Northwestern Memorial enrolling participants in two trials on new drug to fight deadly cancer

December 02, 2003

Northwestern Memorial Hospital (NMH) is participating in two research studies on Revimid, a new drug, being developed by Celgene Corporation, for people with multiple myeloma. Multiple myeloma is the second most prevalent cancer of the blood, killing nearly 11,000 people in the United States each year.

"This is an exciting drug because most of the therapies we currently have to offer multiple myeloma patients come with some pretty unpleasant side effects. Revimid is potent with less toxicity, and it is an oral drug, making it easier to administer than injectable drugs," says Seema Singhal, M.D., director of the multiple myeloma program at Northwestern Memorial and professor of medicine at the Feinberg School of Medicine of Northwestern University, who is leading the trials at NMH.

Revimid is a derivative of thalidomide and belongs to a new class of drugs called IMiDs, or immunomodulatory drugs, which are drugs that modify or regulate the functioning of the immune system. IMiDs appear to have multiple actions, including the ability to stimulate the immune system to attack myeloma cells and inhibit the growth of new blood vessels (angiogenesis) that feed the "liquid tumor."

"Multiple myeloma is incurable, but patients can have prolonged disease control using sequential therapies as needed," says Dr. Singhal. "The challenge is that the disease can become resistant to therapies that were previously effective, creating a great need for newer options that the patients can move on to." Dr. Singhal, who sees about 10 to 20 new multiple myeloma patients per month, says Revimid recently earned a FAST Track Designation from the FDA. "This means Revimid may be widely available to all patients with multiple myeloma within the next year or so."

Multiple myeloma strikes about 14,600 people in the United States each year. Patients with myeloma used to survive on average about three years. But with recent new therapies, life expectancy has increased to five years or longer.

Northwestern Memorial is currently enrolling participants in two trials for Revimid. Both studies seek participants who have multiple myeloma that has not responded to prior treatment. To learn more, please contact Northwestern Memorial's physician referral department at 1-877-926-4NMH (4664).

About Northwestern Memorial Hospital Northwestern Memorial Hospital (NMH) is one of the country's premier academic medical centers and is the primary teaching hospital of Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine. Northwestern Memorial and its Prentice Women's Hospital have 720 beds and more than 1,200 affiliated physicians and 5,000 employees. Providing care in a state-of-the-art facility, the hospital is recognized for its outstanding clinical and surgical advancements in such areas as cardiothoracic and vascular care, gastroenterology, neurology and neurosurgery, oncology, organ and bone marrow transplantation, and women's health.

Northwestern Memorial was ranked as the nation's 5th best hospital by the 2002 Consumer Checkbook survey of the nation's physicians and is listed in the majority of specialties in this year's US News & World Report's issue of "America's Best Hospitals." NMH is also cited as one of the "100 Best Companies for Working Mothers" by Working Mother magazine and has been chosen by Chicagoans year after year as their "most preferred hospital" in National Research Corporation's annual survey.

Northwestern Memorial HealthCare

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