Darzalex Showing Promise as Multiple Myeloma Cancer Treatment
Darzalex (Daratumumab) is a promising new immunotherapy cancer treatment for patients with multiple myeloma, which is currently the third most commonly diagnosed blood cancer in the United States, following leukemia and lymphoma.
Multiple myeloma occurs when malignant plasma cells grow uncontrollably in the bone marrow, the soft tissue that is located inside some hollow bones.
Healthy plasma cells are an important part of the immune system. These cells make antibodies, such as immunoglobulins, that help the body attack and kill germs.
How Darzalex Works
When plasma cells become cancerous, they produce too much of a protein called CD38. This protein leads to tumor growth, which usually occurs in the bone, but may also, on rare occasions, be found within other tissues. When a patient has more than one tumor, they have multiple myeloma.
Multiple myeloma symptoms may include damage to the bones, anemia (because of low blood counts), elevated calcium in the blood, kidney problems, infections and other symptoms.
Considered a targeted therapy, Darzalex binds to the CD38 protein, typically located on the surface of myeloma cells. Daralex then seeks to attack and destroy these cells while also alerting the patient’s immune system to protect itself from these cells.
Developed by Janssen Biotech, Darzalex is approved for the treatment of patients with multiple myeloma who have received at least 3 or more prior types of myeloma treatments. This treatment is an especially important option for patients whose previous treatments with other available medications have failed.
Darzalex is an antibody that attacks myeloma cells and destroys them. It helps to control multiple myeloma and prevent it from getting worse and causing damage to the bones, bone marrow, and kidneys.
Darzalex is given intravenously, via an IV infusion through a portacath into a vein, every week for 8 weeks, then every 2 weeks for 16 weeks, and then every 4 weeks for as long as it is working, or until it is no longer tolerated due to side effects
Possible Treatment Side Effects
A possible complication of Darzalex is an infusion reaction. Symptoms of an infusion reaction are: fever, chills, high or low blood pressure and slow heart rate.
If an infusion reaction occurs the infusion will be stopped. It may or may not be restarted depending on the severity of the reaction treatment.
Common Side Effects
Mild infusion reactions
Upper respiratory tract infection
Thrombocytopenia – a deficiency of platelets within the blood that may cause bleeding, bruising or slow blood clotting.
Serious Side Effects
Severe infusion reaction
General physical health deterioration
Much like any other cancer treatment, a patient may experience common, or even more serious side effects from taking Darzalex. It’s important to let your health team know of any side effects.
Darzalex can cause fetal harm, so it is important to not be pregnant or become pregnant while taking it. Breastfeeding is also not recommended, as this treatment can also get into breast milk.
As a treatment for multiple myeloma, Darzalex is improving progression free survival. This is the length of time during and after the treatment that a patient lives with the disease, but where the cancer does not get worse.
This treatment is another advancement in the control of multiple myeloma and the search for a cure