The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting 2012 was held in Chicago, USA, directly after the Fourth BHD Symposium. The AACR meeting is one of the largest cancer research conferences in the world, with over 16,000 attendees from a wide range of disciplines. All areas of cancer were covered, including basic and clinical research, as well as science policy and careers.
Several of the talks were relevant to on-going work in BHD syndrome. For example, Professor Othon Iliopoulos, from Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Centre, spoke about hypoxia, HIF and VHL signalling and discussed the direct inhibition of HIF by small molecules. HIF inhibitors have previously been described in our blog. The mTOR pathway was also the main topic for several sessions. Professor John Blenis of Harvard Medical School spoke about the metabolic changes that occur in cells which have hyperactivated mTOR, and whether these changes can be exploited to develop anti-cancer therapies. Professor David Sabatini of the MIT Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research also discussed how mTOR senses the environment to control cell growth.
Autophagy, and its association with Tuberous Sclerosis (TSC), was also discussed in several sessions. Professor Eileen White from the Cancer Institute of New Jersey described the dual role of autophagy – on the one hand inhibiting the initiation of tumourigenesis, but on the other, promoting tumour proliferation. Professor Elizabeth Henske, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, then described the lower levels of autophagy which are seen in TSC2-null cells. This work has been described in more detail in a previous blog post.
Several poster sessions took place each day, with hundreds of posters covering numerous topics. Michael Nahorski and Dr Xiaohong Lu, who both work in the lab of Professor Eamonn Maher at the University of Birmingham, presented their work on BHD syndrome. The work of the Maher lab has been described in this previous lab profile. Another interesting poster on BHD Syndrome was presented by Dr Laura Laviolette, who works in the lab of Professor Othon Iliopoulos. Dr Laviolette is studying FLCN’s effect on the cell cycle.
The AACR Annual Meeting 2012 was an excellent conference which covered all areas of cancer research. It was encouraging to see so many attendees present and the large amount of data being generated. Keep an eye on our Conferences and Events page for other upcoming meetings of interest to those involved in BHD syndrome.