According to a recent article published in the journal Blood, the treatment combination consisting of Revlimid (lenalidomide) and the steroid dexamethasone is an effective option for the treatment of newly diagnosed multiple myeloma.
Multiple myeloma is a cancer of the blood that affects the plasma cells. Plasma cells are an important part of the immune system that produce antibodies to help fight infection and disease. Multiple Myeloma is characterized by an excess production of abnormal plasma cells. Symptoms include increased risk of bacterial infections and impaired immune responses. Myeloma may also damage the kidneys and cause osteoporosis, anemia, and an elevated blood calcium level. Although multiple myeloma is not curable, it can be treated, allowing patients to live longer, healthier lives.
Treatment options for multiple myeloma include watchful waiting (no therapy until progression of disease), chemotherapy, radiation, and, in some cases, stem cell transplantation. Researchers are also evaluating different types of therapeutic approaches that allow patients to keep their cancer from progressing, while maintaining a good quality of life.
Revlimid, a derivative of thalidomide, is an investigational new drug that is considered to be an immunomodulatory drug (iMID). Immunomodulatory drugs work by either modifying or regulating the immune system. They appear to have anticancer and anti-inflammatory effects and are the focus of intense study. An immediate benefit of Revlimid is that it is taken orally.
Researchers from the Mayo Clinic recently conducted another clinical trial to further evaluate the treatment combination consisting of Revlimid plus the steroid dexamethasone as therapy for patients with multiple myeloma. This trial included 34 patients and was the first trial to evaluate this treatment combination in patients with newly diagnosed multiple myeloma. Treatment with Revlimid/dexamethasone resulted in high anticancer responses-91% of patients achieved a regression of their cancer. The most common severe side effect associated with treatment regimen was fatigue.
The researchers concluded that Revlimid plus dexamethasone provides high anticancer responses as initial therapy in the treatment of multiple myeloma. Furthermore, this treatment regimen is generally well tolerated in comparison to standard therapies for this disease. Revlimid is currently under FDA review for approval in the treatment of myelodysplastic syndromes. Patients with newly diagnosed multiple myeloma may wish to speak with their physician regarding the risks and benefits of participating in a clinical trial further evaluating Revlimid or other promising therapeutic strategies.
Reference: Rajkumar S, Hayman S, Lacy M, et al. Combination therapy with lenalidomide plus dexamethasone (REV/DEX) for newly diagnosed myeloma. Blood. 2005. E-Pub ahead of print. DOI: 10.1182/blood-2005-07-2817
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