More than 30 renowned international researchers gathered at the international summit “Immunotherapy meets Lung Cancer: New treatments for non-small cell lung cancer and 3rd International Cancer Vaccine meeting,” to discuss cutting-edge and future treatment approaches for lung cancer (LC). The meeting took place April 8-10 in Siena, Italy, and was organized by several researchers in the field, including:
- Onco-immunologist Pierpaolo Correale of the Azienda Ospedaliera Universitaria Senese’s, who presented his recently developed cancer vaccine that may be used against a wide variety of cancers and works by targeting the same protein that has been targeted in chemotherapy for years;
- Luigi Pirtoli, University of Siena Chair of Radiotherapy Section;
- Antonio Giordano, professor of pathology and Oncology at the University of Siena and director of the Sbarro Institute for Cancer Research and Molecular Medicine at Temple University in Philadelphia, who also presented several translational approaches attempted by his research group to restore the function of pivotal cell cycle regulatory genes in lung cancer and mesothelioma.
“Personalized medicine has completely reshaped modern cancer therapy,” Giordano said in a press release. “Treatment tailored to each individual patient is able to target the tumor’s specific molecular characteristics. However, tumors are often characterized by a high molecular heterogeneity, and can find new routes to escape treatments.
“We are currently experiencing a revolution in cancer care due to the fact that, through immunotherapy strategies, we can use the immune system as an ally against cancer. We are here today to try and make the most out of this new opportunity,” he said.
The meeting focused on one of the most feared lung cancer tumors, which has seen its treatment significantly changed thanks to the contribution of personalized medicine and immunotherapy approaches. The event additionally included a roundtable discussion of problems related to the elevated economic burden of modern biotherapies.
“So far we have directed our research strategies to identify the molecular alterations driving cancer development and progression,” said Francesca Pentimalli, Giordano’s long-time collaborator at the National Cancer Institute of Naples. “We have achieved an arsenal of drugs against these altered molecules, many of which are already used in the clinical setting.
“We need now to understand how to combine the use of these drugs with the other therapeutic approaches such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy, and the new immunotherapy weapons. This promises to be the quickest way to gain new significant benefits for cancer patients,” Pentimalli added. “To identify and test the use of new rational combinations to tackle lung cancer, it is necessary to work with multidisciplinary groups.”
The Siena meeting included major contributors and experts in a wide variety of cancer research and treatment. One attendee, Catherine Pietanza, a medical oncologist for Merck in New York, discussed the present and future approaches toward the small cell variant of lung cancer.
The meeting also included a roundtable discussion of problems pertaining to the high economic burden of modern biotherapies.
“Systemic treatment for small cell lung cancer has not changed in over 30 years,” Pietanza said. “Recently, comprehensive molecular profiling has helped to identify multiple targets, including MYC, PARP, and Notch, leading to trials that are enrolling patients. Further, we are seeing encouraging results with immune checkpoint inhibitors and antibody drug conjugates. With well-designed, biologically-driven trials we may begin to see a change in outcomes for SCLC patients.”