February 2014 Newsletter

Celebrating the 10th Anniversary of EGFR Mutations Discovery

Table of Contents

President Corner

Tony Mok Photo

Tony S.K. Mok, IASLC President 

“Om” is the most sacred syllable in Sanskrit language that reflects wisdom.

“Oops” is the stupid sound we make when we have said or done something wrong.

Over the past ten years of clinical research on molecular targeted therapy we have experienced much “Om” and “Oops”. Gefitinib was first approved in Japan and United States on the basis of two randomized phase II studies (IDEAL I and II). Despite the relatively low response rate and unimpressive PFS, the dramatic tumor response observed in the patient influenced the authorities to approve the drug for unselected populations. Only with the negative result from ISEL, gefitinib was basically completely withdrawn from the United States. A big “Oops” for FDA indeed.

Only with the discovery of activating EGFR mutations in 2004, it has become clear that the mutated receptor is the only reason why EGFR TKIs work. Based on this genomic marker, IPASS and 5 other randomized studies have confirmed the superiority of first line EGFR TKI over chemotherapy and changed the paradigm of therapy ever since. A big “Om” for the discoverers of EGFR mutations indeed.

“OM” is in the genOMic, and that is exactly how we should investigate molecular targeted-therapy.


Fred Hirsch

Fred R. Hirsch, IASLC Chief Executive Officer

Dear Colleagues,

To commemorate the IASLC's 40th Anniversary from it's origin in 1974, over the next year we will celebrate in many ways the significant progress made in uniting global efforts to achieve reduction in lung cancer mortality and improve lung cancer care and outcomes. This year we also celebrate 10 years for the significant discovery of EGFR mutations in lung cancer, and we all know what that meant for development of personalized therapy for patients with lung cancer.

Fortunately, we continue to see significant progress in targeted-therapy for patients with lung cancer with great promise for the future. However, we see also great promise, not only in the therapy of lung cancer, but also in prevention and screening! Very encouraging last week was a press release from one of the largest retailers in the US, the CVS chain of stores, which announced that they will stop selling tobacco products in more than 650 retail stores around the country. That means a loss of 2 billion per year for the retailer! Much credit should go to this company and this decision, and hopefully this will make them a role model for other similar companies, not only in the US, but also elsewhere.


Advances in Thoracic Surgery in Lung Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment - March 12, 2014

IASLC Grand Rounds: A Monthly Series of Live Webinars. Ramaswamy Govindan, MD - Program Chair. 3rd Webinar: Advances in Thoracic Surgery in Lung Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment - Presenter: David Harpole March 12, 2014 at 8 pm EDT- Registration Open Now

IASLC/ESMO European Lung Cancer Conference (ELCC) - March 26-29, 2014

Late Registration Deadline: Mar 5, 2014  View Details

Abstract Submission Open for Chicago Multidisciplinary Symposium in Thoracic Oncology - Due May 7, 2014

The abstract submission site is now open for the Chicago Multidisciplinary Symposium in Thoracic Oncology, taking place October 30-November 1, 2014, at the Chicago Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile. This biennial, two-and-a-half day symposium is designed to provide a clinically relevant multidisciplinary update on the scientific progress in treating thoracic malignancies. The meeting is co-sponsored by ASTRO, ASCO, IASLC and the University of Chicago. Abstracts will be accepted through May 7, 2014, at 11:59 p.m. Eastern time. Visit the abstract site for submission categories and guidelines and to submit an abstract.

All IASLC Meeting Information

To see the full schedule of IASLC Meetings, visit our event page.


Meet the Investigator - Spotlight on EGFR - Yi-Long Wu, MD, FASC

Yi-long Wu Photo

President of Chinese Society of Clinical Oncology (CSCO); IASLC Board of Directors; Chief,Guangdong Lung Cancer Institute; Vice President, Guangdong General Hospital (GGH) & Guangdong Academy of Medical Sciences

Country: China

Primary Specialty: Surgical Oncology

Q1. Please briefly list and describe the current developments in EGFR that you feel are the most interesting or promising?

How to treat resistant EGFR TKIs? Based on clinical failure model and mechanism such as against T790M and cMET. 

Q2. Please briefly describe for our members what you feel are the very latest developments related to EGFR  that occurred in 2013.

The 2nd general EGFR TKI--afatinib was approved in first line setting for EGFR mutant advanced NSCLC  patients. The EGFR TKIs have very, very low efficacy (less then 2% RR) in EGFR wild type patients.

Q3. Please briefly describe the key aspects of your latest work related to this topic.

As a PI the LUX LUNG 6  (afatinib in first line setting) was published in Lancet Oncology and CTONG0806 (Gefitinib vs pemetrexed in EGFR wild type patients) was released at WCLC 2013. View/Download the WCLC 2013 Supplement in JTO and find related abstracts on page S141, S194 and S1197.

Meet the Investigator - Spotlight on EGFR - Pasi Jänne, MD, PhD

Dana Farber Cancer Institute; Director, Lowe Center for Thoracic Oncology; Scientific Director, Belfer Institute for Applied Cancer Science; Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; IASLC Board of Directors

Country: United States

Q1. Please briefly list and describe the current developments in EGFR that you feel are the most interesting or promising?

The most exciting thing is the clinical activity of the next generation EGFR inhibitors that target EGFR T790M. This is a mutation that causes resistance to all current clinical EGFR inhibitors and is the single largest cause of drug resistance. It was discovered in 2005 and for the last 8 to 9 years, we have struggled to find treatments that work against this resistant tumor. The early clinical activity of the mutant selective EGFR inhibitors is very encouraging in patients who have the T790M mutation and will likely open new therapeutic avenues for this subset of lung cancer. 

Q2. Please briefly describe for our members what you feel are the very latest developments related to EGFR  that occurred in 2013.

Introduction of the next generation EGFR inhibitors into the clinic. Understanding that EGFR mutant lung cancers express PD1 and PDL-1, which opens up the possibility for the development of combination therapies using both next generation EGFR inhibitors and anti-PD1 and PDL1 inhibitors.  Introduction of guidelines for EGFR testing.

Q3. Please briefly describe the key aspects of your latest work related to this topic.

Our lab, in collaboration with Dr. Nathanael Gray at DFCI, published the first paper describing mutant selective EGFR inhibitors that are effective against EGFR T790M in 2009. I am very excited to see this move to the clinic. We continue to study this class of agents and are currently evaluating how cancers treated with mutant selective EGFR inhibitors develop drug resistance. By understanding such resistance mechanisms, we can develop the next generation of inhibitors or combination treatment approaches.

Featured Committee - IASLC Membership Committee

Committee Chair: Suresh Senan, MD,MB,BS,MRCP,FRCR

2013 was another record year for membership.  IASLC membership has experienced 29% growth between 2011 and 2013, ending 2013 with 3,800 members.  The strongest growth rate is in the Allied Professional, Developing Country category of membership, along with Complimentary Fellow membership.  This overall growth in the number of IASLC members has been achieved through new member recruitment and online educational webinars.  

A goal of IASLC’s Membership Committee is to attract members from the entire multi-disciplinary team.  To further that goal, IASLC has updated its member communications to include language to make it clear that IASLC membership is valuable to anyone who is involved in lung cancer around the world.  IASLC is actively seeking to increase its membership among pathologists, diagnostic radiologists, basic scientists, as well as Allied Health Professionals, such as Nurses, Advocates, Pharmacists, Statisticians, Physician Assistants, and others. 

Invite-a-Fellow; Invite-a-Colleague.  In late 2012, IASLC adjusted the fellow membership to allow more students and trainees from any discipline (include allied health professions) and in 2013, IASLC introduced an online campaign for existing members to invite a fellow to take advantage of the complimentary fellow membership and join IASLC.       Click here to invite a fellow, resident or trainee now.  

IASLC Membership – Looking Ahead. In 2014, a strong emphasis will be placed on improving the IASLC member experience and we hope to make it even easier for members to engage with IASLC.  IASLC will continue with the annual membership survey, introduced in 2013, and will use the information to help guide member benefit offers and other initiatives.  In March 2014, IASLC will launch its new online, searchable membership directory.  If you have suggestions regarding membership, please contact Membership Committee chair, Suresh Senan.

Click here to view the full roster of the IASLC Membership Committee. 

14th Annual Targeted Therapies of the Treatment of Lung Cancer (Feb. 19-22, 2014) Recap from Co-Chair, Paul A. Bunn, Jr., MD

The 14th Annual Targeted Therapies of Lung Cancer meeting sponsored by the IASLC was held from Feb. 19-22 in Santa Monica, CA to an overflow audience of over 400 attendees. There were more than 180 presentations on new therapeutic targets and drugs aimed at these targets. The Opening Keynote address from Dr. Pasi Jänne, an IASLC Board member from the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, reviewed the progress being made in personalized approaches using oral tyrosine kinase inhibitors instead of standard chemotherapy. These approaches provide higher response rates, longer disease-free survival, superior quality of life and less toxicity compared to chemotherapy. However, relapse is inevitable and understanding the causes of resistance has led to novel third generation inhibitors and to novel combinations that appear to be superior to the first generation of agents. The list of driver genetic alterations is increasing as is the number of new drugs.

The first day of the meeting featured 80 presentations that included descriptions of new EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors and combinations. Monoclonal antibodies to the EGFR are not effective in those with activation mutations but the human monoclonal antibody, necitumumab was shown to improve survival in a randomized phase III trial comparing chemotherapy alone to chemotherapy plus necitumumab in patients with squamous, non-small cell lung cancer.  Newer generation ALK inhibitors were described that may be more active that the first generation crizotinib and the combination of ALK inhibitors with HSP90 inhibitors is being explored. The role of EGFR and ALK inhibitors in the adjuvant setting after surgery is being explored in randomized trials sponsored by the NCI and its cooperative groups. Many of the ALK inhibitors also inhibit the ROS activated lung cancers and activity of these agents in patients with ROS fusions is similar to those with ALK fusions.

BRAF inhibitors and TRK inhibitors in patients with BRAF mutations and NTRK fusions, respectively, have promising activity.  The HER2 gene is often amplified or mutated in lung cancer and most of the HER2 inhibitors that are being studied and used in lung cancer have promising early signs of activity.

Multiple inhibitors of the MET pathway are also under investigation and show activity as single agents,  and in combination with other pathway inhibitors. Mutations in FGFR, DDR2, ALK and MER are less common but the role of these agents with linked biomarkers is under investigation.

There was considerable excitement over the role of immune checkpoint monoclonal antibody inhibitors and multiple inhibitors of both PD1 and PDL1 showed promising results. There is intense interest in identifying the best biomarker predictors of response.  There was a debate over whether these inhibitors would best be used alone or in combination with chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or tyrosine kinase inhibitors.

Several MEK inhibitors are being studied alone, in combination with chemotherapy and with other tyrosine kinase inhibitors. These inhibitors appear to have activity in tumors with and without KRAS mutations. Early studies of mitotic checkpoint inhibitors, especially CDK4/6 inhibitors have shown activity in early studies. Newer PARP inhibitors appear to hold more promise that early PSWRP inhibitors and multiple studies are ongoing in all lung cancer histologies.

Dr. Tony Mok, IASLC President, gave a stimulating faculty dinner presentation on the "Oms" and "Oops" of lung cancer research showing how some advances are made by serendipity and some by observing both positive and negative results in clinical trials.

On the last day it was announced that the VEGFR2 human antibody ramucirumab was associated with prolonged survival in the pivotal trial comparing second line chemotherapy alone to second line therapy with ramucirumab in non-squamous and squamous cell lung cancer. Many new antibody therapies and novel drug conjugates were also discussed. One of the highlights was the presentations of novel data by fellows and young investigators. The proceedings of the meeting will be published in JTO at a later date.


IASLC Releases Annual Report for 2013

Members, volunteers, and staff of the IASLC work diligently to accomplish the goals of the strategic plan and fulfill the mission of the association. To highlight the accomplishments and activities of the society in 2013 and to set the tone for the upcoming year, the IASLC staff has created a 2013 annual report. Within the report one can find details on the organizational structure, membership, fellowships, education activities, publications, awards, meetings, the strategic plan, advocacy partners and sponsors.  Read the 2013 Annual Report

CEO Statement - IASLC Applauds US Pharmacy’s Decision to Stop Selling Tobacco Products - Fred R. Hirsch, MD, PhD

CVS Caremark, a US-based pharmacy chain, announced Wednesday it will stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products at its CVS/pharmacy stores by October 1.  In doing so, the company will be the first chain of pharmacies in the USA to discontinue tobacco sales. As the largest pharmacy in the United States based on total prescription revenue, according to the company, this represents a bold--and hopefully trendsetting--move.  

The International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) is the only global organization solely dedicated to conquering lung cancer. Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the U.S. and worldwide, causing 6.3 million deaths a year. In addition, cigarette smoking is responsible for about one in five deaths annually and a major contributor to the global pandemic of tobacco-related diseases.  This announcement follows a January 17, 2013 report from the US Surgeon General on the 50th Anniversary of the landmark 1964 first Surgeon General report on smoking and health.

The IASLC applauds this move by CVS Caremark, and strongly encourages other retailers around the world to follow suit and immediately discontinue the sale of tobacco products.  CVS Caremark has recognized and stated that “Cigarettes and tobacco products have no place in a setting where health care is delivered. This is the right thing to do.” IASLC couldn’t agree more.

 IASLC ALK Atlas now Available for Apple and Android

ALK Atlas CoverThe new IASLC Atlas of ALK Testing in Lung Cancer is designed to help pathologists, laboratory scientists, and practicing physicians better understand the background, protocol, and the interpretation of results of ALK testing in patients. The Atlas  is now available for downloading to iPhones, iPads and Android devices. Just like the book, the app addresses methods of testing and interpretation. With the added capability of search and extensive links the app engages the reader in the latest science. The app is available to download from the Apple  iTunes App Store or the Android Google Play Store for U.S. $4.99. Published in conjunction with Editorial Rx Press and with the support of Pfizer, Inc., the IASLC Atlas of ALK Testing in Lung Cancer was first distributed to attendees at the recent IASLC World Conference on Lung Cancer in Sydney, Australia. A view only version is available here. Additional distribution channels are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

textbook cover
IASLC Textbook

The IASLC Multidisciplinary Approach to Thoracic Oncology, scheduled for publication in June 2014, is designed to be the authoritative educational resource in the complex field of thoracic oncology. Led by Executive Editor Harvey I. Pass, MD, and Editors David Ball, MD, FRANZCR and Giorgio V. Scagliotti, MD, this textbook is written for thoracic cancer specialists and IASLC members worldwide who are dedicated to enhancing their knowledge in an ever-changing oncology subspecialty. The IASLC Multidisciplinary Approach to Thoracic Oncology will expand on the basics of thoracic oncology as well as be a primer on new concepts in the field.  The book will be available both in print and electronically. Electronic updates will be available digitally to provide the latest scientific information and keep readers informed and current.


IASLC 2014 Online Member Registration is Open - 3-year Membership Now Available

Membership Flyer 2014All Members will begin receiving their member renewal notices via email.  Please note that IASLC dues for Regular Members from developed countries have increased to $250.00, while dues for Developing Country and Allied Health Professional Members remain $50.00.

There are new options for each member category and Regular Members from developed countries may "lock-in" the previous member rates, and save $150.00 over three years by selecting the 3-year Membership option ($600.00). 

We encourage all members to renew early so we can ensure you have no interruption of benefits or JTO delivery and online access.  Please review the single-year and multi-year options available to you!

Renew IASLC Membership - All Categories

Join IASLC as a New Member


IASLC Members Featured in International Symposium on Malignant Mesothelioma

The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (Meso Foundation) hosts its 11th International Symposium on Malignant Mesothelioma from March 5-7 in Alexandria, VA.  The Meso Foundation (formerly known as MARF) hosts this conference for the entire mesothelioma community and this year will complement it by concurrently hosting the Mesothelioma Scientific Seminar on March 5 and 6.  The Seminar is a program for scientists and medical professionals only.  We hope to encourage and facilitate high level sharing of information, collaboration and learning amongst the experts and students of the mesothelioma medical field. 

The Seminar is chaired by IASLC Member Lee M. Krug, MD of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Chair of the Board of Directors of the Meso Foundation, and H. Richard Alexander, MD of the University of Maryland and Chair of the Science Advisory Board of the Meso Foundation.  Keynote Speakers include Professor IASLC Member Dean Fennell from the University of Leicester, Michele Carbone, MD, PhD of the University of Hawaii Cancer Center, and Ira Pastan, MD from the National Cancer Institute.  Session Moderators include IASLC Members, Liz Darlison from Mesothelioma UK, Melissa Culligan, BSN, RN, MS from the University of Pennsylvania Abramson Cancer Center and Mary Hesdorffer, MS, APRN of the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation.  A full list of agenda items and speakers can be found at


The Manchester Cancer Research Centre (MCRC) recently launched a global recruitment drive to bring 20 of the world’s best cancer experts and their teams to Manchester.  This investment is being jointly funded by The University of Manchester and The Christie NHS Foundation Trust as part of their role in the MCRC. NOTE: The submission deadline for applications is March 10, 2014.

These posts include Chairs, Clinical Senior Lecturers, Senior Lecturers and Lecturers in the following areas:

Cancer Screening and Prevention; Experimental Cancer Medicines; Radiotherapy-Related Research; Lung Cancer; Melanoma; Women’s Cancers

Details of all the vacancies can be found on the following website:

IASLC MEMBERS: If you have a career opportunity you would like featured, please email for consideration.