The International Myeloma Workshop was held in Boston, USA from 12th-15th September 2019. This is a conference attended by >3000 medical professionals every 2 years, where world leaders in the treatment of myeloma and associated disease – such as systemic AL amyloidosis – present and discuss data regarding new scientific research, new drugs and clinical trials.

This year, a large Australian group of myeloma doctors attended, including several from the Australian Amyloidosis Network. Not only is there the opportunity to learn about new therapies, and present our own research, there is the chance to discuss with pharmaceutical companies the advantages of bringing the clinical trials of these new treatments to Australia.

The AAN presented the Australian experience of VCD treatment in AL amyloidosis, as well as the “SUBLIME” study of patient self-injection of Velcade (see the attached photo). Dr Peter Mollee and I also held several meetings with the global leads of various pharmaceutical companies to highlight that Australia is an excellent country to conduct clinical research, especially in AL amyloidosis.

Drugs that help the immune system to clear plasma cells that make amyloid-causing light chains – such as monoclonal antibodies to target BCMA, a protein on the surface of myeloma cells, and those that target amyloid fibrils themselves, such as CAEL-101 – were of particular interest. Venetoclax is emerging as a possible new therapy in AL amyloidosis, as it targets the genetic mutation t(11;14), which is found in ~50% of patients with AL amyloidosis. We also sought clinical trials that gave us greater access to daratumumab, isatuximab, and pomalidomide for the treatment of AL amyloidosis, just to name a few.

Vince O'Donnell

Dr Simon Gibbs (director of VTAS) and Dr Shuen Chong, Clinical Trials Fellow, Eastern Health Haematology Unit, ISA, Boston 2019

There is increasing recognition that AL amyloidosis patients have many unmet needs, and more well tolerated and effective therapies are needed to improve the outcomes of all patients with this disease. Peter and I, and the whole AAN team, are hopeful that new clinical trials with some very promising drugs will be opening in 2020 around Australia,

We will keep you posted!

Dr Simon Gibbs
Director of the Victorian and Tasmanian Amyloidosis Service
19th Sept 2019