News

November 2017 Scientific Meeting Highlights

During November 2017, The Australasian Leukaemia & Lymphoma Group (ALLG) held its biannual Scientific Meeting (SM) in Sydney.

The highlights included:

    Prof Nik Zeps
  • Professor Nik Zeps from the Australian Clinical Trials Alliance (ACTA) was a guest speaker who presented the topic "The Australian Clinical trials Alliance — Developing a work plan for the future of investigator driven research in Australia". This was a great opportunity for members to understand the relevance and importance of ACTA. Prof Zeps explained how ACTA is an alliance of collaborative clinical trials groups, which includes 13 in the area of oncology. Essentially the network is a community of clinicians invested in trial results and the translation of research into practice. During his presentation, he referred to the ACTA landmark report, launched in August, which showed that for every $1 invested in network based trial research there is a return of $5.80. The report finds that not only was there an overall saving of $2 billion, but also that results from the 25 trials researched only needed to be implemented in 11% of the eligible patient populations for the benefits to exceed costs.

  • Peter Kempen
  • The Chair of the Board, Peter T Kempen, gave a very positive report of the current position of the organisation at the AGM. The ALLG has now established a sound structure and financial base, and can look forward to increasing the number of trials and trial recruitment, so that trial results can be more quickly achieved and translated into improved outcomes for patients with a blood cancer.

  • The ALLG Members discussed several new trials, which are due to commence soon that offer novel treatment options.

  • The new ALLG ALL9 trial follows on from the previous ALL6 trial targeting patients with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) in the Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) age group. Improvements in outcomes for these patients have been associated with the adoption of paediatric-inspired multiagent chemotherapy but AYA patients still fail to achieve the same outcomes as those seen in children. The ALLG ALL9 study will incorporate a novel immune based therapy (Blinatumomab), and will also lead to a better understanding of how to integrate the immune based therapy into "standard of care" protocols in AYA ALL as well as having a significant impact on the outcomes. We believe the regimen will reduce toxicity and improve quality of life. The target accrual is 85 patients over three years, with 65% of these expected to be within the 16-25 age range.

  • We discussed another new trial (ALLG BM12) that will investigate chronic graft versus host disease (GVHD) in participants that undergo allogeneic peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) transplants. Bone marrow transplants are an important treatment for haematological malignancies, with 500 such transplants performed each year in Australian adults. The ALLG BM12 study plans to accrue 134 adult patients undergoing PBSC transplant over the next 3 years, and will compare standard of care with an alternative strategy using high-dose cyclophosphamide. As part of the trial, quality of life data will be linked to an assessment of the economic costs of PBSC transplant, a first for Australia. The associated correlative studies aim to identify biomarkers for predicting GVHD development and response, and new genomic assays to detect patient-specific mutations. This will be the first randomised PBSC transplant study in Australia.

  • The SM also included two days of educational and trial related activities for the site staff and a half-day clinical research workshop in immunotherapy for clinicians.

  • Prof Mark Hertzberg recently retired as Chair of the Scientific Advisory Committee. Mark has guided the ALLG through nine years of significant business and operational changes. A big thank you to Mark for his contribution. At the same time, we welcomed Dr Peter Mollee from Princess Alexandra Hospital in Queensland who commenced as the new Chair.

  • Janey Stone
  • Janey Stone, who retired after 28 years with the ALLG, was awarded with an ALLG Life Membership. Janey made major contributions both as a Trial Coordinator for 34 ALLG trials, and as Executive Officer where she laid the basis for many of the procedures and systems used today.

  • The National Blood Cancer Registry (NBCR) has accrued 1,155 patients with acute myeloid leukaemia, acute lymphoblastic leukaemia and uncommon lymphomas. Several laboratory sub-projects will be carried out by the ALLG. Importantly, the NBCR data and associated samples are available to external researchers. If you are interested, please contact info@allg.org.au.

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