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ASH annual meeting highlights St. Jude research

Researchers from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital will present their work at the 61st annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology.

Memphis, Tennessee, December 2, 2019

Image of red blood cells

St. Jude researchers will present their work on acute myeloid leukemia, sickle cell disease and childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital investigators are set to present original research findings and share their expertise at the 2019 American Society of Hematology  annual meeting in Orlando, Florida, Dec. 7-10.

From presenting oral abstracts and posters to moderating and chairing sessions and workshops, St. Jude faculty, fellows and graduate students will provide insight and leadership on a variety of topics. The following are just a snapshot of the many activities taking place at ASH. Visit the St. Jude Conference Page to learn more.

Data reveals new AML and MDS classifications

Although standard gene panel testing has revealed much about the underlying genetics of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), novel technologies now allow researchers to further unravel the biology of these diseases. Ilaria Iacobucci, Ph.D., a staff scientist in the laboratory of Charles Mullighan, M.D., MBBS, deputy director of the St. Jude Comprehensive Cancer Center, will announce genomic and transcriptomic sequencing results for AML and MDS as part of a press conference held at the ASH annual meeting Tuesday, Dec. 10, at 8:15 a.m.

Common mutations have been previously described; yet, this analysis captured in new detail the heterogeneity and complexity of mutational patterns, as well as their expression. These findings enabled scientists to define subtypes and constellations of mutations that surpass previous gene panel-based understanding and may provide new prognostic guidance.

Transition clinic for sickle cell disease

In 2012, St. Jude launched a state-of-the-art clinic for adolescent patients with sickle cell disease who were transitioning to adult care. Through the St. Jude-Methodist Sickle Cell Disease Transition Clinic, patients learn how to handle their own care as they become adults. Patients receive education, transition skill-building and help with planning their care. During their first few adult-care visits, patients are seen by both a pediatric and an adult hematologist. Jane Hankins, M.D., of the St. Jude Department of Hematology will present this work as part of the Education Program Saturday, Dec. 7, from 2-3:30 p.m.

In addition to sharing details about the transition program, St. Jude scientists are also presenting their research on sickle cell disease. Monday, Dec. 9, at 7:30 a.m. medical student Anjelica Saulsberry will present her work with Hankins on how neurocognitive impairment associated with sickle cell disease can predict poor transition outcomes. The researchers are exploring options for how to help patients remain engaged in care as an adult.

Oral presentations preview

St. Jude researchers have demonstrated that a novel, combination-therapy strategy for relapsed or non-responsive AML is active and well tolerated in pediatric patients. The Phase I clinical trial tested a combination of chemotherapy with the novel agent venetoclax, an oral BCL-2 inhibitor. The abstract will be presented by Seth Karol, M.D., of the St. Jude Department of Oncology Saturday, Dec. 7, at 12:45 p.m.

Investigators are also presenting research that dives into the underlying biology of various types of leukemia. Kathryn Roberts, Ph.D., from the Mullighan laboratory will share findings from research looking at the genomic landscape of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) across B cell and T cell subtypes. The presentation takes place Monday, Dec. 9, at 10:30 a.m. Additionally, Tanja Gruber, M.D., Ph.D., of the St. Jude Department of Oncology will present her work on AML to identify rare but distinct molecular subtypes with clinical implications. That presentation occurs Monday, Dec. 9, at 7:30 p.m.

Many other presentations feature the work of St. Jude investigators. For example, collaborative work with the Chinese Children’s Cancer Group for which Ching-Hon Pui, M.D., St. Jude Department of Oncology chair, is senior author will be presented Monday, Dec. 9, at 5:45 p.m. This work describes the results of a Phase III clinical trial for Philadelphia chromosome-positive ALL. This and a multitude of other presentations and posters showcase the efforts of St. Jude researchers alongside numerous collaborators.

More from ASH

This year, Kim Nichols, M.D., of St. Jude Oncology was awarded an ASH Bridge Grant. These awards are designed to sustain promising hematologic research proposals not funded after the first round of review by the National Institutes of Health, but which have revised applications pending or under review.

Fellow Adrian Lesmana, M.D., of St. Jude Oncology has also received a Research Training Award. He uses next-generation sequencing to study bone marrow failure syndromes and identify potential novel genes related to cancer predisposition.

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is leading the way the world understands, treats and cures childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases. It is the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center devoted solely to children. Treatments developed at St. Jude have helped push the overall childhood cancer survival rate from 20% to 80% since the hospital opened more than 50 years ago. St. Jude freely shares the breakthroughs it makes, and every child saved at St. Jude means doctors and scientists worldwide can use that knowledge to save thousands more children. Families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing and food — because all a family should worry about is helping their child live. To learn more, visit or follow St. Jude on social media at @stjuderesearch.