It has to be said that this is one of the most jam-packed ESMO schedules that I’ve seen in a while!
Usually one has a few sessions they are interested in and lots of ‘free’ time to conduct interviews. That is definitely not the case this year with even parallel sessions at the same time as the Presidential (plenary) symposia, making for some very hard choices that need to be made.
As we start to see a renewed focus evolve on how to make immunotherapy work in or help more patients, there has been much attention on what we can learn from the addition of chemotherapy, additional checkpoint targets, immune agonists, various innate targets from KIR and NK cell checkpoints to TLRs and STING, neoantigen and dendritic cell vaccines, a telephone directory of cytokines, oncolytic viruses, etc etc to name a few, all with varying degrees of success.
What about exploring the inhibitory factors that induce immune suppression? If we can reduce the cloaking and hostile tumour microenvironment, would that lead to more effectiveness with checkpoint blockade? Maybe, maybe not.
In principle, it’s a sound idea yet these factors are both broad and incredibly varied in scope as a topic as to seem overwhelming at first. The good news is that there are some emerging targets and hints of activity to come that are slowly beginning to emerge, making ESMO a good place from which to take stock of some new early stage developments.