The 65th American Society of Hematology (ASH) annual conference has come and gone. I look forward to this each year, and so much preparation is done by staff at the International Myeloma Foundation (IMF) to help our Support Group Leader (SGL) team be ready for the challenge. And it is a challenge. IMF Chairman of the Board and Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Brian G.M. Durie and IMF Chief Medical Officer Dr. Mikhael read over the 1,000 myeloma abstracts that will be presented to help narrow down the ones that they feel are most important for us. Then the schedule is put together for those SGLs who are in-person at ASH and those who are joining ASH virtually. They mesh this all together, plan all the travel and logistics, as well as time for the virtual and in-person groups to meet on Zoom and discuss each day’s information. Trust me, it takes a village and then some! The days are long and so much information is presented during those 3 days. Then, in a flash, it is over.

Here are some of my thoughts on what I found new and interesting. Real-world was a buzzword in abstracts presented this year. These abstracts report findings from studying newer treatments given in the real-world versus in a clinical trial. Many of the patients receiving these treatments in the real-world setting would not have met the eligibility criteria for a clinical trial.

One of these abstracts reported results from a one-year study of TECVAYLI™ (teclistamab) in a real-world setting. These were heavily pre-treated and relapsed/refractory patients and would not have met the eligibility criteria for the MajestTEC-1 trial. Teclistamab was well-tolerated and effective for these patients, and the overall response was similar to the trial. However, the rates of complete response were lower than in the trial. The durability and deepening of these responses need to be determined with a longer follow-up in the real-world population.

There was an abstract presentation that was fascinating, but a bit over my head. It discussed using artificial intelligence (AI) to help in making treatment decisions. Each myeloma patient is unique and deciding which treatment is best at relapse is difficult. However, using AI may help predict which treatment may work better than another. I hope to see more studies like this in the future. For me, personally, I look at many of these trials and wonder if this be a good treatment for me? Can I tolerate the potential side effects? Do I want to tolerate those side effects? Is there something that will work better with less side effects? There is no crystal ball to predict these things, but AI may give us some insight.

Last week at my support group holiday gathering, I shared some of the things I found exciting at ASH. I am forever grateful to the IMF for asking me to be a part of this team which allows me to keep educating my support group. And none of this could be accomplished without the amazing support of our sponsors:  Bristol Myers Squibb, Janssen, Karyopharm, Takeda Oncology, and Regeneron.

Please take the time to read the blogs of my fellow support group leaders. They have so much more information than I have shared with you. Teamwork makes the dream work!!! Happy Holidays until next year!!!

– Sheri Baker

@blondie1746 on X (Twitter)