“Collective Wisdom” is the theme for this year’s ASCO’s Annual Meeting in Chicago.

Our attending team includes Melinda, Barbara, Jason, Andie, Kathi, Donna, Stacie and Marion.  Melinda and Barbara staffed the exhibit while the rest of our team were dispersed throughout the conference halls attending sessions or connecting with the various biopharma industry, researchers, physicians and advocates.

In the past 5 years, cancer immunotherapy has captured the attention of the medical community and the general public; however scientists are questioning the challenges of successfully integrating immune-oncology in cancer care. We know that  immunotherapy research is still in its infancy.   Many scientists and doctors around the world are studying new ways to use immunotherapy to treat cancer.

There is not a clear understanding as to why some patients respond to immunotherapy whereas other do not.  PD-1 inhibitors, such as pembrolizumab (Keytruda), nivolumab (Opdivoa) and adoptive T-Cell therapy have shown excellent results in a subset of our patients, but other patients have not had similar results.

Researchers are trying to gain a better understanding of the intended immune reaction and how it is related to genetic changes driving the ability of a tumor to induce an immune response.

They also are trying to identify targeted cancer drugs that hat block the growth and spread of cancer by interfering with specific molecules (“molecular targets”) that are involved in the growth, progression, and spread of cancer.

There was talk of combination therapies i.e. including other drugs (biologic, non-biologic or chemotherapy agents) leading to better patient response.  Discussions centered around multiple types of immunotherapy combinations and potential combinations such as checkpoint plus adoptive T-cell transfer (Melinda’s NIH trial) with  T-cell engineering, checkpoint and and small molecules such as VEGF, EGFR, or BRAF, checkpoint and cancer vaccine, checkpoint and chemotherapy and combination of  checkpoint inhibitors such as Keytruda and Opdivo with added radiation.