We are now living in an era of stratified oncology. The ECC 2013 is the strongest place for multidisciplinarity and for discussions with basic and translational scientists, researchers, pathologists and clinicians. It is also a wonderful opportunity for exchanges with specialists from all disciplines regarding difficult patient cases and current challenges in oncology. As the key platform in the European oncology calendar of events, 23 percent of the submitted abstracts for Amsterdam are from scientists, making it the ideal place to address the issues involved in moving from stratification to personalisation.
While much has been accomplished towards realising the potential of personalised medicine, many issues remain, and Europe must ensure it does not fall behind. We have yet to fully acknowledge the importance of diagnostics, and personalised medicine cannot happen without precise diagnostics.
Currently, there is little incentive for pharmaceutical companies to develop molecular diagnostic tests because there is no clear regulatory path.Traditional diagnostic tests are limited and molecular diagnostics has a leading role to play. However, commitment by funders is required for investment in practice-changing trials to better understand which patients benefit from which drugs/treatments to avoid unnecessary expense without benefit to the patient.
The move from stratified to personalised oncology requires molecular diagnostics to be taken seriously by all disciplines involved and for the EU and national governments to support practice-changing trials. ESMO is working with the EU regarding recommendations to the Clinical Trials Regulation knowing that without clinical research we cannot make progress against cancer.
I am looking forward to the sessions ESMO has designed for the ECC on key issues currently facing oncologists: Diagnostics/ Biomarkers: How next generation sequencing is changing therapeutic decision making; and ESMO Sessions on: ‘The development of targeted therapies in the genomic era: What is the expected impact on breast cancer?’ by Fabrice Andre; Philip Bedard presenting: ‘Molecular screening and patient selection for phaseI/II trials’;J. De Greve on: ‘Implications for patient care’. The Oncopolicy Track will also investigate what can be done to address inequities in future diagnostics in order to advance personalised medicine for the cancer patient.
I strongly encourage you to attend.
- Martine Piccart