One of the best ways of fighting a relapse of multiple myeloma following a stem cell transplant is by preventing it from ever occurring. The current method of relapse prevention is known as maintenance therapy, in which patients take one pill daily to keep their immune system on alert in case multiple myeloma starts to return. However, oncologists are also currently testing the use of a myeloma vaccine to help prevent relapse in patients who have undergone a stem cell transplant. Although the verdict isn’t out yet, current trials are showing lots of promise–patients who received the vaccine had more immune cells that specifically targeted multiple myeloma than those who didn’t. And these immune cells seem to keep patients in remission longer. SurvivorNet spoke to Dr. Sagar Lonial, Chief Medical Officer at the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University, to explain further.
Lonial explains that there are currently about 50 sites across the U.S. (such as Lonial’s own Emory University) that are not only testing but also creating multiple myeloma vaccines to show that it extends patients’ time without the disease. “It’s a great concept, and the advantage is no patient is getting under treated. Everybody’s getting maintenance therapy after transplant. It’s just one group gets maintenance and the vaccine.” You should speak to your oncologist prior to your stem cell transplant to see if you are eligible to receive a vaccine that may prevent myeloma relapse. “If we can show efficacy [after the transplant]–which may be the perfect time to test it–it would be really exciting.”Read More