Asian Myeloma Network Annual Summit
A summary report from the 6th Annual Asian Myeloma Network (AMN) Summit which took place in-person from October 13-16 in Singapore.
The 6th Annual Asian Myeloma Network (AMN) Summit was held from October 13-16 in Singapore. Here, more than a hundred myeloma experts met to discuss the most important topics in myeloma research.
Because they were meeting in person for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, attendees were incredibly enthusiastic and excited.
The programs for this year’s in-person meetings included the 2nd AMN Master Class, the 2nd Asian Patient Support Seminar, and the full AMN Summit 2-day Program. Many participants also joined virtually from studios in China and Hong Kong.
Attendance to the annual summit was exceptional this year: 95 physicians from 8 Asian countries participated in the AMN Master Class; 81 patient-care partner leaders from 7 Asian countries attended the Asian Patient Support Seminar; and 114 myeloma experts from 10 Asian countries joined the formal AMN Summit.
The programs were hosted by the AMN Singapore team: Director of the National University Cancer Institute of Singapore Wee Joo Chng, MD (National University Health System—Singapore); Chandramouli Nagarajan, MB BS, MD, MRCP, FRCPath, FRCP (Department of Haematology, Singapore General Hospital—Singapore); and Daryl Tan, MD (Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital—Singapore).
Led by IMF Chairman of the Board and Chief Scientific Officer Brian G.M. Durie MD, the renowned international faculty included Jeffrey Huang, MD, PhD (Dept. of Hematology, National Taiwan University Hospital, Dept. of Internal Medicine, Provincial Tao-yuan General Hospital—Taiwan); S. Vincent Rajkumar, MD (Mayo Clinic—Rochester, NY); Thomas Martin, MD (University of California San Francisco—San Francisco, CA); and Jean Luc Harousseau, MD (University of Nantes—Nantes, France).
The IMF Team was also in full force. In attendance were Executive Vice President of Medical Affairs Lisa Paik; Senior Vice President of Global Affairs Daniel Navid; Executive Vice President of Strategic Planning Diane Moran; and the Meetings Planning Team (headed by Senior Director of Strategic Program Management Annabel Reardon).
2nd Asian Master Class
The events kicked off on October 13 and 14 with the 2nd AMN Master Class—a training course for 95 mid-level myeloma treating physicians from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. This is the first time that attendants from the Philippines and Vietnam participated.
The program featured lectures on the status of myeloma in Asia, global myeloma diagnostic criteria, prognostic factors and risk stratification, and treatment options for both newly diagnosed and relapsed/refractory patients. The goal was to integrate global information into practical guidelines for myeloma care in Asia.
New immune therapies were also presented, with great excitement over CAR T-cell and Bispecifics. Juan Du, MD, PhD (Changzeng Hospital—Shanghai, China) presented important new data on CAR T-cell therapy in the frontline setting in China. The results during the pandemic were remarkable—with very high-level MRD negativity achieved.
This was followed by a review of clinical cases. Each case was presented with data summaries, test results, images, etc. Precise recommendations and discussions were made possible because of the availability of rich patient information.
An end-of-course examination was administered with certificates provided to the successful participants. After receiving remarkably positive feedback, the IMF is planning to expand this program in the future.
2nd Asian Patient Support Seminar
The 2nd Asian Patient Support Seminar took place on October 14—a crucial support update for participants from 7 Asian countries. Chaired by Dr. Daryl Tan, the seminar was a gathering of 81 myeloma patients and caregivers from Korea, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand (in-person), along with patients and caregivers joining virtually from China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
On the medical side, Dr. Tan led the discussion and review of Asian Myeloma Patient Society Requirements and specific needs to further enhance patient support throughout Asia.
For the IMF’s part, Dan Navid and Diane Moran led the discussions on support requirements and inter-regional cooperation.
Participants learned about progress in the establishment of work in each of these locations, as well as gathered valuable insights about future needs for myeloma patient support. An 'Asian Tool Kit' to enhance the work of the various local societies is being developed. Follow-up projects are also being pursued in various countries and regions.
As a result of this successful patient support seminar, the AMN will be pushing ahead with another one, as well as other training courses in 2023.
6th Annual Asian Myeloma Network Summit
The highly anticipated 6th Asian Myeloma Network Summit took place from October 14-16. Attended by some 114 participants from 10 Asian countries (China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam), the AMN Summit continued to set the standard as the key myeloma forum for Asian physicians.
The agenda was the usual blend of global and Asian presentations, covering a broad range of topics that followed the model of the International Myeloma Working Group (IMWG).
The AMN Summit featured expert presentations, debates, and discussions as well as series of working group sessions designed to identify research priorities in Asia on the following subjects:
- Immune therapy (co-chaired by Dr. Juan Du and Dr. Thomas Martin)
- MRD Assessment (co-chaired by Dr. Wenming Chen and Dr. Brian G.M. Durie)
- Treatment of High-Risk Patients (co-chaired by Dr. Wee Joo Chng and Prof. James Chim)
- Bone/Imaging in Asia (co-chaired by Dr. Kazuyuki Shimizu and Dr. Chandramouli Nagarajan)
The presentations included some updates about the pending commercial rollout of both next-generation flow (NGF) assessment of minimal residual disease (MRD) testing as well as Mass Spectrometry testing, with both expected by mid-2023 to 2024.
Additionally, Dr. Harousseau discussed the continued difficulties in drug access as well as drug costs, with no clear path forward on how to hurdle these enormous challenges for both physicians and patients in Asia.
Keynote Presentation: Screening for MGUS
The formal summit agenda for 2022 began with a new addition—a keynote presentation on screening for monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS) by Head of Hematology at the University of Iceland and principal investigator for the Black Swan Research Initiative’s® (BSRI) iStopMM (Iceland Screens, Treats, or Prevents Multiple Myeloma) Project Dr. Sigurður Yngvi Kristinsson who gave a lecture on “Is Screening the Way to Go?”
The iStopMM Project began in 2017, with over 80,000 Icelandic individuals screened, and with results now available. Over 4,000 patients with either MGUS, smoldering multiple myeloma (SMM) or active multiple myeloma were identified and randomized as part of an ongoing trial to assess of early detailed testing and/or early treatment intervention can improve outcomes and perhaps produce a cure for some individuals.
Although the results are very promising with, for example, more-than-expected cases of SMM being identified, it is still too soon to know the magnitude of benefit that can be derived from the screening process. Nonetheless, it is greatly anticipated that screening will be “the way to go” and will end up being the cost-effective approach to early disease management.
Follow-up information will be presented at the upcoming 64th American Society of Hematology (ASH) Annual Meeting, which will be held in New Orleans in December 2022.
The iStopMM Project will be showcasing 10 abstracts (with 4 oral presentations and 6 posters) during the 2022 ASH Annual Meeting.
Learning about the iStopMM Project drew positive feedback from the AMN Summit participants and questions were raised about the possibility of doing a similar population screening program in the Asia-Pacific region, notably in Singapore.
Working Group Sessions
During the opening session, Dr. Rajkumar and Dr. Tan had a debate on frontline therapy approaches. This was followed by a debate between Dr. Du and Dr. Martin on CAR-T therapy vs other immune therapies.
To sum up, the presentations that followed include:
- Dr. Durie presented a global overview of MRD Assessment and MRD educational needs in Asia
- Dr. Stephen Harding (The Binding Site Group Ltd—Birmingham, UK) provided an update on Mass Spectrometry for Asia
- Prof. Chim reviewed relapse/refractory multiple myeloma issues in Asia
- Dr. Chng presented information on New Treatments and Clinical Trials
- Dr. Jens Hillengass (Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center—Buffalo, NY) provided a report on Imaging Techniques
- Dr. Harousseau provided an analysis on Drug Access Challenges
A final lively discussion was devoted to considering priority needs for treatment in Asia as well priorities for AMN work into the coming year.
The Working Group Sessions were the most exciting part of this year’s summit.
Overall, the 2022 AMN Annual Summit was a great success. Summarized by Dr. Chng and Dr. Durie, some of the many projects moving forward include:
- New clinical trials with one incorporating MRD testing for the first time and finding ways to enroll patients who are typically excluded from clinical trials
- The establishment of the AMN Virtual Tissue and Data Bank with a plethora of new projects becoming feasible, including one on single cell analyses
- Projects for high-risk myeloma, which have been discussed for several years; new projects include identifying features of patients with early relapse and short survival as well as a new treatment trial for those with high-risk disease
- Asian Resource Stratified Imaging Guidelines were introduced for the first time (comprehensive imaging has been a challenge throughout Asia so a structured approach was warmly received)
- Plans for MRD workshops were set in motion to streamline the standardization of MRD testing across the network
- Strengthened partnership with AMN’s academic CRO (SCRI)
- Expanded agenda to involve young myeloma physicians via the AMN Master Class and other initiatives
- Enhanced attention for myeloma patient support throughout Asia
The 7th AMN Annual Summit, along with the associated AMN Master Class and AMN Patient Support Seminar, will be held in Bangkok, Thailand from October 18-22 in 2023.