Categories
Multiple Myeloma Research

ASH Annual Meeting and Exposition and Multiple Myeloma

It is easy to forget that first and foremost, multiple myeloma is a blood disease. That means that in addition to being a cancer treated by oncologists, it is also right in the wheelhouse of hematologists.

The big hematology conference each year is the American Society of Hematology Annual Meeting and Exposition, or ASH Annual Meeting and Exposition.

This year, it’s the 62nd ASH Conference. Like most things this year, the conference was converted from a big meeting in San Diego, California to an all-virtual event to avoid issues from the Covid-19 pandemic.

multiple myeloma research

Hematology and Multiple Myeloma

Obviously, not all of the presentations at a hematology conference have anything to do with multiple myeloma, but a lot a research does get presented at the conference. There are numerous Twitter users that do a good job of getting out summaries and notes about various presentations that might be of interest to the myeloma community, and, of course, to me.

One of the topics that keeps coming up is particularly disturbing to me.

An increasing amount of research shows that daratumumab is very effective against myeloma in almost every stage of treatment. Of particular concern to me is this concept.

daratumumab mrd negativity
Daratumumab increases the length of sustained MRD negativity

Check out my review to see if Acorns is safe.

Dara and Me

If you’ve been following along with me, you know that last year, I was put on a dara and 10mg revlimid cocktail for my maintenance regimen post-ASCT.

We stopped the revlimid almost right away. I took four infusions of dara. During that time, my immune system blood numbers went down, and down, and down, until they basically hit zero.

Shortly thereafter I ended up in the hospital where otherwise trivial bacterial and fungal infections forced me into the hospital for pretty much the whole month of June.

My oncologist suspects that I had a rare reaction (Oh goodie, here we go, a rare cancer, and a rare reaction) to Daratumumab in which it affect my immune system, and apparently made me lose my stem cell graph. We had to reinfuse stem cells that were left over from my ASCT to get my immune system back.

So… unless something has changed, dara and me do not go together. This looks increasingly like a bummer as much of the research presented this year at the ASH conference shows how great dara is at treating multiple myeloma, in pretty much all phases of the disease, and how adding it to other standard treatments improves outcomes in myeloma patients.

What Next Myeloma Treatment

If it sounds like there isn’t really a point, and that I’m mostly whining, you are not wrong. Fortunately, there were a lot of other presentations that I haven’t even got to looking at yet. There may be alternatives, and there are definitely new things coming down the pipeline.

It’s hard not to be encouraged by sentiments like this:

Now, more than ever:

Live to the Cure.

Categories
Multiple Myeloma Treatment

MRD negative Multiple Myeloma Status

Who is your daddy!?

OK, I’m old, so that doesn’t mean what you think it means. I mean it in the Ace Ventura, “First I’d find a motive, then I’d lose 30 pounds PORKING HIS WIFE!” sort of way.

Fighting Multiple Myeloma

When I fought through my autologous stem cell transplant (ASCT) and its aftermath only to achieve “multiple myeloma not having achieved remission” as my official diagnosis, I tried to look on the bright side. My numbers were way down, and my M-protein stood at 0.6, which my oncologist mused might be from MGUS that I had prior to being diagnosed with myeloma.

No remission for me…

I asked my doc if that meant my stem cell transplant failed. He said no, and the numbers being way down were proof.

He didn’t sound like he believed it.

So, we started in on a daratumumab and revlimid treatment that proved disastrous for me. I spent much of the summer in the hospital, lost my stem cell graph, and had to get a replacement infusion of stem cells in what my doctor termed a “stem cell boost,” in order to restart my immune system that had failed all the way to 0.0 neutrophils.

Check out my Acorns vs Stash review

I stayed alive (luckily), got through all of the fevers, the night when I was drowning from the fluid in my lungs, and all the aching, needles, getting a port inserted, and frequent infusions of platelets, and blood transfusions.

Maybe that is what people mean when they say, “fighting cancer.”

But, what if there was a silver lining?

Multiple Myeloma MRD Negative

If you think about it, I essentially had back to back stem cell transplants. For the first SCT, they deliberately killed my immune system with powerful chemo in the form of melphalan. For the second SCT, my body spontaneously killed my immune system by overreacting to daratumumab (and exposed my body to a dangerous fungal infection… thanks for nothing đŸ™‚

Either way, my immune system was cleared out twice.

The result?

The myeloma tests after checking out of the hospital showed no trace of multiple myeloma cells in my body.

That’s myeloma remission.

But, how much remission?

Certain tests are only so sensitive, so when those tests read zero, they send you for more sensitive tests to detect even the smallest amount of myeloma cells. My blood tests said zero, so it was time for a bone marrow biopsy.

However, this time, in addition to the usual bone marrow biopsy testing, they took some extra bone marrow and shipped it off for the most sensitive testing possible for multiple myeloma.

Measurable (or minimal) residual disease (MRD) refers to the small number of cancer cells that can remain in a patient’s body during and after treatment and may eventually cause recurrence of the disease. These residual cells typically cause no physical signs or symptoms and are present at such low levels that more refined and sensitive techniques are required to identify them.

https://www.clonoseq.com/the-importance-of-mrd/

In my case, a test called colonoSEQ, which they run on a bone marrow sample. This same test works on related blood cancers like leukemia.

ColonoSEQ can detect one single cancer cell among 105 healthy cells. The idea is that if this test cannot detect myeloma cells, then the amount of such cells in the body is so small that the patient can be said to have no myeloma, or remission. The technical term is minimal residual disease (MRD).

See my look at Acorns investment returns.

Unfortunately, multiple myeloma has no cure, and relapse will occur eventually in almost all cases, but MRD negative is the least amount of disease possible in the human body.

Guess who is MRD negative?

I guess that means I’m in remission.