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Greek Researchers’ Cancer Treatment Approved by EMA

Greek cancer treatment
The European Medicines Agency has approved a cancer treatment developed by Greek scientists. Credit: Ceescamel /CC BY-SA 4.0

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) on Thursday approved a new cancer treatment for bone marrow carcinoma that was developed by Greek researchers in a study codenamed “Apollo.”

The study for the new treatment, which was helmed by Athens University hematologists Meletios A. (Thanos) Dimopoulos, who is also the rector of the university, and Evangelos Terpos, confirmed that the addition of daratumumab, pomalidomide and dexamethasone, known collectively as DaraPomDex, to the treatment of patients suffering from multiple myeloma elicited a positive response.

The last segment, or Phase Three, of the trials for the cancer treatment was carried out at 48 academic centers and hospitals in twelve European countries; the study’s findings were published in the British scientific journal The Lancet: Oncology on June 1.

The study was geared to patients who had received at least one previous method of therapy, including lenalidomide and a proteasome inhibitor; who had a partial response or better to one or more previous lines of antimyeloma therapy; and who were refractory to lenalidomide if only one previous line of therapy was received.

The Greek study found that DaraPomDex “reduced the risk of disease progression or death versus pomalidomide and dexamethasone alone and could be considered a new option” in cancer treatment, according to the Lancet.

According to the Irish Medical Times, Dimopoulos told the American Society of Hematology  on December 6, 2020 that “For patients with multiple myeloma who relapse, it is important that efficacious treatments significantly reduce the risk of progression.”

The Greek medical researcher described DaraPomDex as “a compelling treatment option for early relapsed or lenalidomide refractory patients.”

The other Greek hematologists involved in the groundbreaking “Apollo” study were Sosan Delimpasi, who works at Athens’ Evangelismos Hospital, Eirini Katorditou, who works at the Theageneio Cancer Hospital in Thessaloniki, and Professor Argiris Symeonidis, from Patras University.

Cancer treatment for multiple myeloma

Multiple myeloma, also known as plasma cell myeloma or simply myeloma, is a cancer of plasma cells, a type of white blood cell that normally produces antibodies. Often, no symptoms are noticed initially. As it progresses, bone pain, anemia, kidney dysfunction, and infections may occur.

The cause of multiple myeloma is unknown. Risk factors include obesity, radiation exposure, family history, and certain chemicals.

The abnormal plasma cells produce abnormal antibodies, which can cause kidney problems and overly thick blood. The plasma cells can also form a mass in the bone marrow or soft tissue.

When one tumor is present, it is called a plasmacytoma; more than one is called multiple myeloma. Multiple myeloma is diagnosed based on blood or urine tests finding abnormal antibodies, bone marrow biopsy finding cancerous plasma cells, and medical imaging finding bone lesions.

Another common finding is high blood calcium levels. Multiple myeloma is considered treatable, but generally incurable. Remissions may be brought about with steroids, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and stem cell transplants.

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