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June 17, 2021

As announced earlier this week, the IMF congratulates the recipients of the 2021 IMWG Awards, given annually by the International Myeloma Working Group (IMWG). The awards, which recognize excellence in myeloma research, will be presented at the 12th Annual IMWG Summit. More than 100 international blood cancer experts will gather virtually June 22–23 to collaborate on new treatment guidelines and ongoing research projects leading to a cure.

Dr. Nikhil Munshi will receive the Robert A. Kyle Lifetime Achievement Award, named for the world-renowned myeloma expert and honoring those whose work has resulted in significant advances in research, treatment and care of myeloma patients. Dr. Shaji Kumar will receive the Brian G.M. Durie Outstanding Achievement Award in recognition of excellence in myeloma research.

2021 IMWG Summit preview 

It is very appropriate that the 2021 Summit will focus on areas of major interest to both Drs. Munshi and Kumar and lead us forward in the search for a cure for myeloma. Those topics will include:

High-Risk Smoldering Myeloma (HR SMM) 

In this session, HR SMM will be discussed, and panelists will address questions about the best diagnostic criteria, in particular, the recently reported 2/20/20 system. Panelists will also review the best treatment options – especially for patients with ultra-high-risk disease, whose scores are 12 or greater in the new diagnostic criteria system. Dr. Kumar will be joined by Dr. María-Victoria Mateos in these discussions, which, as for every session, will be open for commentary and questions from all IMWG members.

Frontline Therapy In 2021 

Dr. Vincent Rajkumar, co-chair of the IMWG Summit, will lead the discussion of next-generation frontline therapies, with a particular focus on the use of the newer and highly effective four-drug combinations (such as Dara + VRd or KRd or VTd) versus standard three-drug combinations (including VRd or KRd or Dara Rd, the MAIA regimen). Dr. Philippe Moreau will specifically address the issue of four versus three drug regimens and Dr. Rajkumar will review the role of early versus delayed autologous stem-cell transplant (ASCT) in these settings. We expect an exciting and active discussion.

Role of MRD in Response Assessment 

This is an area of particular interest to Dr. Munshi, chair of the IMF’s i2TEAMM exploring FDA and EMA (European Medicines Agency) approval for MRD (minimal residual disease) as a surrogate endpoint. The roles of both next-generation sequencing (NGS) and next-generation flow cytometry (NGF) will be assessed, along with additional methodologies, including: mass spectrometry for sensitive testing of M-component levels; evaluation of circulating myeloma cells in the bloodstream; and advanced imaging (such as whole-body CT and PET/CT or MRI) to detect any residual disease. 

Both Dr. Bruno Paiva and Dr. Jesús San Miguel will propose a template for standardization of MRD testing within clinical trials, which will greatly assist with the assessment of best outcomes in clinical practice and for FDA and EMA surrogacy approvals.  

CAR T-Cell Therapies 

Again, Dr. Munshi has a particular interest in this area, having been the senior author of the manuscript published in the NEJM that summarized the results of the bb2121 CAR T-cell product that recently received FDA approval as ABECMA. The exciting data on this and the many other products – such as cilta-cel (CARTITUDE trial), which is also being considered for FDA approval – will be discussed by panelists Drs. Tom Martin, Yi Lin, Jesus Berdeja, and Philippe Moreau.

New Monoclonal Antibodies

The final formal session for the 2021 Summit will be the discussion of new monoclonal antibodies, including the exciting bi-specific antibodies against BCMA (B-cell maturation antigen) and other targets. Drs. Suzanne Trudel, Alfred Garfall, Niels van de Donk and Kenneth Anderson will lead the panel. 

Working Group Committee Summary Reports

As usual, the IMWG Working Group committees will present their reports and action items for publications or projects on: 

  • Smoldering myeloma 
  • Bone disease 
  • Immune therapies 
  • Mass spectrometry 

These committees have been meeting offline to establish priorities for soliciting feedback from all working group members. Among the several exciting new projects are a planned prospective Registry for Immune Therapies linked to a Virtual Tissue Bank and the next steps in the evaluation of mass spectrometry. The details of potential new publications and research projects are highly anticipated among Summit attendees.  

Bottom Line 

The 2021 IMWG Summit will result in many action items to help move myeloma research ahead. We will capture all the feedback in this virtual setting in preparation for what we hope will be many active discussions at in-person activities, which can happen very soon. In the meantime, we will continue to focus on best strategies for myeloma patient care, including COVID-19 vaccinations to combat the pandemic and the integration of best new therapies in the post COVID-19 world.

While the annual IMWG Summit is a closed meeting, check the IMF video page https://www.myeloma.org/imf-videos for a replay of the event.  

Translations:

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Image of Dr. Brian G.M. DurieDr. Brian G.M. Durie serves as Chairman of the International Myeloma Foundation and serves on its Scientific Advisory Board. Additionally, he is Chairman of the IMF's International Myeloma Working Group, a consortium of nearly 200 myeloma experts from around the world. Dr. Durie also leads the IMF’s Black Swan Research Initiative®.

 

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