According to EurekAlert, at the 2022 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Hematology (ASH), researchers from the University of Pennsylvania’s Abramson Cancer Center announced promising preliminary findings with the novel medicine Modakafusp Alfa in the treatment of multiple myeloma (Abstract 565).
Partial responses, defined as a more than 50% reduction in malignancy, were observed in 43% of patients who received 1.5 mg of Modakafusp every four weeks in a Phase I/II multicenter study (NCT03215030). Participants’ diseases had either reappeared after previous therapy or had ceased responding to treatment entirely.
Dr. Dan Vogl, the study’s presenting author and a blood cancer expert, also works as the medical director of Penn Medicine’s Abramson Cancer Center’s Clinical Research Unit and as an associate professor of Hematology-Oncology at Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine.
Penn administered the first dose of this experimental drug five years ago. Surprisingly, Modakafusp is already helping many myeloma patients, even individuals whose illness has proven resistant to traditional therapies.
The fusion protein Modakafusp (produced by Takeda Pharmaceuticals) targets myeloma cells and other immune cells for interferon using a surface identifier called CD38 (a pro-inflammatory hormone also used to treat viral infections and other cancers).
According to the American Cancer Society, 12,640 people in the United States will die from multiple myeloma in 2022. This type of cancer affects fewer than 1% of the population. Despite breakthroughs in treatment, myeloma remains incurable, and all patients will have cancer recurrence following early lines of therapy, including chemotherapy.
Modakafusp was beneficial in this trial in patients who had stopped responding to prior therapies targeting the same target, including conventional monoclonal antibodies such as daratumumab and isatuximab.
The study’s preliminary findings were presented at the 2021 ASH Annual Meeting. This drug’s conclusive safety and efficacy results were released this year, and it has few adverse effects while producing robust anti-myeloma responses.
Modakafusp’s mechanism of action is genuinely innovative; it acts by sending a hormone signal to the cells it is aimed for, which is poisonous to cancer cells while simultaneously triggering an immune response.
Vogl discovered that patients whose cancer did not respond to or relapsed while on a commercially available anti-CD38 antibody therapy benefited, nonetheless. Patients with myeloma who had proven resistant to standard therapy responded to the experimental medicine.
The majority of patients in the study (87%) had treatment-related ill effects, which is to be expected in such a heavily pre-treated group. A third of patients experienced minor adverse effects after receiving the medicine, with neutropenia (a reduction in white blood cells) and thrombocytopenia being the most prevalent (a decrease in blood platelets).
Vogl and his colleagues are currently recruiting patients in a randomized phase II research to determine the appropriate dose of modakafusp for adults with myeloma.