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FINDING CURES TOGETHER<sup>SM</sup>

Cancer Immunotherapy Conference in New York City Features Latest Research on Response, Resistance, New Approaches to Treatment

9/30/2018

NEW YORK — The Fourth CRI-CIMT-EATI-AACR International Cancer Immunotherapy Conference: Translating Science into Survival, to be held in New York, Sept. 30-Oct. 3, will feature cutting-edge research studies from around the world that endeavor to answer urgent questions in the field of cancer immunotherapy to advance progress more rapidly for patients. 

Cancer immunotherapeutics work by unleashing the power of a patient’s immune system to fight cancer the way it fights pathogens like viruses and bacteria. Immune checkpoint inhibitors such as pembrolizumab and nivolumab, as well as CAR T-cell therapy, have revolutionized cancer care in recent years by yielding dramatic, durable responses in patients who previously had few treatment options. However, such responses are seen in only a fraction of patients, and many patients develop resistance to these treatments. There is a need for continued research and innovation so that more patients may benefit from the promise of cancer immunotherapy. 

“We have made extraordinary progress in cancer immunotherapy in the past decade — the number of immunotherapeutics increased almost five-fold and the number of cancer types that can be treated by at least one immunotherapeutic more than tripled,” said AACR President Elizabeth M. Jaffee, MD, co-chair of this year’s conference and deputy director of The Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins University. “As research expands our knowledge of the immune system and how it interacts with cancer cells, we will see a lot more progress in immunotherapy, with new approaches to treatment that will increase the number of patients who benefit.”

A media luncheon will take place on Monday, Oct. 1, at 1 p.m. ET featuring cancer immunotherapy experts who will discuss these areas of research interest and other themes from the meeting. Reporters interested in attending remotely can watch live at https://youtu.be/9G_ufP3LEjg

Several presentations at the conference also address these issues. 

Who responds to immune checkpoint inhibitors, and why?

Developing new approaches in identifying responders and non-responders to immune checkpoint inhibitors can help determine who should receive these drugs and who should receive alternate treatment.

One study that utilized big data and genomic analysis to identify new patients who may respond to immune checkpoint inhibitors is Abstract B085, “High mutation burden and response to immune checkpoint inhibitors in angiosarcomas of the scalp and face,” to be presented by Corrie Painter, PhD, from the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard during Poster Session B on Tuesday, Oct. 2. 

What can be done to improve response rates and overcome resistance to immune checkpoint inhibitors?

Immune checkpoint inhibitors improve outcomes for only a subset of cancer patients, and many see their cancers stop responding to treatment. The following abstracts are examples of work that is being done to address these issues:

  • Roberta Zappasodi, PhD, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, will present Abstract A225/PR1, “Mechanistic rationale to combine GITR agonism with PD-1 blockade in cancer patients,” during Poster Session A and Session 1: Regulating T Cells and Their Response to Cancer on Sunday, Sept. 30. This study investigates a new combination treatment that may help counteract resistance.

  • Elizabeth Evans, PhD, Vaccinex, Inc., will present Abstract A068/PR10, “Reprogramming myeloid cells in TME with pepinemab, first-in-class semaphorin 4D MAb, enhances combination immunotherapy,” during Poster Session A on Sunday, Sept. 30 and Session 5: Novel Vaccine Platforms and Combinations on Tuesday, Oct. 2. This pre-clinical research evaluates the mechanisms behind a new therapeutic’s ability to bolster the activity of immune checkpoint inhibitors as these combinations are being investigated in several clinical trials.

  • Stephen Schoenberger, PhD, La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology, will present Abstract B090/PR12, “Functional identification and therapeutic targeting of tumor neoantigens,” during Poster Session B and Session 6: Mutational Analysis and Predicting Response to Immunotherapy on Tuesday, Oct. 2. The technology described in this study may eventually help identify a broader array of tumor-specific neoantigens, which is important for the development of personalized cancer vaccines and cellular immunotherapies.

In addition, this year’s recipient of the William B. Coley Award for Distinguished Research in Tumor Immunology, Padmanee Sharma, MD, PhD, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, will deliver a lecture titled “From the clinic to the lab: Investigating response and resistance mechanisms to immune checkpoint therapy,” Sunday, Sept. 30, at 2:15 p.m. ET. 

What novel immunotherapies are on the horizon for cancer patients?

Besides immune checkpoint inhibitors and CAR T-cell therapy, researchers are investigating other ways to unleash the immune system against cancer. These two abstracts are examples of new approaches to cancer immunotherapy that are being tested in early-phase clinical trials:

  • Jay Berzofsky, MD, PhD, Vaccine Branch, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, will present Abstract A004, “HER2 cancer vaccine phase I clinical trial shows clinical benefit in 54% of evaluable patients,” during Poster Session A on Sunday, Sept. 30. According to these trial results, treatment with a HER2-targeted therapeutic cancer vaccine provided clinical benefit to several patients with metastatic HER2-positive cancers who had not previously been treated with a HER2-targeted therapeutic.

  • Filip Janku, MD, PhD, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, will present Abstract A011, “First-in-man clinical trial of intratumoral injection of Clostridium novyi-NT spores in patients with treatment-refractory advanced solid tumors: safety, activity, and immune responses,” during Poster Session A on Sunday, Sept. 30. This trial demonstrated that the use of bacterial Clostridium novyi-NT spores as an injectable monotherapy had manageable toxicities and showed early clinical efficacy in patients with treatment-refractory solid tumor malignancies.

Highlighted abstracts are available here.

The scientific program will feature talks from more than 50 leaders in the field, and attract more than 1,200 attendees from academia, industry, and the advocacy community. A full program is available here. All abstracts are available through the conference app.