ASCO 2021 – Lymphoma Updates

The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) is the world’s leading organization for physicians and oncology professionals caring for people with cancer. The 2021 Annual Meeting was hosted virtually, connecting oncology professionals from around the world to discuss the newest, state-of-the-art research and treatment updates.

The Weill Cornell Lymphoma Program team is always proud of our contributions to new lymphoma research presentations at the ASCO Annual Meeting. We’ve outlined some of the highlights from this year’s conference, including research updates and new discoveries from our team. Additionally, our Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian Hematology & Oncology Fellow Dr. Sam Yamshon received a prestigious ASCO Conquer Cancer Foundation 2021 Young Investigator Award to support critical lymphoma research and the transition from fellowship to faculty. 

Samuel Yamshon, MD – 2021 ASCO Young Investigator Award Recipient

Weill Cornell Lymphoma Program Chief Dr. Peter Martin presented new mantle cell lymphoma research and shared important insights about care in the community or real-world setting as part of an oral abstract session. 

Dr. John Leonard reviews an National Cancer Institute (NCI)-supported clinical trial evaluating the role of stem cell transplant in primary central nervous system (CNS) lymphoma treatment. 

Dr. Richard Furman explains exciting results from a phase 3 clinical trial comparing two different treatment options for patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) for the first time.

Additionally, Dr. Peter Martin breaks down mantle cell lymphoma research evaluating the role of botezomib when added to bendamustine and rituximab as induction therapy.

PET scan imaging during treatment for bulky Hodgkin lymphoma can provide critical information to shape the course of care. Dr. John Leonard breaks down this NCI-supported ALLIANCE research presented this year’s ASCO meeting. 

Researchers Find New Role of Gene that Could Lead to New Strategies for the Treatment of B-Cell Lymphomas

The activation-induced cytidine deaminase (AID) gene has long been understood to play a role in the body’s defense against pathogens. The AID gene ensures that the B-cells responsible for antibody production can generate the antibodies that defend the body. Recently a team of research scientists at Weill Cornell Medical College published results outlining a new role for the AID gene. In these first of their kind findings researchers demonstrated the epigenetic role of the gene:

“…the researchers discovered that the enzyme encoded by the AID gene is also involved in removing chemical tags from DNA. These tags, known as methyl groups, regulate gene expression. Removing these methyl groups, a process called hypomethylation, allows B cells to rapidly change their genome in preparation for antibody production.”

“AID is a gene traditionally not known to be linked to DNA methylation, but we found that it is a player in removing methyl groups — the first time anyone has found molecules that perform this powerful form of gene regulation,” said co-senior author Dr. Olivier Elemento, an associate professor of computational genomics in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics who heads the Laboratory of Cancer Systems Biology in the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud Institute for Computational Biomedicine at Weill Cornell and co-chairs the Meyer Cancer Center Program in Genetics, Epigenetics and Systems Biology. “What is interesting is that many tumor types, and that includes B-cell lymphomas, tend to be linked to global — genome-wide — hypomethylation, compared to normal cells. How hypomethylation occurs is not well understood. AID is so far the only enzyme that has been directly linked to this active process. So AID or related enzymes could be involved in other cancers as well.”

These new findings have the potential to reveal a new cause of blood cancers and lead to the development of new strategies to treat B-cell lymphomas.

Peter Martin M.D. Selected as one of New York Super Doctors Rising Stars

Peter Martin, M.D.
Peter Martin, M.D.

Peter Martin, M.D. was recently named as one of 2015’s New York Super Doctors Rising Stars in the field of hematology. In addition to Dr. Martin, two other physicians from the Division of Hematology & Medical Oncology at Weill Cornell Medical College were named to the list – Dr. Himisha Beltran and Dr. Tomer Mark.

Super Doctors is an honor roll of top doctors selected by their peers and the independent research of MSP Communications. Physicians eligible for inclusion on the Rising Stars list must be fully-licensed physician who have been practicing for less than 10 years. No more than 2.5% of the eligible doctors in each state or region are named to the Rising Stars list. Full details of the Rising Star eligibility criteria can be found on their website.