Dr. James R. Berenson, MD Institute for Myeloma and Bone Cancer Research Interview Date: February 5, 2016
Dr. James Berenson, MD shares his work on a new test being developed to track myeloma. This test measures the amount of a specific protein called BCMA which is regularly found on myeloma cells. Today, myeloma is measured by levels of M-protein (also called the M-spike) found in both the blood and urine as well as imaging tests to measure lesions and bone marrow biopsies to test for levels of plasma cells. The advantage of using the BCMA test is that BCMA protein levels turn over in your blood every day, allowing a measurement with a quick blood test to determine if you are responding to treatment or not. A test like this would prevent patients from staying on treatment that is not working well. Measuring the standard immunoglobulin levels (like IgG, IgA, etc.) to adjust treatment takes more time because these turn over slowly. Additionally, the standard free light chain tests show a lot of variability and are hard to interpret for patients with kidney disease. The BCMA test runs independently of kidney issues. For patients who have "lost" the M-protein and are considered non-secretors or no longer make the light chain, this test can still track their disease without the need for bone marrow biopsies. Today, doctors use a variety of methods to assess disease staging, but current staging methods are not very accurate to predict prognosis. In early testing, Dr. Berenson has found that having normal BCMA levels shows good prognosis while having very high or extremely low BCMA levels show poor outcomes. The test is expected to be commercially available at the end of 2016 and gives patients and doctors significantly more information about their disease.
Thanks to our Episode Sponsor, Takeda Oncology
Dr. Berenson founded the Institute for Myeloma & Bone Cancer Research (IMBCR) in 2003 and serves as its Medical and Scientific Director: A mission-driven 501(C)3 non-profit institute is committed to advance the monitoring and treatment of multiple myeloma (MM) by connecting possibility through scientific innovation leading to personalized and continuous optimized patient care. Dr. Berenson has authored nearly 300 peer-reviewed publications and contributed to multiple book chapters. He has served as a member of the National Institutes of Health – Center for Scientific Review, Clinical Oncology Study Section and is a member of the Scientific Boards of the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation and the International Myeloma Foundation. Dr. Berenson has also served on both the Foundation and the Scientific Boards of the Leukemia, Lymphoma and Myeloma Society. Additionally, Dr Berenson is Section Editor for Supportive Cancer Therapy and on the Editorial Board of: Annals of Hematology, Annals of Oncology, British Journal of Hematology, Clinical Advances in Hematology & Oncology, Clinical Cancer Research, Clinical Lymphoma & Myeloma, Critical Reviews in Oncogenesis, Targeted Oncology, and provides Current Opinion in Supportive and Palliative Care.
Myeloma survivor, patient advocate, wife, mom of 6. Believer that patients can help accelerate a cure by weighing in and participating in clinical research. Founder of the HealthTree Foundation.
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