Mayo Clinic investigators confirmed a recent
study showing the activity of thalidomide (Thalomid) in advanced
multiple myeloma. Although the drug needs to undergo further clinical
trials, it may provide myeloma patients with a new treatment option
where few previously existed.
This is the first new active oral agent for the treatment of
multiple myeloma in more than 2 decades, said S. Vincent
Rajkumar, MD, a Mayo Clinic hematologist. Dr. Rajkumar and his
colleagues studied 16 patients who received thalidomide for relapsed
or refractory multiple myeloma between November 1998 and August 1999.
Their results, presented at the 1999 American Society of Hematology
meeting, confirm the findings of a study published by Bart Barlogie,
MD, an oncologist at the University of Arkansas, and colleagues in
the November 18, 1999, issue of The New England Journal of
Mayo Clinic Study Results
In the Mayo Clinic study, four patients (25%) achieved a partial
response to thalidomide therapy, with a greater than 50% reduction in
serum or urine monoclonal proteins. Prior to starting the thalidomide
regimen, 88% of the patients had received two or more chemotherapy
The findings on thalidomide are important because many patients with
advanced multiple myeloma have few other treatment options. Often,
their chemotherapy and/or transplants have failed to produce results
or they are ineligible for a transplant.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) currently approves thalidomide
only for use in leprosy. The researchers note that further clinical
trials are warranted to define the role of thalidomide in myeloma.