Spring is finally here! Many parts of the US experienced a very hard Winter as did countries throughout Europe. So we appreciate Spring’s arrival maybe a little bit more so than usual. After all Spring is a time of rebirth and new beginnings and there is definitely exciting news in the wind.
For us myeloma folks, this Spring in particular holds special promise and new hope. In May, the VIII International Myeloma Workshop will be held in Banff, Canada. This is the premier myeloma meeting, held every other year. Researchers and clinicians from all over the world come together to present the most recent findings and advancements in the quest for better treatments and a cure. They discuss new ideas and explore new avenues that just might open the door we are all looking for, the one that leads to our ultimate goal – a cure.
In addition to the Workshop, there are other Springtime events happening. Just the other night all the news programs featured an exciting story about STI 571, a new drug for the treatment of CML (a form of leukemia) and a type of gastrointestinal cancer. It appears that STI 571, which targets a particular enzyme, has been shown to be very effective and safe. "It highlights the potential of drugs designed to target particular genetic defects linked to cancer," said Dr. Druker, the lead investigator in the study. (Reuters Health article - 4/5/01) In myeloma STI 571 itself might have some benefit, however development of a similar drug targeted to the specific molecular changes that occur in myeloma could be a major breakthrough. The success with STI 571 has given a tremendous boost to all researchers to develop new drugs of this type.
Lately it seems everywhere I go doctors are pointing out how much new research is taking place in myeloma. The IMF recently visited with the Toronto multiple myeloma support group where Dr. Keith Stewart pointed out that when he first began working in myeloma there was only a handful of abstracts and now there are hundreds. At the IMF’s most recent Patient & Family Seminar, held in the Chicago area, Dr. Paul Richardson from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston gave a very intensive talk on new advances in myeloma research and treatment. We had to allow extra time for his talk because there was so much to talk about!
So when the warm breezes blow this Spring, it’s not just the relief we feel that winter is finally over – there’s also something in the wind signaling to us that there is renewed hope that myeloma might also finally be over.