Research is to see what everybody has seen, and to think what nobody else has.” 

Albert Szent-Gyorgyi

I tweeted the above quote after Dr. Ola Landgren (Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami — Florida) had spoken to our International Myeloma Foundation (IMF) virtual support group in New Mexico.  

Dr. Landgren, a myeloma expert, discussed new myeloma treatments and shared his new lines of research at the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center in Miami—South Florida’s only NCI-designated Cancer Center. Listening to Dr. Landgren speak to our group reminded me of just how far myeloma researchers and clinicians have come in the development of myeloma treatments.  

Thalidomide was first introduced as a myeloma treatment at the University of Arkansas by Dr. Bart Barlogie. Back then, the five-year survival for a newly diagnosed myeloma patient was 34% nationally. With the therapeutic advances today, we can look to overall survival from 1-3 years to 10-20 years. We also have a tremendous amount of excitement about the possibility of curing myeloma by treating high-risk monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS) and high-risk smoldering myeloma (HRSMM).

Since my diagnosis in 2010, I have become so encouraged by the various treatment advances. Such advances include CAR T-cell therapy, novel bispecific antibody therapy, and new modalities to measure minimal residual disease (MRD) in early relapsed disease, along with improved imaging techniques.  

Also, the advancement of genomics in multiple myeloma suggests that targeted treatment may become available in the future. I’m very excited to hear about all the research that will be presented at ASH 2021, and I am especially grateful to be part of this conference as an IMF support group leader.

John DeFlice, on Twitter: @johnde1MYELOMA