Robust daily plenary lineup features latest developments across all of cancer research

Zuzana Storchová, PhD
Zuzana Storchová, PhD

In addition to the Opening Plenary Session on Sunday, April 11, the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting 2021 program includes four other robust plenary sessions covering some of the hottest topics in cancer research and clinical treatment.

This lineup includes a new Discovery Science Plenary dedicated to the memory of Angelika Amon, PhD, a world-renowned geneticist and cancer researcher who passed away last year following a two-and-a-half-year battle with ovarian cancer.

“Angelika was an absolute pioneer in the field,” said Zuzana Storchová, PhD, who will chair the session. “She was one of the first people who started to dissect chromosomal instability and its causes and consequences, and advance our understanding of the mechanistic events behind chromosomal instability and the fate of the cells that are affected by it. She really defined and drove the field in the last 15 years, and it’s very fitting that this session is dedicated to her.”

Discovery Science Plenary: Mechanisms, Impact, and Exploitation of Cancer Chromosomal Instability – Dedicated to the Memory of Angelika Amon

Saturday, April 10, 9:30 – 11:30 a.m. EDT

“Chromosomal instability (CIN) is a quite exciting area of research but can be a very difficult topic to grasp because it encompasses such a broad field,” Storchová said. “We know that chromosomal instability is very frequent in cancer, but we still have little understanding of why this is happening in cancer and what role it plays.”

Research has shown that chromosomal instability strongly contributes to the evolution of tumors and to the development of treatment resistance, Dr. Storchová said.

“In recent years, several new types of therapeutics have been developed against cancer, but the cancer cells frequently manage to escape and find ways to evolve and become resistant to the treatments we are using,” she said. “We have mounting evidence that chromosomal instability is one of the major players enabling cancer cells to gain resistance. That is also one of the main reasons why researchers are interested in understanding CIN. Moreover, recent findings suggest that we might be able to target chromosomal instability in cancer cells for treatments.”

Christina Curtis, PhD, MSc
Christina Curtis, PhD, MSc

Probing the Dynamic Tumor-Host Ecosystem for Therapeutic Insights

Monday, April 12, 10:45 a.m – 12:45 p.m. EDT

“This plenary session will focus on the application of technologies to reveal mechanisms of tumor progression, immune escape, and therapy resistance, with an emphasis on understanding clonal evolution, mutational processes and the dynamic interplay between tumor, immune, and stromal cells,” said session chair Christina Curtis, PhD, MSc. “The speakers include leading experts whose work has accelerated these discoveries and who will offer a state-of-the-art perspective on the field. Their presentations will provide a glimpse into the potential power of characterizing tumor evolution and the in situ tumor-immune microenvironment to inform patient stratification and new therapeutic strategies.”

Cancer Biology and the Changing Therapeutic Landscape

Sheila A. Stewart, PhD
Sheila A. Stewart, PhD

Tuesday, April 13, 10:45 a.m. – 12:45 p.m. EDT

“From cancer-driving mutations to the power of the immune system and collaborative properties of the tumor microenvironment, our understanding of the drivers of tumor initiation and progression has significantly evolved over the past decades, as has our appreciation of the therapeutic landscape,” said session chair Sheila A. Stewart, PhD. “This session will delve into the continued importance of targets residing within incipient tumor cells and emphasize the complexity that surrounds cancer progression, which seems mind-boggling at one level but is also the key to durable therapeutic approaches. We are now at the stage, due to historic work from our speakers and many others, where we are beginning to understand how we might use this complexity against cancer.”

Leveraging the Immune System in the War on Cancer

Nina Bhardwaj, MD, PhD
Nina Bhardwaj, MD, PhD

Wednesday, April 14, 10:45 a.m. – 12:45 p.m.

“In recent years, cancer immunotherapy has been reinvigorated with the development of checkpoint therapies that have greatly impacted patients’ lives,” said session chair Nina Bhardwaj, MD, PhD. “Speakers in this plenary session will discuss newer advances in the field, including approaches to boost the activity of antitumor T cells and eliminate immune suppressive cells in the tumor microenvironment. The new data presented will pave the way for the next round of successful cancer immunotherapies.”