Last week, SMS-oncology attended the annual Association for Cancer Immunotherapy (CIMT) meeting, which was held May 11-13 in Mainz, Germany. This European conference has been organized since 2002 and allows for both academic and industry to enhance their cancer immunotherapy know-how and expertise. Some snapshots of the scientific topics that were presented and discussed are provided below.
This year’s keynote speaker was Prof. Dr. Alexander Eggermont from the Institut Gustave Roussy in France. The title of his talk was “Melanoma as a model for dual revolution in precision medicine”. This dual revolution comes both from the recent advances in mutation driven drug development (e.g. BRAF inhibitors vemurafenib and dabrafenib) as well as the recent innovations in immunomodulating agents (e.g checkpoint inhibitors ipilimumab, nivolumab and pembrolizumab).
Prof. Dr. George Coukos from La Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois (CHUV) in Lausanne, Switzerland gave a talk about the tumor endothelial barrier hypothesis. Tumor infiltrating lymphocytes (TILS) are a prognostic factor for overall survival (OS). The interplay between tumor cells and their microenvironment can be immunoinhibitory. The tumor vasculature can suppress T cell activity, target them for destruction and physically block T cells from entering the tumor. For example through expression of Fas ligand (FasL) by tumor endothelial cells a selective immune barrier promoting tolerance in tumors is established. Blocking vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF-A) and prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) can reduce endothelial FasL and allow accumulation of TILs.
An interesting poster was presented by Prof. Dr. Rosalie Luiten from the Amsterdam Medical Center (AMC) in the Netherlands on the prognostic value of vitiligo-like depigmentation (vitiligo) in patients with stage III-IV melanoma receiving immunotherapy (Pigmentfonds Nederland). Vitiligo is a relatively harmless type of autoimmunity. It can occur spontaneously or as an immune-related adverse event after melanoma immunotherapy. A systematic review and meta-analysis identified 137 studies in which 5737 stage III-IV melanoma patients were treated. The cumulative incidence of vitiligo in these studies was 3,4%. Interestingly, patients that develop vitiligo upon immunotherapy treatment had two times less risk of disease progression and four times less risk of death compared to patients without vitiligo development (based on 27 studies that reported individual patient data).
There were many more interesting presentations and posters at the CIMT meeting, which due to space restrictions could not be highlighted in this blog. Meetings like the CIMT provide an excellent opportunity to get in contact with representatives of innovative oncology biotech companies, pharma companies and academia.
We look forward to seeing you at future events!