News Release: Emory Healthcare , Research , Winship Cancer Institute

Dec. 15,  2009

New Treatment for Multiple Myeloma Shows Promise

News Article ImageWinship Cancer Institute

A new approach to treating multiple myeloma shows high response rates in preliminary clinical studies, according to results presented last week at the American Society for Hematology meeting in New Orleans.

Sagar Lonial, MD, associate professor of hematology and medical oncology at the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University, presented the results. Lonial is director of translational research for Winship's B-cell malignancy program and a lead investigator on the clinical study.

Elotuzumab is an antibody engineered to attack a specific protein on the surface of plasma cells. Doctors have successfully used antibody such as trastuzumab (Herceptin) and Rituximab to fight other forms of cancer, but this is the first antibody with positive data against multiple myeloma. Elotuzumab targets a protein (CS-1) that is found abundantly on the surface of plasma cells and multiple myeloma cells.

"These interim results are of significant scientific and clinical interest," says Lonial. "I am very encouraged by the efficacy and safety data we have seen to date for this combination, which may offer a future treatment option for multiple myeloma patients."

Multiple myeloma, a cancer of cells in the blood, remains incurable, although stem-cell transplantation and chemotherapy can stave off the disease for awhile. In recent years, anti-cancer agents such as lenalidomide and bortezomib have emerged as effective treatments.

The current study enrolled patients with multiple myeloma who had already experienced at least one relapse. Treatment included elotuzumab in combination with two standard drugs, dexamethasone and lenalidomide. This combination was based in part on laboratory data that suggested that lenalidomide may enhance the efficacy of the antibody by improving the immune system's ability to target the cancer cells using the antibody. In the open-label study, 83 percent of all patients and 95 percent of patients who were previously unexposed to lenalidomide responded to the combination.

Two phase I trials of elotuzumab have already been completed. The main goal of the current study was to determine doses patients can tolerate, along with evaluating safety, how long the drug lasts in the body and effectiveness. Additional studies will be necessary before FDA approval and widespread availability.

The combination was generally tolerated well with the major side effect related to infusion reactions from the antibody infusion.

The current study included patients from Georgia, Missouri, New York and France, and is expected to be completed in July 2010. The study was sponsored by Facet Biotech, which manufactures elotuzumab.

 More information about treatment for multiple myeloma:


The Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center of Emory University is an academic health science and service center focused on missions of teaching, research, health care and public service.

Learn more about Emory’s health sciences:
Twitter: @emoryhealthsci

News Release Tools

  • Print

News Releases

The news release you are currently viewing is part of an archive of Emory health sciences press releases, dating Sept. 2008 - Dec. 2011.

To View Current Releases

Emory News Center

Emory News Center

To View News Archives

News Archives

News Archives