Earlier this year, the FDA announced approval of a CAR-T treatment for adults with Multiple Myeloma. Good news for those affected by the disease, which represents up to 32,000 new diagnoses annually in the U.S. according the National Cancer Institute.
This chimeric antigen receptor t-cell treatment (CAR-T) is being called Abecma by it’s maker, Celgene Corporation. By no means a front line solution – only approved for patients whose disease recurs or doesn’t respond after four prior lines of therapy – it represents a ray of hope for many who suffer from the unusual cancer.
Although not a cure for Multiple Myeloma, the Celgene therapy shows promise in the fight against the disease. In a small clinical study of Abecma, a significant 72% of patients responded to the treatment, and 28% showed a complete response. Some patients (approximately 17%) remained symptom free for at least 12 months.
That being said, Abecma can have serious side effects, including cytokine release syndrome (CRS). Thus, the FDA is requiring hospitals and associated clinics that dispense Abecma be specially certified. Staff involved in the prescribing, dispensing or administering of Abecma must be trained to recognize and manage CRS, nervous system toxicities and other side effects of the treatment.
As always, patients should consult their healthcare team regarding whether Abecma is appropriate in their particular case.