An Overview of LRF's 9th Annual Mantle Cell Lymphoma Scientific Workshop

On April 18 and 19, 2012, more than 70 researchers from the United States, Canada, and Europe gathered in Atlanta, Georgia for the 9th Annual Mantle Cell Lymphoma (MCL) Scientific Workshop. This annual workshop provides a unique forum for the world's leading MCL researchers to share their findings, exchange ideas, and plan new collaborations. The discussion topics spanned many aspects of MCL biology and treatment. Scientists presented new information on how MCL develops, reviewed clinical trials of new agents, and debated how to best use the therapies available today.

In a session on pathogenesis, scientists presented new information on the molecular events that promote the development of MCL. A greater understanding of these events may help elucidate new potential therapies, explain differences in disease course between individuals, and allow greater individualization of therapy. Researchers are also trying to define molecular features that might identify patients who are likely to have a more indolent disease and who may not require therapy for some time.

The workshop also included sessions on new and emerging treatment strategies in MCL. Clinical trial researchers discussed the challenge of selecting the optimal therapy for patients with MCL, including the role of intensive therapy, stem cell transplantation, and newer targeted therapies. Scientists also provided updates on new therapies being tested in clinical trials, including mTOR inhibitors (everolimus, temsirolimus), the PI3 kinase inhibitor CAL-101, and the BTK inhibitor PCI-32765 (ibrutinib).

In a session on MCL immunology and immunotherapy, researchers discussed potential ways of harnessing the immune system to fight cancer. As the eminent keynote speaker, Dr. Ronald Levy, of Stanford University School of Medicine explained, the goal of immunotherapy is to engage the immune system to recognize a cancer cell like it recognizes a virus that should be destroyed. Multiple strategies are being evaluated to recruit the immune system in the fight against MCL.

Scientists left the workshop with new ideas, strengthened connections, and a renewed enthusiasm for collaboration. LRF Scientific Advisory Board Chair Dr. Bruce Cheson, MD, FACP, FAAAS, of Georgetown University Hospital, called the MCLC "a highlight of the LRF," with its record of bringing together a wide variety of scientists and physicians who are all working towards the common goal of improving outcomes for individuals living with MCL.

Look for a detailed report on the MCL Workshop in the Summer 2012 Research Report due out in June.