The Fourth CRI-CIMT-EATI-AACR International Cancer Immunotherapy Conference: Translating Science into Survival, to be held in New York, Sept. 30-Oct. 3, will feature cutting-edge research studies from around the world that endeavor to answer urgent questions in the field of cancer immunotherapy to advance progress more rapidly for patients.

Cancer immunotherapeutics work by unleashing the power of a patient's immune system to fight cancer the way it fights pathogens like viruses and bacteria.

Immune checkpoint inhibitors such as pembrolizumab and nivolumab, as well as CAR T-cell therapy, have revolutionized cancer care in recent years by yielding dramatic, durable responses in patients who previously had few treatment options.

However, such responses are seen in only a fraction of patients, and many patients develop resistance to these treatments. There is a need for continued research and innovation so that more patients may benefit from the promise of cancer immunotherapy.

"We have made extraordinary progress in cancer immunotherapy in the past decade the number of immunotherapeutics increased almost five-fold and the number of cancer types that can be treated by at least one immunotherapeutic more than tripled," said AACR President Elizabeth M. Jaffee, MD, Johns Hopkins University. 

Improving response rates and overcoming resistance to immune checkpoint inhibitors

Immune checkpoint inhibitors improve outcomes for only a subset of cancer patients, and many see their cancers stop responding to treatment. The following abstracts are examples of work that is being done to address these issues:

Roberta Zappasodi, Ph.D., Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, will present Abstract A225/PR1, "Mechanistic rationale to combine GITR agonism with the PD-1 blockade in cancer patients," during Poster Session A.

Also in Session 1: Regulating T Cells and Their Response to Cancer on Sunday, Sept. 30 this study investigates a new combination treatment that may help counteract resistance.

-Elizabeth Evans, Ph.D., Vaccinex, Inc., will present Abstract A068/PR10, "Reprogramming myeloid cells in TME with pepinemab, first-in-class semaphorin 4D MAb, enhances combination immunotherapy," during Poster Session A on Sunday, Sept. 30.

Also in Session 5: Novel Vaccine Platforms and Combinations on Tuesday, Oct. 2 this pre-clinical research evaluates the mechanisms behind a new therapeutic's ability to bolster the activity of immune checkpoint inhibitors as these combinations are being investigated in several clinical trials.

Stephen Schoenberger, Ph.D., La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology, will present Abstract B090/PR12, "Functional identification and therapeutic targeting of tumor neoantigens," during Poster Session B.

Session 6: Mutational Analysis and Predicting Response to Immunotherapy on Tuesday, Oct. 2. The technology described in this study may eventually help identify a broader array of tumor-specific neoantigens, which is important for the development of personalized cancer vaccines and cellular immunotherapies.

In addition, this year's recipient of the William B. Coley Award for Distinguished Research in Tumor Immunology, Padmanee Sharma, MD, PhD, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, will deliver a lecture titled "From the clinic to the lab: Investigating response and resistance mechanisms to immune checkpoint therapy," Sunday, Sept. 30, at 2:15 p.m. ET.