Pharmacyclics and Johnson & Johnson’s leukaemia and lymphoma drug Imbruvica has shown potential both as a single agent and as combination therapy in heavily pre-treated patients with multiple myeloma.

Phase II data involving 69 patients looked at Imbruvica (ibrutinib) as monotherapy and in combination with dexamethasone have been presented at the American Society of Hematology meeting in San Francisco. Treatment in combination with DEX resulted in positive responses and disease stabilisation which led to a median progression-free survival (PFS) of 5.6 months, though 57% of patients experienced Grade 3 or greater adverse events.

Based on the data, Imbruvica is currently being evaluated as a combo with agents such as Amgen’s Kyprolis (carfilzomib).  Ravi Vij of the Washington University School of Medicine, said the drug, an oral Bruton's tyrosine kinase inhibitor, “has shown its effectiveness in other difficult-to-treat blood cancers” and the results of the trial are promising.

Imbruvica is approved for chronic lymphocytic leukaemia and mantle cell lymphoma and is being studied in several blood cancers including small lymphocytic lymphoma. It is the only product to have received three breakthrough therapy designations from the US Food and Drug Administration.