Myeloproliferative neoplasm (MPN) expert Dr. Mark Heaney shares promising news about about treatments being studied, and how these advances may impact the future of MPN patient care.
Dr. Mark Heaney is a hematologic oncologist and Associate Professor of Medicine at the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center of Columbia University. Learn more about Dr. Heaney, here.
When it comes to MPN research and emerging treatment options, what are you excited about specifically?
I think that there are a lot of exciting treatments in MPNs. Now, I’ve been doing this long enough that when I started, we really didn’t have very many treatments, and I think the last few years has brought a number of very promising treatments, and I think more than that, there’s a buzz and much more interest within the physician investigator community and within pharma to develop treatments for patients with MPNs, recognizing that MPNs are still relatively rare diseases.
I think we’re on the brink of having several new treatments for myelofibrosis, and as of today, they’re investigational, but they may be available even within the next year, and that will give us more opportunities. Drugs like pacritinib and momelotinib, I think, provide effective treatment options for patients who may not be responding optimally to ruxolitinib or in whom ruxolitinib may not be the best choice because of low blood counts.
I think that drugs like ropeginterferon, which may well be approved soon, may provide another treatment for patients with polycythemia vera.
And then, beyond these drugs, which are both – which are all in late-phase investigation, there’s a plethora of drugs that appear really promising that are earlier in evaluation.
I think one of the things that’s been not really attainable with the drugs that we’ve had to date has been to really reduce the contribution of the mutant clone to blood cell production, and this is a concept that has really revolutionized the treatment of patients with another myeloproliferative disease, chronic myeloid leukemia, and we know from that disease patients who had suppression of the malignant clone have done remarkably well and now live lives that are really indistinguishable from patients who don’t have leukemia.
I think the new drugs that are in clinical development are adding to the ability of suppressing them more than clones, and so, we’re getting closer to drugs and drug combinations that may have that ability. There is, for example, a drug that’s in late-stage development, a BET inhibitor – that’s CPI-0610 – that’s now entering Phase III trials that seems to be very promising.
There are other drugs that attack other pathways, like MDM2 and the BTK pathway, that are also very promising.
And, I think they’re also – we’re also on the advent of introducing cellular therapy into myelofibrosis, so that’s another dimension of treatment, and I think all of these will present new opportunities for patients in whom ruxolitinib may not work or may not be the optimal therapy.