Biotech Strategy Blog

Commentary on Science, Innovation & New Products with a focus on Oncology & Hematology

That’s the $64K question we all want to know, and what’s more is gene editing necessary when it comes to creating an “off-the-shelf” T cell therapy, which instead of modifying a patient’s own T cells (autologous), uses cells from a healthy donor (allogeneic)?

We were really curious too, and sought out one of the world’s leading experts for their opinion on this very issue.

Subscribers can login to read more, along with our analysis of the potential impact of this latest news on CAR T cell therapies.

SITC Day 4 Highlights

It’s been an interesting annual meeting at the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) so far and not without controversy either, as the reaction to Incyte’s IDO1 data demonstrated on Friday when combined with Merck’s pembrolizumab (sse post).

Today, we heard the results from another early trial with a novel immune target. This time it was the turn of Macrogenics, a local biotech based up the road in Rockville, Maryland.

They are developing a number of monoclonal antibodies to a variety of targets, including B7-H3. After the controversial late breaker session on Friday, how did their drug fare in the hotseat here in National Harbor this morning?

To learn more, subscribers can log in or you sign up in the box below to find out what happened.

SITC Day 3 Highlights

There were a couple of late breakers presented in the oral session yesterday that are worth discussing for several reasons, not least the controversy surrounding the stock action afterwards.

Dr Tara Gangadhar (U Penn) presented epacadostat, Incyte’s IDO1 inhibitor, in combination with pembrolizumab, Merck’s anti-PD1 inhibitor in a phase 1/2 trial with selected solid tumours.

Will combining these agents lead to better responses and outcomes than with pembrolizumab alone?

Dr Naiyer Rizvi (Moffitt) presented the combination data of AstraZeneca’s anti-PDL1 (durvalumab) plus anti-CTLA4 (tremelimumab) in patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

Neither of these agents have yet been approved in any indication, so the only relative comparators we have here are nivolumab and pembrolizumab as single agents in NSCLC and ipilimumab plus nivolumab in metastatic melanoma. There are no data approved for the BMS combo in lung cancer.

This review looks at both trials, in terms of the controversial data presented, and also in a broader context of the ever-changing landscape.

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SITC 2015 National Harbor Gaylord MDNational Harbor, MD.  Today was a busy day with the ASH abstracts coming out this morning, and some ground-breaking data that demanded an immediate #ASH15 preview post.

At the same time we’re here at SITC, and keeping an eye on the AACR-NCI-EORTC Molecular Targets meeting – it’s like three buses come at once!

So what happened at SITC today? In this post we’ve put a quick summary of some of the presentations we heard on Day 2 that stood out.  Sometimes what’s most important is what people don’t say.

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Downtown Disney Orlando

Downtown Disney, Orlando

It’s an exciting week for cancer drug development with the AACR-NCI-EORTC molecular targets meeting in Boston (Twitter: #Targets15) and the 2015 annual meeting of the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) at National Harbor, MD (Twitter: #SITC2015)

However, today’s news is the much anticipated release of the abstracts (apart from the late breakers and press program) for the 2015 American Society of Hematology (ASH) annual meeting (Twitter: #ASH15) that takes place in Orlando from December 5-8th. We’ll at the meeting for the blog.

There is so much great science at ASH, it’s really hard to do it justice – we’ve been known to spend most of the meeting in the poster halls…and until you see the data it’s impossible to provide detailed commentary or analysis.

However, there’s so much interest in the abstracts that for the benefit of our subs, I’ve highlighted several that caught my attention in what is a fast, real-time, top-line review while at SITC this morning.

This initial review covers two hot topics in cancer immunotherapy – CAR T cells and Checkpoint inhibitors.

Subscribers can login below or you can purchase access if you’d like to read our SITC and ASH conference coverage.

National Harbor, MD – the 2015 annual meeting of the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) kicked off today with a series of workshops, and mini-symposia before the main meeting starts on Friday.

It is currently glorious weather for Maryland in November, almost too nice to be indoors, which probably means it’s going to be a cold winter for those who live up North!

National Harbor MD

Of note this afternoon/evening at SITC 2015 was an International Symposium on Cancer Immunotherapy entitled “Today’s Innovators, Tomorrow’s Leaders.”

Organized in collaboration with the World Immunotherapy Council (WIC), the symposium showcased up and coming researchers, each of whom had an expenses paid trip to SITC to present their work before an audience that included many of the “great and good” in cancer immunotherapy.  It was useful learn from the questions being asked from the floor too, further adding to the value of the session.

Dr Bernard Fox SITC 2015

@BernardAFox introduces the International Cancer Symposium and acknowledges the vision behind it.

Dr Bernard A Fox (@BernardAFox), a past President of SITC, in his introduction acknowledged the vision behind it, and in particular, the contribution of Dr Nora Disis (@DrNDisis). Those of you who listen to Novel Targets Podcast heard her in the most recent show.

SITC WIC International SymposiumToday’s daily highlights post offers a few of my “take homes” from this afternoon. It doesn’t discuss unpublished data but some of the presenters went into more detail about posters they are presenting later this week which was interesting.

The symposium was highly enjoyable and well worth attending. Hopefully, it will be repeated at next year’s SITC annual meeting.

Tomorrow here in National Harbor, I’m looking forward to the workshop on new perspective for target antigens in the changing immunotherapy landscape. That will be the subject of tomorrow’s daily digest. Stay tuned!

Subscribers can login to read today’s highlights post, or you can purchase access below.

The 30th anniversary meeting of the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (Twitter #SITC2015) starts today at National Harbor, MD just outside of Washington DC.

Congratulations to SITC on 30 years of Advancing Cancer Immunotherapy Worldwide!

National Harbor MD SITC

It’s an unusually packed conference season this month with the AACR-NCI-EORTC Molecular Targets (#Targets15) meeting in Boston unfortunately clashing with SITC 2015.  In previous years, the Triple meeting has been held in late October, something we hope it will return to in future.

Many of the leading cancer immunologists are at National Harbor…

In our latest conference preview post, we’ve taken a quick look at some of the late breaker and poster abstracts of note and will cover the main oral presentations at the end of each day, so do check back daily for more news and views.

As subscribers already know, we generally provide most of our commentary and analysis after a meeting when we’ve had a chance to hear the data, “kick the tyres” and talk to researchers. However, for those who can’t be at SITC, we will be writing a “top-line”post at the end of each day to give you a flavor of what’s hot at SITC 2015 and our initial impressions of the data we heard.

We typically generate a separate page for each conference we cover, so you can find the SITC 2015 coverage here; it includes some additional posts that make for background reading.

Wednesday’s program at National Harbor starts off with a Global Regulatory Summit (which we’ll miss due to travel) and an International Symposium on Cancer Immunotherapy later in the afternoon.

The weather looks like it’s going to be quite delightful at National Harbor – hopefully the meeting room won’t be as frigid as last year – and in addition to the great science, we’re look forward to meeting up with those of our subs who are here too!

If you’re not already a subscriber (and if you’re reading this you probably should be) then you can purchase access below. Stay tuned for more!

There are now several CD40 agonist antibodies in early clinical development from several different companies, including:

  • Roche – RO7009789
  • Apexigen – APX005M
  • Seattle Genetics – SEA-CD40
  • Alligator Bioscience – ADC–1013

This post is the last in our cancer immunotherapy coverage from the European Cancer Congress in Vienna. It features excerpts from an interview with Dr Christian Rommel, head of oncology discovery at Roche in Basle, Switzerland in which he talks about the development of their CD40 monoclonal antibody. Readers may recall we wrote about this from SITC 2014 last year: “Targeting CD40 in Cancer Immunotherapy.

This post is also a new primer on CD40 as we start our coverage of the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) 2015 annual meeting. We’re informed by SITC it’s a sell out conference with 600 more people than last year’s record breaking number. Cancer Immunotherapy is indeed the hottest topic in cancer drug development.

If you have plans to be at National Harbor this week, we hope to see you there!

One thing has become very clear in the oncology space over the last year… checkpoint inhibitors are insufficient on their own for the vast majority of tumour types and patients that they have been explored in to date.  There are a number of reasons for this, but the main one is lack of T cells in the tumour, which enable an effective immune response to be mounted.

This begs the question – how can we address that issue and manipulate the tumour microenvironment in our favour, thereby making subsequent checkpoint blockade more effective?

There are a number of different ways to do this.

In the past, we’ve discussed several methods including innate immunotherapies such as Aduro’s STING or Biothera’s immunotherapeutic, Imprime PGG.  Other approaches include vaccines, which we have discussed in detail, t-cell receptors (TCR) or even monoclonal antibodies, such as AdaptImmune’s approach with their ImmTac technology.

There are other novel strategies currently being investigated by numerous companies too.

In this article – and also the second part of the latest miniseries – which will post tomorrow, we straddle our final reviews of interesting data from the European Cancer Conference (ECC) in Vienna with the upcoming one from the Society of Immunotherapy for Cancer (SITC) being held in National Harbor, Maryland.

Today’s post explores the concept of immunocytokines, engineered antibodies that are designed to boost the immune system, so that subsequent therapies will be more effective.

Subscribers can log-in or you can sign up in the box below to learn more about this exciting new development in cancer immunotherapy…

Dr Jerome GalonDr Jérôme Galon is a leading Immunologist and Research Director at INSERM in Paris.

At the recent European Cancer Congress in Vienna he gave an engaging presentation in the scientific symposium on Cellular Immunotherapy of Cancer.

Afterwards, Dr Galon (pictured right) kindly spoke to BSB about:

  • What is immunosurveillance?
  • How the type, location and density of immune cells present within tumors predicts clinical outcome.
  • The potential of the Immunoscore assay to classify cancers based on their immune profile
  • What the future may hold in terms of personalized cancer immunotherapy.

One only has look at the impressive list of companies for which Dr Galon is a consultant or scientific adviser to see how valued his work in the cancer immunotherapy field is; it was a privilege to talk with him. The excerpts of the in-depth interview he kindly gave make for a good weekend read!

Grab a coffee & bagel and enjoy!

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