Favorite finding from ASCO 2023

Vera Mucaj
2 min readJun 7


I got the chance to spend 36 glorious hours around the 36,000+ folks who attended the American Society for Clinical Oncologists (ASCO) conference in Chicago this past weekend. It’s one of the most impressive gatherings in the oncology space, and there’s always something new to learn, as lots of companies/academics publish “breaking news” timed around this event.

One of my personal favorite news out of this year’s ASCO is the findings coming out of Servier’s INDIGO trial. I am perhaps biased because for many years I used to be a cancer researcher studying brain tumors.

What was discovered:

Vorasidenib (investigational drug targeting IDH mutations in low-grade gliomas) is showing an impressive impact in both progression-free survival AND quality of life for the clinical trial participants studied. For those two reasons, after a period of time the trial allowed participants in the placebo arm to have the choice of receiving the investigational drug (“Crossover to vorasidenib from placebo was permitted on confirmation of imaging-based disease progression”). Although some side effects were observed, the overall findings suggest that vorasidenib could be a game-changer in improving outcomes for patients with grade 2 gliomas. This breakthrough offers hope for individuals suffering from these challenging brain tumors.

Why this is cool:

  • Gliomas are deadly brain cancers. Low grade gliomas affect relatively younger patients, where an extension in high-quality life years is a huge win!
  • These patients don’t have many treatment alternatives; under current standard of care, the tumor invariably recurs.
  • The progress made from basic scientific discovery to clinical development has been truly impressive, in my opinion. As a graduate student in cancer biology, I remember the early 2010s when the first IDH mutations in gliomas were identified and published. It wasn’t long after that the biochemical output of a mutated IDH enzyme was uncovered, shedding light on how such a mutation could impact epigenetics at the cellular level. This marked an important step forward. Over the course of the following decade, extensive research efforts have brought us from identifying potential chemical candidates to obtaining trial results. It’s remarkable to see the progress made in such a relatively short period.

Considering the recent advancements in drug discovery and the increased accessibility of clinicogenomic data, I can only envision how these factors will further expedite the timeline for future targets in glioma treatment or other challenging diseases. The potential to accelerate the translation of scientific findings into clinical applications is truly exciting.

For more info, here’s the layperson WSJ article: Treatment Breakthrough for an Intractable Brain Cancer and, again, a link to the NEJM article with the data: Vorasidenib in IDH1- or IDH2-Mutant Low-Grade Glioma.

A fun, irrelevant depiction of a cell, from Dall-E



Vera Mucaj

Passionate about R&D and healthcare data. Thoughts here are my own.