The 7th edition of the ACCELERATE Paediatric Oncology Conference was successfully held on 14-15 February 2019 in Brussels. Almost 170 delegates from 30 countries worldwide attended the Conference including experts from academia, industry, patient/parent/survivor advocacy groups, foundations and regulatory authorities. The diverse and high turnout was a clear sign that this Conference is now a truly international event. This is a hopeful development in our effort towards accelerating the process of evaluating innovative therapies and introducing them in standard cancer care in children and adolescents. This year’s edition focused on a number of important topics such as:
- Information sharing on the most recent successes in paediatric oncology drug development;
- Discussion on new regulatory environments in the US (RACE for Children Act) and in Europe and on how to implement new oncology drug development for children in this new global landscape;
- Addressing advancements in the ACCELERATE program including Paediatric Strategy Forums, Fostering Age Inclusive Research (FAIR) Trials, new models for paediatric drug development and international consensus on pre-clinical testing;
- Fostering and strengthening international collaborations across countries and among the main target groups.
The ACCELERATE Chair Professor Gilles Vassal (Gustave Roussy) kicked off the event with an introduction highlighting the goals, projects and updates on the main work carried out in 2018. The second session on immunotherapy for paediatric malignancies was co-chaired by Gregory Reaman (FDA) and Pam Kearns (University of Birmingham, SIOP Europe President) and tackled some of the most relevant aspects such as future development of CAR-T Cells, Dinotuximab, lessons learnt from the development of Blinatunomab to treat acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in children and adolescents, and the conclusions of the last ACCELERATE Paediatric Strategy Forum on checkpoint inhibitors. Prof. Crystal Mackall (Stanford University), chair of the AACR Pediatric Cancer Working Group, delivered an outstanding lecture on the development and future of CAR T cells in pediatric oncology. The session ended with a roundtable on the current challenges and ways forward for immunotherapy in children with cancer.
The third session, co-chaired by Rosanna Ricaford (BMS) and Susan Weiner (Children’s Cause for Cancer Advocacy), focused on the activities of the two ACCELERATE Working Groups that were set up to speed up drug development in paediatric oncology. These working groups are: Fostering Age Inclusive Research (FAIR) WG and the Innovative Models for Paediatric Oncology Drug Development WG.
The fourth session, co-chaired by Alberto Pappo (St Jude Children Research Hospital, Chair of the ODAC Paediatric sub-committee) and Dominik Karres (EMA), explored ways to widen the ACCELERATE scope through existing initiatives worldwide such as the Asian initiative, the French IMPACT Platform and the Canada Initiative.
The fifth session, co-chaired by Brenda Weigel (University of Minnesota) and Davy Chiodin (Acerta-Pharma), targeted the new regulatory landscape and introduced some relevant initiatives for ACCELERATE such as the 2018 European Commission and EMA Action Plan, the implementation of the Race for Children ACT, the ITCC-P4 joint initiative for international consensus for pre-clinical testing, Horizon Scanning of global paediatric oncology drug developments and future-proofing academic clinical trials to adapt for regulatory use.
The last part of the event was dedicated to breakout sessions on five central topics that ACCELERATE will pursue in 2019:
- The first group brainstormed on possible further developments of the Paediatric Strategy Forum;
- The second group discussed ways to implement mechanism of action and biology-driven developments of oncology drugs for children and adolescents in the new regulatory environment;
- The third group focused on how to improve international cooperation and to widen the geographical boundaries of ACCELERATE;
- The forth group worked on recommendations to re-address the needs for long-term follow up;
- The fifth group was in charge of innovative ways to design and conduct investigator-initiated clinical trials of new drugs to meet the regulatory requirements for approval by health authorities.
All delegates gathered at the end of the Conference to report on the main outcomes for each breakout session and a final discussion was held on the definition of the 2019 ACCELERATE Action Plan. The Conference presentations and photos are available on the website. The 8th ACCELERATE Paediatric Oncology Conference will take place on 6-7 February 2020 in Brussels, Belgium. More information coming soon, so stay tuned! Further information: www.accelerate-platform.eu