Conference Coverage

Experts debate reducing ASCT for multiple myeloma



NEW YORK – In a blood cancer conference session – “Will autologous stem cell transplant (ASCT) continue to be the standard of care (SoC) in frontline therapy for multiple myeloma (MM)?” – two experts weighed in on the merits of their approaches to treating MM at the Great Debates and Updates Hematologic Malignancies conference.

Hematologist-oncologists whose top priority is ensuring that patients have the best chance of progression-free survival (PFS) will continue to choose ASCT as a best practice, argued Amrita Krishnan, MD, hematologist at the Judy and Bernard Briskin Center for Multiple Myeloma Research, City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center, Duarte, Calif.

Dr. Ola Landgren, MD, hematologist, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of Miami Health System, FL credit Dr. Landgren

Dr. C. Ola Landgren

A differing perspective was presented by C. Ola Landgren, MD, PhD, hematologist at the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami. Dr. Landgren cited evidence that, for newly diagnosed MM patients treated successfully with modern combination therapies, ASCT is not a mandatory treatment step before starting maintenance therapy.

Making a case for ASCT as the SoC, Dr. Krishnan noted, “based on the DETERMINATION trial [DT], there is far superior rate of PFS with patients who get ASCT up front, compared patients who got only conventional chemotherapy with lenalidomide, bortezomib, and dexamethasone [RVd]. PFS is the endpoint we look for in our treatment regimens.

“If you don’t use ASCT up front, you may lose the opportunity at later relapse. This is not to say that transplant is the only tool at our disposal. It is just an indispensable one. The GRIFFIN trial [GT] has shown us that robust combinations of drugs [both RVd and dexamethasone +RVd] can improve patient outcomes both before and after ASCT,” Dr. Krishnan concluded.

In his presentation, Dr. Landgren stated that, in the DT, while PFS is prolonged by the addition of ASCT to RVd, adding ASCT did not significantly increase overall survival (OS) rates. He added that treatment-related AEs of grade 3+ occurred in only 78.2% of patients on RVd versus 94.2% of RVd + ASCT patients.

“ASCT should not be the SoC frontline treatment in MM because it does not prolong OS. The IFM trial and the DT both show that there is no difference in OS between drug combination therapy followed by transplant and maintenance versus combination therapy alone, followed by transplant and maintenance. Furthermore, patients who get ASCT have higher risk of developing secondary malignancies, worse quality of life, and higher long-term morbidity with other conditions,” Dr. Landgren said.

He cited the MAIA trial administered daratumumab and lenalidomide plus dexamethasone (DRd) to patients who were too old or too frail to qualify for ASCT. Over half of patients in the DRd arm of MAIA had an estimated progression-free survival rate at 60 months.

“Furthermore, GT and the MANHATTAN clinical trials showed that we can safely add CD38-targeted monoclonal antibodies to standard combination therapies [lenalidomide, bortezomib, and dexamethasone (KRd)], resulting in higher rates of minimal-residual-disease (MRD) negativity. That means modern four-drug combination therapies [DR-RVd and DR-KRd] will allow more [and more newly diagnosed] MM patients to achieve MRD negativity in the absence of ASCT,” Dr. Landgren concluded.

Dr. Joshua Richter, MD, director of myeloma treatment, Blavatnik Family-Chelsea Medical Center at Mount Sinai, NY, NY courtesy of Dr. Richter

Dr. Joshua Richter

Asked to comment on the two viewpoints, Joshua Richter, MD, director of myeloma treatment at the Blavatnik Family Center at Chelsea Mount Sinai, New York, said: “With some patients, we can get similar outcomes, whether or not we do a transplant. Doctors need to be better at choosing who really needs ASCT. Older people with standard-risk disease or people who achieve MRD-negative status after pharmacological treatment might not need to receive a transplant as much as those who have bulk disease or high-risk cytogenetics.

“Although ASCT might not be the best frontline option for everyone, collecting cells from most patients and storing them has many advantages. It allows us to do have the option of ASCT in later lines of therapy. In some patients with low blood counts, we can use stored cells to reboot their marrow and make them eligible for trials of promising new drugs,” Dr. Richter said.

Dr. Krishnan disclosed relationships with Takeda, Amgen, GlaxoSmithKline, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Sanofi, Pfizer, Adaptive, Regeneron, Janssen, AstraZeneca, Artiva, and Sutro. Dr. Landgren reported ties with Amgen, BMS, Celgene, Janssen, Takedam Glenmark, Juno, Pfizer, Merck, and others. Dr. Richter disclosed relationships with Janssen, BMS, and Takeda.

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