Multiple Myeloma and Cancer News

Medicare said that it will cover CART-T cell therapies for certain types of lymphoma and leukemia. CART-T uses gene therapy to turbocharge the patient's immune system cells, reprogramming them to harbor a “receptor” that zeroes in on cancer and to grow hundreds of millions of copies. These revved up cells are returned to the patient's bloodstream and can continue to fight cancer for months and years. Side effects can be severe. Studies have shown the treatment to be highly effective against
certain cancers. Researchers are working to add more types to the list.

Lots of interest for this one... What is GSK 2857916, also known as belantamab mafodotin? Quote from Dr Durie, “The GSK product is an important monoclonal antibody which targets BCMA, which is the B-cell maturation antigen on the surface of myeloma cells. It is a unique product in that it is combined with a drug, it is called a drug conjugate. And, this is very important because when the antibody binds, the drug conjugate is imported into the myeloma cell and leads to more complete destruction of the myeloma. And so, this agent has now been given a name, a very long name,
belantamab mafodotin. GSK folks have decided to abbreviate this name to “Bela”, very similar to “Dara” for daratumumab. And so, you’re going to be hearing this agent referred to as “Bela.”

Results show that this monoclonal drug conjugate has a 60 percent overall response rate in patients with relapsed/refractory myeloma. And this is incredibly important because this is an off the shelf product against this BCMA target, which is what is the target for CAR-T cells, BiTEs, and other much more complicated and expensive therapies. There has been a rapid approval designation from the FDA as well as a prime designation by the EMA. With any good luck, the results of the ongoing DREAMM II, part II study, will lead to submission to the FDA, and hopefully, approval later this year or early next year.

“On Course for A Cure 2018”
The 2nd annual golf outing was held on August 13, 2018. The event was a huge success. During the dinner presentations, the Mt Everest climb was not shown. Time did not permit. Our Dr Ben participated in this climb to raise funds for the MMRF.

However, the 13-minute video can be viewed on Facebook. Here is the link to the video if anyone would like to see it: The cinematography is quite stunning and the stories are inspiring.

Here is an excerpt of the IMF letter
in response to the Department of Health and Human Services Blue Print to Lower Drug Prices and Reduce Out-OF-Pocket Costs -July 2018. This is a subject that we should all be very concerned about. (PDF)

Winter 2016/2017 Edition of Myeloma Today: ASH Highlights and More

Immune System, Unleashed by Cancer Therapies Can Attack Organs” by Matt Richtel

Multiple myeloma and the chemical Permethrin (see news)

The BOSTON Trial Now Enrolling Patients with Relapsed or Refractory Multiple Myeloma

From the February 2018 Newsletter:

CancerCare has received 1.1 million in funds to provide financial assistance to those folks coping with a cancer diagnosis. See their website for more information about qualifying for these funds. The money goes fast so don't delay.

From the June 2018 Newsletter

Managing Peripheral Neuropathy (PDF)
A guide for people with myeloma

New Shingles Vaccine Shingrix: What You Need To Know

In October 2017, the FDA approved a new shingles vaccine, called Shingrix. New Shingles Vaccine.docx

Cancer Incidence among Pesticide Applicators Exposed to Permethrin in the Agricultural Health Study

Permethrin is a chemical that makes insect repellant clothing.

"We found no associations between permethrin and all malignant neoplasms combined, or between permethrin and melanoma, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, leukemia, or cancers of the colon, rectum, lung, or prostate. We found elevated and statistically significant risks for multiple myeloma in the highest tertiles of both lifetime exposure-days (RR = 5.72; 95% CI, 2.76–11.87) and intensity-weighted lifetime exposure-days (RR = 5.01; 95% CI, 2.41–10.42), compared with applicators reporting they never used permethrin; these results are based on only 15 exposed cases. These findings were similar across a variety of alternative exposure metrics, exposure categories, and reference groups."

The Toxic Truth About DEET and Permethrin

“Managing Peripheral Neuropathy, A Guide For People With Myeloma” from Myeloma Australia.

If you get a chance to read this one, it is worth your time. Very interesting and I learned much more about peripheral neuropathy. It is attached for those folks that have internet capability. Click here to download the PDF file.

New Study to Create and Test Personalized Vaccine Against Multiple Myeloma. Click here to download the Word document.

Moving Mountains!
UW Health surgeon, Dr. Ben Marcus will be participating in “Moving Mountains for Multiple Myeloma” to raise money and awareness. In March of 2018, he will join a team of doctors, nurses, researchers, and patients to climb to the base camp of Mt. Everest. Every dollar raised goes to the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation's valuable efforts to treat and cure this disease. Ben Marcus was recently diagnosed in December 2016.

Check out Ben's donation page for more information:

“Immune System, Unleashed by Cancer Therapies Can Attack Organs” by Matt Richtel

The New York Times December 3, 2016

This article is a must read. Immunotherapy drugs are an exciting option for some patients. They are not without sometimes serious and life-threatening side effects. They offer real
promise but real risks. Google the above title and learn about the new immunotherapy drugs.

Click here to read the article

Winter 2016/2017 Edition of Myeloma Today: ASH Highlights and More

The International Myeloma Foundation just published the new issue of "Myeloma Today," their quarterly news magazine. The link is below for those interested in reading it.

Kay Heggestad

Kay Heggestad Obituary Kay was a member of the Madison Multiple Myeloma Support Group. Her self-written obituary is making its way around social media. Her family was interviewed by Madison Channel 3 for the 6 PM and 10 PM news on Monday, January 16, 2017. The video title is:
Woman's self-written obituary goes viral. You may view it here.

You may contribute stories via email at

Music CD Fundraiser

Our group member, Joe Ripp is just finishing up his 3rd musical CD with 14 original songs. He intends to sell the CDs for $11.99 with 100% of any monies over the production cost to go to UWCCC Trillium Fund. He plans to have a sample CD that we can listen to at our next meeting. His goal is to be able to donate at least $8.00 from every CD to UWCCC Trillium Fund. He does not want any income from this endeavor and intends to give a tax write off to anyone purchasing a CD.

Dr. Callander Award

Madison Magazine has announced their top doctors for 2016, chosen by their peers. Dr. Callander was named as one of four winners in the Oncology, Hematological category.

Click here to view the results and scroll down to Oncology, Hematological category (categories are listed in alphabetical order).

A Mouse that Roared: Lori Alf's Fight Against Cancer and the Miracle Cure that Saved Her (Cured of an agressive form of Multiple Myeloma by an immunotherapy)

Two new multiple myeloma drugs approved in one week!

FDA Approves Ninlaro for multiple myeloma

Ebling Library at UW has a number of health databases available free to the public. Click for more information.

Blood cancer treatment may age immune cells as much as 30 years. A news article about autologous stem cell transplant effects. -From Matt

I-O Talks: Immuno Oncology in Multiple Myeloma, a video (12:35 minutes long) presenting new research into treatment for multiple myeloma. -From Kay


Amgen says a study found its cancer drug more effective than rival drug (from the Los Angeles Times)
Amgen says Kyprolis doubles progression-free survival vs Velcade (from Reuters)


FDA Approves Ixazomib, the First Oral Protease Inhibitor to Treat Myeloma. This Is the Second New Myeloma Drug Approved This Week

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