Biotech Strategy Blog

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

Posts tagged ‘ASH 2014 Checkpoint Inhibitors’

It’s time to answer some more subscriber questions. Several readers wrote in and asked about the anti-PD1 checkpoint data that was presented at the recent American Society of Hematology (ASH) meeting in classic Hodgkin’s lymphoma (cHL):

What did we think of it?

Well, for starters it was one of our highlights of the ASH 2014 conference (see quick write-up, open access), with an impressive 87% response rate for nivolumab in refractory cHL. Many of these patients had failed both autologous stem cell transplant and brentuximab (Adcetris), for which FDA granted breakthrough therapy designation.

ASH14 CHECKPOINTSOverall, I agreed with Ron Levy (Stanford) when he noted in the packed Special Session on Checkpoint inhibitors in Hematology that there were only 4 or 5 abstracts to actually discuss (he didn’t spend much time on the preliminary data) and that the results are still very early without seeing how good the durability will be.

As he observed in the session, which was standing room only, figuring out how best to integrate these new agents into clinical practice with other successful approaches will be most interesting.

That said, there are some new data that have emerged since ASH that are worthy of discussion in terms of potential future directions and how they could impact the checkpoint landscape in both hematologic malignancies and even solid tumours.

This is part of our ongoing immuno-oncology series on how we can manipulate T cells in creative ways to kill the cancer cells.  The findings discussed in this article are completely new and have not been discussed here before.

To learn more about this latest exciting research, you can sign in or sign up in the box below.

San Francisco – the 2014 annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology kicks off today. Yesterday was “Super Friday” –  a day when the non-profit and industry sponsored satellite symposia and other ancillary meetings, take center stage.

Each day (Sat – Mon) at the ASH meeting here in San Francisco, we we’ll be sharing information on which sessions we are in. For all those who have asked how do we get a photo with our antibuddies: @gene_antibody, we’ll mention where they are if we see them 🙂

By the way to get a photo you have to be able to identify which one is which – tip: there’s a monoclonal, bispecific, ADC and glycoengineered. Can you work out which is which from the picture? If not, it’s time to brush up on your antibody structures!

In addition, throughout the day (schedule and wifi permitting) we’ll be updating the rolling blog with short comments on the oral sessions and posters we’ve been in and what’s captured our attention. The hematology community has embraced Twitter, with many of the leading experts in the field sharing commentary and insights on their specialized area. ASH is also particularly welcoming to patient advocates who will be live-tweeting too. Expect the #ASH14 Twitter hashtag to generate a lot of information. If you’d like to share the ASH journey with us over the next 3 days, you can purchase access by clicking on the blue icon at the end of the post. Existing subscribers already know how to login. Let the meeting commence!

Coit Tower San FranciscoThe 2014 American Society of Hematology (ASH) annual meeting starts later this week in San Francisco. #ASH14 is a “must attend” given the innovation that has taken place in recent years for new treatments of blood related cancers.

One of the highlights of last year’s ASH was the data for CTL019 Chimeric Antigen Receptor CAR-T in children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) presented by Stephan Grupp (CHOP). The data, in the opinion of many, was worthy of presentation in the plenary session of the meeting.

CAR-T cell therapy remains in the news, with the recent announcement that Seattle based Juno Therapeutics have an initial public offering (IPO) planned, and last week Kite Pharmaceuticals announced a secondary offering to raise additional funds. Last month, Houston based Bellicum Pharmaceuticals also filed an IPO to raise funds for development of their GvHD and CAR-T therapies.

It already looks a highly competitive marketplace and nobody is yet in phase 3 development. In addition to Juno, Kite, Novartis/UPenn and Bellicum, the Chinese also have CAR-T therapies in development. Other companies in the field include Cellectis, who have partnerships with Servier and Pfizer. On top of all this activity, only a week ago Janssen announced they had partnered with Transposagen Biopharmaceuticals. Wow!

In addition to ALL, CLL, and NHL, new developments are starting to emerge in myeloma, not just with CAR T cell therapies, but also checkpoint inhibitors and modified measles virus therapy.

Investor interest in immuno-oncology is certainly very high, and one has to question whether it is beginning to border on “tulip mania”? As we’ve written about on the blog, there remain a number of challenges that have to be overcome with CAR-T therapy, particularly in adults, and at the moment it’s still very much an experimental therapy.

In this post, we offer some top line thoughts on what to expect and look out for at ASH14 in Multiple Myeloma. It is consistently an area that attracts a lot of interest at the meeting and this year promises not to disappoint.

If you have to plans to be in San Francisco, do say “hello.”

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