Last weekend marked the 59th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Hematology or ASH. Here is a run-through of the news we couldn’t cover.

The American Society of Hematology (ASH) boasts more than 17,000 members from almost 100 countries, making it the world’s largest professional society for those hoping to beat blood diseases. The Society aims to improve the understanding, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of blood disorders. Last year, Novartis arrived with impressive CAR-T results, which saw it win the race for FDA approval – so a strong performance at the conference could be a good omen.

Hematology is the study of blood, which includes investigating problems with blood cells, platelets, blood vessels, bone marrow, lymph nodes, the spleen, and the proteins involved in bleeding and clotting that can cause disease. ASH believes that it is important to know about blood and the effect that disorders like anemia, hemophilia, and blood cancers have on us.

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We have covered some exciting news so far, whether it be Servier and Pfizer’s CAR-T results or ADC Therapeutic’s lymphoma study. But to make sure you don’t miss a thing, here is a summary of the rest of the big news coming out of the conference.


MorphoSys Combination Therapy Boosts Lymphoma Response Rate and Survival

MorphoSys presented data from an ongoing Phase II trial investigating its monoclonal antibody, MOR208, in combination with lenalidomide – a current first-line drug for lymphoma. Preliminary data show an objective response rate of 52% (23 out of 44 patients) and complete remission was observed in 32% (14 out of 44 patients). The preliminary median progression-free survival was calculated to be 11.3 months and no unexpected toxicities were observed during the study.


Janssen’s Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitor is Effective and Well-Tolerated

Janssen announced the results of a pooled analysis of patients with mantle cell lymphoma treated with Imbruvica – a Bruton’s tyrosine kinase inhibitor, which forms a strong covalent bond to block the transmission of cell survival signals in malignant B cells. 53% of patients survived for 2 years, 45% for 3 years, and 37% for 5 years and the median overall survival was 26.7 months. Treatment-emergent adverse events appeared in almost 80% of patients, but the study population did include at-risk individuals.


PharmaMar’s Candidate Improves Myeloma Survival But By How Much?

PharmaMar’s candidate, Plitidepsin, targets the eEF1A2 protein to block its pro-oncogenic properties and prevents the removal of toxic misfolded proteins, which causes them to build up and induces apoptosis. Although the candidate doubled progression-free survival, this was far less impressive than first thought, with an improvement of under two months – from 1.9 months to 3.8 months. Secondary endpoints of the Phase III study were overall survival, which almost doubled from 6.4 months to 11.6 months, and safety, which was superior to other drugs for multiple myeloma.


uniQure is Looking Good in its Phase I/II Study for Severe Hemophilia B

uniQure provided an update on its long-term study investigating its gene therapy candidate, AMT-060, for the treatment of severe hemophilia B. The treatment, which is delivered by an AAV5 remains safe and well-tolerated after 2 years, with no loss of Factor IX activity or immune response against the virus reported. The treatment has led to a sustained increase in Factor IX clotting activity, with an 89% reduction in spontaneous bleeds and none recorded in the past year.


Affimed’s Combination Therapy is Well-Tolerated and the Overall Response Rate Looks Good

Affimed has investigated the safety and tolerability of a combination therapy of its lead product, AFM13, with Merck’s anti-PD1 antibody Keytruda after the failure of standard therapies. Overall, the combination was well-tolerated and the 3-month overall response rate of 83% compares favorably to that of pembrolizumab alone in a similar patient population. Patient recruitment for an extension of the study looking at the highest dose (7.0 mg/kg) explored during the study.


Nordic Nanovector’s Candidate Impresses with Strong Phase I/II Performance

Nordic Nanovector’s lead candidate, Betalutin, is a CD37-targeting Antibody-Radionuclide-Conjugate (ARC), which has been developed to improve the treatment of non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. An overall response rate of 60% was observed, a complete response was seen in 24% of patients, and 90% of patients’ tumors reduced in size. Betalutin’s safety profile was also impressive, with only reversible transient neutropenia and thrombocytopenia and a low incidence of infections observed.


Images – Phonlamai Photo, ustas7777777, David Litman, LindseyRN, Victor Josan, CI Photos, Christoph Burgstedt / shutterstock.com

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