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Ongoing Trials: A closer look at ECOG-ACRIN’s myeloma studies

Doctor talking with older male patient

March is Multiple Myeloma Awareness Month—and researchers at the ECOG-ACRIN Cancer Research Group (ECOG-ACRIN) are taking part. They are calling attention to two clinical trials that are open and available to adults with myeloma, exploring possible new treatments.

Myeloma is a type of blood cancer that grows and develops in the bone marrow. Plasma cells in the bone marrow are an important part of the immune system, helping fight infection. However, healthy plasma cells can sometimes change to cancer cells and build up in the bone marrow, forming tumors. These tumors prevent the bone marrow’s ability to create healthy blood cells and can also damage the bones, immune system, and kidneys.

The two studies below aim to improve results for patients who have this disease.

Newly diagnosed myeloma

A combination of three drugs is the usual treatment for patients with newly diagnosed multiple myeloma that requires immediate treatment. This drug combination consists of a drug that helps the body’s immune system interfere with the myeloma cells, a steroid, and either of two drugs that target, or work against, cancer growth. These two targeted therapies work in different ways to treat the myeloma.

The EAA181/EQUATE clinical trial is testing the use of all four drugs—immune system therapy, a steroid, and both targeted therapies. The trial is for newly diagnosed patients who are unable or do not wish to have a stem cell transplant. The goal is to find out whether all four drugs will eliminate more of the cancer than the usual three-drug treatment.

This phase 3 study aims to enroll 1450 patients.

The lead researcher for this trial is Shaji Kumar, MD of the Mayo Clinic.

Learn more about EQUATE on

Slow-growing myeloma

Smoldering multiple myeloma (SMM) is a very slow-growing type of myeloma in which patients usually have no symptoms. Doctors have several ways to identify whether a person with SMM has a high, medium, or low risk of developing multiple myeloma within 2-3 years. This trial is for SMM patients who are at high risk of the disease becoming worse.  

The usual approach for patients with high-risk SMM is treatment with a drug that boosts the immune system and a steroid, followed by more of the same immune system therapy. Clinical trial EAA173/DETER-SMM is testing if adding a different immune system drug to the usual immune therapy and steroid combination is better at stopping or slowing the disease.

This phase 3 study aims to enroll 288 patients.

The lead researcher for this trial is Natalie Callander, MD of the University of Wisconsin/UW Carbone Cancer Center.

Learn more about DETER-SMM on

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