Science Talk – AACR 2022: Major cancer conference aims to decode the complexity of cancer

The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) annual meeting brings together scientists, clinicians, and other healthcare professionals to share the latest advances in cancer research.

The meeting will take place from April 8-13 and researchers will again be able to attend in person – although virtual participation is also possible. The theme of the meeting, which will take place in New Orleans, USA, will be “Decoding the Complexity of Cancer, Integrating Science and Transforming Patient Outcomes‘.

Scientists from different institutions will come together to present their work – and, of course, researchers from the Cancer Research Institute and our clinical partner The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust will be present, and many of them will present their research. revolutionaries. .

This year, the work of various ICR scientists was recognized by the AACR. Professor Terry Rabbitts has been elected a Fellow, while the prestigious Team Science Award is given to an interdisciplinary research team of scientists and clinicians from the ICR and Royal Marsden for their “fundamental translational discoveries in cancer research breast which have led to significant improvements in diagnosis and treatment”.

Here we highlight some of the research that will be presented at this year’s meeting – ranging from drug discovery initiatives to research on PARP inhibitors targeting BRCA, advances in immunotherapy and results from various clinical trials.

Advances in drug discovery

Professor Paul Workman, Harrap Professor of Pharmacology and Therapeutics at ICR, will present a new HSF1 pathway inhibitor (abstract ND08), NXP800, which is entering clinical trials for ovarian cancer.

NXP800 was discovered at the Institute of Cancer Research in London and targets the pathway regulated by the HSF1 transcription factor. The first patients will receive doses of the innovative new drug in a new clinical trial.

The NXP800 clinical trial

Professor Workman will also participate in an educational session on the use of chemical probes (abstract ED006) to validate protein targets for drug discovery. Chemical tools have become invaluable in cancer research, and the session explains how to choose and use high-quality chemical probes.

Dr. Hadley Sheppard, postdoc in the Cancer Therapeutics division, will discuss brachyuria, a transcription factor (abstract 6355) deregulated in rare cancer chordoma. Dr. Sheppard will present two mechanisms to target this previously “untreatable” protein, including through targeted protein degradation.

Professor Udai Banerji will present data from the phase I FRAME trial on the combination of two inhibitors (abstract 3476) in low-grade serous ovarian cancer. Using the inhibitors together disrupts key signaling pathways in cancer cells, supporting the use of this combination to treat ovarian cancer.

Resistance to PARP inhibitors

Many of the studies at this year’s conference focus on the use of PARP inhibitors – a targeted cancer drug that prevents cancer from repairing damage to its DNA – and cancer’s resistance to this form of treatment.

One of the studies, presented by Dr. Diana Zatreanu (abstract 5697), will focus on the POLQ inhibitor, ART558. The team is studying the effect of ART588 on DNA damage and cell death in breast cancer cells with mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes.

The study reveals the mechanism of resistance to a PARP inhibitor and the subsequent benefits of using ART588 to cause DNA damage and cell death while enhancing the effects of a PARP inhibitor.

In ovarian cancer, a study led by Professor Banerji shows how cancer cell populations change (abstract 3790) in response to treatment with two chemotherapy drugs or the PARP inhibitor olaparib.

Potential advances in the treatment of another aggressive cancer are those for desmoplastic small round cell tumor (DSRCT) – a rare subtype of sarcoma. Treatments for this type of cancer have not advanced in the past 20 years. Research involving Professor Chris Lord (abstract 6277) will provide the basis for evaluating the combined use of ATR and PARP inhibitors as a new treatment approach for people with this condition.

The support and dedication of family charitable partners such as the Kelly Turner Foundation is crucial in driving our work to better understand and treat desmoplastic small round cell tumor (DSRCT).

The Kelly Turner Foundation

Use the immune system

Another focus of the meeting will be to understand and harness the immune system to fight cancer.

Dr. Juanita Lopez’s research into a new type of immunotherapy (abstract CT149), which uses the “natural killer cells” of the immune system to treat a range of solid tumors, will also be featured.

PhD student Hanyun Zhang and Dr. Anca Grapa from the Computational Pathology and Integrative Genomics team will present some of their research on immune hotspots (abstract LB064) and their research on immune infiltration (abstract LB153) in lung cancers.

While immune “hotspots” are areas where immune cells recognize and interact with cancer cells — and where immunotherapy seems more likely to work — tumour-infiltrating immune cells are cells that enter tumors to fight cancer cells. They are an important biomarker for predicting treatment efficacy.

Dr. Christina Guo, from the Prostate Cancer Targeted Therapy Group led by Prof. Johann de Bono, will present research (abstract 3415) on advanced prostate cancer – exploring the link between a high neutrophil to lymphocyte ratio in blood and myeloid infiltration in tumors.

Dr. Guo will also present research on HPN424 (abstract 2898), a PSMA-targeting molecule designed to redirect T cells to kill PSMA-expressing prostate cancer cells.

Our researchers regularly present their latest findings at the annual meeting of the AACR in the United States.

Find out what’s happening at the AACR

Clinical advances

Also in prostate cancer, Professor Johann de Bono will present the latest results from his TALAPRO trial (abstract CT031), which investigates the use of the PARP inhibitor talazoparib in men with prostate cancer. advanced and heavily pretreated.

Results from the IPATential150 study will also be presented (abstract 6317) at the AACR. This essay was led by Professor de Bono and focuses on combining ipatasertib and abiraterone as first-line treatment in prostate cancers lacking a functional PTEN gene.

Professor Alan Melcher is also part of the phase I ReoGlio trial, which will also be presented (abstract CT569) and is studying the use of pelareorep, a reovirus-based treatment, to treat brain cancer glioblastoma.

Results from other trials that will be featured include the GARNET trial (abstract 5135), which involves Dr. Susana Banerjee and is investigating dostarlimab in advanced solid tumors, INTERLINK-1 (abstract CT236) involving Professor Kevin Harrington, and KEYNOTE -992 (abstract CT564), involving Professor Nick James, to name a few.

Follow the conference online

These are just some of our upcoming research at this year’s AACR Annual Meeting – and there are even more from institutions around the world. Keep up to date with the conference by following on Twitter using the hashtag #AACR22.

And if you want to learn more about the ICR research presented at AACR 2022, head to the AACR website to browse the sessions by day.

Browse sessions by day

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Sharon D. Cole