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What we’re looking forward to at AACR 2016


As some of The Institute of Cancer Research's leading scientists head to the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting 2016 in the US, we look forward to some of the exciting research they will be presenting.

Posted on 15 April, 2016 by Graham Shaw

Tumour Profiling Unit (Jan Chlebik for the ICR, 2013) 

The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) is the oldest and largest professional association in the world related to oncology, and each year its annual meeting is a must-attend event for cancer scientists and the broader cancer community.

Nearly 20,000 scientists and clinicians will travel to New Orleans in Louisiana to present and discuss the latest in cancer research.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of scientific journal publishing by the AACR, including 75 years of its prestigious journal Cancer Research, and in 2016 more than 6,000 papers will be presented across the five-day conference, which takes place on 16–20 April 2016.

Only the best research gets selected for the AACR conference, and the studies that scientists and clinicians at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, are presenting demonstrate the quality and breadth of our contribution to cancer research. They range from fundamental science to a wide variety of translational and clinical studies which could lead to the next innovative treatments for cancer.

We have some really exciting research on show this year, including important findings about cellular signalling in cancer, the discovery of mechanisms of drug resistance, and the identification of new targets for cancer therapy.

Technology that can measure circulating tumour cells in blood samples could revolutionise our ability to detect tumours and monitor their response to treatment.

Dr Timothy Yap has analysed circulating tumour cells from patients with lung cancer to identify genetic markers of the disease. Accurately measuring mutations linked to aggressive lung cancer from blood samples could be much easier and more comfortable for patients than taking repeated biopsies.

Sparking interest

Professor Ros Eeles will report on a new study of 89,000 men with prostate cancer, the most common type of cancer diagnosed in men. Scientists have already identified more than 100 genetic variants which together account for one third of a man’s risk of inheriting prostate cancer. Finding more of these variants could help pick out men at particularly high risk of developing the disease.

Two proteins which are sparking interest as novel targets for cancer treatment are CDK8 and CDK19. These enzymes help to control gene activation and are linked to worse outcomes for patients with diseases like bowel cancer. A preclinical study from Professor Julian Blagg has investigated new chemical inhibitors of CDK8 and CDK19, as an initial step in efforts to target the proteins with drugs.

The gene KRAS is the most commonly mutated gene in cancer, so scientists are keen to find new treatments to target it. But clinical trials have shown that cancers growing in different areas of the body can respond differently to a targeted drug, even when driven by the same mutation. Dr Udai Banerji has studied how signalling patterns change with treatment in KRAS-mutated tumours found around the body, to see if specific mechanisms are used in different locations.

That is just a glimpse at the some of the exciting ICR research at this year’s AACR conference. You can follow all the action using the Twitter hashtag #AACR2016

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