The Sentinel


Wednesday, August 19, 2020

JITC Letter From the Editor - August 2020

Dear JITC Readers,

Welcome to this latest edition of the JITC digest. The papers highlighted this month offer exciting perspectives on the current state of the immunotherapy field as well as promising future directions for research.
Clinical oncologists can find a comprehensive overview of approved and emerging immunotherapies for multiple myeloma, including some of the new CAR T cell therapies currently in development, in the newest clinical practice guideline from SITC, by Nina Shah et al.
Promising clinical data on the use of checkpoint blockade for prostate cancer is provided in an original research article by Julie N Graff et al. The paper is the first to demonstrate durable responses with PD-1 inhibition in a subset of prostate cancer patients.
The identification of biomarkers to predict response to immunotherapy remains an important and ongoing area of study for our field. Two papers in this month’s digest highlight the key role that tumor metabolism plays in determining outcomes after immunotherapy, offering potential biomarkers for future study.
David Chardin and colleagues identify tumor metabolic parameters as measured by 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography/computed tomography (18F-FDG PET/CT) that are prognostic and predictive for outcomes after anti-PD-1 therapy for non-small cell lung cancer. Another immunometabolic biomarker is identified by Fangming Liu et al, who identify an association between FABP5-positive tumor infiltrating T cells and improved overall and recurrence-free survival in hepatocellular carcinoma.
New immunotherapeutic targets is another high-priority topic for research, and Marta TrĂ¼b and colleagues demonstrate promising in vitro anti-tumor properties with a novel fibroblast activation protein (FAP)-targeted 4-1BB agonist (FAP-4-1BBL).
Finally, do not miss an excellent review by Christopher A Chuckran et al of Neuropilin-1, which acts as a receptor ‘hub’ for sorting signals from diverse ligands to both promote regulatory T cell (Treg) stability in the tumor microenvironment and inhibit anti-tumor CD8+ T cell responses—the latest in the Immune Checkpoints Beyond PD-1 review series.
As always, you can also further your reading with highlights from other journals in JITC’s Reading List, selected this month by Claudia M Palena, PhD, of the NCI.

Best regards,

Pedro J. Romero, MD
Editor-in-Chief, Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer

To view the entire August 2020 JITC Digest, please click here

Monday, August 17, 2020

President's Message - August 2020

Dear Colleagues,

By this time, you are probably already aware that we will hold our society’s 35th Annual Meeting & Pre-Conference Programs (SITC 2020) as a fully virtual event. We’ve made several recent announcements involving SITC 2020, including:
Our preference was to find a way to safely convene in person. However, the coronavirus pandemic is still active, the course of the pandemic over the next several months is difficult to predict, and the safety of our members, their families, and our patients is our highest priority. Therefore, the decision to go virtual became necessary. We understand that a virtual event removes the prospect of the invaluable, sometimes spontaneous in-person conversations that can lead to important insights, collaborations, and for some members, important career opportunities.  But we hope and are working very hard to make the 2020 Virtual Annual Scientific Meeting a truly unique, highly productive and beneficial experience for all of this year’s attendees. And perhaps by going virtual we can expand the opportunity to connect to a much broader group of our members around the world.

To provide researchers with more time to prepare their SITC 2020 abstracts for our reimagined virtual meeting, we will extend the submission deadline for regular and Young Investigator Award abstracts, late-breaking abstract applications and presentation applications for the Immunotherapy Resistances and Failure program until Aug. 25, 2020, at 5 p.m. PDT. This extension provides nearly a month of additional time for colleagues to prepare their work for viewing in the virtual poster hall and potentially as a recorded presentation. Click here to view the updated abstract timeline and related important dates for SITC 2020.

As this is SITC’s 35th Anniversary Annual Meeting, one of the many highlights will be three keynote opening addresses from highly accomplished scientists in our field. I have the privilege to introduce several of the SITC 2020 faculty, including the following keynote presenters:

Richard V. Smalley, MD Memorial Award and Lectureship:
  • Gordon Freeman, PhD (Dana-Farber Cancer Institute) – “The PD-L1/PD-1 Pathway: Discovery and New Insights”
  • Lieping Chen, MD, PhD (Yale School of Medicine) – “Why Were We Interested in Immunity Within the Tumor Microenvironment in the 1990s?”
  • Arlene Sharpe, MD, PhD (Harvard Medical School) – “Discovery of New IO Targets and Mechanisms Leveraging CRISPR”
 Keynote Address:
  • Elizabeth M. Jaffee, MD (Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center, Johns Hopkins University) – “Turning Immunologically Quiescent Tumors into Immune Responsive Cancers”
35th Anniversary Keynote Address:
  • Helen E. Heslop, MD (Baylor College of Medicine) – “T cell Therapy of Cancer”

These presentations and many more, including late-breaking research, reflect the very high scientific quality of the SITC 2020 meeting. You can access the meeting without cost if you are an SITC member,  so if you have not yet done so, join the SITC family or renew your membership for 2020 and beyond by  completing the SITC 2020 online registration.

Planning for SITC 2020 consumed much of our leadership’s recent discussions, but we continue to focus on the long-term future of the society. In mid-July, I was honored to welcome a collection of respected SITC member leaders, representing a variety of professional backgrounds and interests, to the annual SITC strategic planning retreat. The meeting was hosted on the Zoom platform to ensure the safety of all participants. This esteemed group engaged in productive discussions that outlined future society outputs for key scientific issues; considered SITC’s approach to future live and virtual educational programs in our new global environment; and addressed ways to increase our society’s commitment to racial and ethnic diversity. As always, I was impressed by the thoughtfulness of our leaders in addressing opportunities and potential problems for our Society.

An important area of SITC strategic focus is policy and advocacy, and these efforts are particularly important now to ensure continued progress of the immunotherapy community through the global pandemic. SITC-drafted text was incorporated into the Fiscal Year 2021 U.S. House of Representatives Agriculture Subcommittee Bill regarding annual financial appropriations for the U.S Food and Drug Administration. Thanks to the efforts of our SITC Policy Committees, 2020 marks the third consecutive year SITC was able to place congressional language which communicates SITC member priorities to the FDA. We invite you to learn more about SITC's policy and advocacy efforts here, and view the FY21 FDA appropriations language focused on combination immunotherapies here.

This year has been a particularly difficult year for everyone with new and unexpected challenges. I would like to thank the entire SITC family–my colleagues on the Board of Directors, Executive Committee, SITC committees and task forces, staff and many others–for your continued dedication and unflinching support of our society. It is this collective effort that will ensure our Society and our field of a bright future.


Mario Sznol, MD
SITC President