World Metastasis Summit 2019 Launch
When cancer cells break off from their initial tumour they can spread throughout the body and invade other organs to form new tumours, in a process known as metastasis. Metastatic tumours cause patients to develop stage IV or advanced cancer and are responsible for over 90% of deaths in cancer patients. In the past, cancer research has focused on understanding and treating the primary tumour, even though the many drugs that effectively treat primary tumours still leave patients susceptible to relapse. Despite metastasis being the single biggest opportunity to change outcomes for the most cancer patients, there’s been significantly less focus on understanding the process of metastasis.
There’s still so much we don’t know about metastasis. For instance, what causes some tumour cells to metastasize and others not? Why are certain organs so hospitable to metastasis? What do cells need to survive in their new environment? Is it possible to target these metastasized cells or have they developed resistance to conventional therapies?
Although limited understanding of the fundamental biological mechanisms of metastasis has hindered the potential for progress in treating patients with the disease, the situation is changing. We’re entering a new era of therapeutic possibilities, driven by the identification of new metastatic pathways and targets.
Later this year will be the first ever World Metastasis Summit, an opportunity for academics, pharmaceutical companies and clinicians to explore some of the latest scientific insights into the complex metastatic cascade and present the most promising therapeutic avenues for drug developers to explore in the near future.
For the first time in years – perhaps ever – we have an incredible opportunity to pull together as an oncology community and develop new anti-metastatic therapies to make a positive difference for patients. So many ideas are converging, and entire new fields are only just emerging.
Immunotherapy allows us to harness our own immune system and use it as a targeted delivery system to precisely target and eliminate cancer cells. New metastatic models can more accurately mimic the environment of a tumour, allowing therapies to be tested in an environment that more closely resembles their physiological context. There are even prospects in AI, which are unravelling new potential interventions in treatment.
The World Metastasis Summit will bring together key figures in the field – from world renowned cancer researchers, to big pharma executives, to new post-docs with fresh ideas.
Bob Weinberg, Director of the Ludwig Centre and Professor for Cancer Research at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is a pioneer in cancer research and best known for his role in the discovery of the first human oncogene and the isolation of the first tumour suppressor gene. Since the late eighties, Weinberg has been a prominent figure in the quest to uncover the underlying basis of metastasis.
Bob Kerbel of Sunnybrook Research Institute is a leading expert on tumour angiogenesis, the process by which tumours hijack blood vessels to invade the circulation system and migrate. His research highlights the need to develop more suitable methods to test new cancer therapies on metastatic models, since the vast majority of preclinical studies use models that do not fully recapture advanced metastatic disease. The results from clinical trials using more appropriate models will be a huge stepping stone in the future of cancer drug development.
This event will foster much-needed collaboration between the entire oncology community to kick-start a conversation that desperately needs to happen.