Monoclonal antibodies have a profound impact on the prognosis and survival of patients with haematological malignancies. In the treatment of multiple myeloma, until recently, results of monoclonal antibodies have been disappointing. The introduction of two novel classes of monoclonal antibodies holds great promise to change this. Daratumumab (and related antibodies) is a monoclonal antibody directed to CD38, an intriguing multifunctional surface protein abundantly expressed on malignant plasma cells and their precursors. Daratumumab displays impressive single agent activity in heavily pretreated multiple myeloma patients and due to its favourable safety profile, this molecule seems to be an excellent accessory companion to known anti-multiple myeloma regimens and also in monotherapy as a maintenance agent. Elotuzumab, to the contrary, is an anti-CS1 monoclonal antibody, which does not show any clinically relevant single agent activity, but when combined with other anti-multiple myeloma drugs appears to greatly enhance their efficacy and can even revert the refractory state to the agents. When these promising results are confirmed in phase III trials, immunotherapy can finally be incorporated in the treatment schedule of newly diagnosed and relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma patients.

(BELG J HEMATOL 2015;6(5):209–15)