ASCO 2020 Virtual Annual Meeting – Unite & Conquer: Accelerating Progress Together

ASCO is the largest organization for oncology professionals worldwide.

The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting is a highly anticipated event that showcases clinical oncology advancements from across the globe. Usually, the ASCO meeting bring tens of thousands of oncologists and healthcare professionals to Chicago every year. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, ASCO decided to move the event to an online platform, offering three days of live and on-demand programming, covering the latest findings from clinical research studies of novel treatments, to diagnostics, survivorship and optimization of cancer care.

This year, the meeting took place from May 29 – May 31, 2020 with the theme, “Unite & Conquer: Accelerating Progress Together.” Social media coverage of the event can be found on Twitter @ASCO and #ASCO20. The conference provided critical clinical updates on novel approaches to immunotherapy, cancer genetics, optimization of treatments and improving delivery of care to every person. Unique to this year, a special clinical symposium focused on “Cancer Care in the Time of COVID,” reflecting this widespread concern in this challenging time.

Many UChicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center members presented their most recent clinical research findings at the conference. The complete list can be viewed here.

Gynecological and genitourinary cancer

In advancements in endometrial cancer, Gini Fleming, MD, professor of medicine and medical director of gynecologic oncology, led research to tackle recurrent endometrial cancer by combining immunotherapy treatment with agents that block blood flow to tumors. The promising results of this study can be seen here.

Research led by Randy Sweis, MD, assistant professor of medicine, showed that a new combination approach in treating advanced urothelial cancer, is safe and effective. This treatment has the potential to improve clinical management of urothelial cancer. See a description of these data here.

Additional genitourinary highlights included results from Walter Stadler, MD, Fred C. Buffett Professor of Medicine and Surgery and dean for clinical research, and colleagues on the optimization of combination immunotherapies to treat advanced renal cell carcinoma, described here. An interinstitutional team including Peter O’Donnell, MD, associate professor of medicine, reported advances in metastatic urothelial cancer here. In prostate cancer highlights, Russell Szmulewitz, MD, associate professor of medicine, and colleagues revealed results of clinical trials on new approaches for targeting advanced prostate cancer, described here.

Hematologic malignancies

There were several highlights in blood cancer advancements, including a study led by Andrzej Jakubowiak, MD, PhD, professor of medicine and director of the myeloma program, with Jagoda Jasielec, MD, assistant professor of medicine, that described a novel, non-invasive method to test for the presence of disease following treatment of multiple myeloma patients. The results suggest that the non-invasive test is effective at predicting the presence of disease. This study could lead to improved monitoring and quality of life for multiple myeloma patients. See the abstract here. Jakubowiak worked with a team of researchers on CAR T-cell therapy clinical trials for multiple myeloma, reported here, and here.

A clinical trial led by Jennifer McNeer, MD, associate professor of pediatrics, with Richard A. Larson, MD, professor of medicine, and Wendy Stock, MD, Anjuli Seth Nayak Professor in Leukemia, provided data on optimizing treatment for young adults with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. View McNeer’s abstract here.

Breast cancer

Highlights in breast cancer included a multi-institutional clinical trial by Rita Nanda, MD, associate professor of medicine and director of breast oncology, and colleagues revealing positive results for treating metastatic breast cancer patients with specific genetic mutations. View the abstract here. Nanda is an author on another trial that aimed to reduce toxicities for patients by reducing chemotherapy use in combination treatments for high-risk breast cancer.

Olwen Hahn, MD, is an author on a clinical trial that investigated approaches for treating high-risk breast cancer in postmenopausal women described here.

Lung, melanoma, nervous system, and rare cancers

In a session focused on drug development for rare tumors, a clinical trial led by Ami Vijay Desai, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics, to treat central nervous system tumors in children and adolescents yielded encouraging results which indicated that the experimental drug, entrectinib, produced fast, strong and enduring responses in these young patients. Find out more about Desai’s research here. In an additional study led by Desai, results from immunotherapy combinations to treat high-risk neuroblastoma in children and adolescents are described here.

As a member of an interinstitutional team, Daniel Catenacci, MD, associate professor of medicine, and colleagues revealed promising results from a study testing a combination strategy to treat advanced non-small cell lung cancer. The study is described here.

Thomas F. Gajewski, MD, PhD, Abbvie Foundation Professor of Cancer Immunotherapy, and Theodore Karrison, PhD, research professor of public health sciences and director of the biostatistics lab, collaborated with a multi-institutional team on an immunotherapy clinical trial to optimize melanoma treatment. See results here.

Highlights in neuroblastoma research include clinical trial results from a team of oncologists including Susan L. Cohn, MD, professor of pediatrics, which showed promising results of a treatment called MIBG, presented here.

Hedy Lee Kindler, MD, professor of medicine and director of the mesothelioma program, is a part of the team that reported a first-in-human study with a novel immunotherapy approach, here. Kindler was also an investigator on a clinical trial that tested immunotherapy in combination with chemotherapy to treat mesothelioma. More information can be found here.

Additional news from ASCO 2020

In other #ASCO20 news, Everett Vokes, MD, the John E. Ultmann Professor and Physician-in-Chief at UChicago Medicine and Biological Sciences, was announced as the incoming president-elect for 2020-2021, and he will serve as the ASCO president in the 2021-2022 term. Tara Henderson, MD, MPH, associate professor of medicine, was elected to a pediatric oncology seat on the Board of Directors for the 2020-24 term.

In special events, Olufunmilayo Olopade, MD, Walter L. Palmer Distinguished Service Professor of Medicine and Human Genetics, was an expert keynote panelist in the webinar “Young Women’s Metastatic Breast Cancer Disparities,” hosted by the Tigerlily Foundation.

Although the 2020 ASCO Annual Meeting was virtual, it was an exciting event that allowed the global sharing of clinical data. For the physician-scientists of the UChicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center, this experience allows them to stay at the forefront of treatment in order to provide the best cancer care to their patients, and to share their knowledge with the international community, improving cancer care for all.

Medical oncologist Sonali Smith, MD, and lymphoma patient Clayton Harris

UChicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center

UChicago Medicine is designated as a Comprehensive Cancer Center by the National Cancer Institute, the most prestigious recognition possible for a cancer institution. We have more than 200 physicians and scientists dedicated to defeating cancer.

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