DocWire News spoke with Parameswaran Hari, MD, Chief of Hematology/Oncology at the Medical College of Wisconsin, about exciting findings in multiple myeloma research presented at the virtual American Society of Hematology (ASH) 2020 annual meeting.
DocWire News: The American Society of Hematology had their Virtual Annual Conference in December. What were some studies and findings of note on multiple myeloma?
Dr. Hari: So this year’s ASH, or this past year’s ASH, in December 2020, stood out for two things, basically: the evolution of immunotherapy and the maturation of immunotherapy as a therapeutic strategy for multiple myeloma. That’s my most significant takeaway from that. And the second takeaway is the identification of new targets, which are now entering clinical trials in myeloma and promises to extend the survival of myeloma patients by a long way. So we are going to get new classes of drugs acting against new targets and we also see that immunotherapy is evolving and maturing to a very stable footing now.
For me, the most important findings were the bispecific T cell engager (BiTE) studies, or the bispecific antibody studies, and the chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell studies in the field of immunotherapy. We’ll go into that in a detail a bit later, but we also had a bunch of older studies that had completed the reporting and we have more data. And then some new drugs that are already approved, such as Belantamab and Selinexor, that are now being used in combinations. We had some data from those combinations. So if you think about it in a broad perspective, it all bodes for new combinations, new classes of drugs and new modalities of action, i.e., immunotherapy either with antibodies, such as in bispecific engagers or cellular immunotherapy, such as CAR T cells.