This was a busy week in the world of cancer research!

  • Amgen announced promising follow-up results from the ASPIRE trial in which KRd (Kyprolis®, Revlimid® and dexamethasone) has produced a median overall survival of 48.3 months versus Rd’s 40.4 months for patients in the first relapse setting. This is clearly an important survival advantage. Previously, in the ENDEAVOR trial, Kyprolis has shown superiority versus Velcade® (another proteasome inhibitor) in the relapsed setting as well. Both studies provide evidence of the added value of Kyprolis.
  • In a separate announcement from Amgen, we learned that on Tuesday, the FDA gave full approval to the bispecific antibody called Blincyto® used to treat relapsed/refractory B cell acute leukemia in both children and adults. Like the positive ODAC vote for CAR T cells, this full FDA approval for a bispecific antibody is encouraging news for developers of other bispecific antibodies currently being evaluated. For myeloma, there is, for example, the so-called BCMA CAR T cells. Thus, lots of hope for the near future!
  • In another interesting announcement, the Celgene corporation has entered into a collaboration with BeiGene to advance a PD-1 inhibitor (checkpoint inhibitor) program. It is possible this may prove useful in combination for myeloma patients. As part of this deal, Celgene has provided exclusive licenses to BeiGene (a China-based company) for Celgene’s cancer commercial portfolio in China, including Abraxane®, Revlimid and Vidaza®. Mark J. Alles, CEO of Celgene, noted in the company’s press release, “China is an important market for Celgene, and our collaboration with BeiGene positions us exceptionally well to optimize research, manufacturing, and the long-term commercial potential of our portfolio in China.” It will be important to see how this newly forged relationship will evolve.  

-- Brian Durie, MD

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