Photo has been used for illustrative purposes.
Mariecar Jara-Puyod, Senior Reporter
The developments on science and technology (S&T) continue and hopefully, by 2023 at the earliest, considering success rates and approval by regulatory bodies, available worldwide would be an additional re-engineered therapy to the mysterious blood cancer chronic condition called Multiple Myeloma (MM).
The hope, Dr. Mustaqeem Siddiqui expressed on Tuesday afternoon, when he also discussed a breakthrough already evidenced to “silence” an abnormal “gene” detected in Thalassemia and Sickle Cell Disease sufferers. This breakthrough makes them off the hook to “as many as blood transfusions and frequent hospital visits due to “certain (conditions) such as (excruciating) pain and difficulty in breathing.”
Siddiqui is a cancer specialist trained in Pakistan and the US, among the group of consultants of the Mayo Clinic International. He arrived in the UAE in mid-January “to help support the ongoing reorganisation at the Seha (Abu Dhabi Health Services Company), one goal of which is to make the Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City in the capital, the leading referral centre in the region, from 2021.
Via the Zoom platform, the haematologist/MM/CAR-T (immunotherapy) specialist talked about “New Research and Treatments of Mayo Clinic on Blood Cancers,” ahead of the Feb.4 (Thursday) World Cancer Day.”
The S&T on MM had been labelled as bi-specific antibody, crafted to make one’s immune system join with the cancer cells. The purpose is for the former to decimate the latter. Whether or not it could be used as a stand-alone therapeutic or in combination with two existing chemotherapy medications is yet to be known since its Phase 1 clinical trial in North America commenced only in 2019.
So far, the clinical trial involving 49 MM patients with the median age of 64, into other types at least in the last five years, has demonstrated that 30 (64 per cent) “are responding to the bi-specific antibody” as 47 (95 per cent) “are attaining a very good response.”
Siddiqui said MM is still a mysterious cancer as its causes have yet to be unlocked, whether or not it is lifestyle-related, although “it is not passed on from parent to child.” Globally, 175,000 people are diagnosed each year. It had been recorded that survivors given two existing chemotherapy modalities go into remission within eight to 11 years. So, an innovative drug like the bi-specific antibody “is a great advancement.” Thalassemia and Sickle Cell Disease had been traced to a malfunctioning gene for haemoglobin, a vital blood component as this carries oxygen to tissues and organs.
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