Philadelphia – the 2015 annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) is in full swing, with over 18,000 attendees, it’s probably the world’s largest meeting dedicated to cancer research. The theme is “Bringing Cancer Discoveries to Patients.”
I challenge anyone not to attend, and come away inspired with new ideas on how the field of cancer research will evolve in coming years.
At this year’s annual meeting, not surprisingly, cancer immunotherapy is one of the hot topics. Yesterday there was the simultaneous publication of two papers in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) to coincide with data presented at the meeting.
The conclusion of the paper by Edward B. Garon, MD (UCLA) et al was that:
Pembrolizumab had an acceptable side-effect profile and showed antitumor activity in patients with advanced non–small-cell lung cancer. PD-L1 expression in at least 50% of tumor cells correlated with improved efficacy of pembrolizumab.
The other paper published in the NEJM was for:
The conclusion of the paper by Caroline Robert, MD PhD, presented at AACR by Antoni Ribas, M.D., Ph.D.(UCLA) was:
The anti–PD-1 antibody pembrolizumab prolonged progression-free survival and overall survival and had less high-grade toxicity than did ipilimumab in patients with advanced melanoma.
Dr Ribas (left) and Dr Garon (right) are pictured at an AACR media briefing chaired by Dr Suzanne Topalian (Johns Hopkins).
This year’s AACR annual meeting is to paraphrase Bertrand Tombal, “a Grand Cru year”. Not only in cancer immunotherapy, but in metabolism, epigenetics and advances in drug discovery.
We’re excited about the prospect of another three days at the meeting, but in the meantime in this post there’s some top-line thoughts for subscribers on some of the data that caught our attention over the weekend.
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National Harbor, MD – The 2014 Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) annual meeting officially kicked off today, with a record-breaking 1,500 attendees. The organization has grown by 33% over the past year highlighting the explosive progress in the field, and the growing importance of SITC!
There was a lot of thought provoking science on display as researchers and translational scientists came from all around the world to share results and talk about the future.
What struck me at the meeting today was the collegiality and friendliness of all who are here. It’s exciting times in immunotherapy and immuno-oncology and everyone at the meeting is bound by a common goal of making a difference to the lives of cancer patients.
The President of SITC, Francesco Marincola (Sidra) quoted Winston Churchill in his introductory address:
“Now this is not the end.
It is not even the beginning of the end.
But, perhaps it is the end of the beginning.”
Dr Marincola’s choice of quote seemed to strike the right balance of where we are at today: there’s still a long way to go to optimize cancer immunotherapy treatments, but equally there’s been tremendous progress to reach the point we are at where there are durable long-term responses in many patients who would otherwise not be alive today.
What was the highlight of Day 1 of SITC 2014?
For me, this morning, it was the presentation by Marcel van den Brink (MSKCC) on the influence of the microbiome on graft-versus-host disease (GvHD) for which there’s been no effective new treatment for over 25 years:
In the afternoon, it was the presentation by Roy Herbst (Yale) on the top ten lessons learned about immunotherapy for NSCLC.
It’s unfair to single out two presenters when there were multiple presentations and posters of note, but they stood out for me. If you’d like to read our more detailed notes from the road after Day 1 of SITC 2014, do log-in if you are already a subscriber.
With all the heightened interest in checkpoint inhibitors of late, I wanted to continue my series on what did we learn from the updated data at ESMO that was different from ASCO? Last week we discussed gastric and bladder cancers, this week it’s the turn of lung cancer, or more specifically, non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
By chance, some interesting announcements have also happened since ESMO with the third quarter earnings calls going on from the main players in this space, which also add colour to the developments in this niche. BMS, for example, announced that they expect their rolling NDA for Opdivo in lung cancer to be completed before the year end and will be presenting the CHECKMATE 063 data this week, while Merck announced their Breakthrough therapy designation for Keytruda in lung cancer this morning.
All in all, this makes the lung cancer space a lot more exciting than it was at ASCO, where the response to the data was fairly muted.
To learn more about the updated ESMO data and the impact of the recent announcements in lung cancer, you can log-in to read our insights.