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Dr. Mohamad Cherry of Atlantic Health System Presents Studies at Top International Blood Cancer Meeting

February 10, 2021

CAR T-cell study for aggressive lymphomas is still enrolling participants at Atlantic Health System

February 9, 2021, Morristown, NJ Mohamad Cherry, MD, medical director of hematology for Atlantic Health System, co-authored research abstracts on two major blood cancer studies that were presented at the American Society of Hematology (ASH) 62nd Annual Meeting.  The meeting, held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, is the world’s pre-eminent gathering of clinicians and researchers focused on blood diseases.  Dr. Cherry is an internationally known hematology/oncology researcher and clinician.


“These studies look at new approaches to treating aggressive cancers, as well as expanding indications for approved drugs,” said Dr. Cherry.  “The study on CAR T-cell therapy is particularly interesting, as this type of treatment involves using patients’ own immune cells to attack their cancer.  The entire category of CAR T therapy, including therapies on the market that we are already using, is generating a great deal of interest in the oncology community.”


The CAR T-cell study, being led locally by Dr. Cherry, is still underway and enrolling eligible participants at Atlantic Health System Cancer Care’s Breakthrough Treatment Center.


“Dr. Cherry is a world-class cancer researcher, and we are fortunate to have him on our  team of leading clinician-scientists,” said Eric Whitman, MD, medical director, Atlantic Health System Cancer Care.  “Under his leadership, we continue to offer the latest treatments, as well as numerous clinical trials for blood cancers including leukemia, lymphoma and multiple myeloma.”


The presentation at ASH focused on initial results from a phase 2 study of liso-cel, an investigational CAR T therapy being tested against aggressive relapsed/refractory B cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The arm of this study that is underway at Atlantic Health System is being conducted on an outpatient basis. The study is funded by Juno Therapeutics.


“Our preliminary efficacy results presented at ASH were promising,” said Dr. Cherry.  “Early results also indicate a good safety profile, with few adverse events reported.”     


In CAR (chimeric antigen receptor) T-cell therapy, immune cells known as T cells are removed from patients’ blood and altered in the lab to have specific receptors (chimeric antigen receptors) on their surface.  These receptors can attach to proteins on the surface of lymphoma cells.  The T cells are then multiplied in the lab and infused back into patients’ blood, where they seek out the lymphoma cells and launch a precise immune attack against them.


The second ASH presentation co-led by Dr. Cherry focused on the final results of a phase 1 study of targeted therapy gilteritinib in newly diagnosed acute myeloid leukemia (AML), used in conjunction with intravenous chemotherapy.  Gilteritinib targets the most common mutation that causes AML, the FLT3 gene. This multipart study looked at the effects of gilteritinib with and without various types of anthracycline, a class of antibiotics that have chemotherapeutic effects, as well as various drug administration schedules.  


Sold under the brand name Xospata® by Astellas Pharma, gilteritinib is approved by the FDA for adult AML patients with the FLT3 mutation whose disease has recurred or been resistant to treatment.


“This is an encouraging first step to see if earlier intervention with this targeted therapy and chemotherapy can affect the course of this disease,” said Dr. Cherry.  Dr. Cherry has published a number of books and book chapters and has served as lead author or co-author of more than 30 peer-reviewed papers published in leading scientific journals. He has lectured locally, nationally and internationally, and has presented or published his research at premier hematology/oncology meetings sponsored by ASH and the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), among others. He is the recipient of numerous awards for his research, clinical and educational pursuits, including the Medal of Excellency from the Board of Specialization and Academic Orientation – Lebanese University, Beirut.  In 2015, he was selected as Hematology Advocate by the ASH Advocacy Leadership Institute. 


Dr. Cherry is a physician with Atlantic Hematology Oncology at the Carol G. Simon Cancer Center-Morristown Medical Center campus.  He can be reached at (973) 971-7960.

About Atlantic Health System Cancer Care

Atlantic Health System Cancer Care offers an unparalleled network of cancer specialists and resources for more than 70,500 patients annually through its flagship Carol G. Simon Cancer Center at Morristown and Overlook medical centers, as well as its comprehensive oncology programs at Chilton, Hackettstown and Newton medical centers. With more than 250 cancer specialists and medical professionals, all five hospitals and Atlantic Medical Group have been recognized nationally for their role in advancing the fight against cancer.

Atlantic Health System Cancer Care is the lead affiliate of Atlantic Health Cancer Consortium (AHCC) - the only New Jersey-based National Cancer Institute (NCI) Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP).  Atlantic Health System is affiliated with the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) of Phoenix, Arizona, and together they have created the Breakthrough Oncology Accelerator, a pioneering research and clinical collaboration designed to improve patient access to the most innovative and sophisticated therapies for cancer.


About Atlantic Health System

Atlantic Health System is at the forefront of medicine, setting standards for quality health care in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and the New York metropolitan area. Powered by a workforce of more than 17,000 team members and 4,800 affiliated physicians dedicated to building healthier communities, the system offers more than 400 sites of care, including seven award-winning hospitals. Atlantic Medical Group, comprised of 1,000 physicians and advanced practice providers, represents one of the largest multi-specialty practices in New Jersey.