May 2018 ALLG Scientific Meeting Highlights

 In News, Scientific Meeting

The Australasian Leukaemia and Lymphoma Group (ALLG) held its May 2018 Scientific Meeting (SM) in Melbourne with 270 members in attendance.


The highlights of the meeting included:

Haematology Education Day

The Haematology Education Day held on Tuesday focussed on AML and MDS, with talks from Prof David Ritchie, A/Prof Andrew Wei, A/Prof David Westerman and A/Prof Melita Kenealy. The day commenced with David Westerman’s presentation on the diagnosis and classification of AML and MDS, a talk which demonstrated marked utility for those in attendance. David Ritchie introduced the group to the world of bone marrow transplant, which gave the group valuable insight into the indications, conditioning regimens and the basic immunology associated with allogeneic transplants in AML and MDS patients. Melita Kenealy provided a more in-depth review of the current landscape in MDS, from diagnosis to classification, and then down the treatment pathway for the more common sub-types. Closing out the day, Andrew Wei presented an in-depth strategic plan for AML trials within the ALLG. This topic covered NGS Harmonisation (LS19), the INTERCEPT study (LS20, standardising and validating the utility of MRD in AML), the International AML Maintenance Platform (AMLM22) and two new proposed front line studies in collaboration with HOVON (AMLM23 and AMLM24). Finally, Andrew covered a new proposed AML study in the elderly population, a proposal of immense value to the ALLG and these patients. Feedback from the group was overwhelmingly positive, and indicated the ultimate value of these education days for the research nurses and data managers.

Data Managers Day

Attendees at the Wednesday Data Managers Day welcomed a presentation by Michele Gambrill on the electronic filing of site clinical trial documents. The presentation stimulated lot of discussion amongst attendees, with several attendees reporting that they were now keen to implement a similar system at their site. A great example of peer to peer collaboration fostered by the ALLG.

Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL) Clinical Research Workshop

The Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL) Clinical Research Workshop on Wednesday focused on the important role of MRD in directing ALL management. MRD allows us to predict those patients most likely to relapse and to detect early signs of relapse prior to clinical relapse occurring. This can help physicians to determine the best course of treatment for these higher risk patients. It was interesting to hear of the different methods for MRD detection in use around the world.

Janey Stone Perpetual Award

We would like to thank our 2017 “Janey Stone Perpetual Award” and “Anne Lenton Memorial Scholarship” award winners Aparna Chauhan at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, WA, and Michele Gambrill at Calvary Mater Newcastle Hospital, NSW for their inspiring work performed as a result of the award opportunities. Also a big congratulations to our newly announced 2018 award recipients: Amie Connor(Site Development Project at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital WA) for being awarded the Janey Stone Perpetual Award; and Lorraine King (Point of Care Use of Mobile Device Project at St George Hospital NSW) for being awarded the Anne Lenton Memorial Scholarship. We look forward to hearing about your exciting projects at next year’s Scientific Meeting.

Network Breakfast

The Network Breakfast event achieved its objectives for the Scientific Meeting by offering the opportunity for engagement between members, staff, partners and sponsors. We welcomed more than 60 people to the breakfast and enjoyed the chance to socialise with a range of industry professionals.

MM20 trial

In the myeloma space, the MM20 trial was discussed and we heard that this trial remains the only avenue available for relapsed / refractory myeloma patients to access Elotuzumab. More sites are needed to open this important study. The MM17 study of carfilzomib, thalidomide and dexamethasone salvage for patients with a suboptimal response to initial VCD chemotherapy has completed accrual and a new trial assessing the use of lenalidomide, daratumumab and dexamethasone in the same population should open this year.

MM14 trial

An update on MM14 concluded that Maintenance with single agent POM may be more effective for sustaining disease control than continuation of POM-LoDEX after initial disease control/debulking. Correlative studies are currently underway to further investigate the immunological mechanisms behind this observation.

Dr David Yeung and Dr David Ross presentation

Dr David Yeung and Dr David Ross presented on MPN including discussion on the prognostic role of next generation sequencing panels, primarily in transplant eligible myelofibrosis.

CML Updates

In CML, 3 new trial proposals were presented addressing new questions about CML disease, quality treatment and outcomes.

CLL Updates

In CLL news, it was discussed that CLL6 and CLL7 are going through the final follow up stages. We are looking forward to an analysis of results in the next few years.

Bone Marrow Transplantation Disease Group Updates

In the Bone Marrow Transplantation disease group we discussed how acute and chronic graft-versus-host disease continues to be challenging to manage. The BM12 (CAST) clinical trial aims to address that by comparing post-transplant cyclophosphamide and standard GVHD prophylaxis.

AML Updates

In the AML session, Andrew Wei presented an in-depth strategic plan for AML trials within the ALLG including the APML5 study assessing oral arsenic and new proposals to participate with HOVON and AMLSG in randomised trials of FLT3 inhibitors and IDH inhibitors to improve patient outcomes. Widespread buy-in from Haematology Units to this exciting suite of trials will be essential to the success of this program. Andrew also covered an exciting new AML study proposal in the elderly population incorporating venetoclax, cytarabine and FLT3 inhibition. Prof John Pimanda spoke about the need to advance new drugs for MDS and outlined some of his own clinical and laboratory research program.

High Grade Lymphoma Session

In the High Grade Lymphoma session we heard from Prof Maher Gandhi, who announced the launch of NHL31 later in the year. The NHL31 clinical trial is an open label, Multicentre, phase 1 study of Ibrutinib, Rituximab and 3rd party EBV specific T cells in patients with immunosuppression related EBV-positive B cell lymphomas, that are relapsed/refractory or unsuitable for standard first-line treatments. As it is a rare cancer study, the trial is looking to recruit 20 patients over 3 years in at least one hospital per state.

A/Prof Craig French presentation

The ALLG welcomed Chair, ANZICS Clinical Trials Group, A/Prof Craig French who discussed intensive care clinical trials with the need to reduce patient care costs. ANZICS performs Multicenter Critical Care Research in Australia and New Zealand. Since 1975, ANZICS has included 47k patients into randomised controlled clinical trials, included 28k patients in observational studies and published 160 manuscripts in medical journals. This combined offers a significant impact on world-wide intensive practice for a global community of clinicians and researchers.

Prof Doug Hilton AO

Prof Doug Hilton AO

The ALLG invited Prof Doug Hilton AO from Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research to address the membership on the Friday. Doug described the key challenges confronting research institutes and shared his experience of implementing a number of key activities to help retain young researchers. WEHI values young researchers and has a commitment to fostering their careers; examples of initiatives that work toward that commitment is the new onsite childcare facility set to open this year, a grant program to support childcare arrangements in moments of the professional advancement of the researcher such as invited guest speaker events, and a program that delivers research assistance to those that are undertaking career breaks such as for parental leave periods. Doug also spoke to the matter of gender equity noting that WEHI has introduced a number of practice and procedural changes to instil a stronger culture of gender equality in research. This was a well-attended session and created engaging discussion amongst the attendees. Thank you to Doug Hilton for sharing your time and expertise with our members.

Chasing Rainbows: The Perfect Study Design

“Chasing Rainbows: The Perfect Study Design” talk by Dr Eliza Hawkes, highlighted the difficulties of developing an investigator-initiated study, the hurdles, and how to overcome them. We also heard tips on developing new trial ideas, ways to seek support for your research and support from the ALLG.

Marketing and Communications

Marketing and communications has undergone quite a bit of change at the ALLG this year. We have redeveloped the ALLG’s image and value-offer and many of our members would have noticed the new banners, brochures, infographics, the new “Welcome Card”, and the member fundraising campaign letters on display. We will be continuing to support our members by providing tailored stakeholder communications to improve access to information and news regarding the organisation.

A/Prof Peter Mollee introduced the new 2018 SAC

Chair of the Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC), A/Prof Peter Mollee introduced the new 2018 SAC and called on the membership to support the ALLG and each other by opening new trials and recruiting patients to achieve research objectives. He also congratulated the ALLG on achieving 8 ALLG trials publications in Peer Review Journals during 2017.

The next Scientific Meeting will be held in 13-16 November, 2018 at the Brisbane Hilton.

For further information about the ALLG, its trial portfolio and other activities, please contact the ALLG.