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Concept: Multiple myeloma


Background Daratumumab showed promising efficacy alone and with lenalidomide and dexamethasone in a phase 1-2 study involving patients with relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma. Methods In this phase 3 trial, we randomly assigned 569 patients with multiple myeloma who had received one or more previous lines of therapy to receive lenalidomide and dexamethasone either alone (control group) or in combination with daratumumab (daratumumab group). The primary end point was progression-free survival. Results At a median follow-up of 13.5 months in a protocol-specified interim analysis, 169 events of disease progression or death were observed (in 53 of 286 patients [18.5%] in the daratumumab group vs. 116 of 283 [41.0%] in the control group; hazard ratio, 0.37; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.27 to 0.52; P<0.001 by stratified log-rank test). The Kaplan-Meier rate of progression-free survival at 12 months was 83.2% (95% CI, 78.3 to 87.2) in the daratumumab group, as compared with 60.1% (95% CI, 54.0 to 65.7) in the control group. A significantly higher rate of overall response was observed in the daratumumab group than in the control group (92.9% vs. 76.4%, P<0.001), as was a higher rate of complete response or better (43.1% vs. 19.2%, P<0.001). In the daratumumab group, 22.4% of the patients had results below the threshold for minimal residual disease (1 tumor cell per 10(5) white cells), as compared with 4.6% of those in the control group (P<0.001); results below the threshold for minimal residual disease were associated with improved outcomes. The most common adverse events of grade 3 or 4 during treatment were neutropenia (in 51.9% of the patients in the daratumumab group vs. 37.0% of those in the control group), thrombocytopenia (in 12.7% vs. 13.5%), and anemia (in 12.4% vs. 19.6%). Daratumumab-associated infusion-related reactions occurred in 47.7% of the patients and were mostly of grade 1 or 2. Conclusions The addition of daratumumab to lenalidomide and dexamethasone significantly lengthened progression-free survival among patients with relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma. Daratumumab was associated with infusion-related reactions and a higher rate of neutropenia than the control therapy. (Funded by Janssen Research and Development; POLLUX number, NCT02076009 .).

Concepts: Scientific method, Bortezomib, Clinical trial, Dexamethasone, Cancer, Lenalidomide, Thalidomide, Multiple myeloma


Background Daratumumab, a human IgGκ monoclonal antibody that targets CD38, induces direct and indirect antimyeloma activity and has shown substantial efficacy as monotherapy in heavily pretreated patients with multiple myeloma, as well as in combination with bortezomib in patients with newly diagnosed multiple myeloma. Methods In this phase 3 trial, we randomly assigned 498 patients with relapsed or relapsed and refractory multiple myeloma to receive bortezomib (1.3 mg per square meter of body-surface area) and dexamethasone (20 mg) alone (control group) or in combination with daratumumab (16 mg per kilogram of body weight) (daratumumab group). The primary end point was progression-free survival. Results A prespecified interim analysis showed that the rate of progression-free survival was significantly higher in the daratumumab group than in the control group; the 12-month rate of progression-free survival was 60.7% in the daratumumab group versus 26.9% in the control group. After a median follow-up period of 7.4 months, the median progression-free survival was not reached in the daratumumab group and was 7.2 months in the control group (hazard ratio for progression or death with daratumumab vs. control, 0.39; 95% confidence interval, 0.28 to 0.53; P<0.001). The rate of overall response was higher in the daratumumab group than in the control group (82.9% vs. 63.2%, P<0.001), as were the rates of very good partial response or better (59.2% vs. 29.1%, P<0.001) and complete response or better (19.2% vs. 9.0%, P=0.001). Three of the most common grade 3 or 4 adverse events reported in the daratumumab group and the control group were thrombocytopenia (45.3% and 32.9%, respectively), anemia (14.4% and 16.0%, respectively), and neutropenia (12.8% and 4.2%, respectively). Infusion-related reactions that were associated with daratumumab treatment were reported in 45.3% of the patients in the daratumumab group; these reactions were mostly grade 1 or 2 (grade 3 in 8.6% of the patients), and in 98.2% of these patients, they occurred during the first infusion. Conclusions Among patients with relapsed or relapsed and refractory multiple myeloma, daratumumab in combination with bortezomib and dexamethasone resulted in significantly longer progression-free survival than bortezomib and dexamethasone alone and was associated with infusion-related reactions and higher rates of thrombocytopenia and neutropenia than bortezomib and dexamethasone alone. (Funded by Janssen Research and Development; number, NCT02136134 .).

Concepts: Spinal cord compression, Hematology, Proteasome, Dexamethasone, Bortezomib, Lenalidomide, Thalidomide, Multiple myeloma


The novel heavy/light chain (HLC) assay was used for the detection and measurement of monoclonal immunoglobulins, response evaluation and prognostication. This test allows identification and quantification of the different light chain types of each immunoglobulin class (for example, IgGκ and IgGλ) and enables calculation of ratios of monoclonal/polyclonal immunoglobulin (HLC ratio). Sequential sera of 156 patients with IgG or IgA myeloma started on first-line therapy and followed for a median of 46.1 months were analyzed. Results were compared with those obtained with conventional techniques (serum protein electrophoresis (SPEP), immunofixation electrophoresis (IFE), nephelometry (NEPH), and the free light chain test (FLC)). Our data show that the HLC assay allowed quantification of monoclonal proteins not accurately measurable by SPEP or NEPH. When both HLC and FLC testing were applied for response assessment, clonal excess was noted in 14/31 patients with complete response (CR). HLC ratio indicated presence of disease in 8/31 patients who achieved CR and, in sequential studies indicated evolving relapse in three patients before IFE became positive. Highly abnormal HLC ratios at presentation were significantly associated with shorter overall survival (40.5 months vs median not reached, P=0.016). Multivariate analysis revealed HLC ratio (P=0.03) and β(2)-microglobulin (P<0.01) as independent risk factors for survival.

Concepts: Protein, Immunoglobulin light chain, Immune system, Electrophoresis, Paraprotein, Multiple myeloma, Serum protein electrophoresis, Protein electrophoresis


Abnormal NF-κB2 activation has been implicated in the pathogenesis of multiple myeloma, a cancer of plasma cells. However, a causal role for aberrant NF-κB2 signaling in the development of plasma cell tumors has not been established. Also unclear is the molecular mechanism that drives the tumorigenic process. We investigated these questions by using a transgenic mouse model with lymphocyte-targeted expression of p80HT, a lymphoma-associated NF-κB2 mutant, and human multiple myeloma cell lines.

Concepts: Gene, DNA, Multiple myeloma, Gene expression


Amyloidosis of the gastrointestinal tract, with biopsy-proven disease, is rare. We reviewed a series of patients who presented with biopsy-proven gastrointestinal amyloidosis and report their clinical characteristics, treatments, and survival. This is a retrospective review of data prospectively collected from January 1998 to December 2011 in a tertiary referral center; 2,334 patients with all types of amyloidosis were evaluated during this period. Seventy-six patients (3.2%) had biopsy-proven amyloid involvement of the gastrointestinal tract. Their median age was 61 years (range, 34-79). Systemic amyloidosis with dominant gastrointestinal involvement was present in 60 (79%) patients, whereas the other 16 (21%) patients had amyloidosis localized to the gastrointestinal tract without evidence of an associated plasma cell dyscrasia or other organ involvement. Of the 60 systemic cases, 50 (83%) had immunoglobulin light-chain, five (8%) had familial lysozyme, three (5%) had wild-type transthyretin, and two (3%) had mutant transthyretin amyloidosis. The most frequent symptoms for all patients were weight loss in 33 (45%) and gastrointestinal bleeding in 27 (36%). Incidental identification of amyloidosis on routine endoscopic surveillance played a role in the diagnosis of seven patients with systemic immunoglobulin light-chain, and four patients with immunoglobulin light-chain localized to the gastrointestinal tract. Amyloid protein subtyping was performed in 12 of the cases of localized disease, and all had lambda light chain disease. Of the 50 patients with systemic immunoglobulin light-chain amyloidosis, 45 were treated with anti-plasma cell therapy. The median survival has not been reached for this group. For the 16 patients with localized gastrointestinal amyloidosis, supportive care was the mainstay of treatment; none received anti-plasma cell therapy. All 16 are alive at a median follow-up of 36 months (range, 1-143). Patients with biopsy-proven gastrointestinal amyloidosis often present with weight loss and bleeding. In localized cases, all that underwent typing were due to lambda light chain amyloidosis and none progressed to systemic disease during the period of follow-up. Most patients with systemic disease had immunoglobulin light-chain, and their tolerance of therapy and median survival were excellent. Although a rare manifestation of amyloidosis, staining for amyloid should be considered in patients undergoing gastrointestinal biopsy who have unexplained chronic gastrointestinal symptoms.

Concepts: Congo red, Transthyretin, Multiple myeloma, Immunoglobulin light chain, Protein, Diseases and disorders, Amyloid, Amyloidosis


Patients with multiple myeloma commonly develop focal osteolytic bone disease, as well as generalised osteoporosis. The mechanisms underlying the development of osteoporosis in patients with myeloma are poorly understood. Although disruption of the RANKL/OPG pathway has been shown to underlie formation of focal osteolytic lesions, its role in the development of osteoporosis in myeloma remains unclear. Increased soluble RANKL in serum from patients with myeloma raises the possibility that this molecule plays a key role. The aim of the present study was to establish whether sRANKL produced by myeloma cells contributes directly to osteoporosis. C57BL/KaLwRij mice were injected with either 5T2MM or 5T33MM murine myeloma cells. 5T2MM-bearing mice developed osteolytic bone lesions (p<0.05) with increased osteoclast surface (p<0.01) and reduced trabecular bone volume (p<0.05). Bone volume was also reduced at sites where 5T2MM cells were not present (p<0.05). In 5T2MM-bearing mice soluble mRANKL was increased (p<0.05), whereas OPG was not altered. In contrast, 5T33MM-bearing mice had no changes in osteoclast surface or trabecular bone volume and did not develop osteolytic lesions. Soluble mRANKL was undetectable in serum from 5T33MM-bearing mice. In separate experiments, RPMI-8226 human myeloma cells were transduced with an human RANKL/eGFP construct, or eGFP alone. RPMI-8226/hRANKL/eGFP cells, but not RPMI-8226/eGFP cells, stimulated osteoclastic bone resorption (p<0.05) in vitro. Sub-cutaneous injection of NOD/SCID mice with RPMI-8226/hRANKL/eGFP or RPMI-8226/eGFP cells resulted in tumour development in all mice. RPMI-8226/hRANKL/eGFP-bearing mice exhibited increased serum soluble hRANKL (p<0.05) and a three-fold increase in osteoclast number (p<0.05) compared to RPMI-8226/eGFP-bearing mice. This was associated with reduced trabecular bone volume (27%, p<0.05), decreased trabecular number (29%, p<0.05) and increased trabecular thickness (8%, p<0.05). Our findings demonstrate that soluble RANKL produced by myeloma cells causes generalised bone loss, suggesting that targeting RANKL may prevent osteoporosis in patients with myeloma.

Concepts: RANKL, Osteoimmunology, Bisphosphonate, Osteoprotegerin, Bone, Multiple myeloma, Osteoporosis, Osteoclast


Thalidomide and its analog, Lenalidomide, are in current use clinically for treatment of multiple myeloma, complications of leprosy and cancers. An additional analog, Pomalidomide, has recently been licensed for treatment of multiple myeloma, and is purported to be clinically more potent than either Thalidomide or Lenalidomide. Using a combination of zebrafish and chicken embryos together with in vitro assays we have determined the relative anti-inflammatory activity of each compound. We demonstrate that in vivo embryonic assays Pomalidomide is a significantly more potent anti-inflammatory agent than either Thalidomide or Lenalidomide. We tested the effect of Pomalidomide and Lenalidomide on angiogenesis, teratogenesis, and neurite outgrowth, known detrimental effects of Thalidomide. We found that Pomalidomide, displays a high degree of cell specificity, and has no detectable teratogenic, antiangiogenic or neurotoxic effects at potent anti-inflammatory concentrations. This is in marked contrast to Thalidomide and Lenalidomide, which had detrimental effects on blood vessels, nerves, and embryonic development at anti-inflammatory concentrations. This work has implications for Pomalidomide as a treatment for conditions Thalidomide and Lenalidomide treat currently.

Concepts: In vitro, Teratogens, Dexamethasone, Bortezomib, Lenalidomide, Multiple myeloma, Teratology, Thalidomide


Kidney fibrosis and fibrogenesis significantly exacerbate chronic kidney disease (CKD) progression and are essential therapeutic targets. Bortezomib (BZM) is a proteasome inhibitor used for the treatment of multiple myeloma (MM). Several studies have demonstrated that BZM attenuates renal impairment in patients with MM, although this effect is generally considered to be the result of MM remission. Recently, several studies on BZM reported anti-fibrotic effects on liver and skin in experimental animal models. However, its effect on renal fibrosis has yet to be examined. Here, we investigated the anti-fibrotic effects of BZM in an experimental mouse model of fibrosis that uses aristolochic acid I (AA). Ten weeks of AA administration with BZM treatment twice a week significantly attenuated AA-induced renal dysfunction and albuminuria, reduced the expression of renal fibrosis-related proteins and kidney injury markers, such as αSMA, Kim1, and Ngal, and prevented renal fibrosis at the level of histopathology. Furthermore, pathological activation of TGFβ1-Smad3 signaling and apoptosis, essential pathophysiological causes of AA-induced nephropathy (AAN), were ameliorated by BZM, suggesting this mechanism may be involved in improving fibrosis in AAN. In conclusion, BZM directly inhibits renal fibrosis in CKD via suppression of TGFβ1-Smad3 signaling and is promising in terms of drug repositioning.

Concepts: Animal model, Renal failure, Multiple myeloma, Kidney, Nephrology, Proteasome, Bortezomib, Chronic kidney disease


Current strategies to produce homogeneous antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) rely on mutations or inefficient conjugation chemistries. Here we present a strategy to produce site-specific ADCs using a highly reactive natural buried lysine embedded in a dual variable domain (DVD) format. This approach is mutation free and drug conjugation proceeds rapidly at neutral pH in a single step without removing any charges. The conjugation chemistry is highly robust, enabling the use of crude DVD for ADC preparation. In addition, this strategy affords the ability to precisely monitor the efficiency of drug conjugation with a catalytic assay. ADCs targeting HER2 were prepared and demonstrated to be highly potent and specific in vitro and in vivo. Furthermore, the modular DVD platform was used to prepare potent and specific ADCs targeting CD138 and CD79B, two clinically established targets overexpressed in multiple myeloma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, respectively.

Concepts: Multiplication, Strategy, Mutation, Multiple myeloma, Types of cancer, Protein, In vivo, In vitro


Autologous transplantation is controversial for older patients with multiple myeloma. The role of age-adjusted high-dose melphalan and the impact of induction chemotherapy cycles is still unclear. A total of 434 patients aged 60-70 years were randomly assigned to 4 cycles of standard anthracycline-based induction chemotherapy or no induction. For all patients, double autologous transplantation after melphalan 140 mg/m(2) (MEL140) was planned. The primary end point was progression-free survival. Of 420 eligible patients, 85% received a first transplant and 69% completed double transplantation. Treatment duration was short with a median of 7.7 months with induction chemotherapy cycles and 4.6 months without induction. On an intention-to-treat basis, median progression-free survival with induction chemotherapy cycles (207 patients) was 21.4 months versus 20.0 months with no induction cycles (213 patients) (hazard ratio 1.04, 95% confidence interval 0.84-1.28; P=0.36). Per protocol, progression-free survival was 23.7 months versus 23.0 months (P=0.28). Patients aged 65 years or over (55%) did not have an inferior outcome. Patients with low-risk cytogenetics [absence of del17p13, t(4;14) and 1q21 gains] showed a favorable overall survival and included the patients with sustained first remission. MEL140 was associated with a low rate of severe mucositis (10%) and treatment-related deaths (1%). Based on hazard ratio, the short treatment arm consisting of mobilization chemotherapy and tandem MEL140 achieved 96% of the progression-free survival, demonstrating its value as an independent component of therapy in older patients with multiple myeloma who are considered fit for autologous transplantation. ( identifier: 02288741).

Concepts: Randomized controlled trial, Randomness, Chemotherapy, Virtual Karyotype, Normal distribution, Bone marrow, Melphalan, Multiple myeloma