Hello from central Massachusetts! I am so excited for the opportunity to attend the 64th American Society of Hematology Annual Meeting and Exposition (ASH). This will be my second year at ASH, where I’ll be reporting on the latest therapies in the pipeline for multiple myeloma. I’m very grateful to the International Myeloma Foundation and the many pharmaceutical sponsors who have made it possible for me and other support group leaders to bring back the latest myeloma information to our support groups and communities. Several support group leaders will be attending the meeting in person in New Orleans this year, while others of us will be attending virtually. Miss Lili and I will again be watching the talks from our comfy chair in the sunroom, and we spent some time this morning viewing the abstracts and planning our schedule for the days ahead.
Last year, I reported on many ongoing immunotherapy clinical trials for multiple myeloma, including CAR T-cell therapies and bispecific antibodies. In the past year we’ve seen FDA approval of Carvykti (ciltacabtagene autoleucel), which is the second BCMA-targeted CAR T-cell therapy, and Tecvayli (teclistamab-cqyv), which is the first bispecific antibody — a BCMA-directed CD3 T-cell engager. These therapies, while still difficult for patients to access, are providing new hope for relapsed, refractory patients who have had multiple lines of previous therapies. I’m excited to learn more about ongoing clinical trials for other immunotherapies in the pipeline that have different targets, as well as the ongoing efforts to bring some of these therapies forward in the treatment plan, in an effort to cure multiple myeloma. I’m also looking forward to learning more about diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts to ensure all patients are getting access to the best care possible, as well as the impact of diet and lifestyle on patient wellness. Being a science nerd, I’m also planning to attend scientific talks to learn more about topic such as the role of the tumor microenvironment, mechanisms of resistance to therapy, and overcoming T-cell exhaustion.
This past fall, I’ve been teaching full-time in academic medicine, and I’m so grateful that my myeloma is currently well controlled on my second line of therapy and that I’ve had both energy and limited bone pain, allowing me to do the work I love. I’ve been able to bring the patient perspective to the classroom and discuss how research has changed the outcomes for patients like me. I’m so inspired by the compassion and curiosity of our future scientists, doctors, and nurses. Indeed, currently the graduate students are working together to collaboratively develop team capstone proposals on outstanding questions in science, including many fundamental questions that will impact the future of patient care. The incredible wealth of new research and clinical insights that will be presented at ASH this year, combined with the enthusiasm of the next generation of scientists and clinicians makes me so optimistic about the promise of research for tackling the challenges of multiple myeloma, as well as other cancers and diseases. Miss Lili and I are looking forward to sharing what we learn at ASH in the days ahead!
Jill Zitzewitz, PhD
Follow me on Twitter @JillZitzewitz