Biotech Strategy Blog

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

Posts tagged ‘ASCO 2017 annual meeting’

Yesterday, we had a sarcoma expert in the spotlight looking at the new developments from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).

In part two of our sarcoma mini-series, we have another interview for our readers, this time from the perspective of the CEO, Dr Carlos Paya. They had some interesting data in Chicago so what was their reaction to it and where are they going next?

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Sarcomas are a heterogeneous type of cancer that develop from certain tissues like bone or soft tissues such fat, muscle, nerves, fibrous tissues, blood vessels, or deep skin tissues.

Over the last two years, much has happened in this space so it’s an excellent time to revisit the niche and learn more about what experts think of the latest data that is emerging here.

We put a sarcoma expert in the spotlight and learned what their perspectives are on some of the emerging data in this niche as well as which ones offer hints of promise.

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As we start to see early readouts from new IO combos and also new trials emerge to begin enrolling patients, it’s going to be intriguing to see how the new cancer immunotherapy landscape evolves.

ASCO17

Some of these trials will be random in that the drugs are what the company has, others will be based on existing or new collaborations, while others will be based on rationally based science… not all will be successful, though.

Of course, it’s easy for all of us to be an armchair critic and grumble about the flaws, the problems, and even the weaknesses in clinical trials, but what about rational approaches that attempt to scientifically address the acquired resistance that develops on montherapies?

Here’s one approach I really like – we’ve written about the underlying biology behind it previously, but what about the clinical trials, and what does the company evaluating the combos think?

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It amuses me to realise that I’ve been writing about and following PARP inhibition since 2006 or so, when the field was in that twilight zone of early drug development between preclinical and clinical, thus just beginning to hit some sort of consciousness and broader interest in cancer research.

The AACR Molecular Targets meeting in 2009 was the first scientific meeting I covered as a science writer on the old Pharma Strategy Blog, which focused on early drug development from preclinical to phase 2 – after that I would rapidly lose interest and move on to the next new shiny scientific lure to research and discuss. No doubt this eager new writer ran about like an overenthusiastic little puppy in the poster halls chatting to scientists about their research, much to the amusement of the more staid press room, who at that time probably never ventured out of the darkened basement gloom.

In one of the press briefings there, I met an engaging and thoughtful scientist who was presenting his poster on PARP and synthetic lethality. He kindly took the time to explain in plain English a commonsense analogy that was most helpful for grasping complex concepts. Having sat through several long talks from luminaries in the field such as Drs Hillary Calvert and Alan Ashworth that covered double strand breaks and DNA repair mechanisms, it was a most welcome respite in the hurly burly of the conference!

Imagine his imagery…

You have a four legged coffee table or wooden chair and one of the legs breaks off or is damaged. The table remains standing, albeit less stable than before. Now a second leg breaks, and inevitably, the table is so unstable that it falls over.

Once you grasp that simple analogy for synthetic lethality, you have the basic idea of DNA double strand breaks and how inefficient repair can lead to vulnerabilities in the tumour that can be exploited.

The scientist I spoke to in Boston back in 2009 was Dr Mark O’Connor.

He was involved in DNA damage response research at a little known private company in Cambridge, UK called KuDos, who were subsequently acquired by AstraZeneca. Nearly a decade on and Dr O’Connor is still at the company; he now heads up their DNA damage response area.

Dr Mark O’Connor, AZN

With olaparib (Lynparza) since approved by the FDA in ovarian cancer and slated for the ASCO 2017 plenary session for HER2- breast cancer, things have certainly changed a lot since those early heady days of KuDos and the R&D journey has not been without its notable ups and downs along the way.

In Chicago earlier this month, I had the pleasure of catching up again with Dr O’Connor to learn more about the journey, and importantly, where things are going next.  It’s quite an interesting roller coaster ride, to be sure!

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Chicago: Greetings from Peets Coffee in UIC Halstead where we finally take a moment to stop, catch a breath and reflect on the tsunami of data being presented at the McCormick centre over the last couple of days.

Without much ado, here’s our review of new trends, highlights and lowlights from ASCO17.

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Chicago!

Right now many people are overwhelmed not just with the sheer number of ASCO abstracts to process and assimilate, but also the breadth and depth of the topics being covered.

This means that it’s time for some perspicacity… making sense of the data in order to look at the patterns and insights that are emerging.

In today’s preview, we identify some key strategic themes and offer a framework so that examples can be easily slotted into some semblance of order.

Want to learn more about our insights?

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Whenever one attempts to do a top 10 list of almost anything, there will inevitably be fans and detractors in equal measure and this BSB list is likely to be no different in that respect!

This week’s Fun Friday post highlights some important abstracts to watch out for in advance of ASCO 2017, so without much ado about nothing, you can check out our selections, some of which are likely to be controversial.

As usual, we also explain why they are important and what lessons can be learned.

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Chicago RiverAlthough ASH and ASGCT are important meetings for CAR T cell therapies, there are still some intriguing data to be had at ASCO next month, including both oral and poster abstracts.

In our latest ASCO 2017 Preview, we take a look at what to expect from in the CAR T cell space.

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As we all wearily trawl through the huge mountain of data for ASCO 2017, what stands out – and more importantly – what matters and why?

Before we get into our in-depth coverage based on the tumour type, target and modality landscapes, I wanted to take a moment to highlight five key abstracts that stood out for me as worthy of checking out in more detail once we get to Chicago.

Interestingly, only one of them is from big Pharma!

At least one had some negatives associated with it as we’re not all happy clappy everything is great enthusiasts here at BSB.  We do try to be fair minded and objective as possible about data.

So what’s in store and why do these five matter?

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