Saad Z. Usmani, MD, MBA, FACP
The COVID-19 pandemic brought on many challenges for our personal, professional, and communal lives. However, we witnessed an unprecedented collaboration among scientists to produce the most rapid vaccine rollout in history. We marveled at this scientific achievement as researchers raced to decipher the viral genome and develop multiple SARS-CoV-2 vaccines using mRNA and vector-based platforms within a year. I am encouraged by the progress made by the scientific and medical community and optimistic about the “new normal” awaiting us once mass vaccination and herd immunity have been achieved.
Despite the pandemic, there were 13 new Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approvals for hematologic malignancies in 2020, and five more approvals have already come through this year. As a hematologist and researcher, I appreciate the path that lies ahead of us toward finding more cures for our patients.
This progress must continue. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) is leading groundbreaking research to help improve the quality of life for blood cancer patients and their families. For decades, LLS has supported many “myeloma-ologists” through research funding, in moving the field forward. The pandemic has taught us to develop more effective uses of electronic and print media to disseminate the most current information to patients, caregivers, and peers. In the exclusive LLS section of Multiple Myeloma Today we will bring forward relevant topics in myeloma management and research.
In this inaugural issue, readers will learn about multiple myeloma (MM) diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment options for both newly diagnosed and relapsed patients. We also cover highlights from the December 2020 The American Society of Hematology Annual (ASH) Meeting which showcased high-quality research across disease states. Readers will also learn about recent updates on MM management in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, including answering questions on the kind of vaccines that have been approved, as well as the safety and timing of getting vaccinated.
And finally, we cover the recent FDA approval of a new peptide conjugate drug, melflufen, for relapsed and/or refractory MM, as well as the B-cell maturation antigen (BCMA)-directed chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy Abecma that received an FDA approval in March 2021.
I hope you enjoy this issue of Multiple Myeloma Today and we look forward to bringing more relevant news and information in future issues.
Saad Z. Usmani, MD, MBA, FACP, received his medical education at Allama Iqbal Medical College in Lahore, Pakistan. He completed a residency in internal medicine at Sinai-Grace Hospital/Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, and a fellowship in hematology and oncology at the University of Connecticut Health Center in Farmington, Connecticut. Dr. Usmani joined the faculty of the Levine Cancer Institute in July 2013; he also currently holds an academic appointment as Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill School of Medicine. Previously, Dr. Usmani served as an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock, Arkansas, and Director of Developmental Therapeutics at the Myeloma Institute for Research & Therapy.
Dr. Usmani is board certified in internal medicine, medical oncology, and hematology, and he is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians. He holds membership in several professional societies, including the International Myeloma Working Group, the SWOG Myeloma Committee, the American Society of Hematology (ASH), the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), and the American Society for Transplantation and Cellular Therapy (ASTCT)[Previously known as the American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation (ASBMT)]. Dr. Usmani has served as the track leader on the ASCO Scientific Committee on Lymphoma and Plasma Cell Disorders, and he has served as chair of the ASH Committee on Plasma Cell Neoplasia and is a member of the National Cancer Institute Myeloma Steering Committee. Dr. Usmani is on the editorial review board of numerous medical journals, and he has authored/co-authored more than 170 peer-reviewed research manuscripts and 220 abstracts at national and international meetings. Active in clinical and translational research, Dr. Usmani has research interests focused on plasma cell disorders—in particular, high-risk multiple myeloma.