EBMT NEWSLETTER | May 2017 | EBMT 2017 Post Congress Bulletin

EBMT
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We have asked our Young Ambassadors to explain what they liked best at the EBMT 2017 Annual Meeting; a take-home message and their experience about the young ambassadors’ programme.

Click HERE for more information about the Young Ambassador Programme



 

Khaled Ghanem - Pediatrics hematology-oncology fellow at the American University of Beirut (AUB), Lebanon - @khaledghanem

In Marseille last month, I attended the most exciting medical conference as a trainee in the field of pediatric hematology oncology. The EBMT 2017 will be a landmark in my early career life for many reasons.
The scientific sessions were extremely helpful for me to understand the basic principles of BMT, in addition to the latest updates in the field, to reach the current fascinating discoveries in immunotherapy. The special keynote of Prof. Storb in the opening session that featured 60 years of stem cell transplantation history was an outstanding historical perspective from a giant physician, scientist and a great person. The standing ovation that he received at the end of the talk was a very touching moment that encouraged the new generation of scientists to be ambitious in their field to help in curing patients with hard-to-treat diseases.
The EBMT young ambassadors program was a successful initiative to help the junior specialists in the BMT field to be connected to each other and to the EBMT leadership. It was my pleasure to meet the other ambassadors and to attend many sessions together. We have discussed the variety of the BMT practice in our institutions, and planned for further cooperation after the end of the meeting. We had a great opportunity to meet Prof. Mohty, who was very supportive and kind, and expressed the full support of the EBMT to us. Besides all the previous points, I have enjoyed Marseille to the maximum. The old port, in addition to all the historical landmarks, was unforgettable. I will not forget the last cup of coffee at Les Terrasses du Port at the time of sunset. That was an excellent treat after the outstanding four-day conference.

Eleni Gavriilaki - Hematology fellow in the Hematology Department and BMT Unit at G. Papanicolaou Hospital, Thessaloniki, Greece - @elenicelli

Returning to daily routine after such an exciting scientific event is sometimes tricky. For the past couple of days you have interacted with innovators in the field and have learned state-of-the-art knowledge. What are the take home messages? Will this great event influence your daily routine?
This year I had the great pride and privilege to attend the EBMT Annual Meeting as a young ambassador. This new concept encourages young researchers and physicians to become part of this community of highly dedicated scientists. For the first time, I had the opportunity to share my experience with patients and colleagues through social media and EBMT news. This year’s attractive educational program combined not only new data on traditional and alternative forms of bone marrow transplant but also novel aspects of cellular therapy and commercial cellular products. In addition, long-term consequences and psychology aspects that are often neglected were an important part of this year’s congress. Interaction with nurses, pharmacists, psychologists, clinical care and laboratory physicians and world-renowned experts remain one of the main reasons to attend such a congress. The opportunity to collaborate with European and international centers and participate in Working Parties and EBMT studies is also really important, especially for young scientists. Last but not least, networking in such beautiful scenery is something to be remembered. We are all anticipating next year’s Annual Meeting to be an even greater success and incorporate Young Ambassadors even more in the educational and social program.

Zinaida Peric - Postdoctoral research assistant at the School of Medicine, University of Zagreb, Croatia - @zina_peric

This year I have attended the best EBMT Annual Meeting ever. First of all, I attended it through the eyes of EBMT Young Ambassador and this made me even more enthusiastic and devoted to transfering exciting news in bone marrow transplantation among my colleagues. Secondly, this time for the first time I have attended it so actively through social media. This experience was absolutely revealing for me as I realized that in this way I can attend even more sessions parallely, and discuss my impressions with great experts in this field. Being a Young Ambassador has generally connected me to social networks in a way I have never supposed and I felt more up-to-date, active and motivated than ever before. Moreover, I am grateful for my new friendships with some extraordinary people in love with bone marrow transplantation and research as myself. From the scientific point of view, I am astonished by the absolute breakthrough of haploidentical transplantation, which is rapidly moving on the scale of alternative donors and becoming an equal partner in stem cell treatment. As a young hematology fellow I can't stop to be fascinated with the fact that bone marrow transplantation is such a perfectly developing field and that well established paradigm could change that fast. We are facing a revolution in hematology and the opportunity to be a part of it is a valuable gift. I am therefore thankful to the EBMT and hope to follow my mission in being a good hematologist, researcher and EBMT Young Ambassador.

Jana Gummel - 6th year medical student at the Iuliu Hatieganu University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Cluj-Napoca, Romania - @jana123456789

Being a medical student is always a great experience to have an authentic view of recent research and practice that is going on outside of university classes, even more if it is about such a stunning topic as bone marrow transplantation and all it includes.
The EBMT 2017 for me personally was an excellent opportunity to gain insight into a lot of amazing projects and find out more about the combination of the new immunotherapy options, the targeted therapy and ways to cope with GVHD.
It is wonderful that meetings like this one give to so many leading experts in their fields the opportunity to discuss with each other, show each other’s achievements, identify biases and thus accomplish to advance the general knowledge and treatment options to achieve a better outcome and quality of life for patients.
Being the 60th anniversary and attending presentations of people who witnessed and were involved in the beginning of this concept was even more impressive for me. I came back with a lot of new energy and even more thirst for knowledge.
The young ambassador program gave us the great opportunity to get an insight in all these areas from a different perspective and to represent the EBMT. It has been a pleasure to meet amazing people. The EBMT is a great organisation and I can recommend it to anyone to apply to the young ambassador program in the future.
The EBMT 2017 Annual Meeting, in this beautiful city of Marseille, from my point of view was a great success and I am honored to be part of such a magnificent international organisation.

Inés Oliveira Amat - Medical Student at Rovira i Virgili University (URV) Tarragona, Spain - @inesoli_veira 

This EBMT Annual Meeting has been not only a great way to increase my knowledge of the Haematology field but also an opportunity to realise that no matter how heterogeneous our points of view are, we all seek the same: to increase the options and improve the quality of life for patients. Physicians come from all over the world, with different opinions; and the willingness to understand each other in a very pleasant environment.
I would like to comment on the quality of speakers and the huge variety of presentations. From the opening session to the very end I felt delighted. As a student, I was excited and impressed at the same time: the amount of passion and hard work behind every word and every statement was huge. Something I shall never forget.
I am grateful I had the chance to be a part of the young ambassadors´ programme, comprising so talented physicians. It has been a pleasure indeed.
I took so much away from this event; I feel inspired to work harder and persevere, and appreciate the importance and value of sharing. All in all, an amazing experience in a charming city, Marseille, where I hope to return in the future.

Paula Cotino Argente - Medical Student at Rovira i Virgili University (URV) Tarragona, Spain - @paulacotino 

Last March I had the opportunity to attend the 43rd edition of the EBMT which this year 2017 commemorated the 60th anniversary of Dr E Donall Thomas demonstrating that the injection of bone marrow cells could repopulate and produce new hematopoietic cells by converting it In one of the reference treatments in the field of hematology and oncology.
 
The first symposium I attended was Multiple Myeloma 2017: the IFM perspectives whose speakers are great teachers and allowed me to update the knowledge about this. Although the best of Sunday March 26 was the opening session where Dr. Rainer Storb was the protagonist of the keynote lecture whose title was “60 years of HSCT: progress from bone and marrow transplantation to the first cellular and gene therapies” was the best speech of the Annual Meeting. Another exhibition that I liked the most was the introduction of the same starring Dr. Mohamad Mothy who reminded us that today a donor can receive hematopoietic progenitors from all over the world. On Tuesday, March 27, I took the opportunity to attend the Statistical symposia and the inauguration of the first Psy Day. The day of March 28 was between teaching sessions about infectious diseases in immunosuppressed patients, myeloma and new advances in cell transplants and therapies but the best of the day was meeting the other young ambassadors. At night, the networking dinner was held which allowed us to meet incredible professionals from around the world.
 
The young ambassadors’ program has given me the opportunity to attend one of the most relevant congresses worldwide in hematology. As well as learning about scientific innovations from the hand of professionals who are referent in each area. I am looking forward the 44th edition in Lisbon.

Jordan Gauthier - Junior faculty member, bone marrow transplantation and cellular therapy department at Lille University Hospital (Claude Huriez Hospital), Lille, France 

This year the EBMT Annual Meeting in Marseille offered a wealth of interesting research in our field. I will here summarise the main studies that took my interest as well as my highlights from this meeting.
 
Autologous stem cell transplantation (ASCT) following intensive lymphodepleting therapy now stands as a promising platform for aggressive auto-immune diseases such as multiple sclerosis and scleroderma. A key study was presented by Keith Sullivan from the Duke Cancer Institute: the Cyclophosphamide or Transplantation (SCOT) trial. This randomized study compared the use of ASCT conditioned with TBI-Cy and ATGAM versus intravenous pulses of cyclophosphamide alone for the treatment of severe system sclerosis. This study met its primary endpoint with superior outcome in patients receiving ASCT. Recent prospective (Atkins et al, Lancet 2016) and retrospective data (Muraro et al, JAMA Neurol, 2016) in patients treated with ASCT for severe multiple sclerosis are also extremely encouraging and were reviewed by Riccardo Saccardi from the Careggi University Hospital in Florence.
 
Novel agents targeting the activation pathways of B and T-cells have been lately stirring the interest of researchers to help patients with steroid-refractory/dependent graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). Preliminary findings using the Syk inhibitor fosfamatinib produced mixed results in several scleroderma murine models (Flynn R, Blood 2015). At the EBMT Annual Meeting this year, Jonathan Poe, from the Duke Cancer Institute, reported on the oral Syk inhibitor entospletinib, which induced high responses rates and improved survival in a chronic GVHD mouse model. I am very hopeful these findings will eventually translate to the clinic.
 
I was also lucky to meet and spend time with the other EBMT young ambassadors. Sharing our experience as young physicians and researchers proved most enriching! We are confident this will lead to long-term collaborations.
 
To conclude, I would like to offer four highlights from the EBMT 2017 Annual Meeting:
  • ASCT is transforming the therapeutic landscape of severe autoimmune diseases
  • Haploidentical platforms with post-transplant cyclophosphamide are becoming mainstay
  • Progress in the understanding of immune cells activation pathways provides new targets to improve the prophylaxis and treatment of GVHD (e.g. Syk inhibitors)
  • Post-transplant maintenance approaches with DLI or novel agents are emerging and hold great promise
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