News: Bridging the gap across oncology disciplines

ESMO ASIA 2015 a great networking ground for professionals in the field

 The inaugural European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) Asia 2015 congress was held with success at Suntec Convention and Exhibition Centre in Singapore from 18–21 December, 2015.

 ESMO, a leading European professional organization, is a premier scientific and educational platform for oncologists and other stakeholders in advancing the specialty of medical oncology and promoting a multidisciplinary approach to cancer treatment and care.

 Held for the first time outside of Europe, the Asian edition of ESMO’s annual congress aimed to bridge the gap and facilitate information exchange between researchers, clinicians and patients across disciplines to find the most effective treatment solutions currently available.

 “Oncology is a rapidly changing field which requires even more collaboration between doctors from different backgrounds, experience and across all areas of specialization,” said ESMO and Congress president Rolf A. Stahel in his message to delegates. “Face to face meetings are still the best choice for continuing medical education by facilitating information exchange between peers,” Stahel noted.

 “Guided by esteemed Congress Officers, Advisory Council members and Track Chairs, the Congress is an excellent opportunity to update your knowledge while networking with key opinion leaders in oncology,” he added.

ESMO President Rolf Stahel (source: ESMO ASIA 2015)

 “As the ESMO membership base continues to grow in the Asia-Pacific region, it is our intention to identify and meet the needs of this membership group. The ESMO Asia Congress has been enthusiastically supported by the most important and influential oncology associations in the region. ESMO is thankful for this local support and looks forward to strengthening these key partnerships,” Stahel said.

 ESMO Asia 2015 Scientific chair Fortunato Ciardiello and Educational chair Jean-Yves Douillard added: “ESMO Asia will serve to bridge the gap between Asian oncologists and their European counterparts, leveraging the multicultural and professional diversity inherent to both Asia and Europe. This Congress is a unique opportunity to promote the international exchange of expertise.”

 The four-day ESMO Asia 2015 event, which was attended by AMOR delegates, attracted more than 2,700 attendees from 72 countries worldwide, and highlighted works from 189 invited speakers and researchers from Europe, North America, Australia, East Asia and South East Asia, as well as featuring an astonishing 994 presentations within 91 sessions, 461 poster exhibition, and a myriad of product showcased by 204 exhibitors from the pharmaceutical industry, genome sequencing companies, medical imaging firms, cancer research organizations, health service consultation company, and more.

 In addition to presentations covering the development and clinical trials of new therapies which include synthetic drugs, biologics and biosimilars, among the most discussed research area during the conference was the topic of immuno-oncology (immunotherapy), with few key sessions dedicated exclusively to this subject.

 Prof Tasuku Honjo from the Department of Immunology and Genomic Medicine, Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine, Kyoto, Japan, gave a keynote presentation on how immunotherapy is the primary focus in current oncology research, owing to a significant improvement in patients’ overall survival rate (for certain types of cancer) compared to conventional treatments.

Prof Tasuku Honjo (source: ESMO ASIA 2015)

 Prof Honjo was credited with the discovery of PD-1 gene, a negative co-receptor expressed on antigen-stimulated T cells and B cells, which seems to serve as a ‘rheostat’ of the immune response. The molecular mechanisms of the functions of PD-1, in conjunction with the mild, chronic and strain-specific autoimmune phenotypes of PD-1-deficient mice, suggest that immunoregulation by PD-1 is rather antigen specific and is mainly cell intrinsic. Such unique properties make PD-1 a powerful target for immunological therapy, with highly effective clinical applications for cancer treatment.

 The ESMO ASIA 2015 was a great opportunity for AMOR to explore groundworks on promoting the journal’s brand awareness. Delegate Hiromitsu Kitayama, chief physician at Akkeshi Public Hospital, told AMOR: “Publishing authors typically prioritize submissions to journals which have an extensive academic reach, as indicated by the journals’ inclusion in widely-used databases.” Delegate Dr Sajjan S Rajpurohit from Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute, New Delhi, India, meanwhile commented: “There will always be demands for publication platforms, be it national, regional or global… There is bias in the assessment of papers from Asia among the established journals.”

 Opportunities are therefore abound for AMOR to be a platform for stakeholders in the industry. AMOR managing editor, TS Jong, who was also one of the conference delegates, said: “The conference served as an excellent platform for gathering information related to all aspects of oncology research. Researchers and clinicians presented the most current results in the development of new therapies and the latest protocols in medical oncology management. As such, this provided a number of excellent ideas for AMOR’s content development in 2016. This includes the creation of special issues centered on immuno-oncology, new treatments, and region-specific clinical trials.”

 The ESMO ASIA 2015 conference successfully served as a platform for researchers from different countries to exchange ideas and knowledge. As such, regional issues (particularly those affecting Asia-Pacific) concerning the efficacy and cost of cancer treatment, along with patient care guidelines, were actively discussed throughout the conference.

 The conference was hosted by Singapore Society of Oncology and supported by regional medical oncology societies from China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, India, Malaysia, Thailand, Australia and New Zealand, and ESMO has confirmed that the event will be held in Singapore for two more editions, lasting through 2017. The second ESMO Asia 2016 will take place in Singapore 16-19 December, 2016.