On Saturday, our team had the distinct privilege to attend the International Myeloma Working Group (IMWG) meeting. This organization includes over 280 myeloma specialists and researchers from all over the world who share the same goal of advancing myeloma research until a cure is found. They don’t do research in their own silo; they are open to working with others to move us to a cure! I’ve seen some of these doctors in online webinars, but yesterday I saw them in person.

The highlight of the meeting was getting a preview presentation of a handful of abstracts that are part of the ASH program. A couple of the previews focused on bispecifics which are of special interest to me as a relapsed/refractory patient. Following each presentation, other IMWG members questioned their colleagues and offered their professional perspective on their research. At the conclusion of the meeting, it was apparent that the family of treatment options is ever growing and that there is a place for all the options as choices for myeloma patients.

The trial results of these bispecifics are quite impressive especially since these trials include very heavily pre-treated patients – meaning trial participants may have had as many as 7, 8, or more prior lines of therapy. Another encouraging outcome is that the side effects which are referred to as AEs (adverse events) in clinical trials are also improving. For example, talquetamab, which targets GPRS5D on the myeloma cell has a lower rate of infections versus the bispecifics that target BCMA. Other trials show less severe instances of cytokine release syndrome (CRS), which is a universal side effect of all bispecifics.

I’ve never been more hopeful of the options that will be available to relapsed/refractory patients and how these options may change the treatment landscape as the bispecifics are tested in combination with other drug classes. Below you can see the most recent list of active myeloma agents that Dr. Vincent Rajkumar of Mayo Clinic shared. The ones in blue are not yet approved but are being actively studied in hopes of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval soon. Belantamab is highlighted because it was recently withdrawn from the U.S. market at the request of the FDA because the trial that led to its accelerated approval was not showing that it met its primary endpoint of a progression-free survival (PFS) benefit with belantamab mafodotin vs the combination of pomalidomide (Pomalyst) plus low-dose dexamethasone. Continued research on this agent will continue and we hope it will return to the family of treatment options soon.

Today is another full day of hearing abstracts and learning more about how research is offering more options and creating a better quality of life for all myeloma patients. Please continue to follow our entire team on Twitter and be sure to read the blogs that offer a family of unique perspectives on this conference.

Linda Huguelet, Chattanooga Multiple Myeloma Networking Group