Issue 9

APRIL 2024









After a recent talk I gave on comprehensive molecular testing at a medical conference I was approached by a woman who explained that her husband died from lung cancer about a year ago.
He was a young man around the age of 45 at his diagnosis and she told me that none of the medical professionals they met with during his staging and workup discussed comprehensive molecular testing. While she explained that the most common mutations and alterations, EGFR, ALK, and ROS1, were tested he did not have complete testing to look for other actionable mutations which numbered more than 9 at his diagnosis.
She wondered if he might have had one of those targeted alterations and how life may have been different if he had completed full testing for his cancer. Unfortunately, his cancer was unusually aggressive and he died within a year of his diagnosis.
The complexity of comprehensive molecular testing is not to be underestimated. First, the oncologist must decide where to send for testing (in-house pathology, out-of-house pathology, commercial company, etc) then they must understand the extent of testing (DNA, RNA, IHC, etc) that is performed, they next worry about whether this test will be covered by insurance and will the patient receive a bill (note: most commercial testing companies have financial assistance programs), next the issue of results and how they are delivered (how fast, to whom and to where), then interpretation: what does the test mean and what to do if the results are hard to interpret. As I reflected on her story, I was struck at the fact that many of us oncologists talk openly about molecular testing in this day and age and how it should be a fundamental tool in the workup and diagnosis of the majority of cancer cases. As an academic oncologist, I rarely see the sort of story I relayed above play out as the vast majority of the patients I see receive comprehensive molecular testing.
I talk frequently about the statistics of testing and that even as molecular testing is recommended and reflected in many national guidelines, only 40-60% of patients receive molecular testing and a significant number of those individuals do not receive full testing of ALL actionable alterations recommended.
The encounter I had was a reality check, a burst into my proverbial “academic bubble”- many patients are not receiving what I forsake as standard-of-care testing and it has real-life implications. We have data that clearly demonstrates a survival benefit in patients with targeted molecular alterations who receive anti-cancer medications specific to their cancer. However, the adage “we don’t know what we don’t know” comes to mind in this sense and I have adapted this to “we can’t treat if we don’t test”.
I can only imagine those community oncologists who see 20 patients of all different tumor types a day trying to meticulously comb through these results...there isn’t enough time. And yet these testing results are potentially the patients’ time; time with friends, time with family, time to do those things on the “bucket list”.
We in the medical community are obligated to improve how comprehensive molecular testing is employed in oncology. We must come up with innovative and efficient ways to improve the accessibility, education, and logistics of comprehensive molecular testing. We owe it to the patients.
Dr. Frank Weinberg, assistant Professor at University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System
Dr. Frank Weinberg, assistant Professor at University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System




The “Say No to Breast Cancer, Say Yes to Early Detection” campaign, known as the Pink Cube campaign, is an initiative designed to promote breast cancer awareness and the importance of early detection. It takes place throughout October each year, featuring Pink Cube containers in Liestal, Chur, Baden, and Zurich, Switzerland, where visitors can receive free consultations and breast examinations from gynecologists. The campaign, which is aimed at both women and men of all ages, encourages personal responsibility in breast cancer prevention and demonstrates self-examination techniques. This initiative, organized by MSD with the support of EUROPA DONNA Switzerland, GILEAD, and AstraZeneca, marks its second occurrence, emphasizing its reach and educational efforts in German-speaking Switzerland.
PD.Dr.Nik Hauser, photo credit: Capptoo
PD.Dr.Nik Hauser, photo credit: Capptoo
PD Dr. Nik Hauser, Clinical Director of the Breast Center Hirslanden Clinics Aarau, who supported the Pink Cube awareness campaign in Baden together with his team of the Frauenarztzentrum Aargau AG and members of the breast cancer patient organization EUROPA DONNA Schweiz, talks to OC Digest about the campaign’s objectives, outcomes, and collaborations, emphasizing the importance of breast cancer awareness, the role of pharmaceutical companies and healthcare organizations in such initiatives, and offering insights on future projects and the impact on prevention and treatment practices.
OC Digest:
Can you give us an overview of the Pink Cube campaign and describe your role in it?
PD Dr. Nik Hauser:
MSD initiated Pink Cube as an awareness campaign and I was asked to help shape the project and hold the first two-day event in Baden with my team in autumn 2022. The aim of the campaign is to make the public aware of the importance of breast cancer, especially prevention, as well as the importance of the contribution that every woman can make herself. This includes the personal observation of changes in the breast and the explanation of the correct palpation of the breast so that changes can be detected as early as possible.
OC Digest:
How did MSD, AstraZeneca, Gilead, and Europa Donna come together to launch this initiative, and what challenges had to be overcome to carry out the campaign in different cantons of Switzerland?
PD Dr. NIK Hauser:
The Pink Cube project was initiated by MSD in 2022 and involved the patient organization Europa Donna from the beginning, which, after the success in the first year, led to an expansion of the collaboration in 2023, with the involvement of other supporting organizations such as AstraZeneca and Gilead. This expansion was made possible by the cooperation of the pharmaceutical companies mentioned above, the commitment of affected women from the patient organization as well as doctors who were committed to education, advice, and instruction in the participating cities. Effective coordination and teamwork were essential for the preparation and implementation, with Capptoo making an important contribution to its success as an organizational partner. Additional support from city administrations and local businesses promoting the project played a crucial role in overcoming challenges in implementing the campaign in various Swiss cantons.
Photo credit: MSD, Merck Sharp & Dohme, Switzerland
Photo credit: MSD, Merck Sharp & Dohme, Switzerland
OC Digest:
What were the specific goals of the campaign in terms of breast cancer awareness and early detection?
PD Dr. Nik Hauser:
The “Say No to Breast Cancer, Say Yes to Early Detection” campaign aimed to raise awareness of breast cancer and the importance of early detection, specifically by defining how to learn breast self-examination as the main goal. Women should be informed about the possibilities of breast changes and empowered to identify possible changes themselves at an early stage, stressing that this is not a substitute for regular medical check-ups and imaging procedures.
In the extension of this initiative, a special focus was placed on the practical guidance of self-examination by showing the participants directly on their bodies how and when they should carry out the examination and which changes to pay particular attention to. In addition, access to expertise and innovative techniques was highlighted in the event that changes are detected and further clarification is required, in order to provide women with easy access to information and the opportunity to clarify questions, thus raising awareness of the importance of early detection of breast cancer.
OC Digest:
How has the use of the “Pink Cube” affected the accessibility and visibility of breast cancer screening?
PD Dr. Nik Hauser:
As part of the Pink Cube, we learned that women of all ages have many questions about breast cancer and that there is a lot of uncertainty and a lack of knowledge. It was encouraging to see that many women spontaneously took advantage of the offer of the Pink Cube – but many women also came to the Pink Cube especially because they heard about it in the media, while shopping, or on the radio. By offering easy access to affected women and professionals, we have been able to reach many women. This enabled us to achieve the main goal of the project.
OC Digest:
Can you share the preliminary results or success stories of the campaign and assess its impact on breast cancer awareness and behaviour in Switzerland?
PD Dr. Nik Hauser:
The most important thing is that we were able to answer a lot of questions, many women were grateful that they received specific instructions on how to examine their breasts and a lot of passersby – women and men – made a short visit to the Pink Cube for a short conversation or clarification of a question. We have discovered a finding in a few women and were able to advise these affected persons to further professional clarification. Although it is not possible to assess the impact of the campaign on breast cancer awareness and behaviour in Switzerland, we are convinced that such and similar campaigns are useful, as they can raise awareness, reduce inhibitions, and thus make a positive contribution to prevention and early detection.
OC Digest:
How do you judge the importance of collaboration between different pharmaceutical companies and healthcare organizations for such initiatives, and are there any future projects planned?
PD Dr. Nik Hauser:
It is very gratifying that many pharmaceutical companies today support patient-oriented services and projects and initiate them themselves. These are primarily developed as non-profit offers and enable cooperation with experts and the public. This should be used and actively supported. With the Pink Cube, we have created a new way to reach out to the population together and make a contribution to prevention. Future projects, including the Pink Cube, are also planned for 2024 in Switzerland, possibly in a slightly modified form and with new goals, with the aim of continuing and developing such awareness contributions. I am pleased to be able to further develop the project and to be able to make an awareness contribution with my team.
Photo credit: MSD, Merck Sharp & Dohme, Switzerland
Photo credit: MSD, Merck Sharp & Dohme, Switzerland
OC Digest:
How do you see the future of cancer prevention and treatment in Switzerland and worldwide?
PD Dr. Nik Hauser:
The issue of prevention is very important. Unfortunately, the number of cancers is increasing worldwide and in Switzerland. But, we always have new and innovative treatment options available and can treat cancer better and over a longer timeframe. However, an important goal must be to achieve improvements in prevention and early detection. Cancer that doesn’t develop saves lives. Cancer that is detected early can very often be treated better and less aggressively, and the chances of recovery are greater. By improving awareness of possible signs of cancer and detecting changes early, the incidence of advanced cancers can be reduced. Every investment in the prevention and early detection of cancer is a win.
OC Digest:
How can oncologists and healthcare stakeholders implement the findings and strategies of the Pink Cube campaign in their work, and what messages or recommendations do you have for our readers in the field of oncology?
PD Dr. Nik Hauser:
The importance of prevention, precaution, and the development of optimized treatment options, as well as informing and involving patients in the management of their own health, are essential for effective health care. However, in the hectic everyday life of practices and hospitals, this is often a challenge due to time constraints. Initiatives such as the Pink Cube offer a valuable complement by making information, knowledge, and support easily accessible and help to overcome barriers. The focus of the consultation should cover the entire spectrum from prevention and diagnostics to therapy. It is important to provide reputable information and advice services and to promote projects such as the Pink Cube in order to ensure comprehensive and accessible care. These approaches help to increase patients’ awareness and understanding of their health and enable them to play a more active role in their health management.
Photo credit: MSD, Merck Sharp & Dohme, Switzerland; collage photomontage by Capptoo
Photo credit: MSD, Merck Sharp & Dohme, Switzerland; collage photomontage by Capptoo




I met Mrs. Tanja Kocković Zaborski at her workplace at the Ethnographic Museum in Zagreb, where she serves as a senior curator and holds a Ph.D. in ethnology and cultural anthropology. During her break, amidst the cold weather, we opted for a cup of hot black coffee at the museum to discuss her experience with breast cancer.
Tanja Kocković Zaborski always wears her pink bracelets to show support for breast cancer research. Photo courtesy of Tanja Kocković Zaborski
Tanja Kocković Zaborski always wears her pink bracelets to show support for breast cancer research. Photo courtesy of Tanja Kocković Zaborski
“A part of my body is in the USA. I’ve never been to the USA, but a little part of me went there,” she explains how her life all of a sudden changed in a very extreme way. Fortunately, her cancer was discovered on time. She speaks openly and frankly.
“I have nothing to hide. I want to help as many cancer patients as I can. Once the cancer is diagnosed, you become an oncology patient. I have to carry my heap of papers each time I visit any medical specialist, even if it’s a podiatrist. They all have to know that I have breast cancer. It is always with you. It changes how you see the world and how others see you. This is the reason why so many women still hide the fact that they are sick. And that is why I wish to talk about it,” she explains as she waits for my reaction. She catches my eyes inadvertently, glancing at her rich, curly blond hair. “Yes, it never fell off,” she smiles. “I didn’t have to receive chemotherapy. My cancer was discovered on time.”
Her eyes light up as she tells me her story. “It happened by accident. I was sitting on my sofa at home, and I felt a sharp pain in my right breast. I inspected it, and sure enough, I found a lump. This scared me, so my husband urged me to go to the doctor. I went to the University Hospital for Tumors, Sestre Milosrdnice, in Zagreb, Croatia.
They did a mammogram. On the scan, there was nothing suspicious about my right breast. But they found something on the left, where I felt no pain. This was on May 15th, 2020. It was during the Corona pandemic. They extracted a little piece for analysis, and I received my diagnosis on July 18th. That wastwo days after my birthday. I gotgood news and bad news: You havecancer, but we caught it on time.”
Two and a half months after her mammogram, Tanja Kocković Zaborski was admitted to the hospital. “I was operated on, and the cancer was removed. They decided that it wasn’t necessary to remove the whole breast. I was operated on July 31st, 2020. The coronavirus pandemic was raging, and I wasn’t allowed any visitors. But I made a lot of new friends while I was in the hospital. We had terrific laughs. In that horrible situation, you know that you are in the hospital and for what reason, but we were laughing so much. It felt like sisterhood. Time away from the world. Just us, female patients. We are still Facebook friends.”
Tanja Kocković Zaborski is a highly educated woman who has learned to rely on her own abilities. “The hardest part for me was... I lost confidence in my own body. I felt it betrayed me somehow. In August, after the operation, I went to Pula in Istria, and that city cured me.
It is a good place. On the seaside. I went swimming a lot. I went for long walks by the shore. Little by little, my confidence in my body was restored. By the end of August, I was back at work. My colleagues urged me to stay at home and to take my time. But I wanted to feel that everything was back to normal, that everything was OK. I felt a lot of love and support from my colleagues. It means a lot to me. Fantastic people.”
“People want to help, but you don’t want to be a burden. Because, like I said before, once you are diagnosed with cancer, you are an oncology patient. You have a lot of different procedures and medical check-ups to go through. So, I decided to join two patient groups for support. And again, when we meet, we don’t talk a lot about our diagnoses. We laugh, we are sad...
When I am with the women in my cancer support group, we can be just that: happy and sad. We can be who we are that day. There is no need to explain yourself.” Tanja’s breast cancer was discovered by chance. “I am agnostic”, she explained, “but when I think about it, it was a miracle. After the operation, I was prescribed radiation therapy only. I was supposed to have four doses of chemotherapy.
However, I was advised that there is a possibility of having a test to see if chemotherapy is really necessary. It is another incredible story. I sent a part of me by post. To the USA. I have never been to the USA. But part of my body with tumor was. I call this part of me Clark Kent. I had to give it a name. I imagined that it wears a cape and has glasses.
But let’s be serious. This test is not covered by Croatian health insurance. It costs 3,000 Euros. I had the means to pay for it, but I imagine a lot of cancer patients don’t. As far as I know, in Slovenia, our neighboring country, this test is covered by health insurance.
My results came back negative; there was no need for chemotherapy, so I didn’t lose my hair.”
When Tanja received news that she had breast cancer, she prepared herself. “It can seem trivial. I wasn’t afraid of hair loss; I was prepared for it. I knew that it would grow back. But I am glad I didn’t have to go through that. There is a lot you have to deal with when you become a cancer patient. Your body, mind, and soul are in fight mode. I decided to take each day as it came. For me, each day comes more vibrant: green is much greener, and blue is much deeper. I’ve made a decision to be positive and to wake up every day with a positive outlook. I decided to make new friends and to help others. This is why I gave this interview; I wanted to tell my story so that women would take care of their bodies. We tend to neglect ourselves while we take care of others and our family.
But a little precaution goes a long way. It is like brushing your teeth, like regular Pap tests (method of screening for cervical cancer)...
Self-care is important. When my cancer was discovered, I felt like my body had betrayed me. But it can be said in reverse, let’s not betray our bodies! In every sense. Early detection can make all the difference. Part of my body went to the USA, but I am alive and well here in Croatia.”
Tanja’s message is: “Let’s not betray our bodies! Self-care is important.
Early detection can make all the difference!” Photo courtesy of Tanja Kocković Zaborski
Tanja’s message is: “Let’s not betray our bodies! Self-care is important.
Early detection can make all the difference!” Photo courtesy of Tanja Kocković Zaborski




I’m Chimmuanya Okere, a fifth-year medical student at PAMO University of Medical Sciences in Rivers State, Nigeria. The journey through these five years has been nothing short of extraordinary. Each step has been a lesson, each patient a story, and every challenge an opportunity to learn and grow.
Courtesy of Chimuanya Okere. Standing in front of her training institute: Riverstate University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH)
Courtesy of Chimuanya Okere. Standing in front of her training institute: Riverstate University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH)
In the pursuit of medical knowledge, I’ve not only gained the essential academic understanding but also experienced the heartbeat of healthcare, witnessing the connection between science and compassion. It’s a journey that has fuelled my passion for the wellness of mankind, a passion that burns brighter with each passing day. My vision is rooted in the belief that everyone, regardless of their geographical location, deserves access to quality healthcare.
Breast cancer poses a significant health threat in Nigeria, with a notable incidence rate. However, the care for individuals facing this diagnosis is hindered by various obstacles, including limited access to quality healthcare, insufficient research and development, and gaps in medical education. The statistics reveal a grim reality: in 2020, Nigeria recorded 28,380 new cases of breast cancer and 14,274 deaths, with a distressingly low three-year survival rate of 36%.
Challenges in breast cancer care
My journey in medical school has exposed me to the stark realities of breast cancer care in Nigeria, from cases delayed by ignorance and cultural barriers to the dire scarcity of oncology specialists.
The case of a woman discovering a painful breast lump, which had significantly worsened over time, underscores the critical challenge of ignorance in breast cancer care. Her delayed medical consultation, driven by the belief that the lump was harmless and could be treated with herbal remedies, highlights a common barrier to early diagnosis and treatment. This situation exemplifies the dire consequences of underestimating breast cancer symptoms, emphasizing the need for increased awareness and education to prevent similar outcomes. Another woman with advanced breast cancer underwent surgery, not for curative purposes but to align with cultural beliefs prioritizing an unmarked body for an honorable burial, illustrating the profound impact of culture on medical choices. This decision, deeply rooted in cultural norms, led to a non-curative surgical intervention as part of her treatment for breast sores. This case poignantly demonstrates the intersection between cultural value sand medical decisions in the context of late-stage breast cancer care, highlighting the need for culturally sensitive healthcare approaches.
The problem of a lack of oncologist specialists lies in major cities like Lagos, Abuja, and Rivers State, where most of them are concentrated. For those living in lower-earning states and rural areas, seeking proper treatment becomes an arduous journey. The scarcity of oncology experts in Nigeria often forces individuals to turn to non-specialists, leading to delayed diagnoses and inadequate treatments for breast cancer.
To make matters more challenging, the absence of specialized cancer care nurses leaves patients without the essential support they need during this critical time.
Financial constraints further exacerbate the situation, as the high cost of cancer care is unaffordable for many, with a negligible percentage of the population covered by health insurance. Nigeria is a developing nation where the poverty rate is about 37% of the population. Cancer care costs far too much for it to be out of pocket.
Yet, most Nigerians pay for healthcare costs out of pocket with only 3% of the population covered by health insurance. This financial burden may prevent some individuals from seeking timely and adequate care.
My vision for the future
My hope is anchored in the vision of leveraging advanced technology at every stage of the fight against breast cancer. By establishing state-of-the-art facilities across the nation in Nigeria, we not only enhance early detection and treatment but also cultivate an environment where individuals can confront breast cancer armed with resilience, hope, and cutting-edge medical support.
I envision a medical education curriculum that seamlessly integrates more practical oncology training, providing aspiring healthcare professionals with hands-on experiences. This transformation aims to bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge and real-world application, preparing medical students to navigate the complexities of breast cancer care with confidence and expertise.
The goal is to establish a healthcare system where cancer treatment is subsidized, ensuring that economic constraints do not impede access to critical interventions. In this vision, there is a shared dream of robust financial support systems, serving as pillars of strength for Nigerian patients. These systems would provide the necessary resources for individuals to undergo treatment without the heavy burden of financial concerns.
To achieve these goals, government intervention and policy changes are crucial. Allocating dedicated funds to cancer care can significantly alleviate the financial strain on patients. Additionally, community engagement and education are key to debunking myths and promoting early detection. Utilizing social media platforms can extend the reach of awareness programs, tapping into the power of technology to educate and empower.
As I reflect on the impact of these proposed changes, I am hopeful for a future where breast cancer outcomes in Nigeria are vastly improved.
This is a call to action for healthcare professionals, policymakers, and the community at large.
Together, we can forge a path toward a healthcare landscape where advanced research, accessible treatment, and comprehensive education converge to revolutionize breast cancer care in Nigeria. It’s a collaborative endeavor that promises to build a healthier, more resilient nation.
Courtesy of Chimuanya Okere. Attending a childhood cancer event at Riverstate University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH)
Courtesy of Chimuanya Okere. Attending a childhood cancer event at Riverstate University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH)




What if a new cancer drug could be recognized by telomerase and incorporated into telomeres in cancer cells? Once incorporated, it could compromise the telomere structure and function, leading to ‘uncapping’ of the chromosome ends and thus resulting in rapid tumor cell death. And what if it could yield this benefit quickly and efficiently, acting within 24-72 hours and killing 70-90% of cancer cells? This is exactly how THIO, a novel proprietary cancer drug developed by MAIA Biotechnology is said to work.
Dr. Vlad Vitoc, president and CEO of MAIA Biotechnology. Photo courtesy of Dr. Vlad Vitoc
Dr. Vlad Vitoc, president and CEO of MAIA Biotechnology. Photo courtesy of Dr. Vlad Vitoc
THIO is a new cancer telomere targeting agent designed to provide quick action and improve survival rates. Reported data from THIO-101’s ongoing phase 2 trial evaluating its effect in patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer indicated an unprecedented 100% second-line disease control and 88% in third-line among highly difficult-to-treat patients who already progressed through previous lines of treatment.1
These remarkable results surpass those of the current standard of
care disease control rate (DRC), which is only 53-64%. THIO is also said to have demonstrated progress in pediatric neuro - oncology, specifically in the treatment of diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma - a historically challenging tumor with scarce curative treatment options.1
Dr. Vlad Vitoc is the president and CEO of MAIA Biotechnology. The company’s previous work in targeted therapy spans 25+ tumor types. Dr. Vitoc currently oversees innovations at MAIA. Oncology Compass Digest interviewed him to get a deeper look at THIO and what it means for cancer therapy.
OC Digest:
How does THIO work?
Dr. Vlad Vitoc:
THIO has a novel dual mechanism of action and is designed to be used in sequential combination with an immune checkpoint inhibitor. The first mechanism is telomere targeting. THIO is the only telomere-targeting agent in clinical development that we know of.
THIO is recognized by the enzyme telomerase, which is present in 85% of cancers, and is incorporated into the structure of the telomeres, creating a faulty structure; the telomeres break apart, the cancer cell DNA unwinds, and the tumor cell dies.
Second, an immunogenic effect occurs. Of the telomeric fragments, THIO produces micronuclei that reach the immune cells, activate the cGAS and STING pathways, and induce an immune response so effective that
if you follow THIO with an immune checkpoint inhibitor (CPI), you get a complete response.
The treatment with THIO also generates anti-tumor-specific immune memory, preventing tumor recurrence.
OC Digest:
What difference can this make for people with lung cancer?
Dr. Vlad Vitoc:
The preliminary results we’ve observed in our THIO-101 Phase 2 clinical trial are nothing short of extraordinary.
In aggregate, we observed a disease control rate of 92% in patients with at least one post-baseline scan. The DCR is even more impressive when we look at patients in the early stages of treatment. In the second line, we observed an unprecedented DCR of 100%.
The first two subjects dosed on trial (both receiving a third line of treatment) reported long-term survival of 14.6 and 12.5 months, respectively, at the time of the data cut-off, with no new anti-cancer treatment initiated. In the real world, patients in similar heavily pre-treated conditions observe a survival rate of only three to four months.
OC Digest:
Does THIO have any effect on other cancers? Are there other uses?
Dr. Vlad Vitoc:
THIO has vast applicability in oncology because more than 85% of cancer cells have active telomerase.
In a preclinical setting, we’ve observed excellent results in multiple cancer indications. THIO has been awarded three Orphan Drug Designations by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, following the excellent data presented for the treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma (90% of liver cancers), small cell lung cancer (the deadliest form of lung cancer) and, more recently, glioblastoma (the most common primary brain cancer, or cancer that starts in the brain).
OC Digest:
What downsides or unwanted side effects have you noticed?
Dr. Vlad Vitoc:
The safety profile of the treatment with THIO is much better than chemotherapy, the current standard of care for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
Treatment with THIO + CPI has been well-tolerated to date in a heavily pretreated population, with the majority of events being Grade 1-2, like fatigue and nausea.
OC Digest:
How soon do you think THIO will be available on the market?
Dr. Vlad Vitoc:
We’re targeting a potential accelerated approval in the U.S. by the end of 2025 or in 2026.
OC Digest:
How is it administered?
Dr. Vlad Vitoc:
In our in dose-finding clinical trial, we use THIO at 60 mg, 180 mg, or 360 mg per cycle. Each patient receives the doses across three consecutive days: Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday; easy IV administration over 15-30 minutes. Then one day of break, for the immunogenic effect to take place.
Then, the patient receives the CPI and doses as approved. We do not change anything about how the CPI is administered; we just add THIO before it, to make a sequential combination that works much better. Therapy cycles are every 3 weeks.
OC Digest:
Anything else you would like to share with us? Final thoughts?
Dr. Vlad Vitoc:
According to a published meta-analysis of 74 clinical trials worldwide on the treatment of NSCLC (Matsumoto H et al. Transl Lung Cancer Res. 2021 May; 10(5): 2278–2289), disease control rate (DCR) is far stronger than overall response rate in predicting overall survival benefit in NSCLC.
With the unprecedented DCR we’ve observed with THIO, we’re optimistic our treatment will have a significant impact on the lives of cancer patients.
One other topic I’d like to highlight is that at MAIA we’re progressing on the second generation of telomere targeting agents derived from lipid-modified THIO molecules.
These new molecules, compared to THIO, have displayed increased specificity towards cancer cells relative to normal cells and higher anticancer activity, including adaptive antitumor immunity.
The development of proprietary new molecular entity candidates is a key component of MAIA’s strategy and greatly increases the chances of bringing a highly efficacious telomere-targeting therapy to market.




Through ongoing studies into novel drugs and combination therapy, lung cancer outcomes have improved, and therapeutic advantages have been extended to a broader patient group. Over the years, different types of cancer treatment have been developed, with the most common being systemic chemotherapy, especially platinum-based agents, in combination with radiotherapy and surgery for tumor resection. Notably, the incidence of lung cancer has decreased for the first time in the last decade. However, with an estimated 1.8 million deaths each year globally, lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer death, accounting for 18% of all cancer deaths.1
Here are some of the research advances in lung cancer that may translate into improved care:
Selpercatinib offers a chance to improve prognosis for patients with RET fusion-positive NSCLC
The combination of chemotherapy and pembrolizumab is the standard of care treatment for advanced NSCLC. However, its effectiveness in patients with RET gene translocations remains unclear. At the same time, selpercatinib, a highly selective, potent, and brain-penetrant RET inhibitor, has shown efficacy in advanced RET fusion–positive NSCLC in a nonrandomized phase I to II study. Therefore, the LIBRETTO-431 phase III trial evaluated the efficacy and safety of first-line selpercatinib to platinum-based chemotherapy with or without pembrolizumab in advanced RET fusion–positive NSCLC.2
Patients with advanced RET fusion–positive NSCLC (overall intention-to-treat [ITT] population, n=261) were randomly assigned 1:6:1 to receive 160 mg selpercatinib twice daily in continuous 21-day cycles (n = 159) or platinum- based chemotherapy (n = 102) with or without 200 mg pembrolizumab.2
Based on the efficacy findings, treatment with selpercatinib led to significantly longer progression-free survival (PFS) than platinum-based chemotherapy with or without pembrolizumab. In the overall ITT population, the median PFS was more than doubled, accounting for 24.8 months in the selpercatinib arm versus 11.2 months in the control arm (HR = 0.48). Furthermore, the data showed that selpercatinib could treat existing central nervous system (CNS) metastases and prevent the generation of new intracranial metastases.
Photo credit: Freepik.com, illustration by Capptoo
Photo credit: Freepik.com, illustration by Capptoo
These results have significant clinical value since treating brain metastases is challenging due to the presence of the blood-brain barrier, which prevents most cancer regimens from acting on brain lesions.2
Oligoprogressive NSCLC: the combination of SBRT and standard of care may be an effective therapeutic approach
Stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) is a treatment procedure that uses a specially designed coordinate-system for the exact localization of the tumor, enabling experts to safely deliver high doses of radiation to small targets. Based on data from 25 years of prospective trials, SBRT has been recognized as a safe, effective, curative, patient-friendly, and cost- effective treatment for inoperable early-stage lung cancer. Today it presents a standard for this patient population.3
The phase II trial published in the renowned journal The Lancet Oncology assessed whether the addition of SBRT to standard therapy could improve outcomes in patients with oligoprogressive NSCLC. The results showed that oligoprogression in metastatic NSCLC can be effectively treated with the combination of SBRT and standard therapy, resulting in a more than four times increase in PFS compared to standard of care alone. Among patients with oligoprogressive NSCLC, the median PFS was 10.0 months in the SBRT plus standard of care arm compared to 2.2 months in the standard of care arm alone (HR = 0.41).3




Recent studies have introduced groundbreaking approaches to tackling two formidable challenges in prostate cancer therapy: overcoming metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC) and exploring the potential of carnosine as a therapeutic agent against androgen-resistant prostate cancer cells.
Breaking through resistance: novel therapeutic strategy for metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer
Metastatic castration resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC) poses a significant challenge in prostate cancer treatment, marking a stage where the disease becomes unresponsive to conventional hormonal therapies. The development of resistance to docetaxel, a mainstay in mCRPC treatment, necessitates novel therapeutic strategies to improve patient outcomes.1-8
A collaborative study by the Badalona Applied Research Group in Oncology, the Urologic Tumors Unit of the Institut Català d’Oncologia, and the Germans Trias i Pujol Research Institute in Spain introduces a new approach targeting the PI3K/AKT and MEK/ERK pathways,8 which are often hyperactivated in mCRPC cells, contributing to the aggressive nature of the disease and its resistance to docetaxel.8-11
This innovative strategy, leveraging kinase inhibitors, aims to inhibit these hyperactivated pathways, offering a targeted therapy for mCRPC patients, especially those with a functional PTEN gene, a tumor suppressor that regulates the PI3K/AKT pathway.9,11 The research utilized docetaxel - sensitive and resistant mCRPC cell lines and a docetaxel-resistant xenograft mouse model to evaluate the efficacy of a combination of selumetinib (MEK1/2 inhibitor) and AZD8186 (PI3Kβ/δ inhibitor), showing a significant reduction in cell proliferation and increase in apoptosis 8 in treated cells.8
The findings suggest that targeting specific signaling pathways in mCRPC can offer a viable alternative to overcoming docetaxel resistance, potentially shifting the treatment paradigm towards more personalized, precision medicine. This study underscores the importance of further clinical trials to validate the safety and effectiveness of this combination therapy in the context of advanced prostate cancer, setting a promising direction for future treatments.8
Carnosine: a potential therapeutic strategy for androgen-resistant prostate cancer
In a study published in the Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, researchers from Nottingham Trent University, in collaboration with University Hospitals Leicester NHS Trust and Manchester Metropolitan University, have identified carnosine’s potential in prostate cancer treatment, offering a promising alternative to traditional therapies.12 Carnosine, a naturally occurring molecule, targets cancer cells selectively, potentially reducing the side effects - such as urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction - associated with current treatments like radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and prostatectomy.13-16
Photo credit: Freepik.com, illustration by Capptoo
Photo credit: Freepik.com, illustration by Capptoo
This research aimed to investigate carnosine’s effects on androgen- resistant prostate cancer cell lines, PC346Flu1 and TRAMP-C1, through various in vitro methods, including cell culture, MTT assays for mitochondrial function, and live-cell imaging to evaluate the compound’s impact on cell proliferation and death.12
The findings reveal that carnosine induces a dose-dependent reduction in cancer cell growth and promotes cell death, demonstrating a variance in sensitivity across different prostate cancer cell lines.12 Further analyses highlighted a significant decrease in reactive species within treated cells, an increase in SIRT3 expression - a protein associated with mitochondrial function - and an impact on ATP production, suggesting carnosine’s multifaceted mechanisms of action against cancer cells.12
Notably, the study also emphasized the importance of continuous dosing for effective treatment outcomes, marking a shift towards more patient- friendly therapeutic strategies.12
These results position carnosine as a viable candidate for safer, more targeted prostate cancer treatments, minimizing adverse effects and enhancing patients’ quality of life. The research team advocates for further in vivo studies to advance these preliminary findings toward clinical application, potentially integrating carnosine into the arsenal against prostate cancer.12




Cancer vaccines have drawn interest and gained traction over the last few years. With a unique mode of action that trains a patient’s immune system to destroy cancer cells, they represent a novel opportunity for individualized, precision treatment in a variety of cancers. Read on for a summary of the most promising cancer vaccines in 2024.
There are currently several cancer vaccines progressing through clinical trials delivering promising results. Unlike conventional vaccines that work to prevent a disease from manifesting, these therapeutic cancer vaccines aim to train the patient’s immune system to enable T cells to identify cancer cells and destroy them.1 Here, we present the five most promising cancer vaccines to keep an eye on in 2024 and beyond.
1. Moderna/Merck – mRNA-4157
The Moderna and Merck mRNA- based vaccine for the adjuvant treatment of patients with resected high-risk melanoma is one of the most speculated for this year. In the Phase 2 KEYNOTE-942 study, mRNA- 4157 was evaluated as an adjuvant to pembrolizumab (Keytruda®).2
In an 18-month follow-up study, this combination demonstrated a clinically significant improvement in recurrence-free survival (RFS) and distant metastasis-free
survival (DMFS) compared with pembrolizumab alone. In February 2023, mRNA-4157 was granted breakthrough therapy designation by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in this intention-to-treat population.3
All eyes will now be turned to the Phase 3, V940-001 study in patients with resected melanoma, which is now open for enrolment.4
2. BioNTech – autogene cevumeran
Autogene cevumeran is a vaccine encoding for up to 20 neoantigens personalized for different patients which is delivered alongside an immune checkpoint inhibitor, atezolizumab, and chemotherapy.5
Autogene cevumeran aims to stimulate immunity against neoantigens typically found in patients with this form of cancer. In a Phase 1 trial, a total of 16/19 patients received the vaccine in conjunction with atezolizumab and chemotherapy. Autogene cevumeran expanded polyclonal, IFNg-producing neoantigen-specific CD8+ T cells in half of these patients from undetectable levels to large fractions of all blood T cells. After 15 months, vaccine responders had a longer RFS vs non-responders.6
3. Transgene – TG4050
TG4050 is a vaccine based on advanced genetic engineering and artificial intelligence (AI) being developed by French biotech company Transgene. Transgene uses AI to identify around 30 neoantigens based on their ability to elicit an effective immune response, these are then encoded into the virus genome. This means that once the vaccine is injected into the patient, it elicits an effective, specific immune response, enabling individualized, targeted destruction of tumor cells.7
TG4050 is currently in Phase 1 trials evaluating its efficacy in ovarian carcinoma and head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. Initial findings point to feasibility in the viral-based personalized vaccine approach, with relevant targets identified in all patients assessed.8 The two Phase 1 trials are expected to be completed later this year.
4. OSE Immunotherapeutics – Tedopi
Tedopi, a cancer vaccine from OSE Immunotherapeutics, is under development for advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Tedopi is a novel T-cell epitope-based cancer vaccine targeting five tumor-associated antigens.9 In a Phase 3 trial, 219 patients were randomized to receive Tedopi, or standard of care (docetaxel or pemetrexed). Of these patients, 118 had secondary resistance to sequential immune checkpoint blockers (ICBs). In this secondary resistance subgroup, Tedopi significantly improved median overall survival versus standard of care, and post-progression survival with fewer grade ≥3 adverse effects when compared with standard of care.10
5. Nykode Therapeutics –VB10.16
The VB10.16 vaccine under development by Nykode Therapeutics is being investigated for the indication of HPV16+ cervical cancer. VB10.16 is a plasmid DNA- based vaccine encoding a three-part Vaccibody, meaning the vaccine can activate either T cells or B cells.11 Last year, Nykode announced promising results for its Phase 2a trial, in which 52 patients received the vaccine in combination with atezolizumab. VB10.16 demonstrated sustained overall survival and durability in median overall survival, median progression-free survival, and median duration of response.12




Oyepeju Abioye-Akintola is a first-generation physician with roots in Lagos, Nigeria, where she grew up as the second of four children under the disciplined guidance of her parents; her mother being a high school teacher. Her early education, often under the light of kerosene lamps, instilled in her a strong sense of tenacity.
After completing her medical education at Bowen University in Nigeria, Oyepeju served a year-long internship and another year in para-military service, then moved to South Africa to pursue a Masters’ degree in Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of Witwatersrand, focusing her research on Breast Cancer among young women in Sub-Saharan Africa. These experiences underscored the significance of thorough history-taking, holistic patient care, and clinical research, especially in resource-limited settings.
Aiming to specialize as a medical oncologist, she is now applying for an Internal Medicine residency in the United States, with plans to follow up with a Hemato- Oncology fellowship. Oyepeju is also a writer and volunteer for the American College of Physicians Fresh Look Blog, demonstrating her commitment to medical advocacy. Presently, she works as an Oncology Research Assistant at the Florez Laboratory of Dana Farber Cancer Institute, where the team, led by Dr. Narjust Florez, focuses on lung cancer in women, cancer health disparities, and social justice issues in medical education. Beyond research, the Florez Lab has fostered a supportive community for under-represented physicians to thrive. She views being a part of this exceptional family as a privilege, highlighting the pivotal role of mentorship & sponsorship received from Dr. Florez and other outstanding members of the lab. This support has fueled her passion for medical oncology, social justice, and advocacy.
Photo courtesy of Oyepeju Abioye-Akintola Celebrating the 1st birthday of her son Ayooluwa Asher Akintola in the park
Photo courtesy of Oyepeju Abioye-Akintola Celebrating the 1st birthday of her son Ayooluwa Asher Akintola in the park
OC Digest:
Could you summarize your participation in the research project showcased at the 2023 North America Conference on Lung Cancer (NACLC23)?
Dr. Abioye-Akintola:
Guided by Dr. Ana Velázquez Mañana (Assistant Professor of Medicine and Thoracic Oncologist at UCSF) and in collaboration with Dr. Kelly Meza (Internal Medicine Resident at Baylor University), we presented a poster on a Systematic Review focusing on the Reporting of Sociodemographic Variables in Epidemiological Studies of Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC).
We systematically reviewed epidemiologic literature on NSCLC from over 800 studies in the National Cancer Institute (NCI)’s SEER Program and the National Cancer Database (NCDB) Registries. Our findings highlighted a concerning lack of significant reporting on certain sociodemographic variables. While age, race, and gender were commonly reported, there was sparse reporting on ethnicity, insurance status, income level, educational level, and geographical location in the SEER and NCDB registries.
We emphasized the importance of including these variables to enhance the generalizability of research findings, address health disparities, and improve treatment outcomes and survival rates for NSCLC.
OC Digest:
In what way do you foresee the progression of oncology research and therapy, and how do you perceive your contribution towards its evolution?
Dr. Abioye-Akintola:
I am incredibly fortunate and excited to be at the forefront of witnessing groundbreaking advancements in oncology research and care. As my understanding deepens regarding early detection, screening strategies, immunotherapy, and cutting-edge treatments, along with the integration of artificial intelligence and digital technology in the field, my enthusiasm for the extensive potential impact grows. My passion, however, is deeply rooted in advocating for health equity, especially in enhancing the participation of Black and Brown individuals in oncology clinical trials. I am dedicated to making a significant contribution to this area. Through my work in clinical practice and research, I aim to bridge the gap in cancer care for underrepresented minorities and actively support health equity policies that ensure the highest quality of cancer care is accessible to all, irrespective of race, education, economic status, or insurance coverage. Additionally, I have developed a strong interest in leveraging social media for advocacy and exploring the use of artificial intelligence in oncology.
OC Digest:
What drives you to overcome challenges at the beginning of your career, and which elements of oncology have the greatest impact on your decisions for future research?
Losing my father was an incredibly difficult experience, especially when I received the devastating news that he had passed away. His battle with metastatic prostate cancer and his untimely death fueled my determination to pursue opportunities in transcontinental oncology research. His lack of access to optimal care marked a pivotal moment in my life, driving me to dedicate myself to advancing cancer treatment for those in under-resourced environments. Working as a research assistant at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute’s Florez Laboratory, I have the honor of learning from leading experts and witnessing the development of transformative research subjects and protocols. Each day brings new knowledge, further igniting my passion. A notable example is Dr. Florez’s initiation of the first global Pregnancy and Lung Cancer Registry, an innovative project with significant impact. My involvement in pioneering research reaffirms my commitment to exploring thoracic malignancies and addressing healthcare disparities. I am also incredibly supported by my loving husband, Ayooluwa Akintola, who encourages me to reach new heights, as well as by my mother and siblings. The Excellence in Medicine (EIM) Women Physicians Network, led by Dr. Jumoke Ladapo, offers a supportive community for women physicians of African descent, providing mentorship and a space for personal growth. My son is a constant source of inspiration, motivating me to leave behind a legacy of overcoming life’s greatest challenges. Finding a supportive community has made life more meaningful and helped me persevere through tough times. Medical oncology is a field that excites me endlessly, much like a child in a candy store, as I delve deeper into my research interests in thoracic malignancies, cancer immunotherapy, and targeted therapies. These areas of oncology significantly influence my future research directions.
Photo courtesy of Oyepeju Abioye-Akintola Celebrating Christmas 2023 at home with her husband, Ayooluwa Akintola and son Ayooluwa Asher Akintola
Photo courtesy of Oyepeju Abioye-Akintola Celebrating Christmas 2023 at home with her husband, Ayooluwa Akintola and son Ayooluwa Asher Akintola
OC Digest:
How do you commit to your professional growth and keep abreast of the latest developments in oncology?
Dr. Abioye-Akintola:
I am very invested in building my knowledge base when it comes to advancements in oncology. There is so much to learn! As a member of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), I try to be up-to- date with journal articles on the ASCO website. I also keep abreast of recent National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) Guidelines by perusing the Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network. Additionally, I attend oncology conferences both in-person and virtually and constantly interact with incredible mentors and leaders in the field. I have been very fortunate to be under the direct mentorship of Dr. Narjust Florez and other incredible members of the Florez Lab, and this keeps me on my toes!
OC Digest:
How do you envision the enduring influence of your present research on the treatment of cancer or our comprehension of the condition?
Globally, there are still so many obstacles to cancer screening, treatment, and clinical trial participation, especially for women, ethnic minorities, and people in resource-poor settings. Addressing these inequities is a core passion of mine, and I want my clinical practice and research to reflect this in the long run. I realize that a lot of efforts are being made to address healthcare disparities in oncology, but we have barely scratched the surface of what it means to achieve health equity. Addressing these inequities, providing robust care for underrepresented minorities, and advocating for improved quality of life for patients with cancer are core passions of mine, and I want my clinical practice and research to reflect this in the long run.




Oncology Compass is pleased to announce that it has recently introduced an expanded conference calendar on its website, a feature that promises to significantly benefit the oncology research community. This comprehensive calendar, which can be searched for specific locations and timeframes, showcases upcoming oncology conferences across all continents with more conferences added continuously. This is more than just a scheduling tool; it’s a strategic asset for the global oncology community. It enhances accessibility, encourages global participation, aids in strategic planning for research dissemination, and fosters a more interconnected and informed oncology network.
Photo credit: Freepik.com, illustration by Capptoo
Photo credit: Freepik.com, illustration by Capptoo
The inclusion of such a detailed and far-reaching calendar is a strategic addition for several reasons:
Firstly, the calendar allows researchers, clinicians, and other healthcare professionals in the field of oncology to plan their conference attendance well in advance. This is particularly advantageous for those who need to arrange travel, and accommodation, and manage busy schedules. Early planning can also facilitate the submission of abstracts and research findings to relevant conferences, ensuring that the latest developments and discoveries in oncology are shared and discussed among peers.
Secondly, the calendar is a valuable resource for researchers from developing countries. Often, these researchers face challenges in accessing international conferences due to financial constraints and limited resources.
With a comprehensive calendar that includes events from around the globe, these researchers can identify suitable conferences closer to their region, reducing travel costs and making it more feasible for them to attend. This inclusivity fosters a more diverse and global exchange of knowledge and ideas in the field of oncology.
Moreover, the calendar’s detailed listing by region and date helps identify trends and focus areas in oncology research globally. This can guide researchers in understanding which topics are gaining traction in different parts of the world, potentially influencing their own research directions and collaborations. In addition to these benefits, the calendar serves as a central hub for oncology professionals to stay updated on upcoming events, deadlines for abstract submissions, and key themes of each conference. This centralized information source streamlines the process of staying informed in a rapidly evolving field, ensuring that no significant conference or event is missed.

table of content


With our newest launch representing Breast Cancer, Oncology Compass now features over 39 relevant publications on triple-negative breast cancer, offering insights into the latest research, congress updates and new study summaries. Now, you can quickly search through our library and get the latest updates and most relevant information about the newest practices in treating triple-negative breast cancer, all in one place.




Unprecedented results for people with lung cancer and other malignancies
  1. MAIA Biotechnology Publications, available at https://maiabiotech.com/publications/



On the front line of lung cancer fight
  1. Barr, Tasha et al. Recent advances and remaining challenges in lung cancer therapy. Chinese Medical Journal ():10.1097/CM9.0000000000002991, February 07, 2024.
    DOI: 10.1097/CM9.0000000000002991.
  2. Caicun Zhou et al. First-Line Selpercatinib or Chemotherapy and Pembrolizumab in RET Fusion– Positive NSCLC. N Engl J Med 2023; 389:1839-1850. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa2309457.
  3. Practice update. Standard-of-Care Systemic Therapy With or Without SBRT for Oligoprogressive Breast Cancer or NSCLC. Available: https://www.practiceupdate.com/content/standard-of-care-systemic-therapy-with-or-without-sbrt-for-oligoprogressive-breast-cancer-or-nsclc/160489/14/1/1 Accessed: 20th February 2024.
  4. Columbia University School of Engineering and Applied Science. Study finds new inhalable therapy is a big step forward in lung cancer research. Available: https://www.engineering.columbia.edu/news/study-finds-new-inhalable-therapy-big-step-forward-lung-cancer-research Accessed: 23rd February 2024.


From kinase inhibitors to carnosine’s potential
  1. Davies A, Conteduca V, Zoubeidi A, Beltran H. Biological evolution of castration-resistant prostate cancer. European Urology Focus. 2019 Mar 1;5(2):147-54.
  2. Yamada Y, Beltran H. The treatment landscape of metastatic prostate cancer. Cancer letters. 2021 Oct 28;519:20-9.
  3. Sartor O, de Bono JS. Metastatic Prostate Cancer. N Engl J Med. 2018 Feb 15;378(7):645-657. doi: 10.1056/NEJMra1701695. Epub 2018 Feb 7. PMID: 29412780
  4. Petrylak DP, Tangen CM, Hussain MH, LaraJr PN, Jones JA,Taplin ME, Burch PA, Berry D, Moinpour C, Kohli M, Benson MC. Docetaxel and estramustine compared with mitoxantrone and prednisone for advanced refractory prostate cancer. New England Journal of Medicine. 2004 Oct 7;351(15):1513-20.
  5. Tannock IF, De Wit R, Berry WR, Horti J, Pluzanska A, Chi KN, Oudard S, Théodore C, James ND, Turesson I, Rosenthal MA. Docetaxel plus prednisone or mitoxantrone plus prednisone for advanced prostate cancer. New England Journal of Medicine. 2004 Oct 7;351(15):1502-12.
  6. Sweeney CJ, Chen YH, Carducci M, Liu G, Jarrard DF, Eisenberger M, Wong YN, Hahn N, Kohli M, Cooney MM, Dreicer R. Chemohormonal therapy in metastatic hormone-sensitive prostate cancer. New England Journal of Medicine. 2015 Aug 20;373(8):737-46.
  7. de Porras VR, Font A, Aytes A. Chemotherapy in metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer: Current scenario and future perspectives. Cancer letters. 2021 Dec 28;523:162-9.
  8. Ruiz de Porras V, Bernat-Peguera A, Alcon C, Mellado B, Font A. Dual inhibition of MEK and PI3Kβ/δ–a potential therapeutic strategy in PTEN-wild-type docetaxel-resistant metastatic prostate cancer. Frontiers in Pharmacology. 2024 Jan 22;15:1331648.
  9. Jamaspishvili T, Berman DM, Ross AE, Scher HI, De Marzo AM, Squire JA, Lotan TL. Clinical implications of PTEN loss in prostate cancer. Nature Reviews Urology. 2018 Apr;15(4):222-34.
  10. Wee S, Wiederschain D, Maira SM, Loo A, Miller C, DeBeaumont R, Stegmeier F, Yao YM, Lengauer C. PTEN-deficient cancers depend on PIK3CB. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2008 Sep 2;105(35):13057-62.
  11. Abida W, Cyrta J, Heller G, Prandi D, Armenia J, Coleman I, Cieslik M, Benelli M, Robinson D, Van Allen EM, Sboner A. Genomic correlates of clinical outcome in advanced prostate cancer. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2019 Jun 4;116(23):11428-36.
  12. Habra K, Pearson JR, Le Vu P, Puig‐Saenz C, Cripps MJ, Khan MA, Turner MD, Sale C, McArdle SE. Anticancer actions of carnosine in cellular models of prostate cancer. Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine. 2023 Nov 29.
  13. Yossepowitch O, Eggener SE, Bianco Jr FJ, Carver BS, Serio A, Scardino PT, Eastham JA. Radical prostatectomy for clinically localized, high-risk prostate cancer: a critical analysis of risk assessment methods. The Journal of urology. 2007 Aug 1;178(2):493-9.
  14. Gerber GS, Thisted RA, Chodak GW, Schroder FH, Frohmuller HG, Scardino PT, Paulson DF, Middleton, Jr AW, Rukstalis DB, Smith, Jr JA, Ohori M. Results of radical prostatectomy in men with locally advanced prostate cancer: multi-institutional pooled analysis. European urology. 1997 Feb 19;32(4):385-90.
  15. Khan MA, Mangold LA, Epstein JI, Boitnott JK, Walsh PC, Partin AW. Impact of surgical delay on long-term cancer control for clinically localized prostate cancer. The Journal of urology. 2004 Nov;172(5):1835-9.
  16. Chen L, Li Q, Wang Y, Zhang Y, Ma X. Comparison on efficacy of radical prostatectomy versus external beam radiotherapy for the treatment of localized prostate cancer. Oncotarget. 2017; 8: 79854-79863.


Five cancer vaccines to watch in 2024
  1. National Cancer Institute. Cancer treatment vaccines. Available at https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/types/immunotherapy/cancer-treatment-vaccines. Accessed February 2024.
  2. ClinicalTrials.gov. NCT03897881. Available at https://www.clinicaltrials.gov/study/ NCT03897881. Accessed February 2024.
  3. MERCK press release. Moderna and Merck Announce mRNA-4157/V940, an Investigational Personalized mRNA Cancer Vaccine, in Combination With KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab), was Granted Breakthrough Therapy Designation by the FDA for Adjuvant Treatment of Patients
    With High-Risk Melanoma Following Complete Resection. Available at https://www.merck.com/news/moderna-and-merck-announce-mrna-4157-v940-an-investigational-personalized-mrna-cancer-vaccine-in-combination-with-keytruda-pembrolizumab-was-granted-breakthrough-therapy-designation-by-the/. Accessed February 2024.
  4. Weber JS, et al. mRNA-4157 (V940) individualized neoantigen therapy + pembrolizumab vs pembrolizumab in high-risk resected melanoma: clinical efficacy and correlates of response. Presented at the 2023 European Society of Medical Oncology Congress, October 20-24, 2023. Madrid, Spain. Abstract LBA49.
  5. Rojas LA, et al. Personalized RNA neoantigen vaccines stimulate T cells in pancreatic cancer. Nature. 2023 May 10:1-7.
  6. Balachandran VP, et al. Phase I trial of adjuvant autogene cevumeran, an individualized mRNA neoantigen vaccine, for pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma. J Clin Oncol. 2022;40:251-6.
  7. Transgene. TG4050. Available at https://www.transgene.fr/en/tg4050-1/. Accessed February 2024.
  8. Delord JP, et al. Phase 1 studies of personalized neoantigen vaccine TG4050 in ovarian carcinoma (OvC) and head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). Presented at the 2022 American Society of Clinical Oncology, June 3-8, 2022. Chicago, IL, USA. Abstract #2637.
  9. OSE Immunotherapeutics. Tedopi®. Available at https://www.ose-immuno.com/en/our-products/tedopi-modular/. Accessed February 2024.
  10. Besse B, et al. Randomized open-label controlled study of cancer vaccine OSE2101 versus chemotherapy in HLA-A2-positive patients with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer with resistance to immunotherapy: ATALANTE-1. Annals of Oncology. 2023 Oct 1;34(10):920-33.
  11. Nykode Therapeutics. VB10.16 Final Phase 2 data read out–12 month treatment followup. Available at https://nykode.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/04/230419-C-02-data-WEBCAST-Presentation-FINAL.pdf. Accessed February 2024.
  12. OncLive. VB10.16 Plus Atezolizumab Generates Positive Survival Data in PD-L1+ Advanced Cervical Cancer. Available at https://www.onclive.com/view/vb10-16-plus-atezolizumab-generates-positive-survival-data-in-pd-l1-advanced-cervical-cancer. Accessed February 2024.


Prof. Jens Huober

Prof. Jens Huober


Breast Center St.Gallen, Steering Committee at the Comprehensive Cancer Centre, Switzerland

Dr. Frank Weinberg

Dr. Frank Weinberg


University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System, USA


Dr. Alfredo Addeo


Hôpitaux Universitaires Genève (HUG), Switzerland

Dr. Erika Lerch


Department of Medical Oncology Transplant Unit Oncology Institute of Southern Switzerland (IOSI)

Dr. Michael Mark


Kantonsspital Graubünden (KSGR), Switzerland

Dr. Ursula Vogl


Ospedale San Giovanni Bellinzona, Switzerland

Dr. Richard Cathomas


Kantonsspital Graubünden, Switzerland

Prof. Anja Lorch


University Hospital Zurich, Switzerland

Dr. Laetitia Mauti


Kantonsspital Winterthur (KSW), Switzerland

Dr. Berna Özdemir

MD - PhD

University Hospital Bern, Switzerland

Prof. Reinhard Dummer


Professor at University Hospital, Switzerland

Dr. Cristina Mangas


Department of Oncology at Instituto Oncologico della Svizzera Italiana and Dermatology Department Ente Ospedaliero Cantonale, Switzerland

Prof. Solange Peters


Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois (CHUV), Switzerland

Dr. Andreas Günther


Praxis für Hämatologie und Onkologie Koblenz, Germany

Dr. Lara Valeska Maul-Duwendag


Department of Dermatology, University Hospital Basel (UHB), Switzerland

Dr. Alexander Siebenhüner


Clinic for Hematology & Oncology Hirslanden Zürich, Switzerland

Dr. Thibaud Kössler


Hôpitaux Universitaires Genève (HUG), Switzerland



17 Scientific Leaders
selected practice-relevant publications for lung, renal, gastro-esophageal, melanoma, multiple myeloma, prostate cancer and triple-negative breast cancer
Scientific LeaderScientific LeaderScientific Leader
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