ASH 2021 preview: COVID-19 thrombosis, small molecule inhibitors and CAR T-cell therapies


It was inevitable that COVID-19, including the science of thrombosis in COVID-19, outcomes of COVID-19 in haematology patients, and COVID-19 vaccine responses in immunocompromised patients, would feature on the program at the 63rd ASH Annual Meeting and Exposition.

However COVID-19 won’t stop some people attending the #ASH21 meeting next week which is being held as a hybrid event, both virtual and in-person in Atlanta, Georgia.

While travel to the US for #ASH21 wasn’t an option this year for Australian haematologists, their research will be well represented.

For example, the ALLG has highlighted some of its trials being presented across leukaemia, lymphoma and multiple myeloma.

Tips from ASH insiders

An #ASH21 media briefing highlighted diversifying care in leukaemia across age and race, and advances in immunotherapy as two key themes in the program.

For example, ASH president Dr Martin Tallman flagged the phase 3 AGILE study of ivosidenib plus azacitidine versus azacitidine alone in older patients with newly diagnosed AML. (Mon, Dec 13)

He said the addition of the mutant IDH1 inhibitor ivosidenib significantly improved outcomes compared to azacitidine alone.

“Although the standard of care has actually changed to azacitidine plus venetoclax, the results showed that the combination led to a better outcome than azacitidine alone. This study demonstrates our new-found ability to treat older adults, many of whom are not candidates for intensive chemotherapy.”

ASH Secretary Dr Cynthia Dunbar highlighted two eagerly awaited abstracts – the first phase 3 trials on CAR T cell therapy versus standard of care in relapsed/refractory large B cell lymphoma.

They are the completed ZUMA-7 trial of Axi-cel and interim results from the TRANSFORM study of Liso-cel.

She said both studies report significantly longer survival without relapse in the CAR T cell arms.

“These abstracts provide critical information to patients, their treating physicians and to payers who are trying to decide whether the use of these expensive, complex and potentially toxic CAR T cell therapies are justified compared to standard therapies,” Dr Dunbar said.

In non-malignant haematology, a phase 3 study of the siRNA therapeutic fitusiran in haemophilia is being presented in the Late Breaking Abstract session. (Tues, Dec 14)

Some other sessions to note in the program include:

  • ASH/FDA Joint Symposia on Newly Approved Drugs (Mon, Dec 13)
  • AI, Data Science, Computer Vision and the Haematology Laboratory of the Future (Sun, Dec 12)
  • Special Scientific Session on Race and Science (Sat, Dec 11)
  • ASH-EHA Joint Symposium (Sun, Dec 12).
  • Presidential Symposium (Tues, Dec 14)

In February you can also join the limbic and three expert panels in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane as they present the best of the 2021 ASH Annual Meeting and consider the impacts for practice. For more information click here. 

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