Biotech Strategy Blog

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

Posts tagged ‘AACR 2016 Cancer Immunotherapy’

AACR16 RegistrationNew Orleans – it’s Day 3, Monday, at the 2016 annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR). Attending AACR for the first time can be a daunting prospect, with a full program of activities from dawn to dusk.

For those of who don’t regularly go to large medical meetings, it’s all too easy to forget the sheer scale of the event and how mach walking is involved up and down long corridors – it’s easy to clock up 15,000+ steps on your Fitbit!

Subscribers can log-in or you can purchase a subscription by clicking on the blue box below to learn more insights…

New Orleans StreetCarNew Orleans – the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) starts in earnest today with a full program of educational sessions presented by leading experts in different fields.

There’s a lot going on at AACR, with many sessions in parallel, so always remember the “law of two feet” – if the session you are in isn’t interesting, what you expected or isn’t meeting your needs – get up and go to another one!

Starting today and through Tuesday will be posting a daily blog with commentary around the sessions we attend and the people we speak to. It won’t be real-time, but to the extent possible we’ll be providing updates during the day.

It kills us to do semi-live posts from conferences, but they’re popular with subscribers, many of whom enjoy reading top-line commentary during the meeting, then our in-depth pieces later.

If you’d like to join the club of readers who enjoy access to our content, much of which by definition is exclusive – we don’t think anybody else does what we do or talks to as many thought leaders….

The good news is that a quarterly subscription will also cover you for ASCO 2016 in Chicago.  If you’d like to support our conference coverage, you can purchase access below. Subscribers can login to read more.

Macarons in shop windowWe’re all familiar by now with the idea of checkpoints that can be inhibitory (release the brake) or stimulatory (put the foot on the gas) on the immune system.

There are multiple checkpoint modulators in development, it’s becoming a bit like buying a macaron – which flavour do you want?

As the late Holbrook Kohrt said on the Novel Targets Podcast last year:

There are two types of checkpoint inhibitors, one checkpoint inhibitor are these series of markers that each of them when you target them, they will slow down the function of that cell. Now that’s a good thing if that cell is a suppressor cell, such as a regulatory T cell. Anti-CTLA-4, ipilimumab, the first approved immunotherapeutic monoclonal antibody targets these regulatory T cells. Essentially is this concept as you said of taking off the brake .

Now if you want to press on the gas pedal, you want to find a target that is essentially that actually increases the function of a cell you want to make work better…….

…. these ideas of the different checkpoint inhibitors, essentially we should really call them, checkpoint modulation, because the checkpoints can either be gas pedals or they can be brakes.

And ultimately, it’s a question about how do you combine them in a rational way so that way you’re not either pushing the car too hard or taking the brake off at a time when the car is rolling in the wrong direction.

So essentially, you need to do checkpoint modulation in a setting where you still have the steering wheel on your car to ensure it’s directed against the right cells, otherwise you’re going to get significant toxicity.”

Which is a good introduction to Day 5 of our Road to AACR 2016 mini-series.

Over the course of 12 days in the run up to the 2016 annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), we’re taking a look at some of the areas we expect to hear more about in New Orleans.

In today’s post, which continues our look at some of novel cancer immunotherapy targets, we’re look at the modulation of GITR (glucocorticoid-induced tumor necrosis factor receptor related gene) and companies that are targeting this.

GITR was named as the 12th most promising cancer immunotherapy target by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) back in 2006.  Interestingly, high GITR expression can be found on both T cells and NK cells.

There are now several agonist antibodies in development and entering the clinic that seek to activate GITR, and new data is expected at AACR 2016.

What GITR pathway data is worth looking out for at AACR 2016?

If you want to know more about why GITR matters, and where it fits into the cancer immunotherapy landscape then do read more. 

Subscribers can login or you can purchase access below.

St Charles Streetcar New OrleansIt’s Day 4 of our Road to AACR 2016 mini-series

In the run up to the start of the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) that takes place in New Orleans from April 16 -20, we’re highlighting some of the hot topics and interesting targets with data to be presented at the meeting (Twitter #AACR16).

We’ll be providing conference coverage from AACR both during and after the meeting. The program this year offers a veritable smorgasbord of choices, particularly in cancer immunotherapy. It’s going to be hard to cover every session we want to attend!

AACR will be webcasting many presentations, however, much of the work presented and discussed at AACR is unpublished and/or still a work in progress, so do check if a talk you are interested in will be webcast or not. The online meeting calendar indicates whether permission has been given and if all the slides will be included. If you really want to hear something do get to meeting rooms early; we expect the cancer immunotherapy sessions will be especially popular!

In today’s post we’re looking at what’s new at AACR 2016 for cancer immunotherapies that target IDO1 and TDO and their downstream effectors.

Tumor cells and myeloid cells in the microenvironment express high levels of indoleamine-2,3-dioxygenase 1 (IDO1). IDO1 is a rate-limiting enzyme in the degradation of the amino acid tryptophan (TRP). Depletion of tryptophan inhibits T cell responses.

Another route by which the tryptophan metabolic pathway can lead to immunosuppression is via the enzyme TRP-2,3-dioxygenase 2 (TDO), which may be an additional target for cancer immunotherapy. Some IDO1 inhibitors also inhibit TDO, others don’t, which makes for an interesting question as to whether you need a dual-targeted approach or not?

In this post we’re looking at:

  • Some of the companies who have IDO1/TDO inhibitors in development – there is a surprising amount of activity!
  • What is the right combination partner?
  • Who is most likely to benefit from IDO1/TDO cancer immunotherapy?

Data at AACR 2016 may help us answer some of the above questions, and we’ve showcased a few of the relevant sessions and presentations for your AACR “dance card” if this is an area of interest.

Subscribers can login to read more or you can purchase access below. This post is Day 4 of our Road to AACR 2016 mini-series.

Iwakuni Bridge

Cherry Blossoms and Iwakuni Bridge

We’re continuing our countdown to the 2016 AACR annual meeting in New Orleans with a look at anti TIM-3 and LAG-3 inhibitory checkpoints and highlighting some of the companies with noteworthy abstracts.

In case you missed it, yesterday AACR announced that Vice President Biden will be delivering remarks on the final day of the meeting, Wednesday, April 20th in the “Highlights 2016: Vision for the Future” Plenary Session. As conference diehards, we will be there in person, but AACR have announced they plan to livestream it to the world. It’s a fitting finale to what is set to be a “must attend” meeting for those with an interest in cancer new product development and in particular, cancer immunotherapy.

What can we learn from AACR abstracts on TIM–3 and LAG–3?

There is some early clinical data that we will be checking out (no pun intended) on TIM-3 and LAG-3.

Subscribers can read Day 2 of our “Road to AACR 2016” coverage by logging in, or you can purchase access below.

Washington DC Cherry Blossoms

Spring cherry blossoms

It’s twelve working days until the start of the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) in New Orleans. This is a meeting we’re especially looking forward to this year, not only for the cool science on offer, but also the Louisiana Coastal Cuisine!

Next year, AACR 2017 returns to Washington DC, at what hopefully will be a perfect time for cherry blossoms along the Tidal Basin.

In this post, I’ve taken a closer look at one cancer immunotherapy approach with new data at AACR – bispecific T cell engagers.  Amgen’s blinatumomab (Blincyto) is interesting because it was the first T cell engager antibody to be approved by the FDA for the treatment of Philadelphia-negative ALL and refractory B-cell precursor ALL, thereby offering proof of concept that such an approach could be safe and effective. There are, however, some challenges associated with it (which you’ll read about).

Can we improve on blinatumomab?

This post will address the question in three parts:

  • A look at what we know about blinatumomab to date
  • Where the competitive landscape is evolving with potential solutions
  • An interview with a scientist actively working in this field for their perspective.

For those attending AACR, I’ve put in links to some of the sessions and presentations to watch out for if you have an interest in bispecifics (there are a surprising number of them in R&D) – we’ll be writing more about some of the noteworthy data after it has been presented.

Subscribers can login below or you can purchase access below to Day 1 of our Road to AACR mini series…..

Port Sunglight SpringSpring has arrived in many parts of the world, and with it I am always reminded of William Wordsworth’s classic poem, “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud:”

I wandered lonely as a cloud 
That floats on high o’er vales and hills, 
When all at once I saw a crowd, 
A host, of golden daffodils; 
Beside the lake, beneath the trees, 
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.


So what does the future hold for cancer immunotherapy?

Inspired by Wordsworth, I’ve sat on my cloud and have looked at some of the recent review papers and thought pieces published by experts in the field. Do they offer a Jerry Maguire – like mission statement: “The Things We Think and Do Not Say: The Future of Our Business” or will we have to wait till AACR 2016 in New Orleans to learn more?


This is the latest in our pre-AACR 2016 annual meeting series. Subscribers can login to read more or you can purchase access below.
New Orleans Jazz

New Orleans Jazz

Most of the abstracts for the 2016 annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (Twitter #AACR16) in New Orleans are now available online, which raises the intriguing question:

What are the top 10 abstracts at AACR 2016? 

If you’re a subscriber, take a moment to think which ones would be on your list, BEFORE you read this post.

Rather than give chapter and verse on a long raft of abstracts, in this second preview post I’ve chosen to focus on a few interesting, intriguing or important issues. Clearly, everyone will have their own way of defining a top 10 list, never mind choosing them! I do hope this starts a debate in your group, it’s always cool discussing science, after all.  Which ones would you choose and why?

What I wanted to do was highlight some of the critical scientific or clinical questions that I have written down in my little black book over the last year or so for which we need solid answers in order to move our understanding of the cancer research along. That list is very long and always seems to be getting longer!  The good news is that we may have answers to some of them at AACR next month. 

Here goes, in no particular order…

Subscribers can login to read more or you can purchase access below:

New Orleans riverfront streetcarThe 2016 annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) takes place next month in New Orleans. (Twitter #AACR16).

While many people have focused on the presentation of clinical data at ASCO, we have long argued that emerging scientific data at AACR actually give early hint of what’s to come down the pipeline.

Anticipating these trends and spotting promising new compounds or combinations is probably more art than science, but nonetheless is a very useful and important exercise.

AACR is the most important meeting of the year for cancer new product development! 

Tomorrow, we will be reviewing the actual abstracts, posters, late breakers and what they entail, including important new data such as BMS’s CheckMate–141 exploring nivolumab in Head & Neck cancer as well as the combination of nivolumab plus ipilimumab in CheckMate–069 for advanced melanoma.

In the meantime, what are the main hot topics emerging from this year’s meeting in targeted therapies and immunotherapies?  What do the key scientific sessions tell us about new directions that lie ahead?

To learn more, subscribers can sign-in below or you sign-up in the blue box.

error: Content is protected !!