Looking Ahead to ASH 2019

Jim Omel |

For over six decades, ASH’s annual meeting has served as the world’s premier source of information and scientific exchange in all aspects of hematology.  Always held the first week in December, this year’s meeting will occur in Orlando where ~30,000 people are expected to attend. Just as it has for many years the IMF will assist several of its support group leaders (SGL’s) to attend and report on all we discover about myeloma.  We will serve as the responsible eyes and ears of thousands of people reading our tweets and blogs and searching the IMF website.  Partnering with the IMF is a privilege, an honor, and a huge amount of work. Our days begin before sun-up and are both challenging and exciting. Our late evenings are devoted to writing tweets and blogs regarding what we have witnessed.

No one person can take in all of ASH, or even just a single disease. It is imperative that we SGL’s add our collective brains and pairs of eyes together to cover the main myeloma aspects of ASH.  Sessions occur simultaneously in different venues and in varying forms including abstracts (over 700 dealing with myeloma this year), posters, oral presentations, scientific sessions, exhibits, and scheduled meetings with pharma companies.  Many meeting highlights are unexpected and unplanned however, such as chance encounters with myeloma world experts.

It is difficult to pick just an area or two of special interest, but some to which I will give extra attention are observational trials, using MRD measurement as an effective biomarker for residual myeloma, new immunotherapy treatment approaches such as  BiTES and Antibody-Drug Conjugates, and our newest drug,  Selinexor.  I’m also watching development of Venetoclax for 11;14 myeloma patients in light of the Bellini trial outcome and subsequent FDA hold.

Observational Trials. We are all aware of interventional clinical trials and their importance in advancing new myeloma treatments.   Lesser known, but also important, are observational clinical trials.  These non-interventional studies add to our overall knowledge by unobtrusively watching, or observing, the treatment courses and outcomes of thousands of myeloma patients. Two in particular will be reported at ASH, Celgene’s Connect MM and Takeda’s INSIGHT trials.  See Abstracts #860, #1843, #1887, and #3129.

Selinexor is a first-in-class oral drug which selectively blocks the nuclear export of tumor suppressor proteins, allowing these proteins to accumulate in cancer cell’s nucleus leading to their death.   It received accelerated FDA approval in July 2019 for myeloma patients who have run out of most other treatment options.  I expect many abstracts, posters, and oral presentations at ASH with information about Selinexor, and hope to see it moved closer to earlier use in myeloma. 

We SGL’s are grateful to IMF for inviting us to attend ASH and look forward to updating patients and caregivers with blogs and live tweets at #ASH19, #IMFASH19.  Please follow us on Twitter for a ‘”real-time” experience, and read our blogs.

Jim Omel MD

One Response to "Looking Ahead to ASH 2019"
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