Oncology Treatment Goes ‘X-STEM’

Why should kids care about cancer? No one—young people or adults—likes to think about the side effects of treatments, survival rates or the fact that even today, despite undeniable successes in diagnostics and new drugs, cancer claims more than 8 million lives annually.

That number will grow to 12 million by 2030, which makes cancer one of the world’s biggest healthcare challenges. And, this makes it very relevant to young people today.

At this year’s USA Science and Engineering Festival held in Washington, DC, April 14-17, MedImmune sponsors the X-STEM Extreme STEM Symposium. The XSTEM event is geared toward middle and high school students—whether aspiring scientists or merely curious attendees. Among the presenters is our own David Berman, MD, PhD, SVP and Head of the Oncology iMED, who will give his version of the state of cancer and the treatments of the future, focusing on cancer immunotherapy—or harnessing the power of the immune system to fight cancer.

What’s exciting about immunotherapy is its potential for prolonging survival from this deadly disease. Many—if not most—kids consider cancer to be a fact of life, a death sentence or both. David will talk about how that framework of thinking is changing, and how immunotherapy in particular offers a powerful, and transformational shift in the treatment of cancer. That includes activating the immune system which then kills the cancer cells, taking advantage of the power of the immune system to adapt and confer long term memory against the tumor, and the potential to treat multiple cancer types—and benefit many more patients.

In fact, MedImmune is one of the leaders in the design and development of cancer biologics, including molecules that target PD-1/PD-L1, CTLA4, OX40 and GITR pathways—all promising targets for cancer immunotherapy. For STEM students, David’s talk will offer a peek into the very-near future of these cancer treatments, how it’s relevant to young people, and how continued and relentless inquiry that follows the science is the key to new discoveries for cancer treatments.

For those who are considering a career in the biological sciences, there’s never been a more exciting period than now in the area of cancer treatments especially at the intersection of immunology and cancer biology. And, the future looks even brighter and more fascinating.


The Nose Knows

Stick your finger up a nose, and you never know what you’ll come out with. That is, unless the nose is a giant exhibit at this year’s USA Science and Engineering Festival, and what you come out with is a better understanding of how the influenza virus travels. This year’s attendees can get up close and personal with the colossal schnoz, including the olfactory nerve—a shortcut for influenza and other viral diseases into the central nervous system.