May 2, 2019 in Istanbul, Turkey
By Christian Chabannon, Chair of the Cellular Therapy and Immunobiology Working Party (CTIWP)
The Turkish Society of Hematology (TSH) organised its 7th International Congress on Leukemia, Lymphoma and Myeloma in Istanbul on May 3-4 2019 (http://icllm2019.org/). On the previous day, May 2nd, 2019, TSH teamed up with the EBMT CTIWP to design and present a half-day joint educational meeting on Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T Cells (http://icllm2019.org/scientific-program/). Presentations by Drs Jürgen Kuball (Leiden, NL), Alvaro Urbano-Ispizua (Barcelona, Spain), Micha Srour (Lille, France) who replaced Dr Ibrahim Yakoub-Agha (Chair of the EBMT Chronic Malignancy Working Party, CMWP), and Christian Chabannon (Marseille, France) covered clinical indications for CAR-T Cells in patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, multiple myeloma, as well as regulatory aspects, logistical considerations for the supply chain and the need for long-term follow up for patients treated with these expensive gene therapy medicinal products that are also classified as genetically modified organisms. This educational meeting was well attended with close to a hundred delegates.
Lively discussions took place at the end of presentations and during intersessions, denoting the fast-growing interest of Turkish healthcare professionals and scientists for this fast-emerging field that provides new hopes for patients affected with severe hematological malignancies. Treatment with immune effector cells is now coming to Turkish hospitals and will likely expand in the near future, as it has been the case in the USA, in China, in EU countries, and now in many countries all over the planet. The meeting provided an opportunity for the Turkish organisers and EBMT representatives to discuss with many journalists the pros and cons of treatments with CAR-T Cells, for which much remains to be learned.