ASCO Annual Meeting ended last week! Back in France, our CEO, Alban Bessede shares with us his observations and thoughts on this year’s edition 💡


Alban Bessede: It’s always a joy for me to attend the ASCO annual meeting, and especially this year’s edition where innovative approaches were highlighted and are shaping the cancer care future. Above all, it was, once again, a great opportunity to brainstorm and meet thrilling colleagues, friends and new inspiring ideas.

What research results did you present?

: We identified overexpression of the TROP2 gene as a strong predictor of resistance to immunotherapy, but not to chemotherapy, in patients with advanced lung cancer. As the data were confirmed at the protein level, they seem to call for a biomarker-driven strategy to combine anti-TROP2 antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) with immunotherapy.

In addition, we were glad that different partners such as Bergonié Institute and Brenus Pharma presented some of our collaborative research efforts.

Which breakthroughs have particularly impressed you?

AB: Two clinical studies impressed me at this year’s ASCO Meeting. The first one investigated the benefit of a novel antibody drug conjugate (ADC), Trastuzumab deruxtecan, in patients with different types of cancers expressing HER2 protein. The study highlighted a significant benefit of this treatment modality in patients with advanced disease across a broad range of tumors, especially those with equivocal HER2 expression (IHC3+ or 2+).

The second one evaluated vorasidenib in patients diagnosed with a grade 2 glioma with mutation in the IDH gene. A significant improvement in progression free survival with this new drug was observed when compared to placebo. The results of this phase III study could offer the first new targeted therapy for grade 2 glioma and the possibility of changing the current therapeutic landscape for this disease, which mostly affects young patients.

This month is Immunotherapy Awareness Month. Any results that caught your attention?

AB: I would mention a clinical trial highlighting the ability of a French (cocorico!) vaccine candidate, in combination with an immune checkpoint inhibitor (avelumab), to initiate an immune response against HPV antigens in patients with HPV16 positive anogenital cancer. In most cases, the engagement of a specific immune response was associated with a clinical response. I’m eager to see the final results of this phase II study!

What are the major challenges facing clinical oncology today?

AB: Precision medicine will be the medicine of tomorrow as cancers are not equal, even within the same indication. It will therefore be important to elucidate, from patient samples, the mechanisms involved in cancer progression or resistance to current therapies, in order to be able to develop appropriate drugs and set up biomarker-driven clinical trials.

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