ASH Meeting on Lymphoma Biology: Creating a Roadmap for Future Research

More than 350 lymphoma experts from around the world convened at the American Society of Hematology’s first Meeting on Lymphoma Biology to share cutting-edge findings in the field and set the course of future lymphoma research.

Scientists at the meeting perused more than 150 abstracts revealing new insights into lymphoma biology and attended interactive sessions led by more than 30 renowned speakers. The meeting also provided opportunities for identifying research priorities that will potentially translate to intervention strategies for eradicating lymphoma and other blood-related cancers.

Stay tuned: The next ASH Meeting on Lymphoma Biology is slated for early 2016, and ASH hopes to submit a white paper summarizing past and present lymphoma research breakthroughs to a peer-reviewed journal by the end of the year.

Here, ASH Clinical News reviews some of the scientific highlights from the meeting, which took place August 10-13 in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and speaks with meeting Co-Chair David Weinstock, MD, of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, about the precedent that this meeting set.

ASH Clinical News: What made the ASH Meeting on Lymphoma Biology unique?

David Weinstock, MD: This meeting is unique because it brings together the community of basic and translational researchers who focus specifically on lymphoid biology and transformation.

It’s pretty clear that there are a number of outstanding meetings covering the range of blood cancers — or that focus on lymphoma specifically — that include a large component of clinical research and clinical trial news. What we needed was a meeting specific to the biology of lymphoma where scientists could come together in a smaller community and be able discuss the nitty-gritty details of the hottest science.

So, while the ASH Annual Meeting offers breadth, the Lymphoma Biology Meeting offers depth. When we are at the annual meeting, there is so much exciting science across the range of different blood diseases, but we don’t have the same opportunity to intensely focus on the depth of lymphoma biology. That’s where this smaller environment was key.

What was the highlight of the meeting for you this year?

One of the goals with this meeting was to work together as scientists to develop a roadmap for lymphoma investigation — determining where the roadblocks were that were preventing us from making transformative breakthroughs, and then determining how we could overcome these bottlenecks. I think we made great strides in that at this year’s meeting. As an organizer, I was happy to hear the overwhelmingly positive feedback I received from participants and attendees.

What do you think was some of the most exciting research presented?

There were several, but a few of the talks from our didactic sessions – where the latest science was presented by leaders in that field – stood out for me. First, Jason G. Cyster, PhD, of University of California, San Francisco, gave a talk defining the role of G-protein signaling in diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. Another exciting talk was by Margaret A. Shipp, PhD, of Dana-Farber Cancer Center, who gave a description of the exciting activity of PD-1 blockade. Finally, another highlight was the presentation of phase I data on EZH2 blockade demonstrating the dependence of human lymphomas on this target.

In addition to the didactic sessions, we also planned more interactive sessions, where attendees could voice their thoughts about the bottlenecks that are preventing major advancements in lymphoma research and really contribute to the roadmap that we’re collectively organizing.