World-first clinical trial places St Vincent’s at the forefront of a new era in personalised medicine

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Pictured: Professor Hang Quach, Clinical Haematology Director, in consultation with a patient.

Researchers at St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne (SVHM) are leading a world-first, multi-centre clinical trial of a personalised treatment approach that could potentially transform the outcome for multiple myeloma patients based on genetic abnormalities.

Established by SVHM investigators, the Viber-M trial is being carried out in nine Australian and New Zealand hospitals, and seeks to provide tailored treatment for a specific group of patients who are currently treated with a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach.

A never before explored combination

In Australia, more than 2,000 people are diagnosed with multiple myeloma each year.

The Viber-M trial provides hope for the one in five multiple myeloma patients who carry a genetic abnormality, known as the T(11:14) lesion.

Previous research suggests the T(11:14) abnormality responds particularly well to drugs called BCL2 inhibitors, including a drug named venetoclax.

With this knowledge, SVHM researchers established the world's first clinical trial combining two approved medications – venetoclax and another immune- stimulating medication, Iberdomide – to assess how effective they are together and if they can provide more personalised medicine.

The study will test if the two drugs can work together against multiple myeloma by forcing cancerous cells to kill themselves and stimulating the immune system to better fight the disease.

A personalised approach to care

Professor Hang Quach, Director of Haematology at SVHM and the Viber-M trials’ co-lead investigator, said the trial is about using a disease-focused strategy to find the optimum treatment for each patient and their disease.

“The Viber-M study represents the first of hopefully many targeted treatment modalities and sparks the era of personalised medicine for multiple myeloma which has never happened until now,” said Prof Quach, who is leading the study alongside SVHM principal investigator, Dr Shirlene Sim.

“Most haematological cancers are still incurable, so survival is dependent on having effective therapies available to patients.”

The first three patients were enrolled into the Viber-M trial at SVHM and recruitment is now underway across Australia and New Zealand through the Australasian Lymphoma Leukaemia Group.

Hospitals participating in this trial alongside SVHM are Box Hill Hospital, Royal North Shore Hospital, Gosford Hospital, Townsville Hospital and Health Service, Austin Hospital, Liverpool Hospital, Te Whatu Ora – North Shore Hospital and Auckland City Hospital.

Both drugs are taken orally, so patients can be treated locally, and patients who have a positive response to the treatment can continue receiving the treatment for as long as it is effective.

It is planned that the Viber-M trial will recruit 60 patients during a two-year period. Preliminary results on tolerability and effectiveness will be released after the first 10 patients have had three treatment cycles.