Dr Heinz Gisslinger Enlightens us – Treating MPNs with Interferon for 30 Years

AOP 2014 – The Next Generation Interferon

Second in ASH 2014 Series

by David Wallace

Dr Heinz Gisslinger from Vienna, Austria is a pioneer in treating MPN patients with Interferon (IFN).  PV Reporter sits down with Dr Gisslinger at ASH 2014 to discuss the history of Interferon treatment in MPNs, as well as AOP 2014.  As a Polycythemia Vera patient, dutifully self-injecting Pegasys (Peginterferon alfa-2a) weekly for the last year, I was eager to score this interview!

Summary of Key Points

  • Dr Gisslinger has 30 years of clinical research in MPNs and treated the first patient with Interferon 30 years ago
  • Platelets go down fast, white blood cells decrease, red blood cells take the longest to normalize
  • Daily injection of IFN, the dose was high 10 mega units
  • Dr Richard Silver introduced IFN especially for PV
  • Many patients on IFN for over 20 years
  • AOP2014 is a pegylated IFN with larger molecule, longer half life, administered every 2 weeks, well tolerated, very active, more even plasma level after 2 weeks
  • 95% of patients had complete or partial remission
  • Patients achieving complete remission switched from 2 week to 4 week dosing schedule
  • Monthly dosage was reduced from more than 400mcg to 200mcg while remission rates remained stable
  • Timeframe is difficult to say, hopefully 2017, Proud PV study is registered with EMA in Europe and the FDA in the U.S.
  • 20% of patients do not tolerate IFN, due to auto immune issues or mood disturbances
  • IFN and Ruxolitinib (combo therapy) could help avoid side effects
  • IFN is good for preventing viral infections and Ruxolitinib might have a positive effect on autoimmunity and the patient’s moods
  • Combo therapy looks promising intermediate term, not now, lots of clinical research is needed
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