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Sunday, November 13, 2011

American Society of Hematology (ASH) Annual Meeting

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The Annual Meeting of the American Society of Hematology (ASH) will be held in San Diego from December 10-13, 2011.  Here is a link to the home page:
This is a huge event!  Hundreds of oral presentations and poster sessions will be devoted to Multiple Myeloma alone.  There will be a tremendous amount of information on new drugs, treatment regimens, and clinical trials coming out of this conference.  Hopefully, there will be significant advances in the treatment of MM to report.

On Saturday, December 17, there will be another patient symposium held in Boston sponsored by MMRF.  I hope and expect that we will get a good summary of the most promising advances coming out of the ASH Meeting at that time.  In the meantime, I have been perusing the abstracts for the ASH Meeting to try to get a feel for what might be coming.  Under the single topic of "Myeloma Therapy Excluding Transplantation", there are over 130 abstracts submitted, so this is a daunting task.  Most of the clinical trial results in the abstracts had a cutoff date of June, 2011, so the latest updated results won't be available until the conference.

Most of the new drugs being tested are for relapsed/refractory Multiple Myeloma (RRMM).  This is because the Revlimid/Velcade/Dexamethasone (RVD) front-line induction therapy is the number one standard therapy for newly-diagnosed MM.  However, the initial therapy drugs often don't work as well after relapse, so new drug combinations are sought to help extend the lives of MM patients indefinitely.  Some of the more promising drugs in advanced clinical trials are carfilzomib and elotuzumab (as replacements for Velcade), pomalidomide (as a replacement for Revlimid or thalidomide), and other secondary drugs, such as varinostat, panobinostat, and ARRY-520.

Carfilzomib has been particularly effective for RRMM, so there are now trials underway to use this as part of front-line induction therapy for newly-diagnosed patients, with encouraging results.  Of course, my personal favorite candidate front-line drug is my very own MLN9708, which will also be reported on at the Annual Meeting.  Here is a link to the abstract (#479):
As of June 29, 2011, there were only ten patients in this clinical trial.  Of the nine evaluable patients at the time, all achieved at least >=PR.  However, only one had achieved CR, and three others had achieved VGPR. (For definitions of these response categories, see my blog post dated September 28, 2011.)  This is a little disappointing.  I had hoped that a higher percentage of patients would have achieved VGPR or CR with MLN9708.  I am quite anxious to learn of the updated results (which will include me) to be presented at the ASH Meeting.

There will also be several presentations on the new JQ1 molecule. It will be interesting to see if there is anything new to report there.  I also checked the author index for  Dr. Paul Richardson.  He is listed as a co-author on 34 different papers to be presented at the ASH Annual Meeting!  Busy man.

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