It is my great pleasure to introduce the winter 2021/2022 issue of the Myeloma magazine.
The past two years have brought unprecedented challenges for all of us. I am very proud that the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) Myeloma Center has been able to deliver continued outstanding care to our patients due to the dedication of our medical and nursing staff, allied health care professionals and supporting personnel. At times we had to make some modifications to our regular operations, but over all we have been able to maintain a high standard of care with few interruptions. This is exemplified by the fact that approximately 270 patients received an autologous stem cell transplant in the past calendar year.
Hopefully, the COVID-19 pandemic will be in the rear-view mirror by the end of 2022. In the meantime, vaccinations, including booster doses, as well as the advent of oral antiviral drugs and novel monoclonal antibodies, either administered prophylactically or following exposure, will help protect our immunocompromised myeloma patients.
There have also been exciting new developments in the management of myeloma with immunotherapy, which are discussed in more detail in this issue. The Myeloma Center is excited to offer infusions of the patient’s own genetically enhanced immune cells, also referred to as CAR T-cells, for relapsed myeloma. New forms of antibody therapy for myeloma have also become available. Our quest for National Cancer Institute (NCI) Designation led by our Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute director, Dr. Michael Birrer, is proceeding. A direct result of this effort is the expansion of the clinical trial program at UAMS, which will increase the clinical trial portfolio of the Myeloma Center and further improve access for our patients to these novel immunotherapies.
The Myeloma team thanks our patients and families for allowing us to provide care for them. We also are grateful for those who support our scientific research care through philanthropic support. I hope that you will find encouragement and hope in the stories shared by our patients in this issue.
The future of myeloma care is exciting, and we can anticipate many advances in the next decade. It is likely that immunotherapy will play an increasingly important role in treating myeloma. Novel treatments are set to improve long-term outcome, cure more patients and improve quality of life.
Frits van Rhee, M.D., Ph.D. MRCP(UK) FRCPath
Clinical Director of the Myeloma Center