Myeloma is currently known as a terminal blood cancer. There is no cure, however there are many new treatments on the horizon which show great promise. Clinical trials are the gateway to accessing these new treatments, but not all myeloma patients are created equal when it comes to clinical trial eligibility. Geoff Nyssen wants to change that because he happens to be one of those myeloma patients that currently can’t access clinical trials.
Myeloma is a blood cancer that typically comes with its own biomarker or disease indicator known as a ‘paraprotein’. The vast majority of myeloma patients secrete a paraprotein biomarker that can be measured in the blood to determine if a patient is responding to treatment or if their disease is progressing. This biomarker enables the treating doctor to frequently check on a patient’s disease progress by taking blood samples. Without this biomarker, doctors are reliant on bone marrow biopsies and scans to monitor disease progress. Biopsies are painful and too invasive to conduct as frequently as blood tests when you are assessing response to a new treatment as part of a clinical trial. Sadly, this means you are often not eligible for new treatment clinical trials if you happen to be a patient with oligosecretory or non-secretory myeloma and do not produce a paraprotein that can be monitored.
Funds raised at the My Mount Eliza Fun and Run Festival are paying for a cutting-edge trial to evaluate if circulating tumour DNA (ctDNA) is a good biomarker of disease progression in multiple myeloma and related disorders. Researchers will correlate paraprotein levels with ctDNA levels to determine if the two mimic each other. In patients like Geoff, the ctDNA levels will be cross matched to bone marrow biopsies and scan results. The long-term aim is to establish ctDNA as a biomarker of disease progression, enabling all myeloma patients equitable access to new treatment trials.
This trial is being conducted by Dr Costas Yannakou at the Epworth Hospital.
You can help by registering for the My Mount Eliza Festival, you can form a team, join the Snowdome team or go solo. Be there in person or participate virtually hosting your own event at a local site. Every registration and every donation helps blood cancer patients just like Geoff.