Cancer's Multiple Faces

Home page Description: 
Learning about the complexities of cancer and its treatments.
Image Caption: 
Conference attendee and graduate student, Ali Hussain (pictured) works in the laboratory of Dr. Laurie Ailles, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, part of the University Health Network.

Conference: American Association for Cancer Research, April 14-18, Chicago, Illinois, USA.

Conference Highlight: Cancer is not a single disease but a set of diseases with a wide range of heterogeneity at the genomic, transcriptomic and proteomic levels.

Conference Summary: The AACR conference provides broad coverage of recent discoveries in cancer. Research done on the cancer microenvironment was of most relevance at AACR’s most recent meeting. One of the major talks discussed the interaction of the immune system with cancer, showing that patients with high levels of T cell infiltration in the tumour cells had a higher chance of survival. Mechanistically, the study showed that elevation of CXCL10 and CCL5 secretions resulted in recruitment of T cells to the tumour site. The blocking of such signals, on the other hand, permitted the tumour to grow more aggressively in mice.

Another interesting body of work presented at the conference showed that breast cancer response to treatment is linked to hormonal alterations during pregnancy. The study was primarily conducted in mice that were injected with tumour cells at different stages of pregnancy and post-pregnancy. Tumour metastasis was time-sensitive to these stages. Although clinical correlation was shown, the finding’s translation in humans is uncertain.