Saturday at ASH was INTENSE! Virtually taking in content from 7 a.m. until 9:30 p.m. While I’m exhausted, I’m energized at the same time. So much amazing research being done for the good of the patient with myeloma. I think the thing that struck me the most today was how many different areas of the “spectrum” of myeloma are being studied. From MGUS and smoldering myeloma, to high-risk myeloma, to the frail/elderly patient, to the penta-refractory relapsed patient; all are being given immense consideration when it comes to study design and concentration. This inclusive nature of research is how researchers will be able to touch ALL patients, not just those with standard-risk myeloma, but those with other, sometimes more difficult to treat features.

Ciara Freeman, MD from Moffitt Cancer Center shared an efficient, yet effective way to assess fitness & frailty, including a self-administered assessment tool, a timed get up and go (TUG) administered by medical assistant prior to provider exam, a mini cognition exam administered by nursing, and baseline lab work. The combination of results of these assessments lead to automatic referrals to ancillary services, such as physical therapy and rehabilitative medicine, as well as baseline consults to disciplines such as neurology. Her conclusions highlighted that older age doesn’t always equal frail and that therapy can be adjusted for the optimization of the patient’s treatment.

Timothy Schmidt, MD from University of Wisconsin-Carbone Cancer Center focused on defining risk status in myeloma. This differentiation is important and should be dynamically assessed throughout a myeloma patient’s journey.

Risk Stratification in Multiple Myeloma

Myeloma patients are living longer than ever before due to the amazing advances in research and drug approvals. Identifying a patient’s risk stratification, and continually reassessing during the course of treatment allows for a better educated patient, informed decision making, early referrals to clinical trials and cellular therapy, if appropriate, and it helps to set realistic expectations. This is so important in the mental health of a myeloma patient.

Ajai Chari, MD from Mount Sinai School of Medicine presented data from the Phase ½ MonumenTAL-1 trial on Talquetamab, a GPRC5D xCD3 bispecific antibody in relapsed and refractory myeloma patients.

This drug, coming down the pipeline, gives hope to patients that have already had several previous lines of therapy, with a seemingly low side effect profile. I’m excited to see further studies comparing Talquetamab with approved therapies, and in combination.

These are just a few of the abstracts that excited me today and made me think about the spectrum of patients with myeloma. In the afternoon, IMF Chief Medical Officer Dr. Joseph Mikhael (or, Dr. Joe) so graciously sat down with our small group of support group leaders and we were able to ask him questions directly about things that we had heard throughout the day or concepts that we weren’t quite sure about. Dr. Joe has a way of explaining such difficult topics on a level where everyone can understand and he truly is interested in what we have to say as myeloma patients, care partners, and nurses, as well as support group leaders.

Later tonight, I get to attend the CURE Multiple Myeloma Heroes Ceremony, where Dr. Joe will be on a panel with Valarie Traynham, a myeloma patient and advocate, moderated by comedian D.L. Hughley. What a dichotomy of hats Dr. Joe wears so graciously. So grateful to know him and take in his wisdom and friendship!

Becky Bosley

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