Day 1: First full day of ASH

Saturday December 9, 2017

Since it still snowed last night on-and-off till about 9 a.m., it was recommended by ASH that those folks staying outside of Atlanta (we’re in Buckhead) not drive in for the morning ASH sessions.

As such, my first meeting was a lunch put on by Celgene led by their Advocacy Director Chad Saward and highlighted by their CEO Mark Alles giving a talk entitled “Bold Pursuits of Science: A CEO’s Perspective.” Celgene, in case you don’t know, manufactures Revlimid, pomalidomide, and thalidomide. And they’re also starting a CAR-T program. Chad began his talk indicating that 2017 was a very strong year for developments in hematology. He highlighted that “Myeloma continued to receive regulatory approvals,” and there was “progress on surrogate endpoint for myeloma.” Mark focused on four considerations for every CEO: Strategy, Mission Statement, Commercialization, and Risk. He also said that it costs Celgene $100M to run a Phase 3 trial.

I checked out posters (Poster#) such as:

  • #1811, a Phase 2 trial studying efficacy of daratumumab + pomalidomide + dexamethasone in second- or third-line treatment who have failed Revlimid treatment, and found Overall Response Rate (ORR) of 72%.
  • #1832, a network meta-analysis across six large trials of maintenance treatment for newly diagnosed multiple myeloma patients following a stem cell transplant, and concluded that Revlimid maintenance provides both superior progression-free survival and overall survival when compared with no maintenance.
  • #1887, a Phase 1b study of isatuximab (a CD38 monoclonal antibody) plus pomalidomide + dexamethasone in relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma patients confirmed a 60+% ORR.
  • #2150, Impact of Maintenance Compared to No Maintenance on the Quality of Life (QOL) for multiple myeloma patients after a stem cell transplant, with results showing that maintenance treatment did not have a detrimental effect on QOL.

And this evening, I attended the IMF’s annual Brian D. Novis Research Grant Awards reception. After listening to some wonderful patient stories, I was encouraged to see six young researchers presented with monetary awards totaling $390K to continue their research in areas that will potentially benefit myeloma patients. It’s important to note that funds raised for these grants were from patients/caregivers/friends hosting various fundraising activists (e.g. golfing events, 5Ks, and more). And with over 100 grants given by the IMF in the past 20 years, 80% of those researchers are still focused on myeloma research.

That’s it for today. With the snow gone and roads improved, I look forward to attending my first oral presentation at 7:45 a.m. and these presentations will run almost non-stop through 6 p.m.

Wishing best of health!