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University Of Arkansas Medical Center Pushes Advances In High Risk Multiple Myeloma Therapy

Posted on June 17 2010 by Pat Killingsworth | 3,678 views

Before we move on, I wanted to share some of Dr. Ravi Vij’s thoughts about UAMS—the University of Arkansas Medical Center. Myeloma docs and researchers there have been developing an aggressive form of anti-myeloma treatment called Total Therapy (TT).

Arkansas myeloma specialist, Dr. Barlogie, and other UAMS myeloma researchers are best known for helping newly diagnosed, low risk multiple myeloma patients achieve deep, long remissions by using lots of drug combinations before and after tandem stem cell transplants. But UAMS docs have been working on a lot more than that for the past decade, including extensive research into how certain genes and chromosomes affect a patients likely treatment outcomes. I attended a presentation by Dr. Barlogie at ASCO dedicated to this very topic.

Dr. Vij shared with me how he felt UAMS gene expression profiles were among the best ways to identify high risk myeloma. He went on to add UAMS is one of the premier myeloma research facilities in the country—stressing the biology of the disease. Dr. Vij concluded by mentioning how UAMS was starting to split their TT study groups into two parts:

TT 4 is comprised of low risk subjects, while TT 5 is devoted to more difficult, high risk cases, according to Dr. Vij.

I was happy to hear UAMS is spending so much research capital working with high risk patients. I believe low risk, newly diagnosed myeloma patients should fair well using combinations of existing and soon to be available novel therapy agents—whether they use an aggressive, Total Therapy approach or not. It’s the more difficult, high risk patients who need the most help.

Feel good and keep smiling! Pat

4 Comments For This Post

  1. CancerKicker Says:

    Awesome stuff! -Phil

  2. Pat and Pattie Killingsworth Says:

    Thanks, Phil–you made my night! Pat

  3. Nick Says:

    It's not a UAMS post if I'm not lurking with a comment. 🙂

    Without passing a value judgment on total therapy, transplants, or anything else, I do feel the need to clarity a misstatement on behalf of Dr. Vij (no disrespect to him, either — he's obviously part of the team helping us patients) but it's important to be accurate about this stuff.

    1. Since Total Therapy three began around seven years ago, UAMS has distinctly broken out low-risk from high-risk patients.

    2. Only about 40% of UAMS patients are newly-diagnosed, low-risk patients to saying they focus on this group is inaccurate.

    3. Total Therapy 4 is low-risk, Total Therapy 5 is high-risk. These are the current studies (along with, I think, Total Therapy 6 which deals with previously treated patients). In particular, TT4 is testing whether the same results (~60% cure, if one believes Barlogie) can be achieved with a lighter regimen than TT3 for low-risk. TT5 is testing lower-dose, higher-frequency administration of meds can improve outcomes for high-risk disease.

    By the way, Pat, the 4;14 type designations refer to the translocation of genes in the myeloma cell. The genes are swapped out and one is where the other should be. That's about as far as this poor political science major can go, though. 🙂

    Be well!

  4. Pat and Pattie Killingsworth Says:

    Hi Nick-
    If I ever need to reach you, all I need to do is write an artice about Arkansas! Sorry about the TT4 and TT5. That was my mistake… I wrote "high" instead of "low" risk.

    I thought you might "chime in" about the emphasis on low risk patients. But you yourself told me patients who have had some kind of previous therapy aren't eligible for Total Therapy. And don't forget Dr. Barlogie's legendary obsession and quest to cure myeloma–his best shot are low risk patients. He is so close I bet he can taste it–aren't you going to be one of them? Hope you are feeling better and get rid of those chronic infections. Aren't you almost finished with maintenance? Stay well- Pat

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