Delegates at this year's ASCO
While the UK enjoyed the rather wet Jubilee celebrations this weekend, thousands of cancer experts gathered in Chicago for the world’s largest annual cancer conference, ASCO. Cancer Research UK’s Nell Barrie was there to hear about the latest treatment advances.
In this first of her series of reports from the conference, Nell discusses one of the hot topics of the weekend – immunotherapy.
On a beautiful sunny Saturday in Chicago, hundreds of cancer researchers were packed into a stuffy, darkened room to hear the news that everyone had been talking about.
Last year the buzz at America’s biggest cancer treatment conference was all about immunotherapy - treatments that boost the power of the body’s own immune system. And once again a new drug designed to help the body in the fight against cancer was hitting the headlines.
With the last few stragglers trickling in and desperately trying to find seats, the presentations began – and we weren’t disappointed. An early-stage clinical trial of an experimental drug called BMS-936558 clearly showed its potential power.
When given to 76 patients with non–small-cell lung cancer, 14 of them responded (18 per cent), a figure which rose to 27 per cent among patients with kidney cancer (9 of 33 patients) and 28 per cent among patients with melanoma (26 of 94 patients responded).
Although these are preliminary results, they’re impressive. Until now, the best response rate researchers and doctors have seen for immunotherapy treatments is a little more than 1 in 10 (10 per cent).
And to add to the buzz, it’s the first time immunotherapy has been shown to have a real benefit for lung cancer patients – people desperately in need of better treatments.