We recently attended the 25th Biennial Congress of the European Association for Cancer Research (EACR, 30th June – 3rd July, Amsterdam, Netherlands) and had the honor of speaking with the EACR President and Conference Chair Anton Berns (Netherlands Cancer Institute, Amsterdam). In this conference report, find out Anton key talks and highlights from the congress.
One of the key presentations of the congress came from Charles Swanton from The Francis Crick Institute (London, UK). His talk explored the TRACERx (TRAcking Cancer Evolution through therapy (Rx) lung study and cancer evolution. The TRACERx study aims to uncover mechanisms of cancer evolution by analyzing the intratumour heterogeneity in lung tumors from approximately 850 patients and tracks its evolutionary trajectory from diagnosis through to relapse. It is hoped that the study will enable researchers to define how intratumour heterogeneity impacts upon cancer immunity throughout tumor evolution and therapy.
Resistance to immunotherapy
Another key topic that was highlighted at the meeting was understanding mechanisms of resistance to immunotherapy. In the session titled ‘Response and resistance in cancer immunotherapy’ several researchers highlighted key themes in this area of research such as how tumor and host factors regulate anti-tumor immunity and immunotherapy efficacy (Speaker: Thomas Gajewski, The University of Chicago, IL, USA) as well as the immunomodulatory of LIF in cancer (Speaker: Joan Seoane, Vall D’Hebron Institute of Oncology, Barcelona, Spain).
Microbiome and cancer
Day 3 of the congress hosted a session on a topic that has gained a growing interest over the past decade; the potential links between cancer and the microbiome. This session was chaired by Ravid Straussman (Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel) whose lab is investigating the characterization of the human tumor microbiome across tumor types, the effect of the tumor (and gut) microbiome on resistance to cytotoxic, targeted and immune mediated anti-cancer therapies as well as the characterization of the cross talk between bacteria and human cancer cells in order to find novel ways to manipulate the tumor/gut microbiome to affect hallmarks of cancer. The session included a talk from Amelie Lopes (Clermont Université, France) who reported the potential immunomodulatory effect on gut microenvironment by colibactin-producing Escherichia coli.
Life in academia: developing your core skills
The congress also included educational sessions, whereby key speakers provided their advice on how to develop some of the key skills essential for a cancer researcher. These included a talks on leadership, editorial, political and teaching skills.
Whilst speaking with Anton, he provided some advice for cancer researchers: “It is often a process of failures, things that don’t work and so that’s something you have to be able to withstand and that’s why it’s important to do research with good colleagues and friends around who you can share ideas with preferentially and also your supervisor. Make sure that you communicate about what you do, so that you don’t put yourself in a corner.”
We look forward to attending the EACR Cancer Research Congress again in 2020 in Torino, Italy and hearing about the latest advancements in cancer research. Until then, you can find the latest cancer biology and pathology content here.