The annual American Society of Hematology meeting reconvenes this December in New Orleans. And as the sun rises in the French Quarter on December 9th, this sizable international community will already be listening in to the latest and greatest in hematologic discoveries.
Sickle cell disease once again holds a significant place in this year’s annual meeting, as its presence at ASH has grown in line with the growing investment in research and therapeutic advances for the disease over the last 3-5 years. Similar to recent annual meetings, many of the presentations focus on curative therapies, particularly gene therapy. For example, you won’t want to miss Saturday’s sessions by Dr. Mark Walters (Abstract #0011) and Dr. Haydar Frangoul (Abstract #0012), or Monday’s session by Dr. Akshay Sharma (Abstract #0786), where the latest outcomes as well as new gene therapy options will be presented. Additionally, Dr. George Goshua will be presenting on the cost-effectiveness of gene therapy versus standard-of-care on Sunday (Abstract #0581). We are also looking forward to the educational session on Saturday regarding “Late Effects of Curative Therapy for Sickle Cell Disease”, presented by Drs. Courtney Fitzhugh, Shalini Shenoy, and Debra Friedman.
Importantly, curative therapies, are not for everyone, and the cornerstone of treatment for many patients with sickle cell disease continues to be oral disease-modifying agents. Hydroxyurea remains the treatment we have the most robust and longitudinal data for, and the way in which we optimize hydroxyurea for patients is essential. A presentation by Dr. Meghna Dua (Abstract #0181) will discuss use of hydroxyurea in the very young pediatric population, and a presentation by Dr. Tamara Diesch (Abstract #0185) will review the impact of hydroxyurea, as well as vaso-occlusive pain episodes, have on ovarian follicle density. We highly recommend you attend the 9:30a sessions on Saturday and Sunday where other new, up-and-coming therapeutic targets will be discussed. Many new trials will also be highlighted during the poster sessions - a few that have caught our eyes are the PIN Trial, PUSH-UP Trial, and SPARTAN.
But all the world’s innovation is meaningless if patients cannot access this care. Health services research presentations and posters abound (Sessions 901 and 904 on Sunday and Monday); highlighting barriers patients with sickle cell disease experience accessing care, recognition of the social determinants of health that impact their health outcomes, and ways to improve the care they receive.
Creating equitable access to high quality healthcare for patients with sickle cell disease includes acknowledgement of and action against the racism they experience. We urge you to attend workshops throughout the conference supported by the ASH Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee, including the ASH Health Equity Studio with repeat sessions during the meeting, the Blood Drop DEI sessions during Friday’s ASH-a-Palooza for trainees by Drs. Tamara Dunn, Tiffany Lucas, and Alan Mast, as well as the ASH Health Equity Rounds Lunch on Sunday by Drs. Angela Weyand, Jacquelyn Powers, and Paula James. Promoting Minorities in Hematology oral presentations focusing on three categories (classical hematology, malignant hematology, and outcomes/health science) will take place Saturday evening with a reception to follow – another highly recommended event to attend.
There is no doubt this year’s annual ASH meeting will provide vast educational and collaborative opportunities. We look forward to seeing 20,000+ of our dearest hematology colleagues and enjoying plenty of beignets in New Orleans!
Jacob and Dr. Goubeaux have no conflicts of interest to report.
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