On Monday, the 63rd Annual Meeting and Exposition of the American Society of Hematology came to an end. The hybrid model worked for the most part. Like any live event, there were technology hiccups here and there. 

Here are my five takeaways from the meeting. 

  • Screening for myeloma will become the future. The iStopMM (Iceland Screens Treats or Prevents Multiple Myeloma) team had four live presentations related to smoldering multiple myeloma (SMM) that indicated about 0.5% of the Iceland population has the precursor condition called monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS); those who were screened did not have an increase in psychological distress. However, primary investigator Dr. Sigurdur Kristinsson (Professor of Hematology — University of Iceland) insisted that we should wait until after the data matures in a few years before making screening standard of care. 
  • The era of immunotherapy is here. With cilta-cel showing a near 100% overall response rate, and with the deepening of the stringent complete response (sCR) from year one to year two, as well as various B cell maturation antigens (BCMAs) and antibody drug conjugates (ACDs) showing significant response rate for highly refractory patients, it is my hope that they will be approved and will be made available to myeloma patients. 
  • CD38 antibody quadruplets will become the standard of care. For newly diagnosed patients, multiple studies have shown that the addition of CD38 drugs such as DARZALEX® (daratumumab) and SARCLISA® (isatuximab-irfc) have shown a higher rate of sustained minimal residual disease (MRD) negativity with minimal increased toxicity. 
  • MRD adopted therapy is more significant than ever before. While MRD adopted therapy is not yet the standard of care, patients are waiting for it to be. Myeloma patients are living longer and longer, thanks to newer drugs coming to the market. It is also important to note who will benefit from a drug holiday and who will benefit from a more intense treatment. 
  • Address the needs of ultra high-risk patients. The needs of ultra high-risk patients continue to be significantly unmet, especially for those with progressing myeloma despite going through the best treatments. I encourage those who are in this risk category to seek clinical trials, and those who are in a position to design clinical trials to work with urgency to address these needs. 
  • Stem cell transplant is here to stay. Despite challenges faced in terms of benefits vs. risks, stem cell transplant continues to be a part of the myeloma arsenal. 

While ASH may be officially over, we have several post-ASH meetings coming up! Check out https://myeloma.org for details.

Until next time! 

Sharing The Hope! 

Yelak Biru, on Twitter: @NorthTxMSG