Last week I attended the annual meeting of the Children’s Oncology Group. Like last year, the meeting was held in Denver, Colorado. The Children’s Oncology Group is the organization that coordinates the majority of clinical research into childhood cancer in North America. We conduct clinical trials ranging from early Phase I studies of brand new drugs through Phase III trials designed to optimize the treatment of children with a wide variety of cancers.
Unfortunately, this year I was only able to attend part of the meeting. I did get to spend a full day attending various meetings related to ongoing and upcoming bone cancer-related clinical trials. It was an exciting day because we are entering the era I spoke about as “the future” when I was interviewing for medical schools back in the 1980’s – the era of “molecular medicine.” All of the upcoming studies under discussion involved the use of at least one drug that works differently from traditional chemotherapy. Drugs that target specific biological differences between normal cells and cancer cells. These drugs have tremendous potential to improve our treatment of children (and adults) with cancer by being more effective and having fewer side effects. As George Allen, the coach of my favorite football team when I was a kid, used to say, “The future is now.”
Like last year, I also took some time to relax while I was out west. Last year, I wandered around Denver, but this year I rented a car and explored the mountains. South of Denver, west of Colorado Springs, lies Pikes Peak, which already had snow at the summit.