Photo: Dave Tippett / Oslo Cancer Cluster

Norwegian symposium highlights molecular testing

Attendants from across Norway, the Nordics and the world discussed how molecular tests can realise precision cancer medicine in the clinic, through a prostate cancer perspective.

The Norwegian Cancer Symposium was held on 14-15 September in Oslo and titled “Sustainable Cancer Care Using Molecular Tests – From a Prostate Cancer Perspective”. The two-day event brought together top-ranking researchers, clinicians, industry and policymakers.

“The intention of the symposium is to strengthen collaborations between clinicians, researchers, health authorities and representatives from the patient organization and the industry to bring biomarkers needed to realize precision medicine into the clinic,” said Kristin Austlid Taskén, Senior Scientist and Professor at the Institute of Cancer Research, Oslo University Hospital, and Chair of the Organizing Committee for the 8th Norwegian Cancer Symposium.

Exploring the research forefront

The programme included presentations from high-profile speakers that had travelled to Norway from different parts of the world, including USA, United Kingdom, France, Switzerland, Germany, Netherlands and Sweden.

Austlid Taskén commented on what she thought were the highlights from the talks:

“How do we identify patients who will benefit from PARPi treatment? What is needed to include use of biomarkers in the guidelines for treatment and into the clinic? What is the role of the tumour microenvironment in biomarker discovery and precision medicine? What are the bottle necks in implementation of precision medicine? How can we coordinate efforts to build and finance powerful cohorts for biomarker discovery and validation?”

Industry met academia

The audience included participants from across Norway and the Nordic countries, both from academic institutions and from pharmaceutical companies.

Marte Jonsson, Medical Advisor, Oncology in Bayer, was eager to learn about the latest findings in the field of prostate cancer and form new relationships:

“It is possible to get to know other people in the field, to form new relationships, strengthen existing ones or find new collaboration partners. Over a coffee or lunch, you may meet someone who is interested in starting a new investigator-initiated clinical trial for instance. To advance in the field, it is important for all stakeholders to communicate with each other, and national conferences are a great place for researchers, clinicians and the industry to engage with each other.”

Arton Baftiu, Medical Advisor, Solid Tumor at Janssen, was one of the industry representatives attending the Norwegian Cancer Symposium 2022. Photo: Janssen

Arton Baftiu, Medical Advisor, Solid Tumor at Janssen, was impressed by the research updates presented:

“My highlight from this symposium is the impressive work that is being done in the field of cancer – starting from the discovery of new biomarkers, new genetic tests and the cutting-edge clinical trials that are now being rolled out to Norwegian cancer patients. As a pharmacist, to witness the medical advancements in the era of personalized cancer treatment within prostate- and lung cancer, giving patients better survival outcomes and quality of life, brings additional responsibility but also a huge motivation to my role as a medical advisor in Janssen.”

Important insights for patients

Several interviewees mentioned the patient story during the panel discussion as their most memorable moment from the symposium.

“The panel discussion, particularly with the patient who presented his case, not only based on emotions, but on facts, really impressed me. Listening to all the parts in the discussion made me realize that we have to work even harder to ensure that the gap we observe time after time between drugs that are approved and the needed diagnostic test needs to be closed much faster than it is today. Access to testing should not be the limiting factor, when we know every day counts,” said Reza Shirzadi, Oncology Diagnostic Liaison at AstraZeneca.

The Norwegian Cancer Symposium 2022 was presented by the Institute of Cancer Research, Oslo University Hospital, with sponsorship from Norsk Hydro’s Fund for Cancer Research, University of Oslo: Life Science, and with support from Oslo Cancer Cluster.  A special acknowledgement to Oslo Cancer Cluster’s membership and project team, together with Innovation Norway Mature Clusters funding. 

For more information, please visit the Norwegian Cancer Symposium website.