Meeting Report: 2nd Exploring DNA Repair Pathways as Targets for Cancer Therapy

“This 2nd major conference on Target DNA repair for Cancer Therapy took place in Cancun, Mexico from 27 February to 02 March 2017. The conference attracted many leaders in the field of DNA damage repair. It also drew attendance of scientists working in pharmaceutical and biotech companies that are developing and testing new compounds that target DNA repair and DNA damage checkpoint pathways for cancer treatment. Moreover, this conference was also attended by several physicians who are conducting clinical trials using various DNA repair and checkpoint inhibitors. The convergence of interests from academic, industry, and clinic makes this a unique conference that enjoyed by all the attendees.

The conference was chaired by Dr. Helen Piwnica-Worms (Vice Provost, Science, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center) and Dr. Junjie Chen (Professor and Chain, Department of Experimental Radiation Oncology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center).

Faculty attended included Dr. Karlene Cimprich (Stanford University), Dr. Jean Gautier (Columbia University), Dr. Dipanjan Chowdhury (Dana Farber Cancer Institute), Dr. Jingsong Yuan (Columbia University), Dr. Lorraine Symington (Columbia University), Dr. Zhenkun Lou (Mayo Clinic), Dr. Nima Mosammaparast (Washington University at St. Louis), Dr. Robert A. Hromas (University of Florida), Dr. Eli Rothenberg (New York University), Dr. Yinsheng Wang (University of California Riverside), Dr. Mark J. O’Connor (AstraZeneca), Dr. Akihiro Ohashi (Takeda), Dr. Giulio Draetta (MD Anderson Cancer Center), Dr. Lauren Byers (MD Anderson Cancer Center), Dr. Laura Butler (Atrin Pharmaceuticals), Dr. Philip Hinds (Tufts University), Dr. Elizabeth Swisher (University of Washington), Dr. Yi Fan (University of Pennsylvania), Dr. Shridar Ganesan (Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey), Dr. Guang Peng (MD Anderson Cancer Center), Dr. Mien-Chie Hung (MD Anderson Cancer Center), Dr. Michelle Barton (MD Anderson Cancer Center), Sudhakar Jha (Cancer Science Institute of Singapore), Dr. Brendan Price (Dana Farber Cancer Institute), Dr. David Yu (Emory University), Dr. Jac A. Nickoloff (Colorado State University), Dr. Jos Jonkers (Netherlands Cancer Institute), Dr. Kyungjae Myung (Institute of Basic Sciences, Korea), Dr. Richard Pomerantz (Temple University), Dr. Chuan-Yuan Li (Duke University), Dr. Reuben Harris (University of Minnesota), Dr. Matthew Weitzman (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia), Dr. Katharina Schlacher (MD Anderson Cancer Center), Dr. Ranjit Bindra (Yale School of Medicine), Dr. Daniel Durocher (Lunenfeld-Tanenbarum Research Institute), Dr. Chris Bakkenist (University of Pittsburgh), Dr. Yves Pommier (NIH/NCI), Dr. Fen Xia (University of Arkansas for Medical Science), and Dr. Eric Hendrickson (University of Minnesota).

The conference emphasized on several ongoing and new areas in the field of DNA damage response, which include: 1) mechanisms underlying DNA repair choice, 2) new signaling molecules and pathways involved in DNA damage response, 3) novel technologies and approaches for studying DNA repair processes, 4) translesion DNA synthesis, 5) APOBEC family proteins in mutagenesis and cancer evolution, 5) conflict of transcription and DNA replication, 6) synthetic lethality approaches for the identification of new agents that target DNA repair defects and pathways. Several additional areas covered by this conference are: a) stem cell biology, b) epigenetic and chromatin regulations, c) oncogenic signaling pathways, d) oncometabolites, e) immune checkpoints. These new topics reflect the expansion of the field, which goes way beyond DNA repair and cell cycle checkpoint control. The industry presentations focused on the newly developed ATR, WEE1, and CDC7 inhibitors in clinical trials and the potential combinatory therapies using these checkpoint and cell cycle inhibitors. Several physician scientists discussed the results, promises, and challenges of using these checkpoint and other DNA repair inhibitors for the clinical management of cancer patients.

The conference was highly interactive, with extensive discussions at the Q&A and poster sessions. New ideas and collaborations were established. More importantly, besides large pharmaceutical companies such as AstraZeneca and Takeda, small companies like Atrin were also present at the meeting. In addition, there were discussions about new companies formed that focus on developing checkpoint and DNA repair inhibitors. Thus, with the expansion of the field and novel compounds that target various DNA repair and other pathways that may come on board in the near future, we anticipate that the next conference will bring together leaders from several disciplines and accelerate the development of new agents for cancer treatment.

The meeting was expertly organized and supported by Fusion Conferences, Ltd. The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center generously and enthusiastically supported the meeting in many ways and the generous support of Pfizer and Genomic Vision is also gratefully appreciated.”

About the organiser

The 2nd Exploring DNA Repair Pathways as Targets for Cancer Therapy conference was organised by Fusion Conferences, a family-run scientific meeting organiser. Fusion specialises in meetings within the academic and corporate industry for those working at the forefront of physical, medical, life sciences and their related technologies. Fusion’s forthcoming meetings can be viewed at

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