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AML News to Discuss With Your Doctor

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Published on June 23, 2020

Developments for Acute Myeloid Leukemia Patients

What treatment news do acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients need to know about and discuss with their doctors?

Watch as host Andrew Schorr talks to AML expert Dr. Naveen Pemmaraju from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center about breakthrough treatment options that were shared at the recent European Hematology Association (EHA) meeting. Dr. Pemmaraju explains the significance of adding venetoclax (Venclexta) to a triplet regimen and gives an update on targeted therapies. Tune in to learn more.


Transcript | AML News to Discuss With Your Doctor

Expert Update on AML Breakthroughs

Andrew Schorr:

Welcome to Patient Power. I'm Andrew Schorr. So there's a big meeting that originates in Europe, the EHA, European Hematology Association Meeting. And one of the people who participates, whether in person or this year virtually, is Dr. Naveen Pemmaraju from MD Anderson in Houston and acute myelogenous leukemia is one of the things to discuss that you study. So news for patients that you're expecting and that people need to know about, Doctor?

Dr. Pemmaraju:

Well, thank you, Andrew. This year with the global pandemic, because of coronavirus, we'll be doing the EHA meeting virtually. Really looking forward to seeing how that goes and hoping that it engages more people than it has even previously. I think there are two major areas where patients and caregivers with AML or acute myeloid leukemia to pay attention to, and I myself will be as well.

One area is that of the developments with the breakthrough molecule venetoclax (Venclexta), which is an oral chemotherapy that targets a protein called BCL2, that's present in a lot of cancer cells; both liquid and solid tumors in fact. So venetoclax is a small molecule drug. It's been approved in combination with either hypomethylating agent [inaudible 00:01:18] for older patients with AML a year ago, even in the frontline setting. But now our groups and others are starting to pay attention to this drug either as double therapy or triplet, so three drugs with venetoclax is one of those combinations. And we'll hear updates about that at EHA, particularly in those patients who are in the relapse refractory. So one prior therapy or more. So let's all pay attention to that as well, including safety and tolerability.

The second area for patients with AML is that of TP53. Andrew, this is something that's been an elusive target for us as scientists and doctors. TP53 mutation or aberration, this is sort of the gatekeeper or guardian of the cell genome, the cell cycle. It's actually messed up or abnormal in anywhere from one third to one half, up to 50% of all patients with cancers at some point. This has been a tough one to target with chemotherapy. Now there's been at least two breakthroughs. One is what's called targeting the CD47 axis, which may help these patients immensely. And then also with the APR drug, either as single agent or in combination with hypomethylator. We'll be hearing updates about these two drug programs for both patients with MDS, myelodysplastic syndrome, a precursor to AML often and AML itself. And so targeting the difficult to treat or poor prognosis molecular mutations at the biological level. This is a new breakthrough in the last year, 2019 to 2020. And we need to follow those early, but encouraging results.

Andrew Schorr:

So I think the theme that I hear in AML is when you didn't have much to talk about for so many years, now you have a lot to talk about, and so the family faced with this acute condition probably wants to check in with an AML specialist and then say where do current approved therapies and new research apply to me.

Dr. Pemmaraju:

I think that's more important now than ever, that clinical trial as a first line option for patients with rare or difficult to treat myeloid diseases, such as AML, I think it's paramount to consider and to go for and to look into where those centers are. A website such as or talking to your local physician can get you started on that process.

Andrew Schorr:

Thank you very much for the update, Dr. Naveen Pemmaraju from MD Anderson.

Dr. Pemmaraju:

Thank you, Andrew, as always.

Andrew Schorr:

I'm Andrew Schorr, remember knowledge can be the best medicine of all.

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

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