Welcome Sandra Kanan and Jorge Castillo
October, 2013: Dear Patients, Caregivers, and Friends of the Bing Center for WM: It gives me great pleasure to introduce to you two outstanding individuals who recently joined the Bing Center for Waldenstrom’s Macroglobulinemia at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Many of you have had the opportunity to meet Sandra Kanan, NP and Jorge Castillo, MD, during your recent clinic visits, and I wanted to take the opportunity to formally introduce you to these bright, talented, and dedicated practitioners who will soon be leading the Waldenstrom’s clinical effort for our center. Both individuals were recruited to our center, after national searches, in an effort to increase our capacity to care for a rapidly growing patient population. Over 1,000 patients with WM are expected to be seen this year, with representation from all over the globe. The increased visitations have been prompted by the discovery of the mutation in the MYD88 gene in WM which was discovered by the dedicated laboratory researchers of our center and reported in the New England Journal of Medicine last year. The discovery of the MYD88 mutation prompted research efforts that now have unveiled new opportunities for targeted therapy of WM, including the use of ibrutinib, an inhibitor of Bruton’s Tyrosine Kinase (BTK) which is activated by the MYD88 mutation.
A large clinical trial undertaken by the Bing Center with our colleagues at Stanford University and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center showed that ibrutinib was highly active in patients with relapsed or refractory WM. These revelations led to a “breakthough” Fast Track status by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the approval of ibrutinib in WM, the first time this status had ever been conveyed, thus permitting accelerated approval for this drug for WM. These advances have also led to the identification of new drug targets in the MYD88 pathway, and the development of new agents in collaboration with our colleagues at Harvard Medical School. To help facilitate these efforts, Dr. Steve Treon will be transitioning from the clinic to spearhead new drug development efforts made possible through the generous support of many individuals and the International Waldenstrom’s Macroglobulinemia Foundation (IWMF). Dr. Castillo and NP Kanan will assume care of patients in our WM clinic starting this December, with Dr. Treon and our clinic staff and clinical trials group in support of their efforts. This will include discussion of all clinic cases for the foreseeable future at our weekly WM rounds. Dr. Castillo will also be developing new clinical trials for WM, and indeed several “Letters of Intent” have recently been submitted by him for the investigation of several new drugs for WM.
Christopher J. Patterson
Bing Center for Waldenstrom’s Macroglobulinemia
Dana Farber Cancer Institute