ASH 2016 – The IMF Gives A Summary Of Outstanding Improvements In Myeloma?

I often wonder why there has been such outstanding improvements in the survival and life expectancy for myeloma patients. As is the case with most success in medicine or science, it is the dedicated members of the teams assembled for the task. Would we have been on the moon had it not been for the formation of NASA? You must be able to assemble a team, coordinate their activities, develop goals, instill a team philosophy, and fund the effort. I am convinced the IMF(International Myeloma Foundation), the MMRF(Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation), and MCRI(Myeloma Crowd Research Initiative) are the vessels which have accomplished this feat.

I say this after watching Friday’s IMF meeting titled “TREATMENT ADVANCES IN MULTIPLE MYELOMA: EXPERT PERSPECTIVES ON TRANSLATING CLINICAL DATA TO PRACTICE. You can see the over 3 hour program at the link:

What I am most impressed with is the level of talent which was on the panel for this presentation. We had Dr. Rajkumar, and Dr. Shaji Kumar from Mayo Clinic, Dr. Philippe Moreau of France, Dr. Jesus San-Miguel(seem to be the character of the bunch), and Dr. Bruno Pavia, both of Spain. This was moderated by the president of the IMF Dr. Brian Durie These myeloma specialists are exceptional, and assembled in the same room to freely provide their knowledge and treatment perspective to a filled conference room.

Some of my key take away were as follows:

  • These doctors left their egos at the door, and worked together as a skilled and talented team.
  • They truly liked each other, and would often help each other explain key points. They actually were having FUN!
  • They looked at real case studies and when the panel answered questions regarding this case, their answers were surprisingly similar. The audience however was not nearly as consistent. The case was discussed by a panel member and Dr. Durie again asked the same question and the audiences answers were now closely aligned with the panel.
  • The European contingency showed a little frustration because they knew some of the answers to the questions which included drugs which are not available in Europe. I think that would drive me nuts!

What this tells me is that the opinions of myeloma specialists are becoming far more congruent. These professionals have always been at the tip of the spear, and were aware of the most recent development; however their treatment philosophies were all over the map. This was mainly the result of inadequate availability of clinical trial data, meta data analysis from the SEER, CIBMTR, or analysis of their own data.

What this also indicates is the audience who consisted of many skilled professionals had not been as well informed as the expert panel. This highlights the continued importance of educational activities which the IMF has historically provided.

The topics and myeloma experts for this symposium were as follows:

Diagnosing MM: When Should Treatment Be Initiated?
S. Vincent Rajkumar, MD

Should We Be Using Risk-Adapted Therapy in Clinical Practice?
Shaji Kumar, MD, and Philippe Moreau, MD

How Should We Use Maintenance for Patients in Clinical Practice?
Bruno Paiva, PhD, and Jesús F. San-Miguel, MD, PhD

How Do You Choose the Best Treatment Regimens for Relapsed/Refractory Disease?
Philippe Moreau, MD

Where Are We Now and Where Are We Going With the Care of Patients With MM?
Brian G.M. Durie, MD, leads the panel discussion

This is an outstanding educational experience for all health care professionals who care for myeloma patients, and for patients and caregivers. For patients and care givers you will get an understanding of when myeloma becomes active, the importance of genetic testing, the new and critical roll or MRD testing, treatment guidelines for the newly diagnosed and relapsed/refractory myeloma patients, and what comes next on the treatment horizon.

The most important takeaway for me is myeloma experts are becoming far more consistent in their views, and now it is a matter of getting this information to the greater myeloma treatment community.   Not every myeloma specialsit is the same, however with the new drugs, and growing mountain of clinical trial and meta data analysis available the treatment philosophies are similar.  I will talk about a few of these subjects in the weeks and months ahead.  Good luck and may you all have an excellent holiday season.