We are international

What's New in Research - September 17, 2002

BLT-D (Clarithromycin [Biaxin], Low-Dose Thalidomide, and Dexamethasone) for the Treatment of Myeloma and Waldenström's Macroglobulinemia
Morton Coleman, John Leonard, Larry Lyons, Karen Pekle, Kenneth Nahum, Roger Pearse, Ruben Niesvizky, Joseph Michaeli
Specialized Center of Research for Multiple Myeloma, Center for Lymphoma and Myeloma, Division of Hematology/Oncology, Weill Medical College of Cornell University and the Department of Medicine, New York Presbyterian Hospital-Cornell Medical Center, New York, NY 10021, USA
Leukemia and Lymphoma, Volume 43, Number 9/2002 , Pages 1777 - 1782


Multiple myeloma remains incurable. Despite the pursuit of various chemotherapeutic approaches, little improvement in outcome has been made in the last 30 years. Thalidomide, dexamethasone, and clarithromycin are oral, nonmyelosuppressive agents, each with reported single agent activity against myeloma. We evaluated a regimen of clarithromycin (Biaxin), low-dose thalidomide and dexamethasone (BLT-D) in patients with previously untreated or treated multiple myeloma or Waldenström's macroglobulinemia. Patients were initially given clarithromycin 500 mg twice daily, thalidomide 50-200 mg daily, and dexamethasone 40 mg weekly until disease progression. Minimum response was defined as >50% reduction in monoclonal immunoglobulin or light chain levels in serum or urine. Response, toxicity, and survival were determined on an evaluable and/or intent-to-treat basis. Of the 50 patients available for analysis, 92% remain alive and 64% remain on treatment with a median and mean duration of treatment of 7 and 8 months, respectively. Overall, 93% of evaluable patients responded to BLT-D, including 13% complete remissions, 40% near complete responses, 13% major responses, and 27% partial responses. Minimal drug resistance was initially encountered. Neurotoxicity, although usually mild to moderate, was the primary reason for treatment discontinuation. Only four patients died, including three sudden deaths in patients with severe cardiopulmonary disease. It appears that BLT-D is a highly effective, nonmyelosuppressive regimen for myeloma. Caution should be exercised when using thalidomide, alone or in combination, in patients with a preexisting tendency to thromboses, severe cardiopulmonary disease, or neurologic dysfunction.

Melphalan-prednisone (MP) versus alternating combination VAD/MP or VND/MP as primary therapy for multiple myeloma: final analysis of a randomized clinical study
Michele Cavo, Monica Benni, Sonia Ronconi, Mauro Fiacchini,Alessandro Gozzetti, Elena Zamagni, Claudia Cellini, Patrizia Tosi, Michele Baccarani, Sante Tura
Haematologica 2002 ; 87 : 934-942

Background and Objectives.

In the absence of a cure for multiple myeloma (MM) with standard-dose therapy, any strategy that can be expected to increase tumor reduction and to extend survival duration is likely to be of clinical relevance. The primary end-point of the present study was to investigate whether the alternating combination of vincristine-doxorubicin-dexamethasone (VAD) and melphalan-prednisone (MP) or vincristine-mitoxantrone-dexamethasone (VND) and MP could improve the clinical outcome of MM patients thus treated in comparison with those receiving MP alone.

Design and Methods.

Between November 1990 and April 1994, 527 previously untreated, stage I-III, MM patients from 29 Italian institutions were randomized to receive one of three remission induction chemotherapy regimens consisting of 8-monthly courses of either MP alone or alternating VAD/MP or VND/MP.


On an intent-to-treat basis, the objective response rates were 53% with MP (objective + minor: 67%), 47% with VAD/MP (objective + minor: 61%) and 49% with VND/MP (objective + minor: 61%). Median survival duration was 36.5 months with MP, 29 months with VAD/MP and 32.5 months with VND/MP. The difference among these groups was not statistically significant, even after stratifying patients into high-risk and low-risk subgroups, as assessed by a multifactor proportional hazard analysis. In both younger and elderly patients, severe granulocytopenia and related infections were significantly more frequent with VND/MP compared to the remaining arms of treatment (p < 0.001 and p = 0.009, respectively). Similarly, the frequency of WHO grade III-IV cardiovascular events was significantly higher for patients receiving anthracycline-containing regimens (VND/MP and VAD/MP) than for those treated with MP alone (p = 0.04).

Interpretation and Conclusions.

Alternating VAD/MP and VND/MP failed to improve the clinical outcome for MM patients, at the cost of increased toxicity and morbidity. Resistance to standard-dose chemotherapy remains a significant obstacle to the treatment of MM.

Download the full research paper.

 related articles