UCSF Cancer Specialists to Present Clinical Findings at Major Conference

2022 ASCO Annual Meeting Focuses on New Treatment Options

By Elizabeth Fernandez

researcher's hands
Prostate cancer research in the lab of Felix Feng, MD. Image by Noah Berger

The latest advances in cancer care and research will be showcased at the annual American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting, the world’s largest clinical cancer meeting.

More than 30,000 oncology professionals from around the world are expected to attend in person in Chicago or virtually June 3-7. The theme this year is Advancing Equitable Cancer Care Through Innovation.

ASCO is one of the most important medical meetings in the world, and it is critical for oncology specialists to share information with each other on research and innovation.

Alan Ashworth, PhD

The annual gathering will feature new treatment options for patients with breast, pancreatic, head and neck, gynecologic, colorectal or other forms of cancer. More than 5,000 abstracts were selected for this year’s meeting – about 2,800 to be presented at the conference, and some 2,220 accepted for online application.

At last year’s session, about a dozen countries were represented, including clinical oncologists, researchers, radiation oncologists, medical residents, pharmacists and patient advocates.

“ASCO is one of the most important medical meetings in the world, and it is critical for oncology specialists to share information with each other on research and innovation,” said Alan Ashworth, PhD, FRS, president of the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center (HDFCCC) and senior vice president for cancer services with UCSF Health. “We look forward to sharing insights and perspectives from UCSF, home to some of oncology’s finest clinicians and scientists.”

Here are some of the featured presentations by UCSF:

Equity in the Workplace

Ana Velazquez Manana, MD, will take part in a panel session entitled “Microaggression, Bias and Equity in the Workplace” on Friday, June 3. The discussion will include a review of evidence “on why promoting equity in our workplace is imperative for us as members of the healthcare community,” said Velazquez Manana. Panelists will also describe strategies to promote equity within oncology practices.

“This topic is important for oncology and medicine in general as we have more and more data showing persistent inequities in salary, promotion, and workplace experiences of women, racial/ethnic minorities, and gender minorities in medicine,” she said.

Velazquez Manana is a clinical instructor in medical oncology with the UCSF Division of Hematology and Oncology, and a postdoctoral fellow with the National Clinician Scholars Program at UCSF.

Breast Cancer

Hope S. Rugo, MD, will present primary results from a major clinical trial, TROPiCS-02, a randomized phase 3 study of the medication sacituzumab govitecan (SG) compared to treatment of a physician’s choice in patients with hormone receptor-positive/HER2-negative advanced breast cancer. This form of cancer occurs in approximately 70 percent of all breast cancer cases.

The session, part of ASCO’s “news of the day” featuring especially important findings, will be held on Saturday, June 4.

Rugo is a UCSF Professor of Medicine and director of Breast Oncology and Clinical Trials Education at the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Molecular Imaging

Thomas A. Hope, MD, is first author of a poster presentation on Sunday, June 5 that describes a promising imaging agent called 68Ga-FAP-2286. The study was a first-in-humans Phase 1/11 study involving 27 patients with solid tumors including bladder cancer, head and neck squamous cell cancer, breast cancer and castration-resistant prostate cancer. The researchers found uptake on some lesions, but the benefit was not equal: breast cancer had the highest uptake while prostate cancer had the lowest. The researchers said further inquiry may aid clinical decision-making and help determine which patients might benefit the most.

Hope is an associate professor at UCSF and director of molecular therapy in the Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging. He also serves as chief of nuclear medicine at the San Francisco VA Medical Center.

Gastrointestinal Cancer

Andrea Grace Bocobo will present poster findings June 4 from a Phase II study of some 44 patients that evaluated the safety, tolerability and preliminary efficacy of pembrolizumab in combination with capecitabine and bevacizumab in MSS mCRC.

Bocobo is a fourth-year medical student at Touro University California. The senior author is Chloe Evelyn Atreya, MD, PhD, an associate clinical professor with the HDFCCC who specializes in gastrointestinal cancer.

Artificial Intelligence

Mack Roach, III, MD, will be part of ASCO’s Clinical Science Symposium on June 6 entitled “Is There a Ghost in the Machine? Putting Artificial Intelligence to Work.” Roach and his team of researchers explain in their abstract that artificial intelligence (AI) tools can display racial bias “as a result of existing systemic health inequities and biased datasets.”

Roach will focus on prostate cancer risk in African American men who were evaluated via digital histopathology multi-modal deep learning models developed on NRG Oncology Phase III clinical trials. The study is believed to be the first comparative analyses of a digital pathology AI prognostic model in African Americans vs. non-African American prostate cancer patients. The researchers found that the prognostic performance of the AI models was comparable between subgroups.

Roach is a professor in the UCSF Departments of Radiation Oncology and Urology, and a member of the HDFCCC. The senior author is Felix Y. Feng, MD, Associate Director for Translational Clinical Research at the HDFCCC and co-leader of the prostate cancer program at UCSF.

Role of DNA in Cancer

Alan Ashworth, PhD, FRS, is a primary speaker in a joint session of ASCO and the American Association for Cancer Research on the DNA damage response and the BRCA genes, which produce proteins that help repair damaged DNA. Ashworth’s session is entitled “The Promise of DNA Damage Response and Repair in Cancer.” The education program will take place Monday, June 6.

“Through a better understanding of DNA repair, we will be able to gain insight into cancer’s complexities, and be able to develop more effective treatments for the disease,” Ashworth said.

President of UCSF’s HDFCCC, Ashworth is a translational biologist and laboratory researcher whose research centers on understanding breast cancer genetics to improve the treatment and care of patients.

Equitable Care in Prostate Cancer

Hala Borno, MD, will take part in an educational session, “Patient-Centered Approaches: Advancing Equitable Prostate Cancer Care Through Innovation.”

The presentation, part of the genitourinary cancer tract, will take place on Monday, June 6.

Borno will discuss the role of navigation in delivering patient centered care.

Borno is an assistant clinical professor in the UCSF Division of Hematology/Oncology.

Breast Cancer

Laura Ann Huppert, MD, is conducting an oral abstract presentation on Tuesday, June 7 about hormone receptor positive breast cancer. The study is based on results from the I-SPY 2 national trial, a phase II randomized, adaptive study evaluating multiple investigational agents as neoadjuvant breast cancer therapy. The findings showed pathologic complete response rates for HR+/HER2- breast cancer stratified by Response Predictive Subtypes, suggesting that some signatures are more likely to respond to neoadjuvant therapy, and that an immune signature can identify patients more likely to respond to pembrolizumab.

Huppert is a medical oncology fellow at UCSF. The senior author of the abstract is Laura Esserman, MD, director of the UCSF Breast Care Center, and founder and co-principal investigator of the I-SPY trials.

Developmental Therapeutics

Rahul Raj Aggarwal, MD, is giving an oral abstract presentation on June 7 about a Phase 1a/1b study of FOR46, an antibody drug conjugate targeting CD46 in metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer.

Aggarwal is Associate Director for Clinical Sciences at the HDFCCC and an associate professor of Hematology/Oncology at UCSF. He is the first author of the abstract. The senior author is Eric Jay Small, MD, a professor in residence of medicine and urology at UCSF, and co-leader of the Prostate Cancer Program.