Celgene’s share price soared 18% on the Nasdaq yesterday to a new year-high after the company said that its blood cancer treatment, Revlimid, significantly extended remission time in two Phase III clinical trials. The studies will now be unblinded to give those currently not receiving Revlimid the opportunity to add it to their treatment regimen.

The trials in question included 705 patients with relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma – the second most common cancer of the blood – who received either Revlimid plus the steriod, dexamethasone, or dexamethasone alone. In addition to the initial positive efficacy profile, Celgene says that the preliminary safety profile was also favourable. The firm says that all data are being analysed further and it plans to use them for the basis of regulatory submissions around the world, when it will seek the green light for Revlimid in previously treated multiple myeloma patients.

In multiple myeloma, malignant plasma cells are overproduced in the bone marrow. Plasma cells are white blood cells that help produce antibodies that fight infection and disease – however, most patients with multiple myeloma have cells that produce a form of antibody that does not benefit the body. In addition, the malignant plasma cells replace normal plasma cells and other white blood cells important to the immune system. The cause of the disease remains unknown, but the cancerous cells can also attach to other tissues of the body, such as bone, and produce tumours. In the year 2004, there were an estimated 74,000 new cases of multiple myeloma worldwide.