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ASH 2021: HealthTree Foundation Presents Research Findings
Posted: Dec 17, 2021
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I had the wonderful opportunity to present some of HealthTree's most current research at this year's American Society of Hematology (ASH) Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, one of the largest hematology conferences in the world. It was an amazing experience being able to meet and discuss our research with highly intellectual and experienced individuals and receive insight on ways we can further this research. Our presentations were composed of two poster presentations, each discussing our research on multiple myeloma and COVID-19.

Online Patient-Reported Platform Detects Trend of Increased COVID-19 Risk and Severity for Multiple Myeloma Patients on Active Lenalidomide-Based Therapy

We recognize that because of the rise of COVID-19, many "high risk" individuals, such as cancer patients, have had to reconsider their current medical treatments and other treatment alternatives to best minimize their risk for contracting COVID-19. Our poster discussed our investigation of whether lenalidomide protected multiple myeloma patients from contracting COVID-19 and whether lenalidomide decreased the severity of COVID-19 events (including hospital or intensive care unit [ICU] admissions, and need of assisted ventilation) for patients that contracted the virus. An invitation to participate in an online survey was given to patients with active multiple myeloma cancer or precursor conditions as provided by HealthTree Cure Hub.

There were 1,123 patients involved in this study, including patients that never tested positive for COVID-19. By calculating the risk ratio, we compared the risk of contracting COVID-19 for those taking lenalidomide and those who were not. The odds ratio was also calculated to measure lenalidomide’s effect on the severity of COVID-19 if contracted.

Our results showed that patients who were taking lenalidomide had a 10% higher risk for contracting COVID-19 than those who were not. We also found that the odds of patients experiencing severe COVID-19 were 1.95 times more for those on lenalidomide than those who were not, although both of these results were insignificant. We concluded that our results indicate that taking lenalidomide may not be beneficial in lowering the risk  in contracting COVID-19 or for decreasing the severity of COVID-19 symptoms for multiple myeloma patients. However, we believe that these results can still provide insight for multiple myeloma patients and their providers when considering current treatment therapies.

Multiple Myeloma, Clinical Characteristics, and Increased COVID-19 Risk Using Real-World Data

A question that was commonly investigated during the COVID-19 pandemic was which clinical characteristics would make one more susceptible to contracting COVID-19. Our second poster discussed our investigation of which clinical characteristics of multiple myeloma cancer patients could make them more prone to contracting COVID-19. We also investigated which of these conditions place patients at an increased risk for experiencing more severe COVID-19 symptoms. Data from our online survey in HealthTree Cure Hub was also used for this analysis.

Medical conditions of interest included hypertension, diabetes, heart condition, lung condition, kidney condition, neuropathy condition, BMI, stroke, smoking history, drug use history, HIV, and Mediterranean descent. We determined whether a patient had to be hospitalized, admitted to the ICU, needed oxygen therapy, or needed a D-dimer test as a severe COVID-19 case.

962 patients were involved in this study and by performing a multivariable logistic regression, we found that overweight patients were 2% more likely to contract COVID-19 than those who were not overweight. We also found that other medical conditions such as heart condition, kidney condition, and neuropathy condition had a decreased risk in contracting COVID-19 compared to those who did not have those conditions. We speculate whether multiple myeloma patients, a high-risk group due to their immunocompromised state, took extra care to follow safety recommendations and caution to avoid contracting COVID-19. Out of the 35 patients that were involved in investigating medical conditions and their effects on the severity of COVID-19 symptoms, we found that those overweight had a 12% increase in risk of experiencing more severe COVID-19 symptoms as well as those who had neuropathy conditions were 3% more likely to experience more severe COVID-19 symptoms. 

It is important to note that these results were insignificant, but may help multiple myeloma patients identify which of their own medical conditions may put them more at risk and thus take precautionary measures.

Being able to present our work at the 2021 ASH Conference was a fulfilling experience where I could see first hand how it has benefitted both multiple myeloma patients and caregivers. I look forward to further research as provided by HealthTree.


The author Emily Liu

about the author
Emily Liu

Emily is from Sandy, Utah and is currently completing a master's degree in statistics at Brigham Young University. She has a passion for using data analytics and predictions to help further medical research and improve therapeutic outcomes. When she is not working, she can be found rock climbing or playing the ukulele. She also loves spending time with her family and friends and tries to find every opportunity to do so.

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