Today's Boston Globe has an interesting article about Celgene investing $100 million into the Boston-based biotech start-up, Acetylon Pharmaceuticals. Drs. Ken Anderson and James Bradner from the Farber are co-founders of the company.
I've blogged about James Bradner before. He starred in a YouTube video last year espousing the benefits of the small molecule, JQ1: jq1: miracle molecule. The video was quite inspiring. While JQ1 hasn't shown any promise yet against MM, it now seems to be a promising candidate for a male contraceptive and an anti-HIV drug. Who knew? Anyway, Acetylon's leading drug candidate is an anti-myeloma drug ACY-1215, which also goes by the moniker rocilinostat.
Rocilinostat, which is among the class of anti-myeloma drugs known as histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors, has undergone promising Phase I clinical trials. Other HDAC inhibitors currently in clinical trials include Zolinza (vorinostat) and panobinostat. ACY-1215 differs from the others in that it is more selective in its HDAC targets (it specifically targets HDAC6). So far, it has shown good preliminary results with fewer side effects than the other broader-based HDAC inhibitors.
Future trials will involve combination therapies, including Celgene's Revlimid, Velcade, and dexamethasone, to extract the maximum synergistic benefits of the combinations. It is research like this and ongoing clinical trials like these that give enormous hope to us MM patients that a breakthrough to a cure of this disease may not be far off.
Of course, this is only a small subset of the research into MM treatments. I've written about the promise of monoclonal antibodies as another means of attack against MM. And there are other lines of research as well. If you throw enough darts at a dart board, one of them will finally hit the bulls eye. From my own experience with darts, it takes a lot of them, but hey, who knows when the magic cure will be found? I have a sneaking suspicion that when and if that happens, Dana-Farber will be heavily involved.
Yesterday, Pat Killingsworth blogged about the great research team at Dana-Farber. He referred to a recent article that appeared on the Dana-Farber blog: new-therapies-bring-progress-against-multiple-myeloma/. As Pat wrote about this team, "Ken Anderson and Paul Richardson are two of the most renowned myeloma
specialists in the world. If they made sets of baseball cards featuring
myeloma docs instead, their cards would be most sought after; like
Micky Mantle and Willie Mays!".
In response to one of the comments on Pat's post yesterday about Richardson, Pat replied, "He is one of the smartest, most creative and caring myeloma docs I know…" Amen! Dr. Richardson is all of that. He is an amazing human being. I have to keep pinching myself to make sure that I really am lucky enough to have him as my doctor.
I guess I've gotten a bit complacent about my status. I'm embarrassed to admit that I forgot to note that July 13 was the 2-year anniversary of my initial meeting with Dr. Richardson when he diagnosed me with MM. How could I have let that milestone slip by unnoticed without so much as a how-do-you-do? I know that one of these days I'm going to have to face the reality of a relapse. That will certainly be a slap in the face to wake me up. In the meantime...party on!