Trial Testing Combination Treatment for Untreated Multiple Myeloma Ends in Disappointment

According to a story from, the Bristol Myers Squibb Company recently released the topline results from its phase 3 clinical trial. This study was testing a combination treatment consisting of elotuzumab (marketed as Empliciti), lenalidomide (marketed as Revlimid), and dexamethasone in comparison to lenalidomide and dexamethasone as a treatment for recently diagnosed patients with multiple myeloma who haven’t been treated before and are not eligible for transplant.

About Multiple Myeloma

Multiple myeloma, which is occasionally referred to as plasma cell myeloma, is a blood cancer that affects plasma cells. These are white blood cells that produce antibodies. The overall cause of multiple myeloma is not well understood, however, some risk factors have been identified. These include obesity, family history, smoldering myeloma, and monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance. These last two conditions have the potential to develop into multiple myeloma. Symptoms of this cancer include bone pain, infections, anemia, kidney failure, overly thick blood, confusion, fatigue, headaches, and amyloidosis. Treatment includes chemo, stem cell transplant, and other medications for relapsed disease, which is common. Five year survival rate is 49 percent in the US. To learn more about multiple myeloma, click here.

No Difference in Results

Unfortunately, the addition of elotuzumab failed to produce a statistically significant advantage over the two part combination, which was the primary endpoint in the trial. This three-part combination treatment has been in regular use for multiple myeloma patients that have refractory or relapsed disease, but it is unlikely to be used on treatment naive patients after the unremarkable performance in the trial. The endpoint in the study was measured by changes to progression free survival (PFS). 

About Empliciti (Elotuzumab)

Elotuzumab is classified as a immunostimulatory antibody. It targets a cell surface protein called SLAMF7. This protein is expressed on plasma cells and natural killer cells. SLAMF7 can also appear on myeloma cells, with the drug allowing the immune system to recognize them as hostile to the body. Elotuzumab is currently approved as part of two different combination treatments for relapsed multiple myeloma. Relapse is common in this form of cancer, making treatments for relapsed, refractory disease of utmost importance.

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