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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

ASH Meeting Updates

The American Society of Hematology Annual Meeting just concluded in San Diego.  I have been getting dribs and drabs of updates on the oral papers and poster sessions from Pat Killingsworth and the Myeloma Beacon (see Helpful Links).   The paper I was most interested in, of course, was the update on the MLN9708 clinical trial that I am participating in.  Here is an excerpt from Millenium's press release about the results:

– 100 percent of 15 evaluable patients achieved a partial response or better, including four complete responses, five very good partial responses and six partial responses — 14 of 15 achieved partial response or better after cycle 1, 100 percent achieved partial response or better by cycle 2

– No patient has progressed to date

Although it is very early to reach conclusions, these are excellent results, comparable to those achieved by Velcade combination therapy, which is the current standard.  The Myeloma Beacon also reported on this paper presented on Monday, but gave some slightly different numbers (based on only 10 patients):

This article reports that participants in this MLN9708 trial have the option to undergo stem cell transplant after 6 cycles, which is consistent with my current schedule to have stem cells collected after Cycle 6.  Another interesting comment in this article is that all patients in this trial have achieved best response by the 4th cycle.  This is a little disappointing, as I was hoping to achieve CR during the current Cycle 5 (I have been in nCR since Cycle 3 because of my positive immunofixation test).  It appears that this is not likely, based on the trial results to date.  Oh well.  I can still hope.

On Saturday, Gretchen and I will be attending the Patient Symposium at DFCI.  We will get updates of the many exciting results presented at the ASH Meeting.  I'll be paying particular attention to hear their take on timing of stem cell transplants.  In addition to MLN9708, excellent results were reported for carfilzomib, pomalidomide, elotuzumab, bendamustine, and other hard-to-pronounce drugs.  Who comes up with these names?  They don't exactly roll off the tongue.

Today I received a letter from DFCI announcing all the members of my transplant team.  I guess things are quickly moving in that direction without any inputs from me.  Gulp!  I'd better get cracking on doing my research on which path to take going forward.

Yesterday was my DFCI infusion day.  I also attended the writing workshop at noon.  The workshop is very interesting, both because of the people participating and for the subject matter.  Our assignment for yesterday was to "write small" about some object that we use (tool, etc.).  The objective was to concentrate on the small details of the object, ideally getting at bigger ideas through something precise.  Believe it or not, I actually wrote a Shakespearian sonnet about my Craftsman power lawn mower.  I'll let you chew on that for a while.

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