On the 5-6th of March I attended the annual Frontiers in Cancer Research & Therapy conference at the Nobel Forum, Karolinska Institutet. This is a conference organized by people at my department. Though I’ve been working at KI for several years, this was the first time I attended this conference because I’ve previously been extremely busy. This time I was lucky enough to have less work so I could attend. I attended the conference with an assignment. As I enjoy writing, I was asked to write an article about the conference for the Swedish magazine Onkologi i Sverige (Oncology in Sweden) and for our departmental magazine OPUS. The conference was divided into four sessions. The first talks focused on tumor microenvironment (the environment surrounding the tumor). During this session the attendees could listen to speakers talking about recent advances in angiogenic research and the various ways to block angiogenesis as a strategy to cure cancer. Another speaker said that cancer cells can secrete small molecules called microRNA (miR). These miR can be taken up by normal cells. Cells that have taken up miR molecules are unable to take up glucose (sugar). This results in an excess of glucose in the body that instead will be taken up by the cancer cells. The cancer cells use glucose as energy to proliferate and form tumors. Therefore it is important that everyone should limit their sugar/food consumption. The second day started off with a session dedicated to a very important field, namely cancer therapy. The interesting thing about this session was that one of the speakers talked about how his lab used the Sleeping Beauty system to re-program T-cells (immune cells) to make them kill cancer cells. If you have read my post about “jumping genes”, I wrote about the Sleeping Beauty transposon and how it could be used in cancer research. The last session focused on cancer biomarkers (indicators for cancer) and how to find them for predicting cancer in patients.
After two days of intensive scientific discussions the day was still not over yet. As in previous years, the conference ended with a party. This year the party was held at Nalen. Those who attended the party were treated to a three course dinner and live music. After the dinner it was time for everyone to show off their skills on the dance floor. If you have ever wanted to see professors have a dance off, then this is the party for you!