New Therapies – 2 Examples of Many

The first study examined the clinical efficacy of daratumumab monotherapy in patients with heavily pretreated relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma. Saad Usmani, MD, of the Levine Cancer Institute, Carolinas Healthcare System in Charlotte, NC, and colleagues found that as a single agent, daratumumab “induced rapid, deep, and durable responses” in this population, Dr Roberts reported.

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This included a “remarkable depth of response observed in patients refractory to newer agents, including pomalidomide and carfilzomib,” he added.

The agents also conferred an overall survival benefit even in patients who achieved stable disease or minimal response. The major toxicity observed was infusion reactions in cycle 1. He said daratumumab has “immune-mediated and immunomodulatory mechanisms that may be contributing to a survival benefit” (Abstract 29).

In the second study, a long-term follow-up analysis of the first large prospective trial with blinatumomab, Nicola Gökbuget, MD, from Goethe University, Frankfurt, Germany, and colleagues found the agent induced a high complete minimal residual disease response rate of 80% in patients with minimal residual disease positive B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia, with 67% of patients able to receive stem cell transplantation in continuous remission after treatment.

The minimal residual disease response was associated with improved overall survival, relapse-free survival, and duration of remission. Among patients who experienced neurologic events during the study, most had a worst event of grade 1 or 2, Dr Roberts noted. Ten percent of the patients enrolled in the study interrupted or discontinued treatment due to grade 3 or higher neurologic events.

Dr Roberts concluded that “blinatumomab may contribute to prolonged relapse-free survival and overall survival in patients with minimal residual disease-positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia (Abstract 680).


  1. Roberts AW. Best of ASH – malignant. Oral presentation at: 57th American Society of Hematology (ASH) Annual Meeting & Exposition; December 5-8, 2015; Orlando, FL.