Scott Kopetz, MD, PhD, FACP, professor in the department of gastrointestinal medical oncology at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, spoke about the joint effort within the gastrointestinal (GI) oncology community to explore a number of concepts that facilitate improved treatments for gastrointestinal cancers at the 2020 Gastrointestinal Cancer Symposium, held January 23-25, in San Francisco, California.
So, I think within GI oncology there’s a lot of interest in really trying to understand the fundamental questions of: What are the barriers to effective immunotherapy? And some very compelling preclinical data that’s been developed with a number of hypotheses. And I think we’re seeing an exploration of a number of different concepts, whether it’s combination checkpoint inhibition, looking at vaccine or T-cell therapeutics in this population, intertumoral agents are also ones that are relevant and possible in many GI cancers.
So, this smattering of efforts to try to address the big barriers of immunotherapy I think is one of the key opportunities. We also know that colorectal cancer is one that can adapt to treatments, and the cancer finds ways to rewire a signaling after single pathway inhibition, and fascinating area of work to really understand when you inhibit one area of the cancer signaling. How does the tumor cell adapt, and can you target that adaptive mechanism? Clearly this is the approach that has worked in BRAF mutated colorectal cancers, and we’re learning and applying that to other inhibitors, pathway inhibitors, as well.