Medical research has led to numerous new medicines and drug combinations that are improving patients’ lives. These advances were achieved through carefully designed and highly controlled medical studies known as clinical trials. Multiple myeloma research is occurring in several areas.
Among other things, immunotherapy research currently involves bispecific T-cell engagers (BiTEs). BiTEs link two different antibodies (proteins made by plasma cells in response to a foreign substance in the body); one from a T-cell and the other to the malignant cell.
Standard-of-care drug therapies currently include combinations of two or three medications. Researchers are studying combinations of up to four drug therapies to achieve longer remissions.
Also being studied is minimal residual disease, a measurement of the small number of cancer cells that remain in the body during or after treatment. It may help your doctor create your treatment plan or help determine how well a treatment is working.
Genetic testing is also underway to determine changes or abnormalities in plasma cells associated with multiple myeloma. This testing may help identify standard and high-risk disease, which may affect treatment.
Multiple trials are studying combinations of currently approved drug therapies with those still in clinical trials to treat relapsed and refractory multiple myeloma.
What are Clinical Trials?
- Clinical trials are medical research studies that are frequently used to test new therapies.
- All participants enrolled are volunteers.
- The details of a trial are outlined in the Informed Consent form, which participants must sign before beginning a trial.
- Participants can withdraw from a clinical trial at any time for any reason.
Myths vs facts
A clinical trial is a last resort. In some situations, a clinical trial may offer the best option among treatments you’re considering and may even be the first option to consider.
If my doctor doesn’t bring it up, I can’t participate. Thousands of trials take place at the same time, making it very difficult for your doctor to know about every trial. That’s why you’re encouraged to search for a clinical trial on your own.
I’ll have to travel to a major city to take part in a trial. Not necessarily. Although people may travel to take advantage of some trials, more are available all over the country in hospitals, treatment centers and doctor’s offices.
Once I start the trial, I have to finish it. Participation is always voluntary. You may choose to leave the trial at any time, for any reason, and opt for standard-of-care treatment.
I’m too old to be in a clinical trial. Seniors may respond differently to treatment and may develop different side effects. Having them enrolled in a trial helps researchers develop the right treatment for older people.
Benefits of Participation
- Access to leading-edge treatments that aren’t yet available for your type or stage of disease.
- Higher level of care because you will be closely monitored by your oncologist and the clinical trial medical team.
- Being an active partner in your own care.
- Knowing you are contributing to the future of cancer care.
How to Find a Clinical Trial
- Ask your doctor about available trials for which you may qualify.
- Search online. Start with this list of clinical trial sites. Depending on your diagnosis, there could be many. Ask friends and family to help.
- Have your exact diagnosis, pathology report and treatment details available to see if you meet a trial’s criteria.
- Discuss possible trials with your doctor to determine whether they are an option for you.