Snapshots from AACR 2016: Vice President Biden calls for accelerating cancer research progress, CRISPR as a drug target screening tool and low-fat diets impacting breast cancer. This week in Abstract Science.

This week AACR 2016, the American Association for Cancer Research’s an annual conference, took place in New Orleans, LA. The meeting provides cancer researchers from around the globe the opportunity to exchange ideas they hope will develop into the next impactful cancer treatment. Here, we recap some interesting topics that were presented.

Low-Fat Diet Linked to Better Breast Cancer Survival, But Doubts Remain

(STAT, 4/16/2016, Leah Samuel)

A new study presented at AACR 2016 found that postmenopausal women with breast cancer had a reduced risk of death if they ate a low-fat diet. This randomized trial included nearly 50,000 women, ages 50 to 79, with no prior breast cancer. After approximately eight years of the study, 1,767 of the overall group had been diagnosed with breast cancer. The rate of survival was 82 percent for those in the dietary group, versus 78 percent for the control group. However, historically, studies that show how diet affect the risk of breast cancer have had mixed findings.

CRISPR as a Screening Tool for Drug Targets

(GEN, 4/19/2016, Jeffrey S. Buguliskis, Ph.D.)

CRISPR/Cas9 continues to be utilized in new ways in cancer research. Most recently, a group of investigators presented data that showed how the genome editing technology could be employed as a screening tool for identifying or validating druggable cancer genes. David Sabatini, M.D., Ph.D., member of the Whitehead Institute and professor of biology at MIT, attended AACR and discussed his work in identifying the absolutely essential genes that cancer cells need to survive. Specifically, “he found that pathologically similar cancer lines had very distinct molecular signatures, with only a few genes being absolutely essential among all cancer types.”

Biden Vows to Accelerate Cancer Research Progress

(R&D Magazine, 4/21/2016, Stephanie Guzowski)

Vice President Joe Biden called on leading cancer researchers to collaborate more effectively and share data more readily. Biden stated, “I really do believe we’re on the cusp of breakthroughs that will save lives and benefit all of humanity.” During his speech, Biden described the Cancer Moonshot initiative’s plans to accelerate and encourage cancer research. The team will work to increase cancer funding, provide incentives for public and private sectors to do research and facilitate data sharing between cancer centers and technology firms.

—Articles compiled by Social Media Strategist Samantha Jorgensen