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ASCO 2019: Noted MPN Expert Shares Key Takeaways for Patients

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Published on June 21, 2019

As part of our coverage of the 2019 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting in Chicago, leading expert Dr. Ruben Mesa joined Patient Power to share some key takeaways for myeloproliferative neoplasm (MPN) patients. Tune in to hear Dr. Mesa give clinical trial data updates on treatment efficacy and patient response, and insight to where MPN research is headed. 

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Transcript | ASCO 2019: Noted MPN Expert Shares Key Takeaways for Patients

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.

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.

Rebecca Seago-Coyle:

Hey, everyone. I'm here with Dr. Ruben Mesa from UT Health Center in San Antonio.  Thanks so much for joining us today.  

Dr. Mesa:

Thank you so much for having me.  

Rebecca Seago-Coyle:

So, Dr. Mesa, tell us a little bit why you are here at ASCO.   

Dr. Mesa:

Well, ASCO is a key meeting for us, and as the MPN community should know, this is really the largest gathering of physicians and scientists, nurses from around the world really dealing with diseases like MPNs, blood diseases, blood cancers and the other cancers.  Almost 40,000 people here this year.  

Rebecca Seago-Coyle:

That is a lot of people.  

Dr. Mesa:

It is a lot of people.  

Rebecca Seago-Coyle:

So tell us why—like what do you take away from ASCO?  

Dr. Mesa:

So ASCO is really about what is the cutting edge in terms of new therapies and what that data represents for patients with MPNs, but also where is the science of cancer going in terms of what new therapies might be coming in the future that are being tested in other areas at the current time.  

Rebecca Seago-Coyle:

Great. Thank you so much for that.  And, you know, one of the themes from ASCO is caring for every patient, learning from every patient.  What does that mean to you, and how do you take that back to your facility?   

Dr. Mesa:

Well, what we've really learned is that 20 years ago people were—with a particular disease were all treated the same, whether that was polycythemia vera, myelofibrosis, or breast cancer.  They were kind of one big group.  And now we realize that everyone is different.  Their diseases are different, and there are things about them in terms of how they respond to a therapy or how the disease might behave.  

And, of course, the individuals are different, both in terms of how they respond to a treatment as well as their own philosophy, their culture, their resilience, all are factors—and their gender, all these are different factors that are important as they face treatments for difficult diseases.  So the takeaway from this meeting is how do we do that on a large scale, realizing that everyone is truly an individual as we treat them.  

Rebecca Seago-Coyle:

Great.  And so you spoke here at ASCO.  You want to talk a little bit about what you talked about and what that means to patients.  

Dr. Mesa:

Sure.  So I was representing the MPNs and had several presentations I was involved with.  The ones I'd highlight would be ones on the JAK2 inhibitor called fedratinib, both the reanalysis of the JAKARTA?2 study, so this was a study of that JAK inhibitor fedratinib, and a new analysis of that study we had done in the past that was for patients with myelofibrosis that had been treated with ruxolitinib.  

What we reported at the meeting now with several years of hindsight is what is the activity of that drug, which was significant.  A good third of patients that had been clearly pretreated, clearly had a sufficient experience had a very significant response to the fedratinib. So that was very favorable.  

Second, we present trials in progress, which is another factor in ASCO.  We're sent trials that are starting, and one of those is the FREEDOM Study.  And the FREEDOM Study is looking at fedratinib but in a prospective way, new patients being treated that have failed ruxolitinib and the ruxolitinib (Jakafi) failure being defined in a very rigorous way and then close monitoring to see both the safety and the effectiveness of the drug.  

Finally, presenting another trial in progress as it relates to the design of a trial for the interferon, pegylated interferon recently approved in Europe for polycythemia vera, which Dr. Verstovsek and I hope to co?lead a study here in the US for patients with essential thrombocythemia.  So a lot of exciting things regarding MPNs here at ASCO 2019.  

Rebecca Seago-Coyle:

Very nice. Thank you so much.  Is there anything else that you would like to share with our MPN community?  

Dr. Mesa:

I would share with them that there's a tremendous amount to be excited about regarding everything going on in the world of new therapies for cancer and blood diseases, new immune-based therapies, new genetic therapies potentially like CRISPR, new cellular-based therapies that are called CAR T.  Now, none of these are quite ready for prime time yet in patients with MPNs, but there are studies in other diseases, learning about them and how they might be applied to patients with MPNs is very, very relevant.  

So the world of things that may impact them in a favorable way is much broader than just some of the things they normally hear about as it relates to MPNs.  

Rebecca Seago-Coyle: 

That's fabulous. Thank you so much.  And as we like to say at Patient Power, knowledge can be the best medicine.  

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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