Subcutaneous Emicizumab Reduces Number of Injections Needed to Control Hemophilia

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Johnny Mahlangu  MBBCh Faculty of Health Sciences University of the Witwatersrand and National Health Laboratory Service Johannesburg, South Africa

Dr. Mahlangu

Dr. Johnny Mahlangu  MBBCh
Faculty of Health Sciences
University of the Witwatersrand and National Health Laboratory Service
Johannesburg, South Africa

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Current unmet needs in patients with haemophilia without inhibitors are the high disease burden imposed by the frequent injections which have to be given intravensously .

Emicizumab which is given subcutaneously weekly or fortnightly aims to address these unmet needs.

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Investigational Imaging Test Can Help Determine Success or Failure of Bone Marrow Transplant

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Kirsten Williams, M.D. Blood and marrow transplant specialist Children’s National Health System

Dr. Williams

Kirsten Williams, M.D.
Blood and marrow transplant specialist
Children’s National Health System 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: This study addressed a life-threatening complication of bone marrow transplantation called bone marrow failure. Bone marrow transplantation has provided a cure for patients with aggressive leukemias or acquired or genetic marrow dysfunction. The process of bone marrow transplantation involves giving chemotherapy and/or radiation, which removes the diseased blood cells from the bone marrow. After this, new bone marrow stem cells are infused from a healthy individual. They travel to the bone marrow and start the slow process of remaking the blood system. Because these new cells start from infancy, it takes upwards of four to five weeks for new mature healthy cells to emerge into the blood, where they can be identified. Historically, there has been no timely way to determine if the new cells have successfully repopulated unless they can be seen in the blood compartment. This condition of bone marrow failure is life-threatening, because patients don’t have white blood cells to protect them from infection. Once bone marrow failure is diagnosed, a second new set of stem cells are infused, often after more chemotherapy is given. However, for many individuals this re-transplantation is too late, because severe infections can be fatal while waiting cells to recover.

We were the first group to use a new imaging test to understand how the newly infused bone marrow cells develop inside the patient. We have recently published a way to detect the new bone marrow cell growth as early as five days after the cells are given. We used an investigational nuclear medicine test to reveal this early cell growth, which could be detected weeks before the cells appear in the blood. This radiology test is safe, does not cause any problems and is not invasive. It is called FLT (18F-fluorothymidine) and the contrast is taken up by dividing hematopoietic stem cells. The patients could even see the growth of their new cells inside the bone marrow (which they very much enjoyed while waiting to see recovery of the cells in their blood). We could use the brightness of the image (called SUV) to determine approximately how many weeks remained before the cells were visible in the blood.

Finally, we actually could see where the new cells went after they were infused, tracking their settling in various organs and bones. Through this, we could see that cells did not travel directly to all of the bones right away as was previously thought, but rather first went to the liver and spleen, then to the mid-spine (thorax), then to the remainder of the spine and breastplate, and finally to the arms and legs. This pattern of bone marrow development is seen in healthy developing fetuses. In this case, it occurs in a similar pattern in adults undergoing bone marrow transplant.

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Phase 3 Darzalex Trial Demonstrated Meaningful Improvement in Patients with Newly Diagnosed Multiple Myeloma

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
janseen-oncologyMaria-Victoria Mateos, MD, PhD

University Hospital of Salamanca/IBSAL
Salamanca, Spain

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The Phase 3 ALCYONE study data showed DARZALEX (daratumumab) in combination with bortezomib, melphalan, and prednisone (VMP) significantly improved clinical outcomes, including reducing the risk of disease progression or death by 50 percent, in newly diagnosed patients with multiple myeloma who are ineligible for autologous stem cell transplantation (ASCT) at a median follow-up of 16.5 months (Hazard Ratio [HR] = 0.50; 95 percent CI [0.38-0.65], p<0.0001).

The median progression-free survival (PFS) for DARZALEX-VMP had not yet been reached, compared to an estimated median PFS of 18.1 months for patients who received VMP alone. In addition to reducing the risk of disease progression or death, DARZALEX significantly improved the overall response rate (ORR) as compared to VMP alone, including more than doubling rates of stringent complete response, significantly improved rates of very good partial response or better and complete response or better (CR).

The most common (≥10 percent) Grade 3/4 treatment-emergent adverse events (TEAEs) for DARZALEX-VMP vs. VMP were neutropenia (40 percent vs. 39 percent), thrombocytopenia (34 percent vs. 38 percent), anemia (16 percent vs. 20 percent) and pneumonia (11 percent vs. 4 percent). One patient in each arm discontinued treatment due to pneumonia, and 0.9 percent of patients discontinued DARZALEX due to an infection. Twenty-eight percent of patients experienced infusion reactions (IRs) due to DARZALEX.. In the DARZALEX-VMP arm, 42 percent of patients experienced a serious adverse event (SAE), compared to 33 percent in the VMP arm.

The study findings were as a late-breaking abstract (Abstract #LBA-4) at the 59th American Society of Hematology (ASH) Annual Meeting in Atlanta, and simultaneously published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).

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Breakthrough Treatment With Prometic’s IV Plasminogen Treats Rare Disabling Disorder

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Charles T. Nakar, MD

Indiana Hemophilia and Thrombosis Center Pediatrics
Indianapolis, IN  

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Congenital plasminogen deficiency is a rare genetic disorder that is caused by mutations in the PLG gene. Mutations in this gene lead to clinical manifestations such as fibrinous deposits on mucous membranes leading to disruption of tissue or organ function. These symptoms, when untreated, lead to significant morbidity and decreased quality of life. Life-threatening episodes may occur especially when the respiratory system is affected. There is currently no established approach to treatment of type 1 plasminogen deficiency and the available topical and systemic therapies (e.g. FFP, corticosteroids, immunomodulatory drugs, anticoagulants, amongst others) lack consistent efficacy. Patients may undergo multiple surgeries to remove lesions, but this approach typically leads to regrowth of lesions. Prometic’s intravenous plasminogen replacement therapy represents the first direct treatment for this serious disorder.

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Multiple Myeloma: Phase 3 Study of DARZALEX + VMP Reduced Risk of Disease Progression and Mortality

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Meletios A. Dimopoulos MD Professor and Chairman Department of Clinical Therapeutics University Athens School of Medicine Athens, Greece

Dr. Dimopoulos

DrMeletios A. Dimopoulos MD
Professor and Chairman
Department of Clinical Therapeutics
University Athens School of Medicine
Athens, Greece

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Updated data from the Phase 3 POLLUX trials showed DARZALEX, in combination with lenalidomide and dexamethasone, reduced the risk of disease progression or death by 56 percent, compared to lenalidomide and dexamethasone alone (Hazard Ratio [HR]=0.44; 95 percent CI [0.34-0.55], p<0.0001). After a median follow-up of 32.9 months, the median progression-free survival (PFS) in the DARZALEX arm has not been reached, compared with a median PFS of 17.5 months for patients who received lenalidomide and dexamethasone alone.

DARZALEX in combination with lenalidomide and dexamethasone also significantly increased the overall response rate (ORR) compared to lenalidomide and dexamethasone alone (93 percent vs. 76 percent, p<0.0001), including rates of complete response (CR) or better (55 percent vs. 23 percent, p<0.0001). DARZALEX also showed significantly higher (>3-fold) MRD-negative rates compared to lenalidomide and dexamethasone alone. These data were featured as an oral presentation (Abstract #739) at the 59th American Society of Hematology (ASH) Annual Meeting in early December.

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Daratumumab Monotherapy for Patients with Intermediate or High-Risk Smoldering Multiple Myeloma

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Craig C. Hofmeister, MD, MPH The Ohio State University 

Dr. Hofmeister

Craig CHofmeisterMD, MPH
The Ohio State University 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Preliminary data presented from the randomized, open-label, Phase 2 CENTAURUS (SMM2001) study evaluated three dosing schedules for DARZALEX monotherapy in patients with intermediate or high-risk smoldering multiple myeloma. A total of 123 patients were enrolled, with a median time since initial smoldering multiple myeloma diagnosis of 6.83 months (0.4-56). Patients were randomized to one of three treatment arms receiving DARZALEX 16 mg/kg intravenously in 8-week cycles: 1.) a long-intense dosing schedule (LONG) where DARZALEX was administered weekly in Cycle 1, every other week in Cycle 2-3, every 4 weeks in Cycle 4-7, and every 8 weeks up to Cycle 20; 2.) an intermediate dosing schedule (INT), where DARZALEX was given weekly for 1 cycle, and every 8 weeks up to Cycle 20 and; 3.) a short intense dosing schedule (SHORT), where DARZALEX was given weekly for 1 cycle. Results from the study showed DARZALEX monotherapy had a tolerable safety profile in patients with intermediate or high-risk smoldering multiple myeloma, with the most common treatment-emergent adverse events (TEAEs) being fatigue, cough, headache and insomnia. The efficacy endpoints included overall response rate, progression free survival, time to next treatment, and overall survival rate at 4 years. These study results serve as the basis for a Phase 3 study for DARZALEX in smoldering multiple myeloma, which is actively enrolling. These findings demonstrated DARZALEX had a manageable safety profile in patients with intermediate or high-risk smoldering multiple myeloma.

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Cost and Side Effects Influence Patients’ Preferences for Leukemia Medications

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Carol Mansfield, PhD, Senior Research Economist Health Preference Assessment RTI Health Solutions www.rtihs.org

Dr. Mansfield

Carol Mansfield, PhD,
Senior Research Economist

Health Preference Assessment
RTI Health Solutions
www.rtihs.org 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: As the most prevalent form of leukemia, chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) affects approximately 130,000 people in the United States. More than 20,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. In recent years, more treatment options–each with its own associated benefits, side effects, and price tag–have been approved. This leaves patients and physicians with a variety of factors they must consider when choosing a treatment plan.

While every patient wants the most effective drug with the fewest side effects, most people don’t have that option available. By asking patients to make tradeoffs and rank their preferences, we can form an understanding of how patients approach their treatment.

This study showed that patients with CLL value medicines that provide the longest progression-free survival, but are willing to trade some benefits for a lower risk of serious adverse events. Additionally, we found that cost clearly has an impact on which treatment a patient would choose. When patients get prescribed something they can’t afford, they are forced to make very difficult choices.

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Transfusions From Previously Pregnant Donors Add Risk To Younger Male Recipients

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Rutger Middelburg, PhD Assistant Professor in clinical epidemiology Sanquin Research and LUMC

Dr. Middelburg

Rutger Middelburg, PhD
Assistant Professor in clinical epidemiology
Sanquin Research and LUMC 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Six years ago we found transfusions from female donor to be associated with increased mortality among male recipients, especially under 50 years of age. This was an unexpected observation and we considered the probability of a false positive finding (i.e. a chance association) to be relatively high. We therefore immediately started a follow-up study with two main objectives. First, we wanted to confirm our findings in an independent and much larger cohort. Second, since some complications of blood transfusion are known to be related to pregnancy history of the donor, we wanted to study a possible relationship with previous pregnancy of the blood donors.

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Emergency Transfusion of Patients with Unknown Blood Type with Blood Group O Rhesus D Positive Blood

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. med. Kathleen Selleng, OÄ, QB Hämotherapie

Universitätsmedizin Greifswald
Institut für Immunologie und Transfusionsmedizin,
Abt. Transfusionsmedizin
Sauerbruchstraße
Greifswald Deutschland

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Red blood cell concentrates (RBCs) of blood group O RhD negative are frequently used as universal blood for emergency transfusions in patients with unknown blood type. This leads to an over-proportional use of these red blood cell concentrates and regular shortages of O RhD negative RBCs.

Due to these shortages, patients with known RhD negative blood type sometimes have to be transfused with RhD positive RBCs.

The present study shows that the overall risk to induce an anti-D by transfusing all emergency patients with unknown blood type with O RhD positive RBCs is in the range of 3 to 6%, while this risk is much higher (20-30%) in RhD negative patients which have to be transfused with RhD positive RBCs due to RhD negative RBC shortages.

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Minimally Invasive Gene Editing Cured Thalassemia in Mice

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Peter M. Glazer, MD, PhD Robert E. Hunter Professor of Therapeutic Radiology and Professor of Genetics; Chair, Department of Therapeutic Radiology Yale University

Dr. Peter M. Glazer

Peter M. Glazer, MD, PhD
Robert E. Hunter Professor of Therapeutic Radiology and Professor of Genetics; Chair, Department of Therapeutic Radiology
Yale University

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: It is generally recognized that gene editing in blood stem cells could provide a strategy for treatment of inherited disorders such as sickle cell disease and thalassaemia. Recent excitement has focused on CRISPR/Cas9 technology because of it is so easy to use. However, the CRISPR approach introduces an active DNA cutting enzyme into cells, which can lead to off-target cuts in the genome. As an alternative, we have pursued triplex-forming peptide nucleic acids (PNAs) designed to bind site-specifically to genomic DNA via strand invasion and formation of PNA/DNA/PNA triplexes. PNAs consist of a charge-neutral peptide-like backbone and nucleobases enabling hybridization with DNA with high affinity. PNA/DNA/PNA triplexes recruit the cell’s own DNA repair machinery to initiate site-specific editing of the genome when single-stranded ‘donor DNAs’ are co-delivered as templates containing the desired sequence modification.

We found that triplex-forming PNAs substituted at the gamma position yielded high levels of gene editing in blood stem cells in a mouse model of human β-thalassaemia. Injection of thalassemic mice with nanoparticles containing gamma PNAs and donor DNAs ameliorated the disease phenotype, with sustained elevation of blood hemoglobin levels into the normal range and up to 7% β-globin gene correction in stem cells, with extremely low off-target effects. We conclude that the combination of nanoparticle delivery and next generation PNAs may offer a minimally invasive treatment for genetic disorders of the blood that can be achieved safely and simply by intravenous administration.

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Nanobody is Potentially First Targeted Therapy for TTP

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Filip Callewaert PhD
Senior Clinical Scientist
Clinical Development, Ablynx
Zwijnaarde, Belgium

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Callewaert: Acquired thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP) is a rare and life-threatening coagulation disorder, in which accumulation of ultra-large von Willebrand factor (ULvWF) multimers is implicated, leading to an increased risk of thrombus formation in small blood vessels due to excessive platelet aggregation. There are no approved pharmacological therapies for acquired TTP. Despite treatment with the current standard of care (plasma exchange and immunosuppressive therapy), mortality remains at 10-20% and there is significant neurological, cardiac, and renal morbidity.

Caplacizumab is a bivalent Nanobody that binds to the A1 domain of vWF thereby preventing vWF-mediated platelet aggregation. The clinical effects of caplacizumab were demonstrated in the phase II randomised, placebo-controlled TITAN study in 75 patients with acquired TTP. Compared to placebo, there was a nearly 40% reduction in median time to platelet count normalisation in the caplacizumab group (p = 0.005). Treatment with caplacizumab reduced the use of daily plasma exchange and prevented further consumption of platelets in microthrombi and small blood vessel occlusion. In addition, there were fewer recurrences of TTP requiring re-initiation of daily plasma exchange during treatment with caplacizumab (N=3) vs. placebo (N=11). The safety profile of caplacizumab was favorable, with a slightly higher tendency of mostly mild bleeding events.  Continue reading

Study Suggests Need For Long Term Follow Up Of Monoclonal Gammopathy

Prof. Sigurdur Y Kristinsson Professor of Hematology University of IcelandMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Prof. Sigurdur Y Kristinsson
Professor of Hematology
University of Iceland

MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Prof. Kristinsson: Multiple myeloma is always preceded by a precursor condition called monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS). MGUS is characterized by a detectable monoclonal protein in persons without evidence for end-organ damage or other related plasma cell or lymphoproliferative disorders. MGUS is very common and is detected in approximately 5 percent of persons 70 years or older. However, only a small proportion of MGUS progresses to a malignant disorder, in fact the annual risk of progression to multiple myeloma or other related disorders is on average 1 percent, with varying risks according to risk groups. Current guidelines suggest, depending on the individual patient’s clinical risk score, life-long monitoring of MGUS individuals to detect progression to multiple myeloma or related disorders. At this time, the impact of annual monitoring on the outcome of patients who eventually develop multiple myeloma is unclear.

Using high-quality population-based data from Sweden, we estimated the impact of prior knowledge of MGUS diagnosis and comorbidities on multiple myeloma survival, by performing a large population-based study using data on more than 14,000 multiple myeloma patients diagnosed in Sweden 1976-2005, with follow-up through 2007. The hypothesis that detection and follow-up of MGUS may influence survival in multiple myeloma is unlikely to ever be tested in a prospective clinical study due to the large sample size required with long follow-up time, and consequent extreme costs.

We found that multiple myeloma patients with prior knowledge of MGUS had significantly 15% better survival, despite having significantly more comorbidities. Interestingly, low-risk MGUS (with very low M-protein) had highest risk of death. The observation that low M-protein concentration at MGUS diagnosis was associated with poorer multiple myeloma survival may reflect less frequent clinical follow-up. Our observations stress the importance of clinical follow-up in MGUS, regardless of risk stratification.

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