What We’re Watching During ASCO 2018

This year, approximately 1.7 million people in the US will be diagnosed with cancer. For those people—and the millions more who will be diagnosed in the years ahead—scientific progress is critical, and every day matters.

The annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO)—the largest gathering of oncology professionals in the world – takes place from June 1-5, 2018, in Chicago. Nearly 40,000 of the greatest minds in oncology gather to showcase the innovations that are advancing cancer science for patients in need of better treatment options.

Scientific collaboration is critical to expediting progress, and events like ASCO bring the cancer community together to discuss how we can collaborate to achieve our common goal of eliminating cancer as a cause of death. At this year’s meeting, AstraZeneca is eager to share exciting outputs from our latest research, as well as from third-party-sponsored studies—that may lead to new treatments for several solid tumor types, including lung, breast, ovarian, head and neck and prostate cancers, as well as blood cancers. We’re also eager to learn about other industry and academic developments, particularly as they relate to our key scientific research platforms of Immuno-Oncology (IO), Tumor Drivers and Resistance, DNA Damage Response (DDR) and Antibody Drug Conjugates (ADC). Here are a few topics that we will be following during this year’s ASCO meeting and beyond.

Looking Ahead to What’s Next in Cancer Treatment

We believe that the newest and most innovative cancer treatments are here to stay—and will continue to investigate new tumor types and stages of progression, bringing hope to more patients facing traditionally difficult-to-treat cancers. This includes ADCs in hairy cell leukemia, PARP inhibitors in metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer, and IO medicines across different stages of triple-negative breast cancer. We are excited to be presenting data alongside many collaborators in these important areas of unmet need.

Looking beyond ASCO, more change is on the horizon. We believe that IO therapies will soon become standard in earlier stages of progression, where Phase III data already show benefit. By moving IO up the treatment curve to earlier stages of disease, there may be an opportunity to do more than delay progression, but also treat with curative intent. Additionally, personalized medicine will continue to shape the way that we think about the treatment of many cancers with targetable mutations—and with time, we will have more clarity regarding the role of targeted therapies in advanced cancers.

Identifying Targetable Mutations in Cancers

We’ll be tracking progress made toward more personalized cancer therapy, as researchers continue to discover new targets and the mechanisms behind disease progression. We are committed to identifying key molecular mutations in the biological pathways that fuel tumors, such as vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in ovarian cancer, Bruton’s tyrosine kinase (BTK) in multiple hematological malignancies and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) in non-small cell lung cancer.

Through this research, we are able to address the unmet needs of patients, which may help improve the state of their care. We have also developed an investigational compound that may delay progression in certain cancers by inhibiting DNA damage response (DDR) deficiencies, such as germline BRCA receptor mutations in advanced breast and ovarian cancers. Currently, we are continuing to investigate monotherapy targeting the DNA repair process in a range of tumor types. We are also exploring potential drug combinations, including the benefit of DDR with mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) for the treatment of ovarian and breast cancers.

Addressing Unmet Need for Patients with Rare Blood Cancer by Advancing the Science of Antibody-Drug Conjugates

For patients with certain types of blood cancers, there are no established standards of care and limited treatment options. Addressing the significant unmet medical need for people with certain rare, slow-growing leukemias is part of our ongoing commitment to advancing science and potentially improving the way these cancers are treated.

Part of this undertaking is the continued evolution of ADC scientific platforms, which includes an anti-CD22 recombinant immunotoxin as a potential treatment being evaluated for patients with previously-treated hairy cell leukemia (HCL). HCL impacts approximately 3.3 patients out of every million people each year.

Immunotoxins are a class of anticancer agents that combine the selectivity of antibodies to target drug delivery and the potency of toxins to kill cancer cells. This year at ASCO, we will present Phase III efficacy and safety data from a pivotal clinical trial in HCL for the first time.

Connecting with and Amplifying PAGs

Beyond scientific discovery, at ASCO 2018, we will meet with our patient advocacy group (PAG) partners to learn more about their valuable work, while looking for ways to collaborate to ensure patients are able to make informed decisions about their care, as well as a strong voice in clinical trial design. At AstraZeneca, we believe that the value of patient advocates cannot be understated—we applaud and support their tireless efforts and passion to address the unmet needs of all people battling cancer.

To support and supplement their important work, we plan to convene a reception for advocates, engage with them on social media, and meet with them individually to discuss how wethe cancer community—can most effectively work together to help people living with cancer. And of course, while ASCO is only one weekend out of the year, we will continue these efforts year round—through ongoing support and educational programs such as Beyond Pink and LVNG With, which share educational resources and address the needs of the patient community in partnership with advocates.

At AstraZeneca, we are dedicated to making tangible progress toward the goal of ultimately rendering cancer a treatable, chronic disease. During the ASCO annual meeting and year round, we will continue to collaborate and follow the science to ensure all patients facing cancer have resources, support, and what they want most: more time. 


US-20427 Last Updated 5/18