Research Funded by The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Among Highlights at Annual American Society of Hematology Meeting

Dec 05, 2013, 12:00 ET from The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., Dec. 5, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Many researchers funded by The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) will be among those presenting exciting new directions in blood cancer research at the 55th American Society of Hematology (ASH) Annual Meeting and Exposition in New Orleans in early December. The meeting takes place from December 7-10 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.

Advances in immune-stimulating therapies, moleculary-targeted drug therapies, including epigenetics-targeting strategies, and state-of-the-art molecular diagnostics will be among the important areas of focus at the meeting.

"The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) funds research across the continuum, from basic discovery to clinical trials, and partners with industry to further accelerate therapies through the drug discovery pipeline," said LLS chief scientific officer Lee Greenberger, Ph.D. "It will be exciting to learn about the latest data presented by the world's leading blood cancer researchers. LLS exists to find cures and ensure patient access to blood cancer therapies and it is gratifying to see our many years of investment – which is now close to $1 billion – helping to advance therapies that are saving lives today."

Especially noteworthy are a variety of different molecular approaches to treat patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), a disease that until recently had seen  only small changes in the standard of care.  

Positive data from clinical trials will be presented on novel, oral small molecule inhibitors of Bruton's tyrosine kinase (BTK), a protein implicated in the development of several B-cell cancers (ibrutinib and CC-292). Studies on the drugs have been supported by LLS and shown clinical activity in many patients with CLL. Ibrutinib recently received U.S. FDA approval as a treatment for patients with mantle cell lymphoma.  Positive clinical data will also be presented on novel therapies, idelalisib and IPI-145, drugs that target PIK3CA, another protein that plays a role in CLL and lymphoma.

Other methods to treat CLL will also be in the spotlight, including data on a drug called ABT-199, which LLS funding has helped advance. This promising drug works by inducing apoptosis, a form of cell death that is reduced in many cancers, including CLL.

New immunotherapy approaches have also increasingly drawn attention in recent years and will be further highlighted at the meeting. Modified T-cell are engineered to bind to and kill the patient's tumor cells. Much of this work is being advanced by LLS-supported investigators who are real leaders in this exciting field. This therapeutic approach, which harnesses the patient's own immune system, is particularly exciting since it has already demonstrated clinical utility in the treatment of acute lymphocytic leukemia and CLL, and emerging preclinical data suggest that it can be used to treat multiple myeloma and acute myeloid leukemia.

Studies of epigenetics, small chemical additions that can alter gene activities without mutating the DNA code of those genes, have recently produced promising new therapeutic opportunities. Several LLS-funded researchers will present their findings in this area. For example, talks will describe new drugs being developed to target the DOT1L protein, which is implicated in a rare form of leukemia called mixed-lineage leukemia, and drugs that target the EZH2 protein, which is implicated in multiple lymphoma types.

Also of interest are presentations on the application of functional analysis combined with genetic abnormalities in individual patient samples that have the potential to apply specific existing and emerging agents to treat patients with AML, ALL and T-ALL; Several multi-investigator collaborative groups funded by LLS will have oral presentations at ASH in this area. 

The full utility of molecularly targeted therapies will require multiple, new molecular diagnostics.  LLS is hosting a satellite symposium on December 6 at the New Orleans Marriott, 555 Canal Street, entitled: From Omics to Clinics: Using New Technologies to Advance Diagnosis and Treatment of Hematologic Malignancies. The program, featuring seven renowned researchers, will focus on how cancer genomics and technology combine to help advance better blood cancer therapies and select optimal specific treatments for individual patients.

LLS experts are available to comment on the implications of these and other new research findings for the treatment of patients with blood cancers. To arrange interviews in advance or during the conference, please contact Andrea Greif at (914) 772-3027 (cell).

About The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society ® (LLS) is the world's largest voluntary health agency dedicated to blood cancer. The LLS mission: Cure leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. LLS funds lifesaving blood cancer research around the world, provides free information and support services, and is the voice for all blood cancer patients seeking access to quality, affordable, coordinated care.  

Founded in 1949 and headquartered in White Plains, NY, LLS has chapters throughout the United States and Canada. To learn more, visit Patients should contact the Information Resource Center at (800) 955-4572, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET.

Contact: Andrea Greif
(914) 821-8958 (office)
(914) 772-3027 (cell)

SOURCE The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society