New Smoldering Myeloma Vaccine On The Horizon

I don’t write enough about smoldering myeloma.  This “pre-bone marrow cancer” certainly isn’t addressed regularly by established pharmaceutical companies. 

So I thought I would share this news release I found on the Boston Business Journal earlier this weekend, about a new drug company which is betting it’s future on an experimental, anti-smoldering myeloma vaccine:

OncoPep closes in on $4.5M launch round
Boston Business Journal – by Julie M. Donnelly – April 15th, 2011

OncoPep, Inc., a biotechnology start-up company developing a potential therapeutic cancer vaccine, plans to close its first round of financing from angel and super-angel investors, by the end of the month.

The virtual company’s first product is a potential vaccine to treat “smoldering myeloma,” an early stage of the blood cancer multiple myeloma, which is usually asymptomatic.

“Most cancer vaccines are directed at later-stages, and there is just a lot of disease load to battle at that point,” CEO Doris Peterkin, who is based in North Andover, Mass., said in an interview.

There are approximately 3000 cases of smoldering myeloma diagnosed each year, Peterkin said. These cases are usually detected through abnormalities on common blood tests administered during routine primary care visits. About half of these patients will progress to multiple myeloma in 5 to 8 years. The current standard of care for smoldering myeloma is simply “watchful waiting,” Peterkin said. The vaccine candidate is still in pre-clinical testing.

Peterkin said she hoped that eventually the indication for the experimental vaccine could be expanded to also treat patients who have progressed to mulitple myeloma from smoldering myeloma.

The concept seems good:  Hit the disorder early, before the tumor load is high and the smoldering myeloma becomes active multiple myeloma.

Key phrases here are “still in pre-clinical testing” and “the experimental vaccine could be expanded to also treat patients who have progressed to multiple myeloma.”

Lots of great treatment ideas die in the pre-clinical stage.  But it only takes one to work.  Hopefully this is the one.  Good luck, OncoPep, Inc!

Feel good and keep smiling!  Pat

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