Multiple myeloma (MM) accounts for 10% of hematological cancers. Stem cell transplantation remains the cornerstone of first-line treatment for eligible patients, but historically, pharmaceutical treatment options for MM have been limited. The proteasome was identified as a target for MM therapy in the early 2000s and, in 2004, the boronic acid proteasome inhibitor bortezomib gained European approval. Bortezomib now plays a major role in MM treatment, but the duration of its use can be limited by toxicities such as peripheral neuropathy and the development of resistance. A new generation of proteasome inhibitors has since entered the treatment landscape: carfilzomib, an epoxyketone-based agent with a distinct mode of action, high clinical efficacy, and lower levels of peripheral neuropathy compared with bortezomib, received approval in 2015 for use in patients with relapsed and/or refractory MM (RRMM). Ixazomib, a second-generation, orally administered, boronic acid proteasome inhibitor, has also been approved for use in patients with RRMM. In just over a decade, proteasome inhibitor-based regimens have become an integral component of MM treatment; with more proteasome inhibitors in development, this remains a vibrant research area with potential to improve the lives of patients with MM in the years to come.
Keywords: bortezomib; carfilzomib; multiple myeloma; proteasome; proteasome inhibitor.
© 2018 The Authors. European Journal of Haematology Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.