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Advocate Aurora Health community cancer clinics are the first sites in Wisconsin to join a new clinical trial studying a treatment for multiple myeloma.

The Phase 2 study will evaluate the safety and efficacy of different doses of the investigational drug venetoclax in combination with anti-cancer drug carfilzomib and the corticosteroid dexamethasone in patients with multiple myeloma that has returned (i.e., relapsed) or is unresponsive to retreatment (i.e., refractory).

“Multiple myeloma is cancer of plasma cells, a type of white blood cell,” said hematologist and oncologist Michael Thompson, MD, PhD, Advocate Aurora Research Institute’s principal investigator for the study. “In multiple myeloma, the overgrowth of plasma cells in the bone marrow can crowd out healthy blood cells, leading to low blood counts and other complications, such as bone loss and kidney dysfunction.”

Multiple myeloma can also increase the likelihood of infection, since the cancerous cells crowd out the normal plasma cells that protect the body from infection. The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 32,000 new cases of multiple myeloma were diagnosed in 2020, and it is most prevalent in patients older than 65.

“Although treatment for multiple myeloma has improved over the past decade, with median overall survival doubling from 3 years to 6 years, clinical trials such as this one are crucial, because the cancer still has no cure and most patients will experience relapse or become refractory,” said Nina Garlie, PhD, interim vice president for the Research Institute.

Researchers plan to enroll 120 study participants at 30 study sites around the world.

The clinical trial, “Study of venetoclax in combination with carfilzomib and dexamethasone in subjects with relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma (MM),” is sponsored by AbbVie.

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