Anticipating the Power and Importance of ASH15

| Jim Omel


ASH (American Society of Hematology) 57th Annual Meeting and Exposition brings together the brightest minds in hematology to share new knowledge, ideas, and trial results. Because topics and revelations at ASH affect literally hundreds of thousands of patients around the world, the importance of this yearly event cannot be overstated.

To give ASH proper perspective, consider comparing it with the annual Oscar awards. On the night of the Oscars, movies fans are on the edges of their seats. Hematologists and their patients react the same way to the ASH Annual Meeting. During the Oscars, movie fans meet actors and review the best films of the year. For those of us patients who are attending #ASH2015, with the help of IMF, we meet clinicians and researchers who are developing new treatments for myeloma. We learn about ongoing trial results, and discuss and evaluate new potential treatments. Together, we continue to edge closer to the CURE for our devastating cancer.

My personal goals for this meeting are to learn from influential IMF Support Group Leaders and to become reacquainted with respected world leaders in myeloma research and treatment. I want to discuss interesting posters with their authors and listen closely to presentations of best selected abstracts at oral sessions. I hope to eventually share what I learn in an understandable way with myeloma patients who are not able to attend ASH.

Those of us in attendance are the responsible eyes and ears of our fellow leaders at home. ASH highlights the best myeloma research in the world and has a direct effect on our personal and collective therapy. At #ASH2014, ASPIRE trial results were presented in overflowing rooms. ASPIRE’s significant outcome influenced the FDA, which quickly made Krypolis® (carfilzomib) more readily available.

The abstracts and oral presentations to be presented at # #ASH2015 provided some of the same information that convinced the FDA to approve recent myeloma drugs. In particular, on November 16, 2015, the FDA approved Darzalex (daratumumab) to treat patients with multiple myeloma who have received at least three prior treatments. Just three days later, on November 19th, the FDA also approved Ninlaro (ixazomib)—an oral, once-weekly proteasome inhibitor, for use in combination with lenalidomide and dexamethasone to treat people with multiple myeloma who have received at least one prior therapy. Because FDA officials found patient outcomes so convincing, they did not need to convene a group of outside advisors (ODAC) for either drug. What added information about these exciting treatments will be reported during #ASH2015? Is another drug approval on the horizon—the potential approval of elotuzumab?

I’m flooded with more questions to answer: What new myeloma metabolic pathways will be presented, along with new targeted agents disrupting those pathways and myeloma cell growth? Will the rapidly advancing field of immunotherapy be the star of ASH this year? Have immunotherapy developments finally touched myeloma in a meaningful way? What additional minimal residual disease (MRD) will be explained this year? Possible answers to these questions equal the power of ASH.

I’m extremely grateful to IMF for inviting me to attend ASH and look forward to updating patients and caregivers with blogs and live tweets at # #ASH2015, #IMF #ASH2015. All IMF Support Group Leader attendees will report from ASH, and we invite you to learn along with us.

Follow Jim on Twitter: @IMFjimMYELOMA
The Central Nebraska Myeloma Support Group
Grand Island, NE


Leave a Reply