MCRC team gets blown away by cancer research on a grand scale

Some of the MCRC team have recently returned from Chicago, where they attended the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) – one of the world’s biggest cancer conferences.

Among the 25,000 delegates were researchers from Manchester, sharing their science with the international community.

The ‘Windy City’ lived up to its name and welcomed us with freezing weather – snow and low cloud surrounded the skyscrapers along the Chicago River.

Inside McCormick Place, the conference kicked off on Saturday 14 April with Educational Sessions and Special Workshops. Professor Andrew Renehan contributed to a session on obesity and cancer with a talk on the link between excess weight and prognosis, and joined the other speakers for a panel discussion.

Also on Saturday, Sumitra Mohan from the Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology (CEP) group was chosen to give a short presentation in the Exhibitor Spotlight Theatre. Later in the conference, Sumitra also had a poster and an associated short talk in a Poster Discussion session, alongside Francesca Chemi from the same group in Manchester.

Sunday saw the Opening Ceremony – a grand occasion featuring the AACR CEO and President, as well as prizes and awards for journalism, public service and lifetime achievement. Following this, the opening plenary session showcasing impressive work from around the world on some exciting hot topics: immunotherapy, liquid biopsies and tumour evolution.

In a nearby meeting room, Professor Caroline Dive chaired a session on liquid biopsy alongside Peter Kuhn from the University of Southern California, with whom she collaborates on circulating tumour cell research.

Early on Monday morning, Professor Richard Marais took part in ‘Meet the Expert’ speaking about how the engine of basic research can be used to drive forward new understanding in cancer biology that can then be used to improve patient care.

Later in the evening, Cancer Research UK hosted a drinks reception at 360 Chicago, with dazzling views from 300 m above the city. Manchester scientists joined other UK-based researchers and invited guests for drinks and nibbles as the sun set.

There was strong representation in the poster sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday from the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute. Four different abstracts involving scientists from the Drug Discovery Unit had been accepted, covering work on PARG and DNMT1 inhibitors. Hao Ran Tang from the Molecular Oncology group presented his research on LOX and cell invasion in one of the Metastasis, Invasion and Migration sessions and Candelaria Bracalente, from the same group, discussed genetic analysis of melanoma from an albino patient. Sumitra and Francesca from CEP stood side-by-side in another popular Liquid Biopsy selection.

Other posters presented by Manchester researchers included studies into PET imaging and mass spectrometry, signalling pathways of bone metastases in prostate cancer and a clinical trial led by Dr Matt Krebs from The Christie.

Caroline Dive enjoyed a spotlight on her research, as she introduced the Dharma Master Symposium in Biomarkers – a session focused on single cell analysis – and spoke about insights into response to chemotherapy provided by circulating tumour cells.

To round things off, Francesca Chemi was presented with her AACR Women In Cancer Research Scholar Award, which helped to fund her attendance at the meeting.

Overall, it was a fascinating conference and the MCRC team came away full of ideas. We are now looking forward to next year’s event in Atlanta, Georgia.

Category: MCRC

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