The IMF Team in Asia: Connecting With Top Myeloma Experts, Collaborating on New Guidelines, Investigating Promising Research

Week in Review
View of Earth from outer space.

The IMF team is in Tokyo this week. Susie Durie, Lisa Paik, Dan Navid, and I are here for the 43rd Annual Japanese Myeloma Society Meeting, the oldest of the country-based myeloma meetings globally and one of the most active.

It promises to be a busy week.

The Asia-Pacific region is home to approximately 60 percent of all myeloma patients, so it’s fitting that in the meeting’s keynote lecture, I will address the question we researchers constantly ask: “Can we cure or prevent myeloma?”

The IMF is hosting a special workshop at the meeting on minimal residual disease (MRD) featuring guest expert Dr. Bruno Paiva of the University of Navarra, Spain. Dr. Paiva will discuss the use of Next-Generation Flow (NGF) cytometry, a technology developed with the support of the IMF’s Black Swan Research Initiative®, that is key to measuring myeloma cells that remain after treatment.

The IMF Team will meet with Mrs. Midori Horinouchi, the wife of the original founder of IMF Japan, Aki Horinouchi, a courageous and visionary myeloma patient in whose name an IMF Myeloma Research Award is given annually for myeloma research in Japan.

We will also lay the groundwork for the 2019 Asian Myeloma Network  (AMN)Summit in Tokyo. The increasingly popular annual AMN Summit, which will convene in October in Beijing, brings together myeloma experts from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, and Thailand to develop myeloma treatment guidelines and establish research priorities in the Asia-Pacific region. The AMN Summit’s format echoes that of the upcoming IMWG (International Myeloma Working Group) Summit, to be held next month in Stockholm, where key topics are discussed and action items identified for the coming year.

Relevance of Asian research

Given the prevalence of myeloma in Asia, research focused in this region is certainly important in itself. But it also increasingly contributes to the global myeloma knowledge base. There is growing evidence that although the occurrence rate for myeloma varies from region to region, the underlying biology is the same internationally. Although there is some question about whether the poor-risk 17p- cytogenetic abnormality occurs more frequently in Chinese patients, this subtype of high-risk myeloma behaves in Chinese patients as it does in patients elsewhere.

Thus, what is learned in Asia can be used to enhance understanding and treatment worldwide –- and with rapid clinical trial accrual in Asia, there is the potential for fast progress. By maintaining a global perspective, redundancy can be avoided or limited, and emphasis placed on new areas of priority.

Progress toward the cure

As I have noted in a recent blog, there is tremendous interest in the methods established by the various Black Swan Research Initiative team members. The concept of attempting disease eradication versus merely comparing one therapy versus another is really catching on. For example, the population-based screening and prevention approach developed in Iceland (iStopMM®) is now being attempted in the U.S. as part of the recently launched Stand Up to Cancer project, which will focus on myeloma in African Americans. Following the success of the Salamanca Cure Trial (CESAR, led by principle investigator Dr. María-Victoria Mateos) and the upcoming launch of the U.S. ASCENT trial, many new Cure Trial concepts are being proposed. Global collaboration is extremely helpful in both validating study results and avoiding needless duplication when study results are clear.

Bottom line

So, again, it’s very busy here. These collegial meetings and planning sessions keep us firmly on track to enhance myeloma care and improve outcomes not just in Asia, but worldwide. We must never forget that we are part of an international community, within which we can learn together, respect our clinical differences, and have mutual goals that help myeloma patients wherever they live.

Image removed.Dr. 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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