Editorial Article: AACR 2018 Highlights: Collaborations and Open Communication Pave the Path to Tackle Cancer

SelectScience brings you scientific and technical takeaways from the 2018 AACR Annual Meeting

09 May 2018

The 2018 AACR Annual Meeting in Chicago, US, was one to remember – and not just because it attracted a record-breaking attendance of over 22,600.

Researchers, clinicians, advocates and other members of the cancer community came together to learn the latest in science and technology, to debate breakthroughs and challenges, to share ideas, and join the conversation, all with one common cause: to making a real difference for cancer patients around the world.

AACR President-Elect Elaine Mardis addresses attendees in one of the popular plenary sessions at the AACR Annual Meeting 2018. Photo by © AACR/Todd Buchanan 2018

Strength in collaboration

To set the spirit of collaboration, the meeting kicked off with the news that the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) and Cancer Research UK (CRUK) have formed an ambitious new international alliance to accelerate the fight against cancer globally. 

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Leading with passion

The new AACR President, Dr. Elizabeth Jaffee, shared her vision for the year in a packed ‘Vision for the Future’ session: “The global death rates will continue to rise unless new and more effective approaches to cancer prevention, early detection, and treatment are developed and effectively implemented. Fortunately, with all of these great data (presented at the annual meeting), we are at an unprecedented time in history, when new treatments and new technologies are rapidly reshaping how we view patient care.” 

Anita Ramanathan interviews former AACR President, Dr. Michael Caliguiri 

SelectScience also sat down with former AACR President, Dr. Michael Caliguiri, where he shared his legacy at AACR and the importance of collaboration in research. Watch this space for the interview video, coming soon!

Peer-to-peer communication

Among the many varied presentations on themes ranging from precision medicine to artificial intelligence to cancer disparities, was a headline-hitting talk from Dr. Leena Gandhi, Director of Thoracic Medical Oncology at New York’s Perlmutter Center, who offered new hope to lung cancer patients. She presented the results of clinical trials which showed how survival rates could be significantly improved by combining an immunotherapeutic drug with chemotherapy. Other big stories included a study showing that children with non-chromosomal birth defects such as congenital heart disease had a significantly higher risk of developing childhood cancer, and the potential promise of a highly specific blood test for early cancer detection in asymptomatic individuals.

SelectScience associate editor, Anita Ramanathan, had the opportunity to interview many of these technology experts at AACR.  In one fascinating interview, we report how automated mass spec imaging enables a high-throughput workflow that can analyze a hundred samples a day accelerating cancer tissue characterization. Learn how one physician-researcher from the Keck School of Medicine at USC characterizes the immune cells within a tumor environment. Plus, find out how one scientist is using his CRISPR knowledge to better advance the technology and create easy-to-use kits. You can now watch all the interviews on our exclusive AACR special coverage page

Technology brings the idea to life

During the 5-day event, SelectScience was proud to announce Scientists’ Choice Awards for Life Sciences. Voted by scientists, these awards recognize technologies that left a lasting impact in the year 2017. Find out more about all the award winners here

The DeNovix team show off their platinum-rated spectrophotometer/ fluorometer

Many of these technologies were on display on the exhibition floor, where scores of manufacturers showcased their latest innovations aimed at helping scientists advance research quickly and effectively. Key technologies that will make an impact to cancer researchers are single-cell genomics, lab automation and powerful imaging solutions capturing cell dynamics in a new light. 

Some of the new technologies unveiled at AACR this year included:

A few exhibitors added some flair to showcasing technology. The DeNovix team that ran a competition to win a unique platinum-quality DS11 FX+ spectrophotometer/fluorometer. Yamaha, the motorbike company, attracted quite the audience as team members sporting eye-catching racing jackets showed off the company’s cell picking and imaging system. SelectScience received an invitation to capture the exhibitor spotlight presentation by Miltenyi, where Dr. Jill Hearshlab, Associate Director at 10x Genomics shared the importance of accurate, precise methods for single-cell isolation in tumor analysis.


For full news and video coverage from the show floor check out the AACR 2018 special feature >>