Report calls for funding commitment to seven ‘high-yield’ areas, including stem cells and regenerative medicine
The American Society of Hematology recently issued a
report that identified seven key research areas with the greatest potential to
improve patient outcomes.
The society encouraged federal agencies to coordinate
funding efforts with this agenda in mind, noting the priority areas outlined in
the ASH Agenda for Hematology Research are most likely to produce the greatest
return on investment.
The seven priority areas designated in the report are:
- Stem cells and regenerative medicine: Improve technologies that can
use induced pluripotent stem cells to treat hematologic diseases.
- Myelodysplastic syndrome and acute myeloid leukemia: Find an
effective and personalized treatment for the elderly.
- Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation: Increase success rates by
improving management of graft versus-host disease.
- Sickle cell disease: Reduce the barriers to care, burden of pain,
end-organ injury and premature death.
- Deep vein thrombosis and venous thromboembolism: Understand the risk
factors and develop targeted therapies.
- Childhood leukemia: Improve cure rates by performing coordinated
research on novel targeted therapies.
- Translating laboratory advances into the clinic: Use novel genomic
technologies to improve treatment of hematologic diseases.
Members of the societys Committee on Scientific
Affairs, which developed the agenda, said hematology research has translated to
remarkable gains in patient care and helped to reduce the burden on the health
Because blood runs through every organ and tissue
in the body, discoveries made by hematologists about its structure and function
have an enormous ripple effect that extends far beyond our discipline to areas
such as oncology, cardiology and surgery,
Armand Keating, MD, president of ASH, said in a
press release. Tomorrows hematologic discoveries are guaranteed to
have a dramatic impact on the future of health in America and around the world
in all areas of medicine. For that reason alone, hematology research should be
placed among the top priorities in health care.
Robert Hromas, MD, chair of the department of
medicine at the University of Florida and Shands Hospital and chair of the ASH
Committee on Scientific Affairs, told HemOnc Today the research agenda lays out
a blueprint that would streamline research efforts while preventing duplication
and wasted effort.
The benefits of a coordinated commitment to
high-yield areas would extend beyond the health care system and
into the overall economy, Hromas said.
The ASH Research Agenda will reduce the burden of
health on the economy in several ways by translating important scientific
findings into effective new therapies that will reduce hospital length of stay
and readmission rates, Hromas said in an interview. The ASH
Research Agenda points out where the most effective areas to spend scarce
research dollars are and, thereby, increases the taxpayers bang for the
The research agenda is important to community
hematologists and oncologists because it defines major problem areas and
outlines methods for addressing them, Hromas said.
This research agenda was written by practicing
clinicians for the non-clinicians who control federal and foundation research
funding, Hromas said. It puts into one document and synthesizes
issues that previously were discussed in diffuse and disconnected forums. It
gives a voice to the practicing clinician who faces these problems daily. The
research agenda points out several studies that could dramatically alter the
daily practice of the community oncologist [and hematologist] if funded.
Brian J. Bolwell, MD, FACP, chairman of the
Taussig Cancer Institute at Cleveland Clinic, told HemOnc Today he was
struck by the focus on novel genomic therapies.
All cancer research is moving inexorably toward
identifying genetic abnormalities and trying to find interventions that target
them, Bolwell said in an interview.
As an example, he cited the effectiveness of TKI
inhibitors in chronic myeloid leukemia.
The success story with CML is a model for how
cancer care evolved and will continue to evolve, he said.
Whole-genome sequencing provides us with a huge amount of data on the
genesis of cancer and the abnormalities associated with it.
Bolwell said ASH identified a major area of
opportunity by focusing on DVT and VTE, particularly among hospitalized
The use of stem cells as regenerative medicine also is
an important target, he said.
Opportunities for that area of research are
unlimited, and we are just scratching the surface, he said. We may
eventually be able to help drive a stem cell to do what we want it to do. We
need to be more sophisticated with our research, but were not there
The current funding environment is challenging, but the
return on investment in academic oncology research could be
enormous, Bolwell said.
The status quo isnt good enough, he
said. Those of us in academic medicine in cancer want to make things
better. The funding can do that, and if we follow this agenda, we hope to
achieve that goal.
- Drs. Keating, Hromas and Bolwell report no relevant financial