Saturday (Day 2) started at 6:30 a.m. with a working breakfast of the International Myeloma Working Group. Lead by Dr. Brian Durie's uncanny ability to inspire trust and instigate discussion, the group discussed various guidelines and publications that were in the works. One of the objectives of these guidelines is to make Myeloma treatment uniform across the globe. Besides the completeness and holistic nature of the subjects discussed, it was impressive to see physicians (160) and researchers from different institutions and 31 countries coming together and collaborating to advance Myeloma research worldwide.
Today's ASH News Daily newspaper had an interesting article on Myeloma - specifically "The rule of Three to Treat Myeloma." It suggested that things that come in three are funnier, more satisfying or more effective than other number of things. While at first I thought it was building on Jim's write-up from yesterday regarding the use of three drug combination being more effective than a two drug combination or less toxic than a four, it was actually suggesting that the combination of Autologous Stem Cell Transplant (ASCT), Proteoasome inhibitors (Velcade, Carphilzomib) and immune modulatory drugs (Thalomid, Revlimid Pomalidomide) are changing the treatment, care and quality of life of Myeloma patients.
It is always refreshing to see Dr. S. Vincent Rajkumar of the Mayo Clinic challenging traditional thinking. During the first educational session of the day, Dr. Rajkumar indicated the goal of treatment should be increasing the quality and length of overall survival (OS) and not just the statistical improvement of progression free survival (PFS). He also reinforced the concept that Myeloma is a holding term for a conglomeration of different subtypes each requiring its own diagnosis, treatment and forecasting strategies.
The theme of the afternoon poster sessions was around the use of Revlimid or Velcade with or without high/low does Dex and/or with other investigational drugs to enhance efficacy of relapsed refractory Myeloma patients. While most of them were promising, none, in my opinion, were breakthroughs.
Visiting the Millennium, Celgene and Onyx booths at the Exhibit hall, it was great to see the future looking, ambitious and personalized goals of these companies. Millennium indicated "WE ASPIRE TO CURE CANCER," Celgene's motto said "COMMITTED TO PUTTING PATIENTS FIRST WORLD WIDE" and Onyx had a display that said, "We share the hopes, dreams and worries of every patient we touch."
Since 1994, the IMF has awarded over 100 research grants to junior and senior researchers. This year also, the IMF awarded the Brian D. Novis and Aki Horinouchi Research Grants to recipients from around the world. For the first time every one of the recipients was from China. The award ceremony included the stories of Myeloma survivors, driving home the point that Myeloma research and treatment is about the patient. These personal stories highlighted the need for a breakthrough, translational research!
Can you imagine what the world of comedy would look like if Peter Boyle lived to his 80s?
Can you imagine what the world of advocacy would look like if Brian D. Novis lived to his 60s?
Can you imagine what the family of Elijah Alexander would look like if he lived to his 40s?
Can you imagine what "Sandra," born in 1987, would be able to do if she is not going to be diagnosed with Myeloma in 2013 at a young age of 25?
Can you imagine....
Sharing the Hope!
Yelak from North Texas Myeloma Support Group