The NETwork! team were proud to support the NZSO conference this year, which was Ben’s last event as President of the NZSO.  The conference was a great success with attendees from all over NZ and overseas, and excellent speakers.  Ben was commended for having taken the Society forwards during his tenure, both technologically and growth-wise, with this being the best attended conference in recent times.

Kate presented the first findings from the recently completed NETwork! Registry which has compiled data on all the NETs in NZ from 2008 to 2012 (with a more comprehensive long-term study in the Auckland region, from 1995 to 2012).  Key findings included a higher rate of NETs than formerly recorded, and higher proportion of metastatic disease at diagnosis than expected.  Also in terms of ethnicity, there was a surprising finding that Asian people were under-represented in the registry across all tumour types.  This will need further investigation to elucidate causes, but represents an extremely interesting finding.

Cherie and Braden submitted posters with methods and initial findings from the Merkel cell tumour project.  Of note, they have discovered that NZ MCC’s are much less associated with polyoma virus than in other parts of the world (24% in NZ vs 80% of MCCs worldwide), which is similar to findings in Australia.  This may impact the validity of clinical treatment guidelines in Australasian patients.  Braden explored the challenges of detecting the polyoma virus DNA within the Merkel cell tumours, and how the team had optimized accuracy in identifying the presence of the virus using a multi-layered approach.

Sandra’s poster focussed on her work on the technical aspects of identifying potential genetic mutational hotspots that could be future targets for plasma biomarkers in cancer patients.  Such biomarkers would be useful in screening for specific mutations in cancer patients, or for detecting relapse amongst a variety of other possible applications.