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ASCO 2021: Global cancer researchers reunite virtually


We look ahead at some of the highlights that scientists from The Institute of Cancer Research will be presenting at this year’s virtual edition of the ASCO Annual Meeting.

Posted on 02 June, 2021 by Juanita Bawagan

ASCO 2021 logo

This Friday marks the start of one of the biggest calendar events in cancer research – the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting. While organisers had hoped for a return to an in-person meeting, the 2021 ASCO Annual Meeting will be an online-only experience due to continuing Covid-19 concerns.

From 4-8 June, ASCO will bring together one of the largest and most diverse audiences in oncology. Our researchers will be joining scientists, clinicians and patient advocates from around the world to share the latest clinical cancer research and trials impacting patient care.

The theme of this year’s meeting is Equity: Every Patient. Every Day. Everywhere. and discussions during the meeting will help identify ways to ensure that all patients have access to and benefit from the latest cancer advances and high-quality cancer care — from ground-breaking clinical trial results to emerging immunotherapy approaches.

We’ll be highlighting a number of studies involving researchers from the ICR and The Royal Marsden over the next few days, so please check out on our ASCO 2021 landing page to learn more about:

  • OlympiA trial results: A Phase III OlympiA trial led by Professor Andrew Tutt investigating the use of olaparib after chemotherapy in patients with germline BRCA mutations and high-risk HER2-negative breast cancer
  • VISION trial results: A Phase III trial co-authored by Professor Johann de Bono studying lutetium-177-PSMA-617 in patients with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer
  • Expression of end-binding protein 1: A Phase II trial of a potential response-predictive biomarker for lisavanbulin in glioblastoma led by Dr Juanita Lopez

Here are a few more ASCO abstracts featuring our researchers and check out the full list of abstracts below:

OPTIMUM results for ultra high-risk patients

Our researchers have helped identify a group of ultra high-risk blood cancer patients based on genetic characteristics of their tumours. Many of these high-risk myeloma and plasma cell leukaemia patients are not responding to current standard of care treatments for long and need novel approaches.

The OPTIMUM/MUK9 trial which involves Dr Martin Kaiser is examining how these ultra high-risk patients respond to a combination therapy of four novel agents. The therapy combines bortezomib, lenalidomide, daratumumab and dexamethasone in combination with low-dose cyclophosphamide. The trial results show that responses can be reached in the majority of patients with ultra high-risk disease through this risk adapted therapy.

[Abstract 8001]

Dostarlimab: A newly EMA-approved drug

This month the European Medical Association approved dostarlimab as the first anti-PD-1 therapy available for endometrial cancer. The drug is a PD-1-blocking antibody that binds with the PD-1 receptor and blocks its interaction with the ligands PD-L1 and PD-L2.

The GARNET study is investigating dostarlimab for advanced solid tumours. Dr Susana Banerjee is a co-author on a study comparing two cohorts – one with advanced and recurrent endometrial cancer, and another with mainly gastrointestinal tumours. They found dostarlimab was safe and showed antitumour activity in both endometrial and non-endometrial tumour types.

[Abstract 2564]

Understanding the role of CCNE1

Researchers believe the cyclin E1 protein and CCNE1 gene play a role in treatment resistance, but the mechanism has been unclear. Recently, the PALOMA-3 trial led by Professor Nick Turner found high CCNE1 mRNA gene expression among patients with advanced breast cancer who were resistant to the targeted drug palbociclib, but further validation was needed.

In a new study, researchers explored CCNE1 and cyclin E1 as predictive biomarkers in tumour samples from the randomized PEARL trial. They found high tumour CCNE1 mRNA expression identified patients with relative resistance to palbociclib and hormone therapy. These findings suggest further research is needed to study how to enhance CDK4/6 inhibitors in tumours with high CCNE1 expression.

[Abstract 1014]

‘New Avengers’ in the treatment of prostate cancer

The androgen receptor plays a key role in prostate cancer, but it’s not the only treatment avenue. In an education session, Professor Johann de Bono will give a talk on “The New Avengers in the Treatment of Prostate Cancer”. This panel will also feature world-leading experts’ views on the importance of the sequence of treatments and what role treatments could play in driving resistant phenotypes, and be followed by a live Q&A session.

Professor de Bono’s research is featured throughout the conference with updates on a prostate-specific membrane antigen-targeting T cell engager and the use of PARP inhibitor talazoparib, as well as the landmark results from the VISION trial.

[Abstract 13694] [Abstract 2562] [Abstract 5013] [Abstract 5047]

ICR research at ASCO

With more than 2,000 abstracts, the conference is filled with exciting new research. Starting Friday, 4 June, session content becomes available on ASCO's Meeting Library and attendees can watch sessions on-demand and at their own pace unless a live time is specified.

We’ve put together a list of abstracts featuring ICR research:

Poster discussion sessions

  • Abstract 1014: A poster discussion session on predictive biomarkers in the Phase III PEARL trial in patients with metastatic breast cancer which involves Dr Javier Pascual and Professor Nick Turner
  • Abstract 1017: A poster discussion session on Phase I trial on giredestrant for estrogen receptor-positive, HER2-negative breast cancer, which involves Professor Nick Turner
  • Abstract 5013: A poster discussion session on a trial for a prostate-specific membrane antigen-targeting T cell engager which involves Professor Johann de Bono
  • Abstract 8021: A poster discussion session on results from the iTIMM trial of whole body MRI and FDG PET/CT for detection of multiple myeloma involving Dr Martin Kaiser and led by Dr Christina Messiou
  • Abstract 11517: A poster discussion session of a trial of olaratumab in combination with gemcitabine and docetaxel in advanced soft tissue sarcoma, which involves Professor Robin Jones

Poster sessions

  • Abstract 524: A poster session on PREDICT+ , an online clinico-pathological tool, in patients with HER2-positive early-stage breast cancer which involves Professor Judith Bliss
  • Abstract 537: A poster session on the performance of EndoPredict, a 12-gene prognostic assay used to predict distant recurrence-free survival, in pre-menopausal women with ER+, HER2- breast cancer
  • Abstract 2562: A poster session on an ongoing first-in-human trial of inupadenant in adult patients with solid tumours, the collaboration involves Professor Johann de Bono
  • Abstract 2564: A poster session antitumour activity of dostarlimab based on analysis of two cohorts in the GARNET study which involves Dr Susana Banerjee
  • Abstract 2624: A poster session on a Phase I trial on an anti-ICOS antibody as a monotherapy and in combination with atezolizumab
  • Abstract 3118: A poster session on a Phase II trial a potential response-predictive biomarker for lisavanbulin in glioblastoma, led by Dr Juanita Lopez
  • Abstract 4030: A poster session on a Phase II trial of pembrolizumab in the gastric cancer cohort. The LEAP-005 trial involves Dr Juanita Lopez
  • Abstract 5047: A poster session on drug safety in the TALAPRO-1 trial of talazoparib, an oral PARP inhibitor for men with metastatic castration-resistant prostate which involves Professor Johann de Bono
  • Abstract 6036: A poster session on a trial of talimogene laherparepvec (T-VEC) and pembrolizumab to treat recurrent and metastatic squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck which involves Professor Kevin Harrington
  • Abstract 6072: A poster session on disease recurrence in adenoid cystic carcinoma with NOTCH signalling pathway activation
  • Abstract 11563: A poster session on a phase I trial of tazemetostat and doxorubicin as frontline therapy for advanced epithelioid sarcoma, which involves Professor Robin Jones
  • Abstract 11536: A poster session on dose escalation of ripretinib after disease progression in patients with advanced gastrointestinal stromal tumours from the phase 3 INVICTUS study which involves Professor Robin Jones
  • Abstract TPS3145: A poster session on a phase I trial of acoustic cluster therapy with chemotherapy in patients with liver metastases of gastrointestinal origin in the ACTIVATE study which involves Professor Udai Banerji
  • Abstract TPS5603: A poster session on a Phase II trial of a dual RAF/MEK inhibitor alone and in combination with a FAK inhibitor in recurrent low-grade serous ovarian cancer which involves Dr Susana Banerjee
  • Abstract TPS5607: A poster session on a Phase II trial to a NaPi2b-directed antibody drug conjugate for platinum-resistant ovarian cancer, research involves Dr Susana Banerjee
  • Abstract TPS9587: A poster session on a Phase II trial to determine the role of circulating tumour DNA in guiding a switch between targeted therapy and immune therapy in patients with advanced cutaneous melanoma, which involves Professor James Larkin
  • Poster sessions

5 June

  • Abstract 13533: A live case-based panel entitled “Oligometastases in Prostate Cancer: How to Rationally Incorporate Metastasis-Directed Therapy Into Your Practice”. Professor Nick James will discuss the international perspective as part of the panel and Q&A.

    5 June, 6:30 PM - 7:30 PM BST

6 June

  • Abstract LBA1: A special session Professor Andrew Tutt will present the OlympiA results. This session will also include a discussion led by Nadine M Tung and a Q&A session with Professor Tutt and others.


  • Abstract LBA4: A special session where results from the Phase III VISION trial of lutetium-177-PSMA-617 in patients with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer will be presented. The trial is co-authored by Professor Johann de Bono.


    Both sessions are part of the plenary on 6 June, 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM BST

    8 June

  • Abstract 8001: An oral abstract session on results of the UK optimum / MUKnine trial, which involves Dr Martin Kaiser, in ultra high-risk multiple myeloma and plasma cell leukemia treated with daratumumab, bortezomib, lenalidomide, cyclophosphamide and dexamethasone

    8 June, 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM BST

  • Session 13694: An education session on moving beyond the Androgen receptor for prostate cancer, where Professor Johann de Bono will discuss the “New Avengers in the Treatment of Prostate Cancer” and participate in a panel Q&A period.

    8 June, 4:30 PM - 5:45 PM BST

Enjoy the conference and join the conversation online using the hashtag #ASCO21!


ASCO 2021
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