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ESMO20 Preview: Immunotherapy Updates at the ESMO Virtual Congress 2020

September 15, 2020

The European Society of Medical Oncology (ESMO) Virtual Congress 2020 will soon begin on September 19 and run through September 21. During that time, some of the world’s top scientists and doctors will come together to discuss the latest advances in cancer treatment, with immunotherapy at the fore, as well as give us insight into how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the state of cancer care over the past nine months and how the field will move forward.

During Saturday morning’s opening session, Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, will examine the public health and scientific challenges surrounding COVID-19, followed by Antoni Ribas, M.D., Ph.D., a member of the Cancer Research Institute (CRI) Anna-Maria Kellen Clinical Accelerator leadership, who will discuss immunotherapy strategies using T cells to cure cancer.

Following the opening ceremony, sessions will focus on early and late-stage immunotherapy clinical trials in specific cancers, including some that have the potential to transform the standard of care for patients.

In stomach and esophageal cancers, talks on three late phase trials—CheckMate-649 and ATTRACTION-4 with nivolumab (Opdivo®) as well as the Keynote-590 study with pembrolizumab (Keytruda®)—may teach us whether combining PD-1 checkpoint immunotherapy with chemotherapy is a better option than chemotherapy alone in patients with advanced, previously untreated tumors. Also, a presentation on the Phase 3 CheckMate-577 study will look at patients whose gastric or gastroesophageal tumors were treated with nivolumab after previous treatment with chemotherapy and radiation therapy and then surgical resection.

Pembrolizumab plus chemotherapy in patients with advanced bladder cancer in the Phase 3 Keynote-361 trial will also be discussed, as will nivolumab plus cabozantinib as a first-line combination for patients with advanced kidney cancer in the Phase 3 CheckMate 9ER trial. Other talks will focus on Phase 3 trials involving atezolizumab (Tecentriq®), a checkpoint immunotherapy that targets PD-L1, in breast cancer and ovarian cancer. In the IMpassion031 trial, atezolizumab was combined with chemotherapy prior to surgery in early-stage triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), and combined with bevacizumab, a targeted antibody that can disrupt blood vessel growth, in IMagyn050, a trial for patients with advanced, newly diagnosed ovarian cancer.

Immunotherapy’s ability to provide long-term benefit to patients will also be discussed by Jeffrey S. Weber, M.D., of NYU Langone Health, and Johns Hopkins’ Julie R. Brahmer, M.D., another member of the CRI Clinical Accelerator leadership. Brahmer will provide a five-year update on patients with metastatic, PD-L1-positive lung cancer who were treated with either pembrolizumab or platinum-based chemotherapy in the Keynote-024 trial, and Weber will discuss four-year follow-up data from the CheckMate 238 trial, in which patients with advanced melanoma were treated with either nivolumab or ipilimumab (Yervoy®), an anti-CTLA-4 checkpoint immunotherapy, prior to surgery.

For more on these and other potential breakthroughs that will be unveiled during the conference, be sure to check back to hear from our CEO and director of scientific affairs, Jill O’Donnell-Tormey, Ph.D., who will be recapping ESMO 2020’s immunotherapy highlights in an upcoming webinar with FiercePharma.

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*Immunotherapy results may vary from patient to patient.

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