Revlimid vs. Reblozyl for MDS
- Both Revlimid (lenalidomide) and Reblozyl (luspatercept) can be used to treat anemia associated with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS).
- However, the two drugs are used with different types of the disease.
- Revlimid can be used to treat patients who have MDS with a 5q deletion, or a deletion of chromosome 5 in the bone marrow. It is an oral medication given daily for three weeks at a time.
- Reblozyl is an injection that can be used when MDS patients have something called ring sideroblasts, which is when red blood cells have too much iron.
- Both drugs have shown promising results when it comes to improving symptoms associated with anemia.
Anemia, which occurs when the body does not produce enough healthy red blood cells, is a common effect of of MDS. It can lead to symptoms like:
- Shortness of breath
For certain patients, these drugs can have a significant impact on anemia and its symptoms, potentially reducing the need for blood transfusions. Here’s what to know about the two options.
Revlimid can be used to treat a specific type of MDS in which there is a 5q deletion, or a deletion of chromosome 5 in the bone marrow cells.
“Those patients who have this MDS with a 5q deletion, they tend to have isolated anemia with a fairly elevated platelet count,” Dr. Eytan Stein, chief of the Leukemia Service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, tells SurvivorNet. “What’s kind of amazing is that you give Revlimid … an oral medication. You give it once a day, three weeks on, one week off typically. And it really improves the anemia relatively quickly.”
Possible side effects of this drug treatment include:
- Decreased platelet count
- Diarrhea or constipation
Overall, Revlimid is a well-tolerated drug for patients with this specific type of MDS, Dr. Stein says. The drug can also be used for other types of blood cancer, such as multiple myeloma and mantle cell lymphoma.
Reblozyl can be used for MDS patients who have something called ring sideroblasts, which is when red blood cells have too much iron.
“If you’ve got greater than 15% ring sideroblasts, then Reblozyl is effective in that setting of improving anemia,” Dr. Stein says.
The drug can be used to improve symptoms of anemia and reduce the number of blood transfusions that a patient may need.
Rebrozyl is a biotherapy. Because ring sideroblasts are immature and dysfunctional red blood cells, Reblozyl works as an artificial protein that allows immature and dysfunctional red blood cells to mature and function more normally. The drug is given once every three weeks and is injected under the skin.
Possible side effects of Rebrozyl include:
- Allergic reaction
“Some portion of patients [with ring sideroblasts], about a third of those patients, will have improvement in their hemoglobin,” Dr. Stein says.
Your doctor can help you understand your unique situation and type of disease, and they are in the best position to help determine the treatment options that make sense for you.