North Hollywood, CA, May 23, 2014 – The International Myeloma Foundation (IMF) – improving the quality of life of myeloma patients while working toward prevention and a cure – says a new approach to myeloma treatment reported last week by Dr. Stephen Russell and Dr. Angela Dispenzieri at the Mayo Clinic, which showed that a myeloma patient treated with a massive dose of engineered measles virus experienced a remission, offers a new path forward in treating myeloma.
Dr. Russell presented initial findings from this work at the IMF’s International Myeloma Working Group (IMWG) Summit in 2011, and is scheduled to discuss these new findings at the 2014 IMWG Summit in Milan, Italy in June. “The IMF expects results from expanded clinical trials and research into additional viruses to offer more information about the potential of this exciting new virotherapy approach for myeloma treatment,” said Dr. Brian G.M. Durie, IMF Chairman. “This stunning result opens many possibilities for further trials.”
The IMF, which reaches more than 350,000 members in 120 countries, is in a unique position to monitor the pressing concerns of the myeloma patient community. “Patients have been extremely excited by the news surrounding the virotherapy success achieved at the Mayo Clinic,” said Susie Novis, IMF President.
Dr. Durie cautions that there are some caveats associated with the study: Only one patient responded with a remission, and only 50% of patients are candidates for the engineered measles virus treatment as the rest have antibodies that will fight off the virus.
However, “despite many challenges, there is considerable optimism that virotherapy is a dramatic new way forward to treat myeloma using a completely different approach,” said Dr. Durie, who spoke with Dr. Russell this week and commented in depth on the news in his weekly IMF blog. “It may or may not ever be a ‘one-shot cure’ but maybe a ‘one-two punch’ in which follow-up radiation or other therapy can provide a ‘knock-out’ blow.”
The engineered measles virus is just one virotherapy approach, he noted. “Other viruses have been discussed with potential advantages over the engineered measles virus.” In particular, he said, “the vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) has no systemic (whole body) antibody response, and all patients can be expected to have zero antibodies. The VSV works faster and is definitely more potent than the measles virus in destroying myeloma.”
ABOUT THE INTERNATIONAL MYELOMA FOUNDATION
Celebrating its 23rd anniversary, the International Myeloma Foundation reaches more than 350,000 members in 120 countries worldwide. A 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life of myeloma patients and their families, the IMF focuses on four key areas: research, education, support, and advocacy. To date, the IMF has conducted more than 250 educational seminars worldwide, maintains a world-renowned hotline, and established the International Myeloma Working Group (IMWG), a collaborative research initiative focused on improving myeloma treatment options for patients. The IMF can be reached at (800) 452-CURE (2873). The global website is www.myeloma.org. Follow the IMF on Twitter @IMFmyeloma.