Monday 17 April at AACR Annual Meeting 2023

DDW’s Megan Thomas rounds up highlights from Monday 16 April at AACR 2023, from promising trial results for colorectal cancer patients to updates on Biden’s Cancer Moonshot initiative.

Clinical announcements 

Data on colorectal cancer patients with African ancestry

Today, data presented at the AACR Annual Meeting showed that genomic profiling of patients who were treated for colorectal cancer at a major US cancer centre showed that patients with African ancestry had fewer actionable mutations than patients with European ancestry and were less likely to qualify for treatment with immunotherapy.

Read more here.

New bispecific antibody study results for multiple myeloma

According to results of a phase I/II clinical trial presented today, patients with relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma who were treated with the two highest doses of REGN5459, a bispecific antibody targeting BCMA and CD3, experienced a 90.5% overall response rate.

Read more here.

Survey shows declined awareness of the link between HPV and cancer

Americans have become less aware that the human papillomavirus (HPV) causes cervical cancer in recent years, according to survey data presented at AACR 2023. The survey also showed low awareness that HPV can cause anal, oral, and penile cancer.

Read more here.

Cancer Moonshot

In 2016, when Joe Biden was the US Vice President, he led the Cancer Moonshot initiative with the mission to accelerate the rate of progress against cancer. The cancer advocacy, patient, research and health care communities responded with tremendous energy and ingenuity. Now, President Biden has reignited the Cancer Moonshot and set a new national goal: “If we work together, we can cut the death rate from cancer by at least 50% over the next 25 years, and improve the experience of people  and their families living with and surviving cancer.”

At AACR, this is of course significant. As such, speakers discussed an National Cancer Intitute (NCI) analysis exploring how the nation can reach the Moonshot’s goal of reducing the cancer death rate by at least 50% over the next 25 years, as well as a related commentary from NCI Director Monica Bertagnolli, MD; Deputy Assistant to the President for the Cancer Moonshot Danielle Carnival, PhD; and President’s Cancer Panel Chair Elizabeth Jaffee, MD, FAACR. Both the analysis and the commentary will be published in the AACR journal Cancer Discovery.

The presentation detailed a study published 17 April in Cancer Discovery, an AACR journal, led by researchers at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of NIH, which concluded that achieving Moonshot’s goal will require increased access to and use of interventions known to prevent common causes of cancer death.

“Achieving a 50% reduction in cancer mortality in 25 years will be impossible without addressing cancer health equity,” said Bertagnolli, who co-authored an accompanying commentary. “For several of the strategies highlighted in this study, improving access is critical.”

“There are a lot of tools that we know have reduced cancer death rates substantially for specific cancers, and if those are used more broadly, with greater access, we feel that this ambitious goal might be achievable,” said Dr Meredith Shiels of NCI’s Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, who led the study.

New drugs on the horizon

This special session featured the following presentations detailing significant research being undertaken in the cancer research community:

  • M3913 induces the maladaptive unfolded protein response through a novel mechanism resulting in strong anti-tumor activity – Ralph Lindemann, Global Head, Translational and Biomarker Research, TIP Oncology & Immunooncology at Merck
  • Discovery of MRT-2359, an orally bioavailable GSPT1 molecular glue degrader, for MYC-driven cancers – Owen Wallace, Chief Scientific Officer at Monte Rosa Therapeutics
  • EO-3021: An antibody drug conjugate targeting CLDN18.2 expressing cancers – David Dornan, Chief Scientific Officer at Elevation Oncology
  • TNG260: A novel, orally active, CoREST-selective deacetylase inhibitor for the treatment of STK11-mutant cancers – Leanne Ahronian, Senior Scientist in Discovery Biology at Tango Therapeutics

The event’s co-chairs were Zoran Rankovic, Director of CBT Chemistry Centers, and Adrian Gill, Senior Vice President Discovery Chemistry at Revolution Medicines. Rankovic introduced AACR audience members to the group, while Gill offered closing remarks.

Cancer and pregnancy

Cancer diagnosed during pregnancy or when a pregnancy occurs in a patient receiving anti-cancer therapy can pose complex challenges for patients and loved ones, as well as care teams.

At this socially evocative time, there are evolving concerns in the medical and socio-political environment for pregnancy. These were considered, particularly in the context of compromised patient survival through deferring or omitting therapies to prevent foetal exposure. Patient perspective put the session into context, which the organisers hoped would present a multidisciplinary, sensitive approach to the management of this growing issue in oncology. The goals of optimal patient-cantered, ethical cancer care were reviewed, and situations in which these tenets are challenged were highlighted after an introduction from AACR’s President, Dr Lisa Coussens.

Dr Ann Partridge spoke of a patient-centred, evidence-based approach to cancer during pregnancy. “One in a 1000 pregnancies will be complicated by cancer”, she shared. On the other hand, Dr Virginia Borges shared insight on the importance of reproductive rights for pregnant women facing cancer. She said it is not always feasible to offer treatment that will permit the mother to live long enough for the pregnancy to reach viability. Thereafter, Brandon Hayes-Lattin presented on helping patients with haematological malignancies manage issues of fertility preservation and pregnancy. Finally, the session finished with an evocative and informative panel discussion.

Award winners

AACR Award for Outstanding Achievement in Basic Cancer Research 

Across Monday 17 April, AACR announced several award winners for various achievements in cancer research, a highlight of which was the AACR Award for Outstanding Achievement in Basic Cancer Research. This award recognises an early-career investigator for meritorious achievements in basic cancer research.

Winner Kathryn Wellen is an investigator at the Penn Epigenetics Institute and Vice Chair and Professor in the Department of Cancer Biology in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. She is being recognised for her instrumental contributions to delineating the fundamental links between cellular metabolism, epigenome regulation, and cancer onset and progression, including her identification of the link between PI3K/AKT signaling and AKT-dependent ATP-citrate lyase phosphorylation, resulting in elevated histone acetylation and upregulation of cancer cell adhesion and migration genes.

AACR-Cancer Research Institute Lloyd J. Old Award in Cancer Immunology

Another award highlight was the AACR-Cancer Research Institute Lloyd J. Old Award in Cancer Immunology. This award recognises an active scientist whose outstanding and innovative research has had a major impact on the cancer field and has the potential to stimulate new directions in cancer immunology.

E John Wherry is Chair of the Department of Systems Pharmacology and Translational Therapeutics, Director of the Institute for Immunology, and Founding Director of the Immune Health Project in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. He is being recognised for his essential cancer immunology research findings dedicated to defining the genetic and epigenetic control mechanisms of T-cell exhaustion that have contributed to the elucidation of PD-L1 blockade and helped guide the development of immunotherapy treatments for cancer patients, including several FDA-approved checkpoint inhibitor therapies for multiple cancer indications.

Read more about AACR award winners here.

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