‘Exciting’ but early results in trial of immunotherapy for myeloma

The 11 patients had already received treatment after treatment for their cancers, some as many as 20 different courses of therapy. Yet their myelomas, almost all classified by doctors as “high risk,” kept coming back. Their options faded away.

Then they joined a clinical trial to be the first people ever to receive a new experimental, immune-harnessing therapy, whose design includes features based on pioneering research at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. For several of them, this was the only trial in the world of this type of therapy for which they were eligible.

The industry-funded study was designed to find a safe dose of the experimental immunotherapy, not test its effectiveness. So these first participants got just a low dose, lower than previous studies had suggested could have much of an effect on this blood cancer.

That’s why the researchers were so encouraged when the cancerous cells vanished from every patient’s bone marrow within a month.

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