The 2016 ICTR-PHE conference kicked off today at the Geneva International Conference Centre. In their opening addresses, Eckhard Elsen, CERN’s Director for Research and Computing, and the conference chairs, CERN’s Manjit Dosanjh and Jacques Bernier from Clinique de Genolier, welcomed the participants and discussed the aims of this edition.
The sentence that seems to best summarize what we should expect from this edition was Bernier’s: “The primary mission of the ICTR-PHE conference is to bridge gaps between all disciplines involved in translational research in order to boost advances in biophysics and enhance the quality of their transfer into clinical practice.” Indeed, already in this first day, we have seen experts in detector technologies, particle accelerators and nuclear medicine, as well as radiochemists, biologists and IT professionals exchanging ideas and sharing their knowledge.
The conference got into full swing immediately, with its first session on radiobiology chaired by Marco Durante and Kevin Prise. Among the various topics discussed, we were intrigued by the presentation by Michael Story, from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. He discussed novel potential biomarkers and in particular miR 551a and 551b-3p, two micro RNA (small non-coding RNA molecules) that were found statistically associated with disease phenotype.
David Brenner, from the Columbia University Medical Center, presented a study on high Stereotactic Radiation Therapy (SRT) doses. In SRT, the total dose of radiation is divided into several smaller doses given over several days. The goal of Brenner’s study is to investigate whether the excellent SRT tumor control data imply that there are new tumoricidal mechanisms determining tumor control at high SRT doses – new mechanisms, which are not present or have little effect at conventional radiotherapeutic doses.
The talk by Ahmed Mansoor from the US National Cancer Institute confirmed how important it is for radiation biology to partner with immunology. New clinical trials have recently proven that when radiation therapy is combined with immune modulating agents it is possible to obtain a higher progression survival with respect to just immunotherapy.
Later in the afternoon the nuclear medicine session began, chaired by Thomas Beyer. The first speaker, Wim Oyen, from the Institute of Cancer Research & The Royal Marsden Hospital of London, presented the importance of using molecular imaging for theranostics. Theranostics assesses the patient’s individual profile to develop preventive or therapeutic care specific to that patient’s characteristics in relationship to a given drug. Molecular imaging helps localizing the target, evaluating its heterogeneity and its accessibility; it also helps to determine how much drug is needed as well as the impact of a combined drug therapy.
The first day ended with a couple of talks on nuclear medicine, which will be followed by more talks tomorrow during the dedicated parallel session. Charlotte Duchemin, from the Laboratoire SUBATECH de l'Écoles des Mines de Nantes, presented three isotopes of scandium with physical characteristics compatible with nuclear medicine purposes: 47Sc, for targeted radiotherapy, and 43Sc and 44Sc for diagnosis.
With numerous participants already familiar with the multidisciplinary of the ICTR-PHE conference, the discussions didn’t take long to start. Both during the Q&A sessions and the coffee break, people from different backgrounds took the opportunity to learn from one another. And it’s just the beginning!