23 Oct 2018

Professor Andrew Spencer on combating Multiple Myeloma

Prof Andrew Spencer explains the research in this video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=spfbhnn1Nhc

Professor Andrew Spencer, of the Australian Centre for Blood Diseases, recently received funding under the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) of  $1.68M for a trial in elderly Multiple Myeloma (MM) patients to investigate treatment options. The full title of his study is "Frailty-stratified randomised controlled bayesian adaptive trial of bortezomib versus lenalidomide in transplant-ineligible myeloma - the FRAIL-M study". In this video he explains the significance of the research.

MM is a low survival cancer. It is a heterogeneous, debilitating and incurable haematological cancer with a relative 5 year survival of 48.5%, the 14th worst 5 year relative survival out of 34 cancers. The population being studied in the FRAIL-M study are older patients (>65 y.o.) with MM who have worse outcomes, their 5 year survival half that of the younger group.

MM affects mostly older people, average age for diagnosis being 70. However, most clinical trials are undertaken with younger, fitter patients. Therefore it's not evident that older patients benefit from the newer drugs i.e. the new drugs' benefits are not well understood in that older group.

Professor Spencer's MRFF trial will work with the older cohort, which will be broken into three separate groups based on their frailty. Within each category the researchers will be comparing various drugs, dosage and time of dose. This will allow them to determine which drugs and dosage schedules are most helpful in which groups of people. These data will be added to the Myeloma registry, to track patient trial outcomes, in addition to  patients who are not on the MRFF trials. This will create a large dataset which will be able to generate a far clearer picture of how to effectively treat these elderly myeloma patients.
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