November 25, 2002
Multiple Myeloma Patients Needed for Study
CHICAGO— Cancer researchers at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University are seeking patients with relapsed or treatment-resistant multiple myeloma to participate in an investigational clinical trial using Velcade (bortezomib).
Bortezomib is a new drug that inhibits the proteasome, an enzyme complex in cells that breaks down a number of proteins, including many that regulate cell division. Drugs that block this key enzyme complex from working may help treat cancers ranging from cancers of the blood, such as myeloma and leukemia, to solid tumors, such as those in the prostate and colon.
The principal investigator for the bortezomib study at Northwestern is Seema Singhal, MD, professor of medicine at the Feinberg School and a researcher at The Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University. Dr. Singhal is also a hematologist/oncologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and directs the multiple myeloma program.
Multiple myeloma is a type of blood cancer that affects an estimated 40,000 Americans, with more than 14,000 cases diagnosed annually. In multiple myeloma, plasma cells grow out of control in the bone marrow, causing bone and kidney damage and suppression of the normal bone marrow and immune system.
Current treatments for multiple myeloma include chemotherapy, radiation and bone marrow transplantation, but the disease typically recurs in three to four years and is currently considered largely incurable, with an average survival time of five years.
The options for relapsed disease are relatively limited, but currently there are a few investigational agents in clinical trials that are thought to have shown exciting preliminary results.
Bortezomib is one of these investigational agents. A clinical trial with bortezomib in myeloma conducted last year showed some of the best response rates when compared with results from clinical trials with other therapies used in similar situations.
The study involving bortezomib currently open at Northwestern is a randomized open-label clinical trial in which patients with relapsed or treatment-resistant multiple myeloma will receive either bortezomib or dexamethasone, a non-experimental drug for the treatment of multiple myeloma.