Data from Alex Keen - Curated by EPG Health - Last updated 04 May 2018

Organised by ESMO and IASLC, this year’s ELCC is being held in Geneva, Switzerland from 11‒14 April 2018. This event grants the annual Heine H. Hansen (HHH) award to a scientific investigator who has made special, wide-reaching and significant contributions to lung cancer research and education, recognising their lifelong achievements.

Heine H. Hansen was a Danish oncologist whose deep interest in lung cancer led him to become one of the cofounders of the IASLC and ESMO, holding senior positions within both organisations. His involvement helped shape modern oncology practice through the promotion of ESMO Clinical Practice Guidelines, the establishment of a National Representative Committee to bridge ESMO with national oncology organisations, and the inclusion of Eastern European nations to promote modern clinical practice.

This year’s recipient of the HHH Award is Fabrice Barlesi, Professor of Medicine at the University of Aix Marseille and Head of the Multidisciplinary Oncology and Therapeutic Innovations Department at Assistance Publique Hôpitaux de Marseille. He also coordinates the Centre of Early Phase Cancer Trials of Marseille which facilitates patient access to promising but unlicensed medicines, helping treat people that would otherwise have few options, whilst advancing scientific understanding.

Fabrice Barlesi. © To the respective authors.

He specialises in molecular profiling of patients with lung cancer, helping to categorise each type cancer into a specific genetic sub-set that recognises that different mutations in different genes cause varying forms of disease, each requiring individualised treatment. These ‘driver’ mutations lead to constitutive activation of various signalling proteins, encouraging tumorigenesis and proliferation through various pathways, requiring different treatment paradigms. For example, those with MET mutations have been shown to respond well to an anti-MET antibody with erlotinib, a treatment specific to MET mutation positive patients.

"In less than a decade, cancer diagnosis and treatment has progressed considerably. As in many other cancers, 'histologic historical classification' of lung tumours into sub-types (squamous cell, adenocarcinoma, large or small carcinoma cells) was disrupted by the advent of molecular profiling. Today, more than a dozen forms of lung tumours have been identified based on molecular alterations leading to bio-guided treatments, marketed or under development, with a significant improvement in survival", states Barlesi.

One of his most notable projects is the Biomarkers France study, a landmark investigation that assessed the impact of routine molecular profiling on non-small cell lung cancer outcomes. This huge study collected data on more that 17,600 patients from across France, with some surprising results. For example, less than half of patients with EGFR mutations were given EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors as a first line treatment, the most effective therapy for these patients, highlighting a real need for improvement. The study not only demonstrated that regular large scale molecular profiling is possible, but that it significantly improves survival rates and quality of life.

Professor Barlesi will be continuing with the Biomarkers France project, collecting new data that utilises advancements in our understanding of biomarkers and immuno-oncology medicines.

The Heine H. Hansen Award will be presented to Professor Barlesi during the Heine H. Hansen Award Lecture at ELCC on Wednesday 11 April 2018, 13:45–14:15, Room B. Professor Barlesi’s keynote lecture is entitled ‘The power of the multiple H’.

Resources & further reading

European Lung Cancer Congress 2018

Barlesi F, et al. Biomarkers France: a first and distinctive step in assessing the impact of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients routine molecular profiling. Transl Cancer Res. 2016;5(Suppl. 5):S608–S609.

Barlesi F, et al. Routine molecular profiling of patients with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer: results of a 1-year nationwide programme of the French Cooperative Thoracic Intergroup (IFCT). Lancet. 2016;387(10026):1415–1426.

Peters S, Zimmermann S. The French initiative paves the way: routine molecular profiling of advanced non-small-cell lung cancer fights inequalities in access to molecular targeted therapy and improves patient outcome. Transl Cancer Res. 2016;5(2):124–126.

Tonato M. Heine H. Hansen, 1938–2011: a European oncologist. Annals of Oncology. 2012;23(2):283–284.

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