GI ASCO 2020: Colon and Rectal Cancer Research Updates


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Fight Colorectal Cancer staff and research advocates recently attended the 2020 Gastrointestinal Cancer’s Symposium (GIASCO) in San Francisco, California. Thousands of researchers, oncologists, and patient advocates from around the world were in attendance to learn about the latest research updates in gastrointestinal cancers, including those of the colon and rectum. 

Conference Highlights 

Below are several studies that we’re keeping an eye on:

Targeted Agent and Profiling Utilization Registry (TAPUR) 

The TAPUR study is the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s (ASCO) first clinical trial aiming to understand if FDA approved cancer drugs work in cancer types other than those they were originally approved for (for example, treating a CRC patient with a drug approved for melanoma).

Abstract 122: Cobimetinib plus vemurafenib (C+V) in patients (Pts) with colorectal cancer (CRC) with BRAF V600E mutations: Results from the TAPUR Study.

This study investigated cobimetinib and vemurafenib, a combination already approved for melanoma, in patients with BRAF V600E- mutated colorectal cancer. The overall response rate (ORR) was 29%, the median progression-free survival (PFS) was 15.8 weeks weeks, and the median overall survival (OS) was 38.9 weeks. According to researchers, in this population, ORRs have been less than 5%, and PFS has been as low as two months.

Abstract 132: Pertuzumab plus trastuzumab (P+T) in patients (Pts) with colorectal cancer (CRC) with ERBB2 amplification or overexpression: Results from the TAPUR Study.

Although only a small percentage of patients with colorectal cancer have HER2 amplifications (5-7%), it is an important mutation to test for in precision medicine. In this study, 28 patients were treated with pertuzumab and trastuzumab. The ORR was 14%, the PFS was 17.2 weeks. After one year, 58% of patients were still alive. In addition, the doublet was well tolerated. Researchers are hopeful that this combination will continue to be beneficial in those with HER2 amplifications.


Colorectal cancer patients enrolled in this phase I study received regorafenib plus nivolumab and had an overall response rate of 36%. According to researchers, these findings are encouraging and a future randomized control trial is being planned to further test this combination.


Dr. Scott Kopetz presented updates on the BEACON trial. Patients who were given encorafenib and cetuximab, with or without binimetinib, had better quality of life than patients who received irinotecan plus cetuximab or FOLFIRI. Patients on the doublet (cetuximab + encorafenib) had a 46% reduction in risk, compared to those on the triplet (cetuximab + encorafenib + binimetinib) who had 44-45% reduction in risk. 

In October 2019, researchers presented data showing the overall survival on the triplet was 9.0 months and 8.4 months on the doublet combination. Ultimately, researchers decided to submit the doublet to the FDA for approval versus the triplet based on similar outcomes and slightly better quality of life.

If you didn’t catch our Facebook Live with Dr. Jen Kolb, a gastroenterologist from the University of Colorado, be sure to head over to our Facebook page for more info! Dr. Kolb discusses the theme of age at GIASCO for colorectal cancer research and how this translates into care.

Immunotherapy Working Group

The Fight CRC Immunotherapy (IO) Working Group had its fourth-annual meeting to discuss next steps in immunotherapy. The think tank, composed of leaders in oncology and research advocacy, had lengthy discussions regarding next steps for the Fight CRC Trial Finder, as well as understanding the current state of the science in immunotherapy and the best way to move forward.

Next potential steps for this group include refreshing the Fight CRC/Cancer Research Institute Immunotherapy Blueprint, continuing partnerships in the field, and growing the Trial Finder. Although there haven’t been big strides in immunotherapy in the last several years, Fight CRC will continue to lead the IO Working Group to move the state of the science ahead and continue pushing for the best research possible.

Research Advocacy in Full Swing!

This year, Fight CRC research advocates had the opportunity to tour Proteus’ lab in Hayward, CA. The morning began with introductions and a brief background on the company history and the device development process.

Proteus Digital Health is the creator of Proteus Discover, a device that measures medication treatment effectiveness and helps providers improve clinical outcomes.

Afterwards, research advocates toured the facilities and saw how Proteus Digital Health is created. They got an inside look at the equipment and technology that goes into making a device that benefits cancer patients and improves their quality of life. 

The day ended with a discussion of the patient perspective and how research advocates use their voices to push for the best research possible for all people facing a colon or rectal cancer diagnosis.

GIASCO was a full four days, but the work doesn’t end when we leave the conference. The research never stops and Fight CRC will relentlessly push for better science, always putting the patient first.