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ICR and partners take centre stage at major international conferences

The 2016 ASCO conference was held in Chicago, USA (photo: ASCO/Todd Buchanan 2016)

Image: The 2016 ASCO conference was held in Chicago, USA (photo: ASCO/Todd Buchanan 2016)

Clinical trials of promising cancer treatments discovered or developed at the ICR were among the highlights at this year’s American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting, the biggest international clinical cancer research conference of the year.

ICR researchers presented results from a wide range of research programmes – from precision medicine studies that could use technology to personalise the use of existing drugs, through phase II and first-in-human studies of innovative new drug types, to major phase III clinical trials run with the support of big pharmaceutical partners.

Meanwhile, staff from our Enterprise Unit attended BIO 2018, the world’s largest conference for the pharmaceutical and biotech industries. We met existing collaborators from the UK and internationally, introduced the ICR to potential new partners, and heard updates on existing collaborations.

The projects highlighted at ASCO in Chicago and BIO in Boston demonstrated the depth of quality research at the ICR, as well as the success of our research partnerships.


In a major keynote lecture at ASCO, Professor Johann de Bono, Head of Drug Development at The Institute of Cancer Research and The Royal Marsden presented the results of the first major phase III clinical trial to show the benefit of an immunotherapeutic drug in men with prostate cancer.

This trial, funded by Merck, received worldwide media attention for showing that some 10 per cent of men with advanced prostate cancer could respond to the immunotherapy pembrolizumab (Keytruda).

Other ICR-led projects to feature at ASCO included clinical studies of a viral immunotherapy, a first-in-class targeted drug, a targeted radiopharmaceutical, and an innovative combination of an immunotherapy and a chemotherapy.

There were also studies that are using biomarkers to detect the response of selected patients to different treatments and guide their use.

A major clinical trial has become the first to show benefits of immunotherapy in prostate cancer – for some men with advanced, otherwise untreatable disease.

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Partnering at BIO

The Biotechnology Innovation Organisation’s (BIO) 2018 International Convention brought together 17,000 attendees from more than 4,500 different companies.

Staff from the ICR’s Enterprise Unit met representatives from many of our existing industry partners – which currently number more than 100 – as well as representatives from possible future collaborators who share interests or have expertise in complimentary research areas.

The ICR’s Enterprise Unit has been attending the BIO International conference for more than 15 years, helping to showcase ICR research and identify and facilitate effective collaborations between our researchers and industry partners.

It provides the experience and expertise to facilitate a wide range of interactions between our scientists and industry, with the aim of ensuring that people with cancer benefit as quickly as possible from our discoveries.

The ICR has ranked amongst the top universities in the world in measures of interaction with commercial partners in an important independent evaluation funded by the European Commission, called U-Multirank. For example, we are the top higher education institution in the world for the percentage of our publications cited in patents.

We also ranked in the top 30 higher education institutions in the world for research.

For example, the ICR is the top in the world for the percentage of our publications cited in patents.

Pioneering successful treatments

Dr Angela Kukula, the ICR's Director of Enterprise, said:

“ASCO and BIO are always a window on to some of our most exciting research – often done in collaboration with or supported by partners. Our focus on innovation means that new research results are continually coming through, and we are open to new industry partnerships in several emerging areas.

“The ICR, in collaboration with our clinical, commercial and academic partners, continues to pioneer successful treatments that benefit patients with cancer in new ways.

“Our research partnerships range from licences and clinical trial agreements to early-stage collaborations where there are opportunities for mutual benefit and complimentary skill sets.”


conference prostate cancer immunotherapy ASCO
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