Liz Burtally
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Bloodwise researchers share findings at international haematology conference

Liz Burtally
Posted by
30 Nov 2016

The biggest international haematology meeting will take place this weekend. Find out what exciting Bloodwise research will be featured there.

What is it?

This Friday, the annual conference of the American Society of Haematology (ASH) will take place in San Diego, California. More than 20,000 haematology experts from around the world are expected to attend, and will embark on lively discussions on how new research and clinical experience can be transformed into improving the outlook for patients with blood cancer, and other blood disorders. Our Director of Research – Dr Alasdair Rankin – will also be there to hear about the latest breakthroughs in blood cancer research.

What will we hear about?

Hot topics at this year’s ASH are practice-changing results that will affect how we treat people with blood cancer, in particular lymphoma and CLL. Immunotherapy – an approach to treatment that harnesses the power and selectivity of our own immune system - continues to cause a stir.

Some of our Bloodwise researchers will be presenting their findings at ASH, and below is a quick summary on what we might expect to hear.

Combination therapies in CLL and AML

Prof Andy Rawstron and Dr Sara Farag from St. James University Hospital in Leeds will be discussing combination therapies in the treatment of patients with CLL. Although ibrutinib – a new targeted drug – has shown great promise in extending the survival of patients with CLL, there are still some limitations in achieving a long-term cure which could potentially be overcome if combined other targeted treatments. Prof Rawson will talk about the results from one of our TAP trials called IciCLLe, which is looking at combining ibrutinib and obinutuzumab, and Dr Farag presents exciting new research of one of our TAP trials called CLARITY, which is combining ibrutinib with venetoclax.

Nurse and patient. Credit: Wellcome Images.

Professor Charles Craddock from the University of Birmingham will also present the findings from one of our TAP trials called RAvVa. This trial is testing azacitidine and vorinostat for people who can’t have intensive treatment for acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) or high risk myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS).

Overtreating patients with CML

Professor Richard Clark from the University of Liverpool is scheduled to talk about the Bloodwise DESTINY trial. Outlook for chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) has been transformed by the development of targeted drugs for this disease, but these are thought to control the disease, rather than cure it, so patients currently have to stay on treatment long term. This trial is investigating whether some patients with excellent responses to these targeted drugs can remain well on either a lower dose of treatment or without treatment at all.

Immunotherapy in myeloma

Immune-based strategies have shown early promise in multiple myeloma, and are likely to prove a valuable addition. Dr Lydia Lee from University College London will present her work on testing a new treatment that directs patients’ immune cells to kill myeloma cells.

Preventing CNS relapse in lymphoma

Some lymphomas can affect the central nervous system (CNS), which is made up of the brain, the spinal cord and the nerves to the eyes. Unfortunately, relapse of lymphoma that is found in the CNS is fatal in most patients. Dr Elizabeth Phillips from University College, London, has analysed data from one of our trials called HOVON 127 BL, which is comparing two treatment regimens in patients with newly diagnosed diffuse large B cell lymphoma or Burkitt's lymphoma. She is looking at patients with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma who received a therapy called cytarabine, which should stop the lymphoma spreading to the CNS.

Burkitt lymphoma. Credit: Wellcome images.

We are really looking forward to hearing about all this exciting research, and will following the conference closely. Watch this space for a roundup in a weeks’ time!

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