The development of immunotherapies such as immune checkpoint inhibitor and CAR-T therapy has created a new landscape of cancer treatment. A few immune checkpoint inhibitors have been approved by regulatory authorities around the world. With Opdivo and Keytruda being available in select cities across China, cancer treatment in China has slowly entered the era of immunotherapy. Many Chinese patients now have access to the most advanced immune-oncology treatments, locally.
However, international oncologists with rich clinical experience in immunotherapy remind us that the therapeutic effect of immunotherapy is determined by various factors such as the tumor itself, the tumor microenvironment and the immune system, and their use is often accompanied by dermatological and gastrointestinal toxicities, myocarditis, acute interstitial nephritis and endocrine disorders. Therefore, the availability of drugs does not mean definite benefit. In order to deliver the maximum benefit and widely apply immunotherapy, Chinese oncologists should firstly learn to manage toxicities and improve its effectiveness by learning from existing international clinical experience and evidence.
On November 18, 2018, Jiahui Health, the first innovative health care ecosystem in China that follows the international standards and integrates clinical service, education and research, together with its U.S. strategic collaborator Massachusetts General Hospital, and its sister organization NEJM 医学前沿, which is co-founded by Jiahui and New England Journal of Medicine, co-organized the 2018 International Cancer Immunotherapy Symposium. More than ten well-recognized leading oncologists and scientists, from home and abroad, including Dr. Andrew Zhu, Professor at Harvard Medical School, Director of Liver Cancer Research at Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center and Director of Experimental Therapeutics and Clinical Research for the Jiahui-Mass General Cancer Center collaboration; Dr. Chien-Shing Chen, Executive Director at Jiahui International Cancer Center and Consultant at Massachusetts General Hospital; Dr. Meghan Mooradian, Instructor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Oncologist at Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center; Dr. Aparna Parikh, Instructor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Oncologist at the Tucker Gosnell Center for Gastrointestinal Cancer and the Termeer Center for Targeted Therapies at Massachusetts General Hospital; Dr. Shukui Qin, Vice President of People’s Liberation Army (PLA) 81 Hospital (Nanjing, China), Director of Cancer Center of Chinese PLA, Director of National Drug Clinical Trial Agency; Dr. Shun Lu, Professor of Shanghai Chest Hospital, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Director, Shanghai Clinical Medicaarna l Center for Pulmonary Oncology gathered in Shanghai to have discussion on the mechanism of immunotherapy and the future of clinical research. They shared their opinions with more than 300 oncologists at the conference hall and thousands of oncologists online on their rich experience in using immune checkpoint inhibitors to treat patients and tackle cancer.
At the event, Mr. Ge Feng, CEO of Jiahui Health, announced the initiation of “Jiahui Global Cancer Immunotherapy Leadership Acceleration Program”, connecting Chinese oncologists and the international healthcare community to accelerate the development of immunotherapy frontiers, exchange experience gained from practice, and improve the clinical application, and research and development of immunotherapy in China.
In the coming year, a step-wise clinical application education course system on four dimensions will be offered to oncologists in six major cities nationwide within the framework of this program, over the course of four dimensions.
First is content learning by using the NEJM医学前沿 platform and other leading international online clinical learning resources; second is face-to-face education by international and domestic experts, sharing practical experience based on clinical cases; third is generating guidelines for specific clinical applications through international symposiums to understand the variation in applications between China and western countries; and fourth is to generate case reports by Chinese oncologists with hands-on tutoring from editors of world-class academic journals, thus improving the research capabilities of Chinese clinicians and leading the development of medicine in China in the long term.
Dr. Andrew Zhu, Professor at Harvard Medical School Director, Director of Liver Cancer Research Group at Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, proposed the following strategies for Jiahui Health: 1) rapid expansion of access to checkpoint inhibitors for cancer patients; 2) implementation of education and vigorous training to ensure quality and safety for patients safety on IO therapy; 3) building a close partnership with Massachusetts General Hospital to develop novel immunotherapy clinical trials; 4) development of novel CAR-T immunotherapies; 5) development of genomic molecular biomarkers to predict clinical efficacy, resistance, and toxicity.
“Jiahui Health has always been committed to creating an innovative healthcare ecosystem that integrates clinical service, education and research. Among them, professional clinical education for medical talents is a very important mission,” commented Mr. Feng Ge. “At present, immunotherapy is a hot topic for physicians and important tool for patients to get rid of their disease. Immunotherapy course is selected as the first specialty course in the Jiahui Global Cancer Immunotherapy Leadership Acceleration Program, as the first specialty course of its kind, to help local oncologists quickly understand the mechanism of immunotherapy, its clinical application and management of related side effects, as well as to expand accessibility of Chinese patients to the same level of treatment as that in world-class top hospitals. At the same time, Jiahui Health will continue to create more practical clinical education courses for Chinese doctors, not limited to the field of cancer.”