There is no other single conference where so much information is presented about myeloma. Information about so many topics is provided: how to treat MM patients in various stages; results of phase II & III trials which may indicate upcoming FDA approvals; pre-clinical research focusing on myeloma targets and cell understanding; and more.
However, this year the 62nd American Society of Hematology (ASH) meeting will be virtual so while I’ll watch videos of the oral abstracts and “attend” the live Q&A sessions; I’ll miss interacting with my patient and doctor friends. Still, I’m so grateful to the International Myeloma Foundation (IMF) and their sponsors for registering me to attend, and I look forward to blogging about each day’s highlights. Finally, I’ll create a multi-page summary of the most interesting takeaways from my perspective and share this with my support group, post it on our website, and distribute to anyone else who requests it.
As background, I attended my first ASH meeting 15 years ago and found it a bit like being diagnosed with myeloma 26 years ago. The terminology and amount of information was overwhelming, not surprising though, since the audience consists 25,000 researchers and oncologists, learning the latest updates for all blood cancers, including myeloma. I’ve learned to prepare a few weeks ahead of time, and have already reviewed many of the myeloma abstracts and created my personal agenda of talks I want to view. These presentations will typically be on clinical trial results rather than on biological lab studies because these have more immediate value to patients undergoing treatment or to the newly diagnosed. By the way. You can also check out those abstracts (a summary of the planned presentation, which includes updates) by visiting www.hematology.org.
If you’ve been following new MM treatments the last few years, it’s been mostly focused on immunotherapies (treatments which help your own immune system to fight myeloma) and I expect this year’s ASH will have even more about mAb’s (monocloncal antibodies), ADC’s (Antibody Drug Conjugates), BiTEs (Bi-specific T-cell Engagers), and CAR-T therapies. I’m expecting to hear updated trial results for all of these various therapies, and will pass this information along to you. In particular, I’m amazed at the number of BiTE drugs that will be discussed, including Teclistamab, AMG701, Talquetamab, REGN5458, BFCR4350A, and TNB-383B that all direct the immune system’s T-cells (for example, it’s CD3 receptor) against an antigen on the myeloma cell (for example BCMA).
Between these oral presentation as well as Friday symposiums and education sessions, I’m excited to learn and share ASH information during the Dec 4-8 meeting…even if I’ll be attending from my home-office PC. I’ll be blogging every night about my takeaway highlights presented earlier that day. Along with several other patients/support group leaders the IMF brings to ASH, I look forward to sharing our experiences together via blogging and tweeting. We hope to keep you well informed from our individual patient perspectives. Of course, you’ll have other vehicles to learn about ASH in the weeks that follow, including webinars, telephone conferences, seminars and more. Maybe your own oncologist will be at ASH. Take advantage of these resources and become your own best patient advocate.
— Jack Aiello, on Twitter @JackMAiello