Are there new treatment developments for patients with essential thrombocythemia (ET)? Dr. Gabriela Hobbs shares an update on ET therapies in clinical trials and discusses when it might be appropriate for a patient to join a clinical trial.
Dr. Gabriela Hobbs is a hematology-oncology physician specializing in the care of patients with myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPN), chronic myeloid leukemia, and leukemia. Dr. Hobbs serves as clinical director of the adult leukemia service at Massachusetts General Hospital. Learn more about Dr. Hobbs.
Let’s talk about ET for a moment. Is there any research being done to help better manage this condition?
Yeah. I would say that of the three MPNs, ET is certainly the one that has the least amount of drugs that are being currently studied for this group. But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t any research. Ropeginterferon (Besremi), which was recently approved in polycythemia vera, is now being studied in essential thrombocythemia.
So, I would expect in the next couple of years, if those trials are successful, to have ropeginterferon as a therapy to offer patients.
There is also a clinical trial that we have at our site. We’re using ruxolitinib or Jakafi for patients with ET that have symptoms of their disease to see if it can help them in the same way that it can help PV or myelofibrosis patients. So, there’s definitely some research going on in ET. But probably less than for PV and myelofibrosis.
Mm-hmm. While ET is typically well-managed, what patient type might benefit from joining a trial?
It really depends on what the patient is experiencing. I think there are some patients that really are very asymptomatic and can expect to have an excellent outcome with their disease. But they can also participate in research, for example, by participating in a tissue bank and offering a sample of their blood or if they have a bone marrow by offering some bone marrow if there’s extra.
Because that can really help to understand the disease biology, if a patient is going to progress from ET to myelofibrosis.
So, we can learn a lot from that. But then there are maybe some ET patients that need to be on a medication to reduce their blood counts or a cytoreductive agent.
And that’s a patient that could ask about participation in a clinical trial. For example, the ropeginterferon study or, like I mentioned, there may be some patients that maybe are already on a medication, and their blood counts aren’t well-controlled on the first drug that was used.
So, before considering switching to a second-line agent or a second medication, that could inquire with their clinician if there’s a clinical trial available for second-line use. Or those patients that have a lot of symptoms with ET, they could potentially be eligible for a study that addresses just symptoms.