Fred Hutch research to be presented at American Society of Hematology conference

Fred Hutch researchers to share latest research in immunotherapy, genetic markers, graft vs. host disease, cord blood and more

SEATTLE — Nov. 18, 2016 — Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center scientists are scheduled to present pioneering findings across the field of hematology — from the unique genomic properties of pediatric acute myeloid leukemia to promising immunotherapy clinical trial results — at the American Society of Hematology 58th Annual Meeting and Exposition on Dec. 3 – 6, 2016. What follows is a selection of the more than 40 Hutch presentations at the ASH meeting. Reporters interested in connecting with any of the researchers highlighted below can contact

Latest immunotherapy trial results for patients with advanced chronic lymphocytic leukemia

Dr. Cameron Turtle, an associate member at the Hutch, plans to present the latest results from an early phase clinical trial of an experimental immunotherapy — genetically engineered T cells that target a marker known as CD19 that is found on chronic lymphocytic leukemia cells. Most of the patients in the trial had previously failed to respond to the drug ibrutinib, a situation in which the outlook is limited. The patients in the trial were treated with CAR T cells, a particular type of modified immune cell, that have been engineered to target CD19. Turtle co-leads the trial with Fred Hutch colleagues Drs. David Maloney and Stanley Riddell.

In poster 1852, Turtle also presents results of his team’s work to identify biomarkers of the toxicity suffered by some patients undergoing CAR T-cell therapy.

First results of immunotherapy trial provide high remission rate for AML patients

Dr. Aude Chapuis, assistant member at Fred Hutch, is slated to present the first results from an early-phase clinical trial involving patients who have recently completed a bone marrow transplant for high-risk acute myeloid leukemia. The patients who were 100 percent cancer free after the BMT received an anti-WT1 T-cell receptor therapy; they remained in complete remission an average of almost two years later. In contrast, more than a quarter of similar patients who didn’t receive the engineered cells had relapsed by then. Chapuis co-leads the trial with Fred Hutch colleagues Drs. Daniel Egan and Phil Greenberg.

Massive pediatric AML genomic sequencing effort informing new treatment strategies

Fred Hutch scientists led studies of childhood acute myeloid leukemia that involved one of the largest-ever genomic sequencing projects undertaken in childhood AML. The data from the project has made it possible to identify mutations that are specific to childhood AML and that could be potential targets that could be the basis for better treatments. AML is fatal for more than half of children with the disease. Several presentations and posters that include the work of Fred Hutch researchers will discuss the latest results from these efforts:

  • Dr. Soheil Meshinchi states that these studies illustrate more clearly than ever before just how different AML is in children than adults. Dr. Jason Farrar of University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences is on the calendar to discuss the findings in Presentation 595, which offers an overview of the results from the federally funded, nationwide TARGET AML project led by Meshinchi.
  • Rhonda Ries, a member of Meshinchi’s lab, is scheduled to report results from TARGET AML showing that AML in babies is distinct from the disease in older children and will require its own targeted treatment strategies. Her talk is listed as Presentation 774.
  • In poster 2873, Dr. Katherine Tarlock, of Seattle Children’s Hospital and Fred Hutch, and colleagues are expected to outline how TARGET AML data revealed a pediatric-specific marker targeted by a drug currently under development for lung cancer, allowing them to launch a clinical trial in pediatric AML.
  • Dr. Emilia Lim of Canada’s Michael Smith Genome Sciences Center presents new micro RNA-based data that could help better identify high-risk pediatric AML patients. The talk is listed as presentation 1210. Meshinchi is a senior author of the study.
  • Dr. Tarlock is also set to present a clinical sequencing project of 1000 children and adults to identify actionable mutations that can be immediately applied in treating patients with AML. It is listed as presentation 596.

Revolutionary method to prevent graft-vs.-host disease

For some leukemia patients, getting a blood stem cell transplant isn’t necessarily the biggest hurdle they face. Dr. Marie Bleakley of Fred Hutch is presenting her latest results from trials of a new method to prevent a common and often-debilitating side effect of transplant called chronic graft-vs.-host disease, in which the donor cells attack the patient’s healthy cells. By filtering out GVHD-causing immune cells from the donated tissue before transplant, Dr. Bleakley has seen the rate of chronic GVHD plummet to an astounding low of less than 10 percent from a historic average of about 50 percent.

GVHD study so successful it was closed early and brought to clinic

Dr. Brenda Sandmaier of Fred Hutch presents results of a large randomized phase III trial showing the benefits of a new combination of drugs to prevent acute GVHD which is a complication that follows hematopoietic cell transplant. The results are so positive that the trial closed early at the interim analysis so that all patients could receive this combination of drugs following transplant. The new method uses an additional immune-suppressing drug combined with the standard therapy following transplant; the study found that it dramatically reduces their rates of acute GVHD and non-relapse-related death resulting in better overall survival. The research team says this new regimen should now be considered the standard of care for all patients receiving this type of transplant — first developed by Dr. Sandmaier, senior author Dr. Rainer Storb and other colleagues at Fred Hutch — that is typically used in elderly and medically infirm patients.

Leading the way on cord blood transplantation

Members of Fred Hutch’s Cord Blood Program plan to exhibit two posters and present an oral abstract showing evidence of the power of umbilical cord blood stem cells in treating leukemia patients undergoing blood stem cell transplant.

  • David Charles Keahi Oliver of Fred Hutch, whose research is supported by a University of Washington program, is slated to present Poster 4693 showing how leukemia patients who received a transplant of cells from cord blood had remarkably low rates of relapse and death – even those with disease characteristics typically linked to poor outcomes. Many of the patients in the trial are racial and ethnic minorities, including people who often cannot find a conventional adult donor match for transplant. The senior authors are Cord Blood Program director Dr. Colleen Delaney and Dr. Filippo Milano, the program’s associate director.
  • Emily Cox, a member of Delaney’s lab, is assigned to discuss abstract 1232 in an oral abstract session on Monday night at 6:30pm. This abstract demonstrates another benefit for patients who receive ex vivo expanded cord blood stem cells as part of their cord blood graft, namely faster recovery of their platelets and the need for fewer platelet and red cell transfusions in the first 100 days post-transplant when compared to patients undergoing cord blood transplant without the expanded cell product. This could be critical in reducing health care costs post-transplant related to reduced need for transfusions and fewer days in the hospital. (The product was developed by Drs. Delaney and colleagues.) Drs. Delaney and Milano led the clinical trial that provided the results.
  • Fabiola V. Merriam of Fred Hutch is presenting poster 3348. She will demonstrate for the first time that ex vivo expanded CB HSPCs rapidly give rise to functional monocytic cells in vivo in patients and immunodeficient mice. This study validates that our universal donor off-the-shelf, expanded CB HSPC cell product is a valuable resource for patients undergoing myeloablative CBT, and further warrants its widespread use in a non-transplant setting as a supportive “myeloid bridge” to mitigate treatment-related morbidity and mortality.