GIST advocates from around the world gathered in Miami for the annual New Horizons conference. This international meeting was launched by Novartis Oncology in 2003 with the title, “New Horizons in Treating CML and GIST,” with the goal of uniting patient organizations representing people living with CML and GIST. A few years ago, the conference divided into two separate meetings—one focused on GIST and the other on CML. Since then, the New Horizons GIST Conference has been organized by a GIST Steering Committee that aims to unify the global GIST patient advocacy community with key opinion leaders and facilitate ways to increase survival worldwide.
This year, The Life Raft Group hosted the meeting for a second time in Miami, Florida. Nearly 30 representatives from over 20 countries came together to discuss critical information about GIST impacting the global GIST patient and medical communities. The topic of the conference was “Celebrating 15 Years of GIST Treatment: GIST Therapies on the Horizons.” The group examined the treatment of GIST as observed by the patient, caregiver, medical expert and pharmaceutical community. The goal of the conference was to open up a discussion, and make changes and improvements.
Leading GIST experts such as Dr. Matias Chacon from Alexander Fleming Institute in Buenos Aires, Argentina; Dr. Jonathan Trent from Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center in Miami, Florida, USA; and Dr. Peter Reichardt from Helios Klinikum Berlin-Buch in Berlin, Germany (virtually) had the opportunity to present medical and scientific updates about GIST to the group. Drs. Pablo Bejarano from Cleveland Clinic, Florida and Alan Livingstone from Sylvester presented on pathology and surgery.
Besides the scientific discussions around GIST, participants had the opportunity to interact with one another, exchange best practices and to exchange strategies for promoting patient involvement in clinical trials and combination drug trials. Most importantly, external speakers were invited to the meeting to share best practices and identify mutual areas of interest. These speakers included Bray Patrick-Lake from Clinical Trials Transformation Initiative, Steven Young from Addario Lung Cancer Medical Institute and Karen van Rassel from Lymphoma Coalition.
Participants also engaged in round-robin discussions regarding plans of action for the New Horizons group and how to work towards resolutions on a global level. Topics discussed included patient education, mutational testing and improving access to treatment. The group identified common global strategies and formulated ways they can expand their reach to each other through in-person communications and a virtual education platform. New Horizons’ steering committee members adjourned the conference with closing remarks on the vision for the group and its future discussions.
Many thanks to the New Horizons GIST group supporters who made this meeting possible – Novartis Oncology, Pfizer Inc. and Bayer AG. It is through their unwavering support that New Horizons exists and continues to develop a highly knowledgeable global community of GIST patients and caregivers.