Spirit Group at the 23rd congress of the European Hematology Association

This weekend Spirit Group were in Stockholm, attending the 23rd congress of the European Hematology Association, one of the largest hematology events of the year.

Hot topics this year included:

  • The increasing use of biomarkers in the treatment of hematological malignancies. In addition to their prognostic value, biomarkers are increasingly being used to guide treatment by identifying patients likely to respond to particular therapies or those at increased risk of adverse events.
  • The move away from chemotherapies towards using combinations of targeted therapies to treat indolent Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. With a plethora of targeted therapies either approved or under investigation for use in these indications, including anti-CD20 monoclonal antibodies and B-cell receptor signaling inhibitors, the key challenge will be finding out the optimal way to combine these powerful agents.

This years’ presidential symposium (a session covering abstracts of particularly important scientific interest) included data from two studies involving rituximab, an anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody, in non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Presented first were data from the Phase 3 CLL11 study, which was designed to compare the efficacy and safety of rituximab and obinutuzumab (a glycoengineered anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody), both in combination with the chemotherapy agent chlorambucil, in patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia. In this final analysis of the study, obinutuzumab was found to significantly prolong progression-free survival, time to next treatment and overall survival compared with rituximab; however, caution must be exercised as obinutuzumab was associated with greater toxicity than rituximab.

Also presented in this session were data from the Phase 3 RELEVANCE study, which was designed to compare the efficacy and safety of rituximab combined with either chemotherapy (current standard of care) or the immunomodulatory agent lenalidomide, in patients with follicular lymphoma. The two treatments were found to have comparable efficacy, but differences in their safety profiles, suggesting that rituximab plus lenalidomide may be a treatment option for certain patients at risk of toxicities associated with the current standard of care.

In summary, a wealth of interesting and exciting research was presented across the 4-day congress in both oral and poster format. We can’t wait to see the latest data at next year’s congress in Amsterdam; we hope to see you there!