CLL Global Alliance members gathered in Houston on January 18 and 19 for the semi-annual Alliance meeting. The Alliance is a collaborative group of CLL investigators; there is a true sense of camaraderie and trust that has developed which accelerates new collaborations and ideas for research approaches. The meeting is an opportunity for experts to discuss their ongoing research and develop future explorations. For this year's meeting, several subject matter experts presented on genetics, delivery systems, and viral aspects.
Much of the first day's conversation centered on new therapeutics, immunotherapy and the microenvironment of the CLL cells. Following lunch, the conversation shifted to studies using immunotherapy.
Signficiant time was also devoted to therapeutics targeting the BTK signaling and selective inhibition of various proteins that contribute to the progression of CLL. Therapeutic options were discussed from the angle of personalized therapies based on the cytogenetic subtypes of CLL patients.
The theme of the second day was, "What is the Next Big Thing in Genetics?" The morning started off with a presentation on Richter's syndrome and how to best handle patients with this mutation. Dr. Stephan Stilgenbauer (University of Cologne) informed the group on the current research that is taking place in Germany. Much of the discussion was based on how to handle genetic abnormalities and changes in CLL patients. The morning concluded with discussions about non-coding RNA and an overview of findings from previous research on the genetics of CLL cells.
The one and half day meeting was packed with scientific presentations and interactions among some of the top CLL experts. It is clear that investigators are approaching CLL from various angles; moreover, there have been great advances in the current research. Following the Alliance meeting, we are energized and hopeful about the future of CLL research.