From Edward A. Faber, Jr., DO ,MS, medical oncologist, hematologist and cellular therapy specialist

April 27, 2021

Coping with a cancer diagnosis presents with a barrage of physical, mental, and emotional challenges. Patients with multiple myeloma can find themselves on a dizzying rollercoaster ride of ups and downs dealing with an incurable disease that often presents with periods of remission and relapse. Now, at OHC we’re bringing hope to these patients with a newly approved CAR-T therapy that has impressive results.

Multiple myeloma is a blood cancer that affects a type of white blood cell called a plasma cell that is found in bone marrow. The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2021 there will be nearly 35,000 new cases of multiple myeloma. Multiple myeloma patients can experience uphill battles during their lives. They often try many treatments that only work for a few months, while causing debilitating side effects. New therapies and newer combinations are often continued indefinitely, taking “treatment free” time away from patients. OHC is now able to offer a promising new option, idecabtagene vicleucel (Abecma), for patients whose disease has not responded to treatment or has returned after at least four prior cancer treatments.

Abecma received FDA approval on March 27, 2021. This is a monumental advancement for our patients. It is the first CAR T-cell therapy for adults with relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma. Patients who qualify for this new therapy may finally experience a newfound hope for complete remission. At OHC, we’ve been using CAR-T therapy for over three years now, and we’ve seen dramatic results in patients.

CAR-T therapies use the power of a patient’s immune system to fight their cancer. Abecma is made from the patient’s own white blood cells. After collecting a patient’s T-cells from a blood sample, the cells are sent to a specialized manufacturing center where they are reprogrammed to fight that individual patient’s cancer. The process takes about four weeks before the therapy is sent back for a one-time infusion into the patient.

Abecma received approval based on findings from a phase 2 clinical trial in which 83% of enrolled patients responded to the therapy in as little as one month after the infusion. During remission, patients do not need any other multiple myeloma treatment. Abecma has given patients back their quality of life.

As the only group in the region, and one of only three centers in the state of Ohio, we anticipate administering Abecma to patients by late May-early June. At present, we have five patients who have begun the screening process to collect T-cells. These individuals will be the first in the Cincinnati region to receive CAR-T for multiple myeloma.

OHC cancer experts were the first—and are the most experienced—in CAR T-cell therapy, ushering in a new era in cancer treatment. We will continue to offer our patients the most innovative and promising treatments to help them beat their cancer. For more information about CAR-T and cancer treatment advances, or to request a second opinion, visit ohcare.com or call 1-888-649-4800.

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