Prof. Antonio Almeida: Academic knowledge disseminates in no time

New technologies have transformed haematology. Gene-editing and molecular agents become available to patients within shorter timeframes.

Interview with Prof. Dr. Antonio Almeida

Pharmaceutical studies are very important to get approval for new agents and drugs in hematology. However, questions concerning how to use them and in which population these medications are best used are mainly answered in academic trials, says Prof. Dr. Antonio Almeida. Therefore, EHA 2022 is a hub to combine the best of both worlds, disseminating new academic knowledge for day-to-day haematological practice.

About our interview partner: Prof. Antonio Almeida is EHA Chair of the Curriculum Committee. He is the Head of Haematology at the Hospital da Luz Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal.

esanum: Prof. Almeida, EHA is not only hosting the first hybrid congress, but this coincides also with the 30th anniversary of the society. How does that feel?

Prof. Almeida: Coming out of this difficult situation of the pandemic and to meet again is very exciting. We realise how important human communication is: talking in the corridors, talking in the corners and how this really brings science and knowledge forward. And the second exciting thing is that when we have this meeting we see the quality of the work that is being submitted to EHA. This is very gratifying, because it does mean that we function as a hub, as a network where people interact and disseminate their knowledge.

esanum: What are this year’s hot topics?

Prof. Almeida: The hottest topics are the novel therapies in the academic trials. These really address the questions that we as the physicians have. Pharma-driven trials are very important, of course, to get approval of new drugs. But then academics and doctors have other questions about how to use those drugs, which patients to use them in and what combinations to use them in. It is important to have a space where all these questions will be answered. And this really starts to be a paradigm shift in what we have in hematology and how we practice in our day-to-day lives and what treatments we have available. So, I think, it is very important to have this sharing of knowledge and these academic trials presented at this congress.

esanum: How long, you think, will it take for some of the late breakers at this meeting to be put into practice?

Prof. Almeida: Some of them can be put into practice straight away. Because some of them are addressing drugs that are already approved for certain indications, just that they are used in different ways. One of those ways is for example to combine two approved medications for CLL to treat patients. Another way would be to choose between two approved medications and to decide which one is more suitable for which population in a certain haematological condition and how to get patients to transplant – which seems to be a hypomethylating agent. So, many questions we are addressing in academic trials have to do with the way we use the drugs and they can be accessible immediately. We all have to advocate for our patients and bring to them new treatments as well as old treatments in new ways.        

esanum: Hematology is a very complex field. What role do new technologies play here to advance it as a whole?

Prof. Almeida: New technologies have transformed hematology completely. Take our classification of AML as an example: This will totally change from a morphological-genetic approach to a more molecularbiology-dominated one. I think the same applies to the classification of many other diseases. But here we have seen today how exciting it is to have gene-editing therapies or novel small molecular agents. So the bench to bedside is very short a time in hematology. That means that novel therapies become available to patients even faster.

Romy Martinez interivew with Prof. Dr. Antonio Almeida (President elect, EHA) at the EHA annual meeting 2022 in Vienna, Austria.