We all know that CAR-T therapies and immune checkpoint inhibitors are game-changers for oncology, and both were on display at the American Association for Cancer Research’s annual meeting held in Atlanta last week.

Although both therapies have produced spectacular results in some patients, neither work for all patients and efforts must now turn to understanding how they can be improved. While many combination trials are underway, scientists return to their respective labs to add their contributions to these advances.  

Here are our team’s top highlights from AACR 2019.

Takeaways from AACR 2019

In the opening plenary session, “Manipulating the Immune System in Cancer Therapy,” a set of excellent talks set the stage for many presentations later in the week. The first two speakers, Jorge Nieva and Peter Kuhn, presented a back and forth between physician and scientist on the needs and observations of clinicians and the attempts of the physicist to convert these observations to digitized quantifiable data for prediction of outcomes.  

The last two speakers, Crystal Mackall and E. John Wherry, addressed shortcomings of immune-oncology therapies, describing how both CAR-T and checkpoint inhibitors are stymied by T cell exhaustion. Overcoming T cell exhaustion will clearly be a focus of immunotherapy research in the years ahead.

It is nearly impossible to convey the breadth of presentations and exhibits at AACR 2019, a show that boasted over 20,000 attendees. From nutrition and the microbiome to equitable delivery of cancer treatment and support of cancer survivors, there seemed to be something for everyone interested in improving the health of those affected by cancer.

One interesting side note for me was the growing interest in using canine cancer as a model of human cancer. Our dogs share our environment and often suffer from the same types of cancer we do. This is perhaps another area of research we could support with cells and assay development.

Looking Forward to AACR 2020

We enjoyed catching up with many of our customers and being challenged with new ideas and opportunities. We hope to return to AACR next year with more contributions of our own work!

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