At this year’s American Society of Hematology (ASH) meeting, we will see more on new and different targets we can utilize in myeloma, noted Deepu Madduri, MD, assistant professor at the Icahn School of Medicine in New York City and associate director of its cellular therapy program.
We’ve learned a lot from the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, and at this year’s American Society of Hematology (ASH) meeting, we will see more on new and different targets we can utilize in the myeloma space, noted Deepu Madduri, MD, assistant professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City and associate director of its cellular therapy program.
Does the pandemic have the potential to fundamentally change medicine and patient interactions going forward?
I think we have learned a lot from COVID-19. And like I mentioned, not only clinical trials, but during the initial COVID phase when we didn’t understand what was going on and how it was going to impact our patients, we were switching a lot of our patients to oral chemotherapy; we were switching a lot of patients to telehealth, because they have a lot of comorbidities, they may be in the high-risk category for getting COVID; and we wanted to kind of protect our patients as well.
During the time where it had gotten better during the August, September time, some of our patients still continued to prefer video visits because they were still a little hesitant to come out of their house until the vaccine comes out. So we were able to still take care of the patients. We’re offering even more treatments because we’re able to see more patients; that’s not restricted to New York City alone. We’re seeing patients out of state, out of the country, and doing initial consultations with them, helping guide them through their treatment. I feel like we’re all learning from it and we’re making the best out of what we can.
What are you most looking forward to at ASH?
I think what I’m excited to hear about is the update on AlloCAR, just to see how these patients who are getting allogeneic CAR T [chimeric antigen receptor T-cell] transplant are doing. I’m also interested in looking at other targets. So I know GPRC5D bispecific is being presented at ASH this year by my colleague [Ajai Chari, MD, PhD; Abstract 290], so I’m excited to see how those patients are doing. As you know, in the myeloma field, we’re quite saturated with a lot of clinical trials targeting BCMA [B-cell maturation antigen], so it’s exciting to have other targets that we can use to treat these myeloma patients.
What will be the biggest takeaways from this year’s meeting?
I think this year’s meeting is going to be quite different, because it’s the first time we’re doing it virtually. I know some of us had experienced the virtual meeting with ASCO. But I think what we really learned is how to get together with our colleagues. We’ve done a lot more meetings virtually, and we’ve been sharing ideas, coming up with new protocols that we could possibly do to help our patients. And I feel like this meeting is going to be the same. We have a lot of new data coming out on bispecifics, on CAR T, so it’ll just be exciting to see what comes out of it and how we can move forward from that.