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Leading Cancer Organizations Team Up on Tumor-Promoting Protein

AACR and ASCO begin joint symposia at annual meetings with focus on COX-2

M. D. Anderson News Release 04/17/09

An inflammatory protein implicated in a variety of cancers is the target of the first joint symposium between the nation's two premier cancer research organizations.

The presidents of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) and the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) organized the session focused on the COX-2 enzyme and cancer treatment Monday afternoon at the AACR's 100th Annual Meeting 2009 in Denver. A similar symposium on new molecular targets will be conducted at ASCO's annual meeting in May 29- June 2 in Orlando.

COX-2 is best known as a target for preventing dangerous polyps that lead to colorectal cancer, but it is also advancing as a target for treatment of many solid tumors.

"Our symposium is timely because we are starting to see data from Phase II and Phase III clinical trials about COX-2 inhibition following post-surgical chemotherapy in colon cancer patients," said Raymond DuBois, M.D., Ph.D., president of AACR and provost and executive vice president at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center.

"There's been a great deal of preclinical and translational research addressing COX-2 overexpression in tumors and its role in cancer growth and survival. In prevention, inhibiting this enzyme reduces the number of high-risk precancerous polyps by 66 percent," DuBois said. "The time is ripe to combine basic science and clinical expertise to advance the therapeutic potential of this approach."

Joint efforts are critical to the development of new approaches against cancer, said ASCO President Richard L. Schilsky, M.D., professor of medicine at the University of Chicago Medical Center.

"The development of targeted therapies for cancer prevention and treatment requires the close collaboration and combined resources of basic scientists and clinical investigators," Schilsky said. "The success of targeted therapy for cancer depends first and foremost on a comprehensive understanding of the biology of the drug target coupled with a robust assay to assess target inhibition and a drug that hits the target. With these ingredients in place, clinical trials can be designed to assess the impact of treatment in the population most likely to benefit.

"The AACR/ASCO Symposium illustrates these core principles and demonstrates that continued progress against cancer requires the partnership of all investigators and practitioners represented by these two great organizations," Schilsky said.

The idea for joint symposia at each organization's annual meeting has been discussed for years and was advanced by immediate past presidents William Hait, M.D., Ph.D., of AACR and Nancy Davidson, M.D., of ASCO.

DuBois and Schilsky co-chair the symposium. Scheduled presentations are:

* COX-2 and Cancer Biology by DuBois, who discovered the enzyme's overexpression in tumors.

* Overview of COX-2 as a Target for Cancer Treatment, by Schilsky.

* COX-2 in Lung Cancer: Rebirth as a Target, by Martin Edelman, M.D., of the University of Maryland.

* COX-2 as a Target for Prevention and Treatment of Colorectal Cancer by Andrew Chan, M.D., of Massachusetts General Hospital.

* Early Epigenetic and Genetic Events in Carcinogenesis by Thea D. Tlsty, Ph.D., of the University of California School of Medicine, San Francisco.

* A Mouse Model for COX-2 Driven Pancreatitis and Pancreatic Ductal Carcinoma by Susan Fischer, Ph.D. of M. D. Anderson Cancer Center Science Park - Research Division, Smithville, Texas.

AACR is the world's oldest and largest professional organization dedicated to advancing cancer research. ASCO is the world's leading professional organization representing physicians who care for people with cancer. Many scientists and physicians are members of both organizations.

04/17/09


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