24th Annual Convention Report

24th Annual Convention of Indian Association for Cancer Research & International Symposium on 'Human Papillomavirus and Cervical Cancer'

Noida, India,

February 9-12, 2005


24th Annual Convention of Indian Association for Cancer Research (IACR) and an International Symposium on 'Human Papillomavirus and Cervical Cancer' was held at Noida from February 9-12, 2005. The event was organized by Institute of Cytology and Preventive Oncology, a premier cancer institute of Indian Council of Medical Research. This convention was the Association's most successful meeting attended by more than 50 international and 100 national experts besides more than 400 delegates comprising basic scientists, clinicians and students. Cervical cancer being the major cancer in Indian women, the Symposium was designed to focus mainly on cervical cancer, its principal causative agent Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and possible vaccines against it, while IACR Convention covered all aspects of major human cancers. The main objectives of this conference were to emphasize early detection, clinical cancer research, new pharmacological interventions, use of genomics and proteomics in cancer diagnosis, prevention and therapy, and better management of cancer.

The four day meeting included 20 scientific sessions on various aspects of cancer research of which 6 plenary sessions were dedicated to "HPV and cervical cancer".  The highlights of this meeting included sessions on molecular epidemiology, molecular mechanisms of carcinogenesis, bioinformatics, HPV vaccine and a special session of panel discussion on early detection of cervical cancer.  The session on HPV Vaccine for the control of cervical cancer was participated by all major international groups working on development of HPV Vaccine e.g. Merck; GlaxoSmithKline, Belgium; National Cancer Institute; World Health Organization, Geneva; International Agency for Research in Cancer (IARC), Lyon; German Cancer Research Centre (DKFZ), Heilelberg, Germany; University of Quinsland, Australia including all major groups working on HPV and cervical cancer in India.

Each day began with a series of plenary lectures involving a panel of expert speakers, who presented their papers and shared their views on different aspects of cancer. In addition, four Poster Sessions, one on each day of the meeting and 5 special public lectures by veterans like, Prof. Harald zur Housen, Prof. Inder Verma, Dr. Indraneel Mittra, and Dr. K. A. Dinshaw were held. An oration on oral cancer was delivered by IACR President Dr. D. Saranath. In addition, there were as many as 45 plenary lectures and 19 Invited Oral Presentations by renowned experts from India and abroad. To encourage the young participants, 23 outstanding abstracts were selected for Delegate Oral Presentations. VB Kamat and Shri RH Jaju Awards for Post-doctoral students received four nominations, Shri Sitaram Joglekar and Smt. Mangala Bamane Awards for Predoctoral students received 12 nominations and Shri Rajnikant Baxi Award for Best Poster Presentations received 14 nominations. In addition, 12 best poster presentations were selected by panel of experts for the Appreciation Awards by the Conference Secretariate. In total, more than 250 presentations were made. The abstracts of all the oral and poster presentations were separately evaluated and published as supplement in the February 2005 issue of Indian Journal of Medical Research and can be accessed via internet.


Wednesday, 9th February

The meeting was inaugurated by Dr. Altaf A. Lal, Health Attaché and HHS, Regional Representative for South Asia, Embassy of United States of America, New Delhi. in the gracious presence of Prof. Usha K. Luthra, Chairperson, Dr. Bela Shah, and Dr. Dhananjaya Saranath, Dr. Neelam Shirshat and Dr. B.C. Das on the dias.

The meeting began with the special orations of Dr. D. Saranath and Dr. K.A. Dinshaw, Director of Tata Memorial Centre which were followed by four plenary sessions on Cancer Genomics and Proteomics, Molecular Mechanisms of Carcinogenesis -I, Advances in Anti-Cancer Therapeutics, and  Genetic Basis of Cancer. Session on Cancer Genomics and Proteomics was dominated by the veteran cancer geneticist Prof. RSK Chaganti from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center who demonstrated a new technique Array Comparative Genomic Hybridization. Dr. Subrata Sen of MD Anderson Cancer Center spoke on a novel family of serine/threonine kinases, named as Aurora kinases. Dr. M. Radhkrishna Pillai of Regional Cancer Centre spoke about the nutrigenomics of cancer. Session on Molecular Mechanisms of Carcinogenesis -I started with plenary lecture of Dr. Tej Pandita of Washington University School of Medicine who spoke about the ATM and its role on telomeres and cancer. Prof. Bharat B. Aggarwal of MD Anderson Cancer Center revealed how inflammation plays a major role in development of cancer. Dr. Debi Sarkar of University of Delhi South Campus showed Hepatitis B virus X protein modulates mitogenic signaling cascades in mouse liver and results in development of hepatocellular carcinoma. Dr. Gopal Kundu from National Centre for Cell Science showed molecular signaling events induced by osteopontin. Dr. K. Somasundaram of Indian Institute of Science presented his novel finding that status of AP-2α protein determines the chemosensitivity of cancer cells. During the session Advances in Anti-Cancer Therapeutics, Dr. Tapas Kundu of JNCAR showed how alteration in chromatin organization modulates the expression of underlying genes. In the parallel session on Genetic Basis of Cancer, Prof. Kiran Kucharia of AIIMS described her recent genetic approaches in the diagnosis and management of human cancers. Dr. Narendra Chirmule, Merck discussed various aspects of gene-targeted therapy of cancer. Dr. Mark van Asten from the Digene Inc. described the development of Hybrid Capture method for HPV DNA testing.

The last presentation of the evening was the Public lecture of Prof. Inder Verma of Salk Institute who described and rightly justified gene therapy as the medicine of 21st century. Dr. Verma during his excellent informative lecture showed new horizons of gene therapy and demonstrated use of advanced lentiviral vectors for transformation of wide variety of the cells. Dr. Verma also addressed social and ethical implications of gene therapy to human health.


Thursday, 10th February

Second day of the meeting was exclusively dedicated to the International Symposium on "Human Papillomavirus and Cervical Cancer". It began with the Keynote lecture on Papillomaviruses in human cancers by Prof. Dr. Harald zur Hausen of German Cancer Research Center. He talked about his pioneering work on isolation and classification of important papillomavirus types particularly type 16 and 18. Keynote address was followed by three plenary sessions on Early detection, epidemiology, and HPV vaccine and a panel discussion.

The session on Early Detection started with the presentation of Dr. John W Sellors from PATH who highlighted the promising role of VIA and VILI for mass screening and early detection of cervical cancers.  Dr. Saleem Khan, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine spoke about microarray analysis of gene expression profiles in human papillomavirus - associated cervical and oral cancers. Prof Keerti V. Shah, John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health presented an overview of research on HPV infection in cancers of non-genital sites. Dr. Jeffrey Tan of Australia's Royal Women's Hospital spoke about the clinical applications of HPV-DNA testing in cervical cancer control and presented his experience with HPV-DNA testing in Australia. Dr. Partha Basu, Chittranjan National Cancer Institute (CNCI) presented the role of host immune response to HPV as predictive marker for persistence or progression of cervical neoplasia.  During Epidemiology session, Dr. R. Sankaranarayanan of IARC presented the accuracy of HPV testing in primary screening for cervical neoplasia in several cross sectional studies.  Prof. Matti Hakama from Finnish Cancer Registry shared his experience with Finnish cervical cancer screening programme. Dr. A. Nandakumar of National Cancer Registry Programme showed how convergence of information technology helped in cancer surveillance and in descriptive epidemiological studies of cancer cervix in India. Dr. Ramdas Chatterjee from CNCI showed implications of p53 polymorphism and cervical HPV viral load during pregnancy. In the HPV Vaccine session the first presentation was made by Dr. John T. Schiller of National Cancer Institute (NIH) who presented his observations in the development of prophylactic HPV vaccines to prevent cervical cancer. Dr. David Jenkins of GlaxoSmithKline, Belgium presented the data associated with the development, safety and efficacy of their HPV 16/18 vaccine 'Cervarix'. Dr. Elaine Esber from Merck & Co. Inc presented the clinical development of Merck's quadrivalent VLP vaccine named 'Gardasil'. Dr. Sonia Pagliusi from World Health Organization discussed the potential impact of HPV prevention worldwide. Dr. Robin Mukhopadhyay from ACTREC presented his data on HPV VLP developed for ELISA-based screening of HPV. Prof. Ian Frazer of the University of Queensland who dealt with the therapeutic aspect of vaccination with respect to HPV and talked about the immunotherapy for cancer and pre-cancer lesions using 'CerVax'. A Panel discussion on "Early detection of cervical cancer - an interface between basic scientists and clinicians in oncology" was moderated by Prof Usha K. Luthra, and Prof. John W. Sellors. Several experts including Prof EM deVilliers Dr. Jeffrey Tan, Dr. Raje Nijhawan, PGIMR, Dr. Dinesh Gupta of Digene Corporation, Dr. Hemant Tongaonkar of Tata Memorial Hospital, Dr. Neeraja Bhatla of AIIMS, Dr. Radhika Srinivasan from PGIMR, Dr. Swaraj Batra from MAMC, Dr. Matti Hakama from Finland actively participated in the discussion and expressed their views on the topic.

The session was followed by IACR General Body Meeting which was attended by all members of the IACR and its office bearers.


Friday, 11th February

First two sessions, Molecular Mechanisms of Cervical Carcinogenesis and DNA Diagnostics in Cervical Cancer, on the third day of the meeting were also dedicated to the International HPV Symposium. Dr. Sudhir Krishna of National Centre for Biological Sciences discussed the role of Notch and EGFR/ErbB2 signaling in human cervical carcinogenesis Prof. Frank W Roesl of DKFZ spoke about histone deacetylases (HDAC) as targets in cervical cancer therapy. Dr. David Pim of ICGEB, Trieste made his presentation on interaction between the E6 oncoprotein of high-risk HPV and PDZ protein targets which contribute to cervical carcinogenesis. Dr. VVS Murty from College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University talked about the genetic pathways in cervical cancer progression. Dr. M K Doeberitz of University of Heidelberg demonstrated development of p16INK4a as novel biomarker for early detection and prevention of cervical cancer. Dr. Ramesh Gupta from University of Louisville showed alterations in DNA adduct profiles during cervical cancer development. Dr. R. Nijhawan discussed the issue of cervical cancer screening and HPV testing in India. Ms. Akhila Balasubhramanium of University of Washington showed screening method for detection of hypermethylated genes in women with and without cervical neoplasia. Prof. Costas Balas, Technical University of Crete, Greece demonstrated dynamic spectral imaging for in vivo diagnostics, screening and guided therapeutics of cervical neoplasia.

Apart from these sessions, there were three major sessions on Cell Cycle Control and Apoptosis, Clinical Cancer Research and Inflammation and Metastasis. Dr. D. Karunagaran of Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology presented his paper on the involvement of bax in the regulation of curcumin-mediated apoptosis. Dr. Rajesh Agarwal of Colorado Health Science Center demonstrated how inositol hexaphophate (IP6) prevents prostate cancer by modulating cell cycle regulators. Dr. Samit Chattopadhyay of National Centre for Cell Science talked about tumor suppressor SMAR1. Dr. Rabin N. Chatterjee, University of Calcutta presented his work on Drosophila system indicating the role of TGF in growth control. The first talk of the session Clinical Cancer Research was on the Haemopoetic stem cell transplantation by Prof. Lalit Kumar, Institute Rotary Cancer Hospital, AIIMS. Prof. Kusum Verma of AIIMS talked on early detection of cancer cervix in resource poor settings. Prof. P. Kar, MAMC talked on molecular epidemiology prevention and therapeutic strategies for the management of hepatocellular carcinoma. Dr. J Nair from DKFZ delivered the talk on chronic inflammation, stress response enzymes & DNA damage during the session on Inflammation and metastasis. Dr. S. Ashraf Imam from Huntington Medical Research institute talked about E-Cadherin/ P-catenin and their role in intercellular adhesion of metastasis of prostate cancer cells in bone. Finally, Dr. Chandan Kumar from ACTREC discussed the issue of increased expression of insulin like growth factor binding protein (IGFBP2) in HER -2 over-expressing Breast Cancer Cells.

In the Young Scientists Award Presentations Sessions, there was an overwhelming response. Four postdoctoral fellows competed for the Kamat-Jaju Awards, twelve for Joglekar-Bamane Awards and fourteen for Rajnikant Baxi Award. For Kamat - Jaju Awards Dr. Gauravi Mishra of TMH presented her data on early detection of breast and cervical cancers among women in Mumbai, Dr. Jatinder Kaur from AIIMS presented the experimental model for oral cancer which was used to understand the molecular mechanisms of retinoid action. Dr. Madhabananda Kar of IRCH, AIIMS demonstrated a diagnostic correlation in in vivo magnetic resonance spectroscopy and histopathological evaluation of soft tissue sarcomas. Dr. Sanjay Gupta from ACTREC demonstrated his work on epigenetic modifications and genomic instability during onset and progression of liver cancer. All the presentations were of extremely good quality. For Joglekar - Bamane Award, Ms. Anamika Bose from CNCI, Mr. Ashwin L. Kotnis  from ACTREC, Ms. Hadida Yasmin from North Bengal University, Siliguri, Ms. Nisha Singh of Banaras Hindu University (BHU), Ms. Poonam R. Molli from ACTREC, Ms. R. Subapriya from Annamalai Universisty, Ms. Rachana Sainger from GCRI, Ahmedabad, Ms. Renu Sharma of AIIMS, Mr. Sandeep Singh from NCCS, Ms. Sangeeta Mehta from PGIMR Ms. Shubhada S. Bharne, ACTREC, Mr. Mahendra Pal Singh from BHU gave excellent presentations.

The presentations were followed by the Public Lecture by Dr. Indraneel Mittra, the Director-General, Bhopal Memorial Hospital on "Cancer causes and prevention".


Saturday, 12th February

The last day of the conference included two plenary sessions on 'Molecular Mechanisms of Carcinogenesis (II)' and 'Breast Cancer' and two free paper sessions. Prof. zur Hausen, the first speaker of the session addressed the issue of cancer causation by viruses whereby he demonstrated several different virus families contain members involved in human carcinogenesis. Dr. Shubhda Chiplunkar of ACTREC discussed the role of T and NKT cells in innate immunity to tumors.  Dr. Sushanta Banerjee from University of Kansas Medical Center presented his data on Protykin, a herbal product used in Chinese traditional medicine and proposed it as a future medicine for chemotherapy in patients with advanced breast cancer. Dr. Ravi Sirdeshmukh from CCMB shared his preliminary work on human gliomas and the proteomics approach to understand genesis of these cancers. Dr. Anil Shanker of NCI showed his data on interplay of CD8 T lymphocytes and natural killer cells in immunotherapy of cancer.

The final plenary session of the conference was on Breast Cancer where Prof. EM deVilliers of DKFZ showed her recent observations regarding presence of Papillomavirus DNA sequences in condylomatous lesions of mammillae and in invasive carcinoma of the breast. Dr. Sunita Saxena from Institute of Pathology talked on early onset of breast cancer and genetic susceptibility in Indian women. Dr. N.S. Murthy of Indian Council of Medical Research presented the trends in incidence of breast cancer in India.


Poster Sessions

Along with the oral sessions, four Poster Sessions were organized on different aspects of human cancers and were scheduled on each day of the conference. The theme of Poster Session I was cell cycle regulation and apoptosis, molecular drug designing, cancer immunology and vaccine. In this session 45 presentations were made. Poster Session II was dedicated as per the theme of international symposium to human Papillomavirus and cervical cancer. In this field only 33 presentations were made. In Poster Session II, 34 posters related to transcriptional regulation, signal transduction, cancer genomics and proteomics were presented. In addition, 14 poster presentations for Shri Rajnikant Baxi Award were also displayed for evaluation in this session. On the last day of the meeting, Poster Session IV dealt with the field of bioinformatics, molecular epidemiology and clinical cancer research and 43 presentations were made. To encourage young students and scientists, in addition to the IACR awards, Conference Secretariat announced 10 "Special Appreciation Awards for Best Posters" the number of which was later increased to 12 upon recommendations of the expert members. All the poster presentations were evaluated by a panel of national and international experts.


Exhibition : Technology  Against Cancer - 2005

In conjunction with this meeting, a world class Exhibition 'Technology Against Cancer-2005' was organized by leading national and multinational companies in the field of biomedicine, biochemistry and life sciences like GlaxoSmithkline, BD Biosciences, Genomic Solutions, Digene, Steel Case, Biotools, Roche, Cancer Genetics, Forth Photonics and Yorko demonstrated their recent technologies, products, equipments and pharmaceuticals. Overall 30 different companies participated in this event. The exhibition was inaugurated by Dr. Altaf A. Lal, Health Attaché and HHS, Regional Representative for South Asia, Embassy of United States of America.


At the end of the four day's exhaustive scientific feast, the meeting finally reached to the climax when the awards were announced.  The awards for Best Oral Presentation by Young Scientist under the category of Mangala Bhamane Award was given to Ms. Poonam R. Molli of ACTREC for her work on establishment of cell line model to study signal transduction events in CML. Sitaram Joglekar Award was given to Ms. Rinu Sharma of AIIMS for unraveling of novel molecular targets in esophageal cancer by gene expression profiling. Best Poster Presentation Award under the category of Rajnikant Baxi Award was given to Ms. Sanchita Mallick of ACTREC for her poster on molecular insights into apoptosis signaling in human oral tumors and cell lines. Twelve "Special Appreciation Awards for Best Posters" which consisted a certificate and cash award of Rs. 1000/- were given to Ms. Jyoti A Kode from ACTREC, Ms Lekshamy Srinivas from RCC Trivandrum, Ms. Sutapa Mahata from ICPO, Mr. Geo Fransis from RCC Trivandrum, Ms. Sweta Srivastava from NCBS, Ms. Itisam Sarangi from IIT Kharagpur, Ms. Sasikala PS from Cancer Institute (WIA), Ms. Meenakshi Sawhney from AIIMS, Ms. Abhilasha Agarwal from Institute of Pathology, Prof. S.M. Hadi from Aligarh Muslim University Ms. Abha Sherma from University of Rajesthan and to Ms. Shivani Arora from AIIMS. On this occasion, Dr. Shirsat informed that Silver Jubilee year of IACR will be celebrated at IACR founding city Mumbai. Finally the vote of thanks was given by Dr. B.C. Das and the meeting was announced closed. The excellent presentations by the participants, both scientists and students made the meeting a grand success. The event was well covered by national and international media and scientific magazines.


Recommendations of the Conference

To develop protocols for early detection and the better management of most prevalent cancers in India such as cervical, breast and oral cancer.

Cancer vaccines, particularly economically viable indigenously prepared vaccine should be developed but till that time the already developed vaccines may be employed for clinical trial in India.  An action plan be initiated for the execution of these recommendations.

Mass scale molecular epidemiological screening program should be taken up to create baseline data in India. 

To see the feasibility of using HPV-DNA test as diagnostic procedure with or without Pap test for early detection of cervical cancer. 

Development of herbal anticancer drugs such as curcumin and others that are safe to administer and economically viable for developing countries like India should be undertaken.

To identify additional reliable molecular markers using modern biological approaches and high throughput technology for detection of cancer at an early stage.