Dr. Alexandra Boitor, EACR Scientific Officer, writes about her experience and scientific highlights from Cellular Bases for Patient Response to Cancer Therapies, which was held between 14 – 16 November 2023. Participants from 27 countries joined us at the Centre de Congrès de Lyon in France.
The conference had a focus on improving the understanding of how traditional anti-cancer therapy works. By uncovering previously unknown modes of action and cellular effects of conventional cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and hormone therapy, these discoveries have the potential to revolutionize cancer treatment.
As expected, most talks at the conference focused on tumour relapse and resistance to cancer treatments. These subjects were approached from several different angles and revealed several signaling pathways involved in these processes to build a comprehensive picture. Keynote speaker Scott Lowe discussed the role of tumour suppressive programs, especially P53 with a focus on its role in persister and senescence-like states.
Dormancy, senescence, and persister cells were popular topics at the conference. Celine Vallot and Andreas Trumpp looked at different aspects of cell plasticity and their impact on cancer progression. Whilst Celline’s work aims to uncover epigenetic vulnerabilities of persister cells in breast cancer, Andreas’ talk focused on the microenvironment-mediated plasticity of cancer stem cells in AML and how it impacts tumour behaviour, including dormancy. The closing keynote lecture offered by Clemens Schmitt looked at oncogene- and therapy-induced senescence including senescence-associated stemness and its impact on treatment failure.
Another popular topic was the DNA damage response. Yves Pommier spoke about the role of Schlafen 11, a recently discovered determinant of sensitivity to DNA damaging agents, in irreversibly arresting stressed DNA replication and the molecular mechanisms involved. Sophie Postel-Vinay spoke about the connection between the DNA damage response and the cytosolic immunity (cGAS/STING) and the relevance of this connection for PARP inhibitors used in the clinic. The EMBO keynote lecture was given by Cédric Blanpain who talked about the role of EMT in the development of resistance to therapy highlighting a connection between EMT and DNA repair pathways through RhoJ.
It is also worth mentioning that the conference covered a plethora of cancer types including various solid tumours (breast, pancreatic, melanoma etc) and leukemia. Talks at this conference covered the entire spectrum of research from fundamental research performed in model organisms such as the zebrafish (Julien Ablain) or 3D-organoids, to clinical trials (Yves Pommier, Sophie Postel-Vinay).
In the feedback survey, respondents highlighted the size of the conference as being great for networking, while also noting the “outstanding scientific level and excellent organization”. They appreciated the global nature of the conference and the opportunities it provided early career researchers to “showcase research on an international platform”. By bringing together in the same room scientists and clinicians, we trust this meeting was useful for developing collaborations between fundamental research and the clinic to bridge the cancer research – cancer care gap.
At the EACR we are dedicated to providing excellent cancer research conferences where the latest research topics and interaction for participants are the very highest priorities. Make sure you add the dates of the upcoming EACR Conferences to your diary now. Don’t forget we offer member discounts on all of our registration fees!