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Reflecting on Year One of Cancer Research Communications

August 3, 2022

Cancer Research Communications officially launched in October of 2021, but its conception and development began many months before. The journal was officially announced at the AACR Annual Meeting 2021, introducing its inaugural Editors-in-Chief, Drs. Elaine R. Mardis and Lillian L. Siu, and setting forth the scope and editorial ethos of the journal. By July, our nine Senior Editors were announced and our editorial team began recruiting content for consideration in peer review. In this month’s Editors’ Corner, the journal’s editors look back over this first year of tremendous growth and look ahead to what we can expect from Year Two.


Lillian L. Siu, MD, Cancer Research Communications co-Editor-in-Chief

It has been one year since the commencement of operations for AACR’s open access journal, Cancer Research Communications – time flies when we enjoy reading good science! As with every new journal, it takes time and a concerted effort for the editorial team to bring the journal’s vision to bear. Over the last twelve months, authors and readers are gaining familiarity of the journal through its published online articles, social media, and word of mouth. As the journal advances into its second year, Cancer Research Communications welcomes high quality articles in many different new frontiers; for instance, early results using new disruptive technologies, multi-disciplinary studies, patient-reported outcomes, and outputs from big data projects, just to name a few. We are very much open to suggestions and ideas from the scientific community to shape this journal into a unique home for exciting basic, translational, and clinical results generated by researchers and investigators worldwide. One of most rewarding experiences for me this past year has been the opportunity to work with a superb editorial team including Elaine, the AACR staff, our nine Senior Editors and the growing number of Associate Editors. With the efficient and thoughtful peer-review and publication processes enabled by this team, we are well poised to grow to expand the reach and impact of Cancer Research Communications.


Elaine R. Mardis, PhD, Cancer Research Communications co-Editor-in-Chief

As we complete our first year at the helm of Cancer Research Communications, it is exciting to see how this new AACR journal has developed. We have put together a truly outstanding team of Senior Editors, whose expertise fully covers the considerable breadth of topic areas in cancer research. Lillian and I really enjoyed our interactions with AACR Annual Meeting attendees at the AACR publications booth, where we discussed the journal, its broad focus areas, and answered questions from prospective authors. We have been quite honored by the numerous manuscripts submitted for review, and by the content we have been able to offer in this open access journal. Moving forward, more content describing clinical trials, basic science and interdisciplinary science is desired. In particular, we would like to see submissions around cancer health disparities, and research regarding the role of exercise, diet and environmental stressors on cancer outcomes. Finally, as computational aspects of cancer become increasingly pertinent to diagnosis and prognosis, more submissions describing the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning will be welcome. Taken together, it has been a successful year and we look forward to building the reputation and role of the journal in open access communication of groundbreaking cancer research results.


Robert Kruger, PhD, Editorial Director for the AACR Journals
Lucas J. Brand, PhD, Internal Scientific Editor for Cancer Research Communications

Addressing the developing needs of our authors is one of the primary goals of Cancer Research Communications’ mission. As academic publishing progresses into the digital age, the pace of discovery continues to accelerate. As a result, the need for a nimble, flexible publication option has become a chief concern for many researchers. By offering an open access outlet and the AACR journals’ broadest scope, Cancer Research Communications provides a more accessible option for authors in the oncology space—without sacrificing the rigor and dependability upon which our readership relies. We were thrilled by the warm reception that the journal received at the AACR Annual Meeting 2022. The buzz in the expo hall was all about this new journal, and what it can offer our authors and readers! Going forward, we will continue to build infrastructure to enhance our authors’ experience by expanding our editorial board, thereby enhancing the reach, speed, and flexibility of the peer review process. We further anticipate that the journal will be listed in PubMed Central, and thus be searchable in PubMed, in the coming months. Finally, as the journal approaches its 100th published article, you can expect to see even more stellar content in the virtual pages of Cancer Research Communications.

Our published article archive exemplifies the content we will continue to publish, building upon the findings reported here and elsewhere to advance our progress in the fight against cancer. One such article, which describes new advances in the use of immuno-oncology, is highlighted below as this month’s Editors’ Pick.

July Editors’ Pick: Allogeneic Anti-BCMA CAR T Cells Are Superior to Multiple Myeloma-derived CAR T Cells in Preclinical Studies and May Be Combined with Gamma Secretase Inhibitors

Engineering of patient-derived T cells with chimeric antigen receptors (CAR-T) has shown great promise in cancer immunotherapy, particularly in cancers of the blood. Durable cures have been achieved with CAR-T based interventions in some patients, but for many, the possibility of relapse and recurrence still looms. This is particularly true in multiple myeloma (MM): a high proportion of B cell maturation antigen (BCMA)-targeted CAR-T recipients relapse due to T-cell exhaustion, poor persistence of CAR-T cells, and tumor cell downregulation of BCMA, all of which have been found to limit the efficacy of CAR-T approaches in MM clinical trials. In this study, Metelo and colleagues detail new strategies to enhance anti-BCMA CAR-T efficacy in MM patients. The authors found that basing the CAR-T strategy around adoptive transfer of engineered T cells from healthy donors—rather than patient-derived cells—resulted in superior anti-tumor activity and persistence, regardless of the MM subtype that the patients harbor. The authors attribute this finding to a more “fit” T-cell state in healthy donors, with a higher killing capacity and fewer exhaustion markers expressed de novo on healthy donor cells. Secondly, the authors find that gamma secretase inhibitors enhanced the ability of healthy-donor CAR-T cells to kill the tumor cells by blocking BCMA shedding from the surface of MM cells. Together, these new strategies hold significant translational promise and could help enhance and extend the efficacy of CAR-T therapy in MM.

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