Our bold vision for multiple myeloma

December 09, 2022

Rod Humerickhouse, MD, PhD, vice president of Hematology Development, Multiple Myeloma, and Rosanna Ricafort, MD, vice president, head of Cellular Therapy Clinical Development share more about our commitment to the multiple myeloma community and continued progress in advancing treatment for every patient living with this disease. 

Throughout our careers, we have learned the value of true collaboration. While organizations can make progress on projects alone, there is nothing like enthusiastic and open partnership to push the bounds of what is scientifically possible. The advances made over the last two decades in the treatment of multiple myeloma, leading to a substantial improvement in patient care, are a testament to the community’s efforts together — across healthcare professionals, scientists, academic partners, patients and their advocates and the industry.

However, the disease remains relentless, marked by relapses leading to increasing burden of disease, poor quality of life and reduced life expectancy.

At Bristol Myers Squibb, we strive to address unmet needs, and believe every patient deserves the best possible care. Building on our long legacy in this disease, we are laser-focused on a new, bold vision for multiple myeloma: to revolutionize the treatment paradigm by dramatically improving outcomes for every patient. Whether this is extended survival, reduced treatment burden, or even the possibility of cure, we are aiming to transform the approach to addressing this disease. 

Following the science

Our deep expertise and heritage in the field are well known: our trailblazing work with classic IMiD® agents helped establish the current standard of care, including disease maintenance, which has resulted in a significant increase in overall survival and patient quality of life. Additionally, our first-in-class BCMA-directed CAR T broke new ground as a potentially transformative, one-time treatment option for certain patients.

But we weren’t content to stop there. We continue to draw on our knowledge of immunoscience as we innovate across targets, modalities, and molecular and cellular approaches. We are encouraged by the promise of our pipeline, which includes next generation CAR T and other adoptive cellular therapies, immune cell engagers, and novel oral CELMoD agents.

  • Cell Therapy: We continue to advance our BCMA-directed chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T in earlier lines while also investigating new cell therapy targets, such as GPRC5D. For more information about the science behind cell therapy, click here.
  • Immune Cell Engagers (ICEs): ICEs are an emerging key modality in immunotherapy that direct a patient’s own immune cells to kill cancer. We are exploring natural killer (NK) engagers and our 2:1 bi-specific T cell engager (TCE), which represent highly active “off the shelf” immune therapies.
  • Oral CELMoD agents: We have established protein degradation as a core strength through our work with classic IMiD agents and made the discovery of the role a critical protein, cereblon, plays in their mechanism of action. This led to the development of novel oral cereblon D ligase modulatory (CELMoD) agents, which we optimized for both direct anti-myeloma activity and immune activation. CELMoD agents are currently being evaluated for their sequencing and combination potential. For more information about the science behind protein degradation, click here.
  • Other BCMA targets: We're also investigating other BCMA-directed agents including antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs), which are engineered to deliver small molecules to targeted locations using biologic monoclonal antibodies with the goal of killing the cancer cells. ADCs along with our other BCMA-directed agents are aimed at changing the course of the disease.

Future of multiple myeloma treatment 

Through ongoing collaboration across the community and around the world, we have gained invaluable insights into different patient segments, characteristics and outcomes that have shaped our research and helped us continue to identify novel targets.

We’re focused on fostering ongoing global dialogue and collaboration through initiatives such as the Myeloma Genome and PrisMM Projects, which enable us to identify specific molecular classifications of myeloma to work to develop novel targets and tailor treatments to high-risk patient segments. We are also committed to working with our academic partners and healthcare professionals to gather real world evidence through large registries such as CONNECT MM and PREAMBLE, to evaluate treatment patterns and identify correlations between patient and disease characteristics and outcomes.

Importantly, we are deeply committed to advancing diversity not only in our workforce, but in the work we do for patients, particularly in multiple myeloma, where there is a higher prevalence in the African American population. We are working to ensure representation of underserved or disproportionately affected patient segments in our clinical trials. Our U.S. program, Standing in the Gaap, works to close the gaps in diagnosis, care and survival for African American patients with myeloma.

Our authentic, open, and empathetic approach to collaboration is reflected in our pipeline and continues to be fueled by academic and industry partnerships that are key to our work in multiple myeloma. For example, we’ve collaborated with study groups within the U.S., EU and Asia to create practice-changing studies to address areas of need in multiple myeloma, and we support a broad Investigator-sponsored Research program, which has enabled publication of numerous peer-reviewed manuscripts.

We hope others will share our excitement for the future of multiple myeloma treatment and continue to watch for further advancements, including new data we are presenting at ASH this year, which you can read about here. This vision is bold, but we are energized and privileged to work alongside our talented colleagues at Bristol Myers Squibb and our partners across the myeloma community to transform the treatment paradigm to dramatically improve outcomes for every patient.