Centre for Cancer Biomarkers CCBIO
Inspiration for cancer researchers

CCBIO's 5th Annual Symposium (2017)

The Centre for Cancer Biomarkers CCBIO met for the 5th time at their Annual Symposium at Solstrand 19-20 April. "We wish to motivate, especially the younger researchers, to perform excellent cancer research," says Center Director Lars A. Akslen.

Collage of photos from the CCBIO Annual Symposium 2017, lots of people in different settings.
Ingvild Festervoll Melien

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“The purpose of our annual symposium is to give people an update on the latest in cancer research, and motivate them in their work. It should be fun to do research. In addition, it is important to acquire an international network to do cancer research at elite level”, emphasizes Professor Akslen. Akslen is director of the Centre for Cancer Biomarkers (CCBIO), which is one of four Centres of Excellence at the University of Bergen.

This year's program covered various timely topics like EMT (epithelial-mesenchymal transition), tumor microenvironment, immune regulation and immune therapy, neural regulation of tumors, cell signaling, TP53, systems biology of tumors and drug screening, tumor hypoxia, PDX models, tumor imaging techniques and liquid biopsy. As can be seen from the program, several distinguished international and national speakers presented their data and views on current front-line concepts. The program also included a session for younger investigators, presenting data ranging from genomics studies to the ethics of cancer biomarkers. Towards the end, Jeanette Wood had a very thoughtful presentation on the roles and interplay of pharma, biotech, academia and funding bodies in drug discovery.

The release of the first CCBIO-based book was announced by Roger Strand: Cancer Biomarkers: Ethics, Economics, and Society (edited by Anne Blanchard and Roger Strand).

Ethics on the agenda

The program also included an example of how the latest news from the research front might be less uplifting. Dr. Robert P. Gale of the University of California (Los Angeles) presented figures indicating that Next Generation Sequencing (NGS), a detailed mapping of genetic alterations of tumors, does not necessarily lead to improved treatment for most cancer patients. There is much hype, but also some realistic hope, Dr. Gale argued.

When mapping of genes and subsequent tailored therapy can work very well just for some patients, and the health budget is limited, both ethical and economic issues must be considered in cancer research and treatment.

“In such a context, it becomes important to find ways to predict who will respond to the treatment and benefit from it, and this is where new biomarkers come in as a management tool”, Akslen explains.

“It is important that the young researchers are not only exposed to the usual learning, but also that they are able to reflect ethically and socially about their activities. Ethics and economics are important topics that we place great emphasis on”, he points out.

Poster sessions

The symposium also made room for two long poster sessions during which younger researchers could present their research. The 38 posters attracted much interest, and a jury selected 3 winners of best posters. Congratulations to Jing Kang, Geir Bredholt and Sissel Dyrstad who presented the posters for their groups!

Incubator training for young researchers

More than 200 people participated in the annual meeting, with both lecturers from CCBIO and visiting top researchers from Europe and the United States. Both junior and senior researchers met to be updated on the latest in their own field of research within cancer biomarkers, and at the same time enjoy the beautiful resort and surroundings of Solstrand.

"At these meetings, we try to obtain a combination of top lectures with new unpublished research data and informal activities that represent a kind of incubator training for the young researchers," says Lars A. Akslen.

Save the date

Save the date for the 6th CCBIO Annual Symposium: May 24-25, 2018! We continue the success at Solstrand.