An article in PubMed dated October 8, 2021 outlines immune therapies treating myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) and acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients. Both cancers are hematologic malignancies that begin in the bone marrow. In one out of three patients, MDS progresses to AML, an aggressive cancer of the bone marrow. MDS can range from a disease where no blood transfusions are needed to being borderline AML. However, national registry data finds almost forty percent of individuals who have been diagnosed with MDS do not have the disease.
The term hematologic malignancies describe cancers arising from blood-forming tissue. That includes bone marrow and immune system cells. Lymphoma, multiple myeloma, and leukemia are three types of hematologic malignancies.
The last few years have brought many advances in treatment, yet the prognosis continues to be poor for high-risk patients.
About Immune Therapy
The immune system has been recognized for many years as being somehow associated with the development of AML and MDS. However, immune therapies have only recently been moved to the forefront. The medical field now has an improved understanding of the immune and molecular process in both diseases revealing new therapeutic targets.
Immune suppressive therapy has exhibited positive clinical results in certain MDS patients, although it has not been determined which patients would benefit most from the treatment.
About Emerging Treatments
- Monoclonal antibodies including immune checkpoint inhibitors
- Vaccine therapies
- Bispecific T-cell-engaging antibodies
- Cellular therapeutics (chimeric antigen receptor NK cells and T-cells)
- Antibody-drug conjugates
Many MDS patients rated as “low risk” may be able to manage with existing treatments. Yet there is no existing standard of care, especially for higher-risk patients. The target for these patients is to delay progression to AML and thus improve overall survival.
Existing MDS treatments are not curative. The result is relapse and resistance to treatment. This presents an unmet need to find effective methods of managing MDS. It is evident that MDS is complex and requires personalized treatment.