FAST Congress


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7:00 am Registration Open

8:00-8:30 Morning Coffee


Cancer Stem Cells in Drug Development

8:25-8:30 Chairperson’s Opening Remarks
Stephen Wong, Ph.D., Director, Center for Bioengineering and Informatics, The Methodist Hospital Research Institute, Weill Cornell Medical College


8:30-9:00 A Systems Biology Approach to Aid Identification of New Applications for FDA-Approved Drugs and Drug Combinations for Cancer Stem Cells

Stephen Wong, Ph.D., Director, Center for Bioengineering and Informatics, The Methodist Hospital Research Institute, Weill Cornell Medical College

Considerable research efforts on Cancer Stem Cell (CSC) are now being made to identify drug molecules that selectively target and destroy them. This talk presents a new systems biology strategy used to identify lead drug molecules and their combinations for targeting CSCs. The strategy includes a combination of time-lapse, high content screening assays, network motifs modeling for signaling cascade crosstalks, and novel “animal clinical trial” design. This talk reports promising results obtained from pre-clinical studies in lung and breast cancers.

9:00-9:30 Targeting Malignant Melanoma Initiating Cells

Markus H. Frank, M.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School; Assistant Professor, Pediatrics, Children’s Hospital Boston; Associate Physician, Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Cancer stem cells (CSC) represent malignant cell subsets in hierarchically organized tumors, which are selectively capable of tumor initiation and self-renewal and give rise to bulk populations of non-tumorigenic cancer cell progeny through differentiation. Robust evidence for the existence of prospectively identifiable CSC among cancer bulk populations has been generated using marker-specific genetic lineage tracking of molecularly defined cancer subpopulations in competitive tumor development models. Moreover, novel mechanisms and relation-ships have been discovered that link CSC to cancer therapeutic resistance and clinical tumor progression. Specifically, recent advances show that CSC can exert pro-angiogenic roles in tumor growth and serve immunomodulatory functions related to the evasion of host anti-tumor immunity. Thus, CSC might initiate and sustain tumorigenic growth not only as a result of CSC-intrinsic self-renewal, differ-entiation and proliferative capacity, but also based on pro-tumorigenic interactions with the host environment. Importantly, proof-of-principle for the potential therapeutic utility of the CSC concept has been provided by demonstrating that selective killing of CSC through a prospective molecular marker can inhibit tumor growth. Therefore, CSC-directed approaches represent novel and translationally relevant strategies to improve clinical cancer therapy.

9:30-10:00 The Potential of Precancerous Stem Cells as Novel Tumor Vaccines and Cost-Effective Therapeutic Targets of Cancers

Jian-Xin Gao, M.D., Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Pathology, Ohio State University Medical Center

The obstacles to tumor immunotherapy are mainly the lack of effective vaccines and therapeutic targets. Pre-cancerous stem cells (pCSCs) could not form tumors but can induced effective anti-tumor immunity without restriction of cancer origin. The finding suggests that it is possible to discover effective tumor vaccines through targeting of pCSCs for immunoprevention and immunotherapy of cancers.

10:00-10:30 Development of Therapeutic Antibodies Targeting AML Cancer Stem Cells

Ramkumar Mandalam, President & CEO, Cellerant Therapeutics

Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML) is a hematological malignancy characterized by rapidly proliferating immature white myeloid blood cells. Current treatment options include chemotherapy and bone marrow transplantation, but are relatively ineffective in their ability to cure due to the persistence of undetected leukemic cancer stem cells that survive chemotherapy and reestablish the disease weeks or months later. Cellerant’s discovery effort is focused on identifying AML cancer stem cell targets and developing therapeutic antibodies for curative treatment. These targets include cytokine and growth factor receptors, G protein coupled receptors, adhesion molecules and factors of the complement pathway. These targets are expressed in AML patient samples but not on normal hematopoietic stem cells or most mature blood cell types and their progenitors. Monoclonal antibodies recognizing these targets are being developed. Characterization of the cancer stem cell targets and the antibodies will be presented.

10:30-11:30 Networking Coffee Break with Poster and Exhibit Viewing


Roundtable Discussions

11:30-12:30 pm Targeted Cancer Therapy
Moderator:  Andrew Grupe, Ph.D., Senior Director, Pharmacogenomics Research & Development

11:30-12:30 pm Circulating Tumor Cells
Moderator:  Martin Fleisher, Ph.D., Chair, Department of Clinical Laboratories, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center

11:30-12:30 pm Cancer Stem Cells
Moderator:  Stephen Wong, Ph.D., Director, Center for Bioengineering and Informatics, The Methodist Hospital Research Institute, Weill Cornell Medical College

12:30-2:00 Lunch on Your Own



2:00-2:30 Fulfilling the Promise of a Sequenced Human Genome

Eric D. Green, M.D., Ph.D., Director, National Human Genome Research Institute, National Institutes of Health

The Human Genome Project’s completion of the human genome sequence in 2003 was a scientific achievement of historic proportions. It also signified a critical transition, as this new foundation of genetic information started to be used in powerful ways by researchers and clinicians to tackle increasingly complex problems in biomedicine. Current efforts in genomics research are focused on using genomic data and technologies to acquire a deeper understanding of biology and to uncover the genetic basis of human disease. Together, these pursuits are moving us down an exciting path towards genomic medicine and fulfilling the promise of a sequenced human genome.

2:30-3:00 Personalized Medicine, Companion Diagnostics and Regulatory Considerations

Živana Težak, Ph.D., Associate Director for Science and Technology, Personalized Medicine/OIVD/CDRH, U.S. Food and Drug Administration

The U.S. FDA evaluates many of the products that will ultimately allow personalized medicine to be successfully implemented. This talk will focus on regulatory and scientific issues in personalized medicine, in particular on the diagnostic part, including companion and novel diagnostic devices. There are a number of approaches for clinical study designs used to evaluate companion diagnostic assays that may include specific diagnostic and therapeutic considerations. FDA faces evolving regulatory challenges for in vitro diagnostic assays, including further development of the regulatory structure for companion diagnostics and clarity on co-development issues. The talk will describe some FDA efforts to integrate the various medical product regulatory authorities in order to improve clarity and efficiency in regulating personalized medicine products.

3:00-4:00 Networking Refreshment Break with Poster and Exhibit Viewing


Stem Cell Mechanisms in Cancer

Chairperson's Opening Remarks
Stephen Wong, Ph.D., Director, Center for Bioengineering and Informatics, The Methodist Hospital Research Institute, Weill Cornell Medical College

4:00-4:30 Regulation of the Glioblastoma Stem Cell Epigenome by STAT3

Brent Cochran, Ph.D., Principle Investigator, Physiology, Tufts University School of Medicine

Glioblastoma multiforme is the most common brain cancer and has an average survival from time of diagnosis of only 14 months. Stem like cells isolated from this tumor are highly efficient in generating tumors in mouse xenografts and retain the ability to differentiate into neurons, astrocytes and oligodendrocytes. We have found that the transcription factor STAT3 is required for the maintenance of multipotency of these cells. Evidence will be presented that this STAT3 function is mediated by regulation of enzymes that alter the epigenome by regulating histone methylation.

4:30-5:00 Good and Bad: microRNAs in Stem Cells and Cancer

Jun Lu, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Genetics, Yale Stem Cell Center, Yale University

Cancer cells may hijack molecular mechanisms in normal stem cells for self-renewal and malignant expansion. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are ~22nt small non-coding RNAs, whose expression is dynamically regulated during stem cell differentiation. Disruption of this precise control of miRNA expression is commonly associated with human cancers, which affects thousands of miRNA target genes through post-transcriptional mechanisms. This talk will focus on the hematopoietic system to discuss how normal miRNA regulation may be utilized by hematopoietic malignancy.

5:00 Close of Day