Pat Killingsworth Pat Killingsworth

ASH Re-visited: Bendamustine: A significant anti-myeloma breakthrough?

While I was at ASH in San Diego last December, I was looking for “under the radar” type salvage therapy options for myeloma patients who had become resistant (refractory) to Revlimid and/or Velcade.

One of the studies/drugs which caught my eye was bendamustine.

Bendamustine isn’t new.  Far from it.   An older alkylating drug, bendamustine has been used most recently to treat chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

I saved an in-depth medpageTODAY feature article about the drug from December which I found very helpful:

ASH: Bendamustine Shows Promise in Multiple Myeloma

Simply click-on the headline link above to access the article.

When combined with Velcade, over 50% of clinical trial participants that received full doses of bendamustine showed a partial response or better.

While bendamustine is far from a wonder drug, the early numbers are at least as good in refractory myeloma patients as just about any other drug I found.

It also seemed to be relatively well tolerated.  Dr. James Berenson is the lead myeloma doc on the study.

It looks like bendamustine may indeed become a salvage therapy standard in the years to come.  Fascinating how these older drugs sometimes have nine lives, re-emerging from time to time as researchers find they are active against different forms of cancer.

Not cures, just Band Aids.

But that’s OK.  If a myeloma patient who is rapidly running out of options can gain an extra nine or ten months by using a drug like bendamustine, why not?

Feel good and keep smiling!  Pat