Philadelphia – it’s the final day of the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) annual meeting, and it’s been one of the best AACR annual meetings of recent years, with cancer immunotherapy very much at the fore.
This morning, the plenary session at the meeting was: Oncology Meets Immunology: Not Just Another “Hallmark.”
Cancer immunotherapy is changing the paradigm of cancer treatment in many ways, which is why the title of today’s plenary was clever….
Readers will be aware of the classic “Hallmarks of Cancer“ paper (open access) by Douglas Hanahan and Robert Weinberg, which provides a framework for understanding how how tumors develop (e.g. sustaining proliferative signaling, evading growth suppressors, resisting cell death, enabling replicative immortality, inducing angiogenesis, and activating invasion and metastasis). This landmark paper provides a way to understand where new cancer treatments could act.
Today’s plenary featured four presentations from leaders in the field of cancer immunotherapy:
- Engineering Improved Cancer Vaccines, Glen Dranoff, Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research
- Leukocytes as targets for therapy in solid tumors, Lisa M. Coussens, OHSU Knight Cancer Institute, Portland
- Fatal Attraction: A new story featuring the immune system and pancreatic cancer, Elizabeth M. Jaffee, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore
- The mechanistic basis of cancer immunotherapy, Ira Mellman, Genentech, Inc. South San Francisco.
The first three speakers I have to say did not live up to the promise of their billing, spending far too much time on “My Pet Project,” delving into the weeds of the research from their lab or group, rather than putting the landscape in context, providing strategic direction of where things are going and including fair balance across the work in the field, which is what I expected a plenary presentation to be about.
One of our highlights of the plenary (and the conference) was the presentation by Ira Mellman, Vice President at Genentech who along with Dan Chen, Cancer Immunotherapy Franchsise Head at Genentech, are the author of the paper that is fast becoming the equivalent of the classic Hallmarks paper for Cancer Immunotherapy: Oncology meets immunology: the cancer-immunity cycle. (open access).
Earlier in the meeting, I had the privilege to chat with Drs Ira Mellman (pictured left), Leisha Emens (Johns Hopkins) and Dan Chen (pictured right) for the Novel Targets podcast. They are three of the many “rock stars” of the cancer immunotherapy world.
What were our highlights of AACR 2015?
We’ve carefully selected our Top Ten presentations of this year’s AACR for subscribers – Ira Mellman’s was one of them – but who are the others? Some of them could be found outside the main sessions in the fringe rooms.
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