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Annual Hematology Meeting Cochair Encourages Embracing of CAR T-Cell Therapy

Lisa Astor
Published Online: Sep 24,2019
Andre H. Goy, MD, MS
Andre H. Goy, MD, MS
Now in it 24th year, the annual International Congress on Hematologic Malignancies®: Focus on Leukemias, Lymphomas, and Myeloma, hosted by Physicians’ Education Resource®, LLC (PER®), continues to bring significant advances in hematology to the forefront.

The meeting will take place February 27 to March 1, 2020, in Miami, Florida, and include presentations from expert hematologists, physicians, and more who seek to translate these developments into clinical practice for improving outcomes for patients with hematologic malignancies.

Targeted Therapies in Oncology sat down with Andre H. Goy, MD, MS, long-standing program cochair, to hear more about this can’t-miss event.

“We have this rich portfolio—the ability to do precise medicine, cell therapy, immunotherapy, biological therapy, and combinations [that shy] away from chemotherapy. Big data provide an opportunity to see a rapidly changing landscape.

“When you see all this innovation as a passionate oncologist, it becomes difficult to read where the landscape is relevant. This conference provides an opportunity to dissect the puzzle that we have in front of us and try to take the best opportunity for each of our patients,” explained Goy, who is the chairman and executive director of John Theurer Cancer Center at Hackensack Meridian Health in New Jersey, as well as chief of the Division of Lymphoma.

Experts in treating patients with hematologic malignancies will present data covering the latest therapeutic approaches and best practices across the various hematologic disease states and settings. In addition to reviewing state-of-the- art therapies, the presenting physicians will participate in Medical Crossfire® debates and panel discussions to open up the floor to multiple perspectives and opinions on how to handle challenging cases. “This is an opportunity to see what’s relevant at this conference and how we can customize therapy to patients and optimize the outcome,” Goy said.

One aspect that stands out from other events: a preconference workshop on chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapies. This February 27 event will provide the opportunity to focus on a developing class of agents that has generated a lot of excitement and address some questions in the field.

“CAR T cells are a game-changing treatment in a population of patients that [represent] an unmet need,” Goy commented. “We have seen some patients who had an excess of 10 prior therapies who have had durable responses, and potentially, some of these patients are cured.”

The properties and role of CAR T-cell therapies will be explored across lymphomas, leukemias, and multiple myeloma where the cellular therapies have already demonstrated promising results in clinical trials. Presenters will also address how these findings have been replicated with real-world data and focus on managing unique toxicities observed with CAR T-cell therapies for the continued uptake of this newer form of therapy.

Other types of cellular therapy in development will also be introduced, turning toward future uses with this class of agents and how to build on current successes.
As moderator of the workshop, Goy will lend his expertise on the subject. He was involved in the momentous phase II ZUMA-1 trial that led to the approval of axicabtagene ciloleucel (axi-cel; Yescarta) for the treatment of adult patients with relapsed or refractory large B-cell lymphomas.1,2 This was the second and latest CAR T-cell therapy to gain FDA approval.

In ZUMA-1, investigators demonstrated an objective response rate of 82% and a complete response rate of 54% among more than 100 patients with large B-cell lymphoma treated with axi-cel.1 At more than 2 years of follow-up, responses are ongoing in about 40% of patients, with 2-year overall survival rates of about 50%.3 Goy noted that this result is remarkable.

Under his direction, the John Theurer Cancer Center became one of the few sites in the country to offer CAR T-cell therapy and participate in related clinical trials. Goy also noted that the cancer center is involved in trials with a number of CAR-T constructs across several cancer types, including multiple myeloma, large cell lymphoma, follicular lymphoma, and marginal zone lymphoma, with further studies in the works. He understands well why this is an important class of agents to review for oncologists: “This is still a challenge, and that is why it is an opportunity to learn more.”

Physicians will also touch upon diagnostic and management tools, such as genetic testing and minimal residual disease testing, to explore the benefit they can provide in treating patients with hematologic malignancies.

Another portion of the agenda will focus on the turn toward value-based care. Goy believes that this is an important area of discussion among all healthcare professionals because it affects everyday practice. “[With] all of this innovation that is coming from every direction that makes it fortunate to be oncologists, we have to be cognizant as a society how to afford it. How do we continue to push innovation but do it in a sensible and responsible way?” he commented.

Goy characterizes value-based care as “trying to apply smarter medicine to get the longest mileage for patients because that’s the most economical, logical, and sensible way to treat patients.”

With a focus on value-based care and multidisciplinary teams, as well as individual presentations concentrated on advanced practitioners, the discussions are not just aimed at oncologists. Fellows, nurse practitioners, nurses, physician assistants, pharmacists, and more are encouraged to attend and participate in the conversation.
The International Congress on Hematologic Malignancies® promises to be an exciting meeting offering important debate and relevant discussion. Attendance will sharpen skills and knowledge as well as add to the armamentarium of treating physicians.
 
 
References
  1. Neelapu SS, Locke FL, Bartlett NL, et al. Axicabtagene ciloleucel CAR T-cell therapy in refractory large B-cell lymphoma. N Engl J Med. 2017;377(26):2531-2544. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1707447.
  2. FDA approves axicabtagene ciloleucel for large B-cell lymphoma [news release]. Silver Springs, MD: FDA; October 18, 2017. bit.ly/2IWft3h. Updated October 25, 2017. Accessed August 28, 2019.
  3. Neelapu SS, Jacobson CA, Oluwole OO, et al. Outcomes of patients (pts) ≥ 65 years of age in ZUMA-1, a pivotal phase 1/2 study of axicabtagene ciloleucel (axi-cel) in refractory large B cell lymphoma (LBCL). J Clin Oncol. 2019;37(suppl 15; abstr 7555). doi: 10.1200/JCO.2019.37.15_suppl.7555.



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Annual Hematology Meeting Cochair Encourages Embracing of CAR T-Cell Therapy
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