ASH President Speaks on Pharmacists, Novel Innovations in Hematology

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He also provides insight for students training in classical hematology, oncology hematology, or oncology pharmacy.

Robert A. Brodsky, MD, the 2023 president of the American Society of Hematology (ASH) and a professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland, joins Pharmacy Times at the 65th ASH Annual Meeting & Exposition, taking place December 9-12, 2023, in San Diego, California. Brodsky offers his best advice to students training in classical hematology, oncology hematology, or oncology pharmacy, discusses important topics and sessions that are relevant to hematology and oncology pharmacists, and shares the significance that this meeting has in the field.

PT Staff: What is a session or topic that you think is relevant to hematology or oncology pharmacists attending this year’s conference?

Robert A. Brodsky, MD: Looking for that Wiz transcription factor degrader would be very interesting for pharmacists, because we never really thought of targeting a transcription factor— well people thought of targeting transcription factors [but] we were never effective at doing it. So this is one of the first potential compounds that, as a degrader, could have a really big impact. So I would think that would be interested from a pharmacist standpoint.

And then the Presidential Symposium is on complement. We used to think of complement as being this adjunct to what antibodies do, and it wasn't really a disease driver. It's very clear that this is a disease driver, and there are unbelievable numbers of complement inhibitors that are that are coming out; and several that are going to be approved this coming year. Oral ones even. It's very clear that many of these diseases are really driven by the complement cascade, and if you block the complement cascade, you can basically put the disease to sleep.

Pharmacists are critical to us. We have a pharmacist on almost every one of our inpatient services, and they're indispensable. They have the knowledge around the drugs and the drug-drug interactions, [and] it has such an impact to our patients. I would imagine that this can be a very exciting area to be in, and pharmacists are going to play an increasingly important role in in helping us take care of our patients.

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PT Staff: You’ve been an ASH member for 30 years. What advice would you give students training in classical hematology, oncology hematology, or oncology pharmacy?

Robert A. Brodsky, MD: I think the most important thing to really learn in hematology is the underlying science. And what I mean by this [is that] this is a field where we are targeting cellular and molecular pathways that are very specific, not only in our classical hematology, but also our malignant hematology, So understanding the complement cascade, understanding the coagulation cascade, understanding stem cell biology, and understanding immunology is really critical to understanding how these drugs work— because more and more, we are using targeted therapies.

In hematologic malignancies, we used to just throw “blip versus blop versus, you know, this and [that]”… there was so much off-target effects, and now we're going in with chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells to target certain malignancies, and we're coming in with targeting the B-cell survival pathways and targeting different parts of the coagulation cascade and the complement cascade.

You really must understand some basics of the immunology, the hemostasis, thrombosis, the stem cell biology. If you understand that, it makes it a lot easier to understand the newer targets, how they work, and to predict their side effects.

PT Staff: Is there anything else that you would like to add?

Robert A. Brodsky, MD: It's going to be an amazing meeting. Like I said, I think there's going to be over 30,000…We know there's going to be over 30,000 people there in person. There is going to be an enormous amount of buzz around this meeting from the press. And the important thing is that we have a lot of new agents. We still need more, but we have a lot of new agents to treat what before were life-threatening or severely debilitating diseases. [Now] we're able to cure some of them. We're able to prolong survival, we're able to improve quality of life, and it's just a very exciting field to be in.

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