97 enrolled patients had a partial or complete response to the drug.

Carvykti is a CAR-T immunotherapy that harnesses the power of the patient’s immune system to fight cancer. The patient’s T-cells, white blood cells that fight infection, are collected and then genetically modified in a lab to become better at fighting cancer. The modified cells are then infused back into the patient to destroy cancer cells while sparing healthy cells. Carvykti is administered as a one-time treatment.

One year ago, the FDA approved the first CAR-T for multiple myeloma, Abecma. In fact, OHC cancer doctors were one of the first cancer practices in Ohio to administer the therapy (https://ohcare.com/young-ohc-multiple-myeloma-patient-car-t/). CAR T-cell therapies appear to be offering patients more long-term control of their disease. More clinical trials will need to be done to evaluate the use of CAR-T earlier in the course of the disease.

We still do not know what causes multiple myeloma, but the disease has the following risk factors:

  • Age- most cases occur in those over age 60.
  • Being male.
  • Myeloma occurs twice as frequently in black people than it does in white people.
  • Personal history of MGUS (monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance), a non-cancerous condition that presents as an abnormal protein in the blood.
  • Family history of multiple myeloma.

Multiple myeloma can be challenging to diagnose because it can be asymptomatic or cause vague symptoms, and symptoms can vary from patient to patient. Some include:

  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Bone pain and/or weakness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Frequent infections

OHC is the first, most experienced, and only certified independent adult cancer practice in the region to offer CAR-T for adults. With a relentless search for a cure, OHC’s cancer research experts continue to provide patients with early access to the most innovative therapies. For more information on the advanced treatment options available at OHC or to request a second opinion, call 1-888-649-4800 or visit ohcare.com.

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