UC Irvine blood cancer experts to speak at major European conference on malignant lymphoma

May 05, 2017
Dr. Susan M. O'Brien is a UCI Health hematologist-oncologist and director of the Sue and Ralph Stern Center for Cancer Clinical Trials.
Dr. Susan M. O'Brien

Two nationally regarded UCI Health blood cancer experts have been invited to debate treatment approaches at the 14th International Conference on Malignant Lymphoma in Lugano, Switzerland in June. 

The biennial conference — which will be held June 14 through June 17, and is expected to draw more than 3,000 physicians from around the world — is Europe’s most prestigious conference on malignant lymphoma. In recent years, the conference has included a series of debates between U.S. and European experts about their varying approaches to the study and treatment of lymphoid neoplasms.

Dr. Susan M. O’Brien, director of the Sue and Ralph Stern Center for Cancer Clinical Trials at the UCI Health Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, will discuss the latest approaches to treating chronic lymphoid leukemia (CLL). CLL is one of the most common types of adult leukemia, with nearly 20,000 new U.S. cases diagnosed each year, usually in older adults.  

Dr. Lauren Pinter-Brown is a UCI Health hematologist-oncologist who specializes in the treatment of lymphoma.
Dr. Lauren Pinter-Brown

Dr. Lauren Pinter-Brown, a national leader in the treatment of all types of lymphoma, will talk about the latest advances in U.S. approaches to treating T-cell lymphoma, which accounts for about 15 percent of U.S. cases of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

The invitations are a recognition that UCI Health and the cancer center are home to "two of the world’s most highly respected physicians in hematologic malignancies," said Dr. Edward L. Nelson, UCI Health chief of hematology-oncology and an associate professor in the UC Irvine School of Medicine’s Department of Medicine

It underscores that fact that people in Orange County and the region have access to the foremost experts in these diseases, as well as to their clinical trials, Nelson said.

As director of the Stern Center, O’Brien is leading efforts to translate basic research findings into actual patient treatments, with a particular emphasis on early phase trials to test new drugs or treatments for the first time in humans. She is the principal investigator on six current clinical trials, many of which are investigating new, molecularly targeted therapies.

One of O’Brien’s trials is testing ibrutinib, a breakthrough drug for chronic lymphocytic leukemia, against acalabrutinib, a drug engineered to avoid the side effects encountered by patients in early ibrutinib trials. Others are tests of novel immunotherapies for hematologic malignancies, such as bi-specific T-cell engagers (BITEs) and chimeric antigen receptor T-cells (CAR-T cells).

Pinter-Brown, whose goal is to provide her lymphoma patients with a wider range of treatment options, oversees lymphoma treatment and clinical trials at the cancer center. She is the principal investigator on two early phase trials exploring drugs that may block the growth of cancer cells. One study looks at the safety and tolerability of an investigational drug, MRG-106, which can inhibit a molecule found at elevated levels in patients with cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, subtype mycosis fungiodes. The other study tests the safety and efficacy of a dual phosphoinositide 3-kinase inhibitor delta/gamma inhibitor in patients with relapsed and refractory T-cell lymphoma.

In Lugano, Nelson said, O’Brien and Pinter-Brown will engage with the top tier of German experts in their respective fields to debate treatment strategies. In recent years, he added, Germany’s experts in Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma have been leaders in defining the way European clinicians and researchers approach hematologic malignancies.


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