From VHIO´s Director and WIN Symposium Chair: Josep Tabernero´s Paris Preview

As Chair of the 2016 annual two-day WIN (Worldwide Innovative Network) Symposium: Innovative Approaches to Improve Cancer Patient Outcomes, to be held 27 – 28 June in Paris, I can promise an exceptional program that will center on and around six plenary sessions:

First, the must-have conversation exploring the expectations and viewpoints of those who must rightly be at the center of everything we do – our patients, has been appropriately scheduled during Plenary Session one. The critical need to engage patients when considering the future of clinical trial design has become increasingly apparent in the era of precision medicine in oncology. Patients´and advocacy groups perspectives will be presented through a back-to-back delivery by Francesco Lorenzo, European Cancer Patient Coalition (Belgium), and Matt Ellefson, SURVIVEiT (USA), who will categorically demonstrate that the voice of patients must be continued to be heard, registered, and reported loud and clear. Only then will we, as oncology professionals, continue to apply such critical intelligence to our expansion and advancement of personalized trial design and treatment approaches.

The second area of major debate and exchange will surround New tools for early diagnosis, selecting therapies and monitoring, to kick-off with a Keynote focused on systems biology by Andrea Califano (USA), followed by Elaine Mardis (USA) who will discuss the affordability of next-generation sequencing to guide therapeutic decision-making. This second Session, split into three parts; New strategies to improve outcomes, Enabling technologies: Opportunities for liquid biopsies, and A scientist´s view of tumor changes under therapeutic pressure, will cover the very latest developments and insights into enabling technologies and novel approaches including liquid biopsies — circulating Tumor DNA, CTC, and new strategies and technologies for prevention and early diagnosis.

Concerning the potential of liquid biopsies, experts including Nitzan Rosenfeld (UK), Ajay Goel (USA), and Raghu Kalluri (USA), will indicate whether the liquid biopsy ´policing´ of cancer is set for ´prime time´ in delivering on a more precise treatment selection for each individual patient.

Innovative clinical trials to substantially improve outcomes of patients will also rank top on our 2016 WIN Symposium agenda to explore major areas of current interest including the empowerment of immune approaches, combined therapies, and cancer ´cocktails´ that have either succeeded or failed in more effectively combating resistance.

With respect to combinatorial strategies against cancer inarguably we need to get smarter and push the boundaries in overcoming drug resistance. Combining drugs is a complicated undertaking which demands several considerations e.g. which to combine with what, how to do so, derive the doses, and how to determine a biomarker to gauge the impact of a drug combination on a patient´s tumor. Such questions must be addressed based on rational development through established algorithms and powerful analytical tools. We can expect to see and learn from studies with innovative combinations and innovation powering the way in which they are selected.

Throughout this third Plenary Session we can all look forward to discovery through experiences presented by speakers including William Sellers (USA), Susan Galbraith (UK), and Daniel DeCarvalho (Canada), and we will collectively endeavor to signpost ´where to´ in terms of ringing in the next generation of clinical studies to more effectively balance speed and safety with real-time assessment of data and fine-tune fluid adjustments in dosage and treatment based on the particularities of each tumor.

Drawing on the experience of the SHIVA trial as a Special Forum to close the Session, a pro-con analysis of this study to be delivered by Christophe Le Tourneau (France), and Razelle Kurzrock (USA) respectively, will no doubt trigger lively discussion in the context of precision therapy against cancer.

As we strive to gain as much reliable insight as possible at preclinical level prior to translating cancer discovery to the clinic, current debate surrounds the relevance and reliability of cancer models from 3D cultures, PDXs, organoids, to genetically modified mice. A dedicated session on Relevant models and critical preclinical data before moving to the clinic, keynoted by Leroy Hood (USA) on Scientific wellness and cancer, will explore how each recapitulate cancer progression and critically, the response to anti-cancer therapies observed in patients. Up for discussion will be the key pieces of information that are needed to inform the clinical development of innovative agents, reproducibility in science, and an assessment of various model types – opportunities and limitations. Preclinical and translational insights presented by Livio Trusolino (Italy), and Rob G. J. Vries (The Netherlands), will be followed by an industry perspective provided by Jean-Francois Martini (USA), New challenges in drug development.

Set to evidence the power of genomic profiling as a Special Plenary, Suzette Delaloge (France) will then reveal results from the MINDACT study — presented for the first time in Europe. Simply, not to be missed!

Plenary Session 5, shaped as a Forum on Expediting Precision Cancer Medicine, will be chaired by WIN Consortium Chairman, John Mendelsohn (USA) and has been superbly engineered to mirror the two major ingredients that make the WIN Symposia series so great: the 50-50 geographic split between eminent thought leaders from Europe and the ROW – essential in progressing our learning-curve in personalized cancer therapy trials, and secondly, a representative split of speakers from industry and academia to explore the opportunities and the obstacles from each perspective — triggering the stimulating and collective conversations that must be had in order to move precision oncology forward.

The star cast of panelists include William Hait (USA), Bruce E. Johnson (USA), Amir Onn (Israel), Richard L. Schilsky (USA), Thomas Tursz (France), and Chang Sik Yu (Korea). I will also be honored to particpate in this special Forum.

We are starting to see advances coming out of the pooling of big data – subsequently translating into clinical opportunities. Huge amounts of data across patient populations and settings remain nonetheless untapped, and consequently, embedding research into practice is not happening as rapidly as it should. We need to join forces, continue to cement strong international partnerships to be able to combine the genomic data available, multiply numbers of patient samples, share and exchange knowledge on cancer biology that is already out there, and combine bioinformatics expertise in the analysis of big data.

In terms of just how far big data can help us to advance precision oncology, our expert panel incorporating Bruce E. Johnson (USA), Rodrigo Dienstmann (Spain), and Funda Meric-Bernstam (USA), will both discuss and anticipate the usefulness of harnessing, analyzing and utilizing big data across several tumor types — now and in the future. 

This final Symposium Session will close with the Debate: Is big data ready to improve patient outcomes or is it a new generation of garbage in/garbage out? Fighting the pro corner will be Stephen Friend (USA), against the con presentation to be defended by Gordon B. Mills (USA).


The Last Word

If you have not yet had a chance to browse the many program highlights and secure your place to join us in Paris for the WIN 2016 Symposium: Innovative Approaches to Improve Cancer Outcomes, 27 – 28 June, I would highly recommend that you do so.

WIN Symposia provide the platform for experts and opinion leaders in drug development and clinical research to engage in two-way exchange and debate in real time between academics and researchers from pharmaceutical and technology companies as well as patient advocates, regulatory experts, laboratory and clinical investigators.

By bringing all stakeholders in oncology together under one roof WIN 2016 will continue to build on the successes of meetings past. As Symposium Chair, I can promise all participants novel data and discovery in state of the art personalized cancer therapy trials, with unparalleled opportunity to interact with world class leaders who are trailblazing precision oncology across borders.

In short, we will be convening this month in Paris to progress the way we develop novel drug/drug combinations and personalize diagnostics based on the molecular profile of individual tumors as well as aspire to fast-tracking cancer science and medicine more precise. Most importantly, we shall do so in concert.

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To discover more about the 2016 annual WIN (Worldwide Innovative Network) Symposium Innovative Approaches to Improve Cancer Patient Outcomes, 27 – 28 June, Paris (France), and register to attend today visit: www.winsymposium.org.

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