Conference Coverage

ASH 2018 coming attractions look at the big picture


In the closest thing the medical world has to movie trailers, the American Society of Hematology held a press conference offering a peek into the much anticipated (and much hyped) clinical and research abstracts that will be presented at the 2018 ASH annual meeting.

Shorter R-CHOP regimen for DLBCL

Under the heading “Big Trials, Big Results” will be data from the FLYER trial, a phase 3, randomized, deescalation trial in 592 patients aged 18-60 years with favorable-prognosis diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. The investigators report that both progression-free survival and overall survival with four cycles of R-CHOP (rituximab plus cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine and prednisone) were noninferior to those for patients treated with six cycles of R-CHOP (abstract 781).

Dr. Robert A. Brodsky, director of the division of hematology at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore

Dr. Robert A. Brodsky

“Chemotherapy can have late effects: There can be cardiac toxicity from the Adriamycin [doxorubicin] years later and there can even be second malignancies, so especially in younger patients with low-risk disease it’s a big advantage to be able to deescalate care, and this is almost certain to be practice changing,” said Robert A. Brodsky, MD, of Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, who also currently serves as ASH secretary.

Ibrutinib mastery in CLL

Also on the program are results of a study showing that ibrutinib (Imbruvica), either alone or in combination with rituximab, is associated with superior progression-free survival than bendamustine and rituximab in older patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL).

The trial, the Alliance North American Intergroup Study A041202 (abstract 6) is the first major trial to pit ibrutinib against the modern standard of immunochemotherapy rather than the older standard of chlorambucil, Dr. Brodsky noted.

Anemia support in beta-thalassemia, MDS

In nonmalignant disease, investigators in the randomized, phase 3 BELIEVE trial are reporting results of their study showing that the first-in-class erythroid maturation agent luspatercept was associated with significant reductions in the need for RBC transfusion in adults with transfusion-dependent beta-thalassemia.

The investigators report that the experimental agent was “generally well tolerated” (abstract 163).

Dr. Alexis A. Thompson, president, American Society of Hematology

Dr. Alexis A. Thompson

“Beyond a proof of principle, [this is] certainly a very exciting advancement in this group of patients who otherwise had very few treatment options,” said Alexis A. Thompson, MD, associate director of equity and minority health at the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University, Chicago, and the current ASH president.

Dr. Thompson also highlighted the MEDALIST trial (abstract 1), a phase 3, randomized study showing that luspatercept significantly reduced transfusion burden, compared with placebo, in patients with anemia caused by very low–, low-, or intermediate-risk myelodysplastic syndrome with ring sideroblasts who require RBC transfusions.

“This group of patients were individuals who were refractory or were not responders or did not tolerate erythropoietic stimulating agents and therefore were requiring regular transfusion,” Dr. Thompson said.

Worth the wait

The late-breaking abstract program was stretched from the usual six abstracts to seven this year because of the unusually high quality of the science, Dr. Brodsky said.


Next Article: