July 23, 2020

Winship research at AACR Virtual Meeting: COVID-19 and Cancer

Photo of Winship research at AACR Virtual Meeting: COVID-19 and Cancer

Research by Winship investigators was presented at the American Association for Cancer Research virtual meeting on COVID19 and Cancer, July 20-22.

Research by Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University (Winship) was presented at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) virtual meeting on COVID19 and Cancer, July 20-22.

Winship radiation oncologist Clayton B. Hess, MD, MPH, gave a virtual poster presentation on an Emory study using low dose lung radiotherapy to lessen lung inflammation in hospitalized patients with COVID pneumonia. Hess and Winship radiation oncologist Mohammad Khan, MD, PhD, are co-principal investigators on this highly innovative trial initiated by Winship Cancer Institute and other Emory physicians.

Hess presented data on the first five patients treated on the RESCUE 1-19 trial (Radiation Eliminates Storming Cytokines and Unchecked Edema as a 1-Day treatment for COVID-19). The goal of this phase I/II trial was to show safety and efficacy in using LD-RT to reduce the pulmonary inflammation that severely affects COVID-19 patients and threatens their ability to breathe on their own.

"Before the antibiotic era, low-dose lung radiation consistently improved symptoms in patients with pneumonia while causing remarkably few side effects. We reproduced these historic treatments in patients with COVID-19 pneumonia to evaluate safety. We observed stabilization or improvement of symptoms and no side effects over five days in five patients," says Hess. "We don't yet know whether the treatment is effective, but it appears safe. This opens the door for further study."

Winship research was also represented in the AACR virtual meeting in the presentation "Understanding the impact of COVID in cancer patients through the COVID-19 and Cancer (CCC-19) and other COVID consortiums." Winship hematologist Mehmet Asim Bilen, MD and Colleen Lewis, NP, director of clinical operations for Winship's Phase I Clinical Trials Program, co-authored the Lancet publication of the CCC-19 work. The study was presented at the AACR virtual meeting by Brian Rini, MD, with the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center.

Patrik A. Patel, MD, pediatric hematology fellow with Children's Healthcare of Atlanta and Emory School of Medicine, presented the team's clinical experience treating two adolescents who presented with new diagnoses of acute myeloid leukemia and concurrent COVID-19. Myles McCrary, Emory medical student, presented research from the Emory Department of Dermatology on the use of dermoscopic photographs to help triage teledermatology consults in the COVID-19 era.

The AACR program began with a keynote address, titled "Coronavirus infections: More than just the common cold," by Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). The two-day meeting featured a number of speakers focusing on emerging data in basic, clinical, and epidemiologic research related to COVID-19 and cancer. The program also highlighted the increased incidence of severe COVID-19 within certain ethnic groups and in association with socioeconomic disparities.

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