ASH Issues Report Outlining Top Priorities for Scientific Discovery

A report issued by the American Society of Hematology (ASH) urged scientists and funding institutions to coordinate their efforts around six research areas with the greatest potential to dramatically impact the care of patients with a variety of diseases.

The professional society issued the ASH Agenda for Hematology Research, a strategic plan identifying the most promising areas of research that need ongoing support. According to ASH, researchers have made significant progress toward improving treatment for patients with blood disorders over the last decade and now investigators are moving toward utilizing innovative technology to gather volumes of genetic data, allowing for the development of precision medicine. Precision medicine is an approach to treatment that tailors therapy to a specific subset of patients or to an individual patient’s disease.

The emergence of new tools and knowledge is helping hematology researchers understand the molecular pathways that underlie disease, and with this knowledge, hematologists can develop more personalized therapies to treat, and in certain cases cure, some of the most devastating diseases while reducing severe side effects, the plan notes.

“Hematologists are at the forefront of a new era of research utilizing technology to do extraordinary things, such as catalogue and interpret massive amounts of genetic material, correct genetic mutations, harness the immune system to fight cancer, and create ‘genetically engineered’ blood cells,” said ASH President David A. Williams, MD, of Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. “Thanks to new technologies, we are gleaning insights that are providing a strong foundation for progress in treating hematologic diseases and beyond.”

In order to sustain scientific progress in hematology, ASH recommends further research support be allocated to highly promising areas of scientific investigation including genomic profiling, genome editing and gene therapy, epigenetics, immunotherapy, stem cell research and blood clots.

“These six high-priority areas represent some of the most powerful strategies for revolutionizing the way we treat patients with blood diseases, improving their prognosis and minimizing the side effects of current standard therapies,” said ASH Committee on Scientific Affairs Chair Charles Mullighan, MD, of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. “Dedicated research support and coordination among organizations that fund, legislate, regulate, or implement hematology research will enable continued pursuit of these areas. This important work will also prepare the next generation of investigators to produce high-impact results that will transform our ability to diagnose and treat patients with blood diseases for years to come.”

Source: American Society of Hematology

Last updated: 5/1/15; 2:50pm EST

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