Prof Jalid Sehouli on fast-paced developments in gynaecological oncology

In an exclusive esanum interview, Prof Dr Jalid Sehouli gives an insight into the main topics of this year's Charité Mayo Conference's "Distilled" digital-only edition.

Interview mit Prof. Dr. Jalid Sehouli

esanum: Prof Sehouli, the Charité Mayo Conference is now also known for its strong cultural component. What have you and your colleagues prepared for this year's program? 

Prof. Sehouli: We will be welcoming participants from over 100 countries - all free of charge.  The Scientific Board and selected speakers will be on site in Berlin so that we can stream it to the world from here. The event will last until 8 p.m. local time, and then it will conclude with a live performance by the prominent Berlin rapper Yonii. As we want a global dialogue, everything will be streamed for 24 hours afterwards so that our event can also be accessed on the other side of the globe. That is unique!

esanum: What is the medical-scientific context in which this year's event is taking place?

Prof. Sehouli: Both gynaecological oncology and breast cancer therapy are experiencing a rapid dynamic due to personalised medicine with the latest surgical and, above all, the latest targeted cancer drugs. This is why the discussion at the annual congress is so important in order to reflect the standards both globally and nationally. In view of the rapid developments, the guidelines usually can't keep up. While guidelines are updated every few years, science provides new treatment options almost every year. This is why clinically-oriented dialogue is so important for everyone involved.

The focus is on Charité and the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, with experts from around the world joining in this dialogue. We show the latest standards at Charité and the Mayo Clinic and then see what it looks like at other centres of excellence around the world. Among others, these include the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center New York, the Instituto dei Tumori Milan, the Marie Curie Institute in Paris, Stanford University, and Imperial College in London; but also clinics from Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Turkey are involved.

esanum: And what will be the main scientific focus in this "Distilled" format?

Prof. Sehouli: It's about where the journey is going, but also what needs to change immediately, which clinical requirements in diagnostics & therapy we need to implement for our patients. This year, the focus is particularly on molecular diagnostics and targeted therapy options, which means, for example, that the therapy strategies for both surgical and drug therapy will be defined on the basis of tumour tissue analyses. This has been the case for breast cancer for some time. What is new is that the guidelines for uterine cancer are currently being updated in a European and globalised context. It is about the so-called molecular types, which have absolutely different risk constellations and also require a different therapy strategy. For example, this will provide very important information on the suitability of immunotherapy.

Another very important focus will be the significance of anti-drug conjugates - a new substance class that represents a novel drug strategy for all solid tumours. ADCs have already been introduced for breast cancer and now there are extremely promising data for gynaecological tumours such as ovarian cancer and uterine cancer. The substances can be introduced into the tumour cell and release a cancer drug there - it is therefore a new strategy between chemotherapy and immunotherapy. In addition to checkpoint inhibitors and PARP inhibitors, this is now bringing a new dynamic to gynaecological oncology. Mirvetuximab, for example, has been approved for platinum-resistant ovarian cancer in the USA since November 2022 and is expected to be approved for Europe at the end of this year or early next year. The substance shows a survival advantage in a very difficult disease situation.

esanum: Are there any other key therapeutic topics?

Prof. Sehouli: Another focus this year is the topic of prehabitation. It's about how I prepare the patient for an operation or drug therapy in a comprehensive way - in terms of education, physical training and the correction of metabolic deficits such as salt and protein loss and anaemia. We have developed a special multimodal prehabilitation concept for this purpose. As a team from Charité and the Mayo Clinic, we will be demonstrating the best way to do this in an intensive workshop.

A short biography of Prof Dr Jalid Sehouli

Prof. Dr Jalid Sehouli is Director of the Clinic for Gynaecology / Centre for Oncological Surgery (Campus Virchow Klinikum) and the Clinic for Gynaecology (Campus Benjamin Franklin) at the Charité University Hospital (Universitätsmedizin) Berlin, as well as Head of the Gynaecological Tumour Centre and European Competence Centre for Ovarian Cancer (German acronym: EKZE). He is also co-founder of the German Foundation for Ovarian Cancer (Deutschen Stiftung für Eierstockkrebs) and the Forum for Gynaecological Oncology (Forums für Gynäkologische Onkologie).