International scientific conference “Tumor and host: novel aspects of old problem”

Summary. On November 21–22, 2019, the R.E. Kavetsky Institute of Experimental Pathology, Oncology and Radiobiology of National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine held the Second International Conference “Tumor and Host: Novel Aspects of Old Problem” in the Great Conference Hall of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. The problem of the tumor-host relationship is a traditional priority for the Institute, the leading institution in the field of cancer research in Ukraine: the concept of the relationship between the tumor and the host has been put forward by the first director of the Institute, Academician R.E. Kavetsky, whose 120th anniversary is celebrated by the Ukrainian scientific community.

The conference was sponsored by the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine and the Charitable Organization “Unity Against Cancer” and was dedicated to the 25th anniversary of the Institute’s membership in the Organization of European Cancer Institutes (OECI).

The main scientific directions of the conference were devoted to the complex of the most urgent problems of modern experimental and clinical oncology: molecular and cellular pathobio­logy, metabolic features of the tumor and host, tumor microenvironment, cancer prevention and therapy (new technologies, biotherapy, personalization of the treatment).

The conference presented the results of basic and applied research, the purpose of which is future use in clinical practice. Its program included reports on early and differential diagnosis of neoplasms, the identification of aggressive forms of cancer. Much attention was paid to the problems of cancer treatment: bio- and chemotherapy, primary and acquired resistance of tumors and, of course, a personalized approach in the choice of schemes and combinations of therapeutic means.

Honorary guests and participants of the event were the representatives of the OECI authorities. Du­ring the conference, 54 scientific reports of scientists from Ukraine, USA, Canada, Italy, Belgium, Sweden, France, Qatar, and Lithuania were presented and discussed.

The conference began from the opening speech with the wishes of fruitful cooperation delivered by the Director of the Institute, Academician of the NAS of Ukraine V. Chekhun who emphasized that the conference is dedicated to the 25th anniversary of R.E. Kavetsky Institute of Experimental Patho­logy, Onco­logy and Radiobiology, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine (IEPOR) membership in the OECI. IEPOR is the only Institute from Ukraine represented in this respected European Institution dealing with the coordination of cancer research and the cooperation of numerous cancer institutions in Europe. All these 25 years, IEPOR takes an active part in different OECI activities, including translational research in oncology, mole­cular pathology, education and training. Prof. V. Chekhun stressed that the concept of tumor-host relations is one of the fundamental issues bringing together and integrating the efforts of many scientists all over the world who attempt to develop the effective solutions in fighting against cancer.

The vice-president of National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine (NASU) Academician V.G. Koshechko addressed the Conference participants on behalf of the President of the NASU Academician B.Ye. Paton, in particular noting: “Academician R.E. Kavetsky, who was the founder of the school of experimental oncologists, gave impetus to the formation of new scientific directions of fundamental and applied research, in particular, exploration of the relationship between tumor and host. I am sure that in the course of the conference, scientists and practitioners in the field of onco­logy will discuss in detail both professional issues and current issues that are of concern to humanity today. The fundamental and applied questions about approaches to diagnostics and treatment of patients with malignant neoplasms will make an important contribution to the development of cancer science and health care”. On the behalf of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine (Ukrainian Parliament), the guests were greeted by the People’s Deputy of Ukraine V.O. Zub.

The Introductory Lecture by OECI Director Prof. Claudio Lombardo (Brussels, Belgium) was dedicated to the history of the Organization and its mission. He introduced the new OECI initiative, called “European Cancer mission” in the framework of the integrated European program “Horizon”. The mission’s tasks were discussed in detail and its ultimate goal was determined as uniting countries to substantially reduce the massive EU cancer burden and improve the quality of life of patients by promoting cost‐effective, evidence‐based best practices in cancer prevention, treatment, and care and to provide the most optimal affordable treatment for cancer patients in all European countries The OECI main strategic objectives include identifying and performing the initiatives that may help the network of Comprehensive Cancer Centers to adapt to the requirements of a multidisciplinary and personalized approach to patient care.

Prof. Giorgio Stanta, Member of the Board of OECI, Head of the OECI Working Group on Biobanking and Molecular Pathobiology (Trieste, Italy) delivered a key lecture devoted to the development of precise and personalized medicine in Europe. It is the persona­lized approach based on determining the individual molecular profile of malignant cells in the coming years that will ensure progress in the treatment of cancer patients. One of the central issues is the reproducibility of the molecular analysis in clinical research taking into account the high level of intra-tumor heterogeneity.

In his plenary report “MicroRNAs as a key factor in the globalization of the tumor-host relationship”, Academician of the NAS of Ukraine V.F. Chekhun analyzed the role of these small molecules as extremely important and determining factors in epigenetic regulation being decisive in systemic communication between physiological and pathobiological processes, which ultimately determines their role in globalizing the relationship between tumor and host. It was emphasized that in Ukraine the study of the role of microRNAs in tumors and their microenvironment, being now in the spotlight of tumor biology in world science, was initiated exactly in the IEPOR.

Prof. Angelo Paradiso (National Cancer Institute, Bari, Italy) outlined the key issues of biobanking as an important area needed for the further development of translational research and personalized medicine, and acquainted the audience with the basic principles of the organization and functioning of the banks of biological materials, mutual exchange of characterized samples between research centers of European countries. The concept of biobanking has evolved over time and biobanks have grown from simple repositories of biological samples to complex and dynamic units belonging to large infrastructure networks.

Molecular and biological aspects of the conference topics were highlighted in the lectures and reports delivered by the leading Ukrainian and foreign scientists. Corresponding Member of the NASU Ya. Shuba (O. Bogomolets Institute of Physiology, NASU, Kyiv, Ukraine) presented the novel data on the ORAI fa­mily of Ca2+ channel-forming proteins and examined various aspects of ORAI proteins in malignant transformation. Prof. O. Kovalchuk from University of Leth­bridge (Alberta, Canada) analyzed the mechanisms of chemotherapy-related CNS dysfunctions that are epigenetically regulated and associated with altered gene expression. The plenary report by Dr. L. Buchinska (IEPOR NASU, Kyiv, Ukraine) was devoted to the molecular genetic aspects of endometrioid carcinoma progression in the patients with family history of cancer. The up-to-date insight on the immunophenotypic features of leukemic stem cells in acute myeloid leukemia was provided in the report by Prof. D. Gluzman (IEPOR NASU, Kyiv, Ukraine). The report by Prof. Yu. Persidsky (Temple University, Philadelphia, USA) was devoted to the analysis of modern systems for studying brain metastases. Dr. N. Lukyanova (IEPOR NASU, Kyiv, Ukraine) presented the results of the studies on circulating microRNAs that may be used as diagnostic, prognostic and predictive biomarkers of breast cancer. The interesting aspects of assaying circulating tumor cells with the aim of personalization of cancer treatment were highlighted in the report by Dr. S. Souchelnytskyi (College of Medicine, Qatar University, Doha, Qatar).

Several interesting reports were presented by the Ukrainian scientists of young generation: Dr. O. Brieieva (IEPOR NASU, Kyiv, Ukraine), Dr. A. Burlaka (National Institute of Cancer, Kyiv, Ukraine), Dr. O. Karaman (IEPOR NASU, Kyiv, Ukraine).

Within the framework of the conference, on the initiative of OECI representatives, there was held a round table “Ways to implement EU standards for personalized diagnosis and treatment of cancer patients in Ukraine” with the participation of leading oncologists of the country, where issues on improving oncological care for the population of Ukraine, and introduction of European treatment standards for cancer patients were discussed.

In his closing words, the Academician of the NAS of Ukraine V. Chekhun noted that the forum was held in an extremely creative, scientific, friendly atmosphere and highlighted the achievements and perspectives of modern science in the research of the tumor-host relationship.

P.M. Shkatula

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