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Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi pioneers new cancer therapy for multiple myeloma

Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi pioneers new cancer therapy for multiple myeloma
6 June 2024 00:06

Khaled Al Khawaldeh (Abu Dhabi) 

Multiple myeloma is a cancer that affects plasma cells in the bone marrow, leading to symptoms like bone pain, weakness, and infections. Traditionally, the cancer carried a dire prognosis, with a survival rate ranging from as little as 40% to 80% for younger healthier patients.

Traditionally, treatments have mainly consisted of chemotherapy with the aim of managing the disease and improving quality of life. However, recent advancements in pharmaceuticals and treatments, now being utilised by Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi's Multiple Myeloma and Amyloidosis Programme, are evolving the effectiveness of care and giving patients new hope. 

"Currently, we have many good treatment options. Twenty years ago, chemotherapy was the only choice, often yielding poor responses. Now, treatments like CAR T-cell therapy and bispecific antibodies are not only more effective but also better tolerated," Dr. Wesam Ahmed, Department Chair of Medical Oncology & Hematology at the Oncology Institute, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, told Aletihad. 

"Every year, we see new drugs emerging. Recently, bispecific antibodies have revolutionised treatment, offering unprecedented control over the disease." 

The cause of multiple myeloma is still uncertain, but studies suggest some reasons that might increase the risk, like genetic mutations and certain chemicals, or radiation. Symptoms of multiple myeloma can vary, but often the first sign is bone pain. Other symptoms can include feeling very tired, getting sick easily, losing weight without trying, or feeling confused. It can also result in major damage to organs; however, some people might have a milder form of the condition that does not damage organs. 

Precision medicine, which utilises insights from a patient's tumours and genetics to design tailored therapies, are at the forefront of the evolution in the treatment of the cancer. 

Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi's Multiple Myeloma and Amyloidosis Program is attempting to set the standard of specialised care in the UAE. The programme uses a multidisciplinary team of experts, tailored medication, and cutting-edge technologies that can tackle the bone-erosion often associated with the cancer. 

"Some patients with multiple myeloma can present with spine fractures. Our neurosurgery department plays a vital role in managing these cases, preventing paralysis and improving quality of life," Dr. Ahmad said. 

Dr. Ahmad said the journey had just begun and predicted with the proliferation of precision medicine, with drugs and treatments specifically designed for individual patients, the chances of survival would likely only go up. Moreover, he said there was an increasing understanding that treating patients required holistic approaches that considered patients' overall well-being. 

"We are dedicated to providing holistic care, addressing not just cancer but every aspect of our patients' well-being," he said. 

"As we unravel the genetic intricacies of multiple myeloma, we anticipate more efficient and targeted treatments with fewer side effects."

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