September 1st… as the hot summer floats away from London town and cooler autumn days draw in, it’s time to think about the upcoming fall cancer conference season – it’s quite a busy one this year!
In the coming weeks, I will be rolling out our series on the ESMO 2016 Previews (Twitter #ESMO16) and taking a more in-depth look at various topics of interest. The Copenhagen meeting is later than usual and also more compressed, with numerous sessions now held simultaneously. It used to be that you could take a break between key sessions, but not any more – there’s a lot going on this year.
One of the things that jumped out to me from a preliminary review of this year’s hectic ESMO program is an interesting novel target that had some early preclinical data at AACR, but that sadly got lost in the tsunami of data there.
It is good to have that reminder and be able to return to it in the context of broader data because overcoming barriers to drug resistance with targeted therapies is still an important issue that is worth researching.
You likely won’t see it in many analyst reports or previews, however, although it’s a hidden gem of great interest and well worth exploring in terms of what we know so far. This means that readers will be both prepared and intrigued – don’t be surprised to hear about some BD&L deals in this niche in the future.
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It’s Friday 13th, a day often feared by the superstitious, but for AstraZeneca it certainly portended good news with the FDA approval of AZD9291 or osimertinib (now Tagrisso) in EGFR T790M mutation-positive lung cancer – three months ahead of the PDUFA date. Jonathan Rockoff, a reporter at the WSJ, was the first to announce it in my Twitter stream:
Tagrisso 80 mg. Picture credit: AstraZeneca
The FDA announcement for Tagrisso (generic name is osimertinib) can also be found here and the actual label here.
Note that it is now available under accelerated approval, based on tumor response rate and duration of response. This means that phase III confirmatory trials, including survival data will be needed for full approval.
As part of our ongoing series on the T790M niche, this is also a timely opportunity to catch up with the latest data that was presented earlier this month at the AACR-NCI-EORTC Cancer Therapeutics and Molecular Targets meeting in Boston.
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Next week the Cancer Conference circuit moves on to a double-header with the AACR-NCI-EORTC Molecular Targets & Cancer Therapeutics meeting (Twitter #Targets15) taking place in Boston from November 5 – 9th, and the annual meeting of the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) taking place in National Harbor, MD from November 4 – 8th.
It is unfortunate that the two meetings clash, Molecular Targets is slightly later in the year than it was in 2013 when it was last in Boston. Both focus on the hottest topic in cancer drug development, which will come as no surprise… cancer immunotherapy.
In addition, in Boston there are some posters of note on other novel targets and approaches. Talking of which, Episode 7 of our Novel Targets podcast from the European Cancer Congress is now live. Do listen!
For this preview of #Targets15, we’ve taken a look at the abstracts that were published online yesterday afternoon (the late breakers and those in the press program are not available yet), and highlighted a few of interest, together with a few sessions of note. If you have plans to be in Boston for the conference, this post will be of interest to you.
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As a heads-up, we will be at the forthcoming American Society of Hematology (ASH) annual meeting in Orlando (Twitter #ASH15), so if you have been sitting on the fence about buying a quarterly subscription, now is a great time to take the leap and join all those folks who want the “real edge” in cancer research.
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There can be no doubt that immuno-oncology is a hot topic in cancer research of late with checkpoint inhibitors, immune agonists, immunocytokines, CAR T cells, TILs, TCRs, not forgetting innate immunotherapies. We’ve written extensively about many of these topics, but what about the companies behind them and their strategies?
One thing subscribers tell us they love reading about here on BSB is not only fireside chats with thought leaders, but also interviews behind the scenes with company personnel, be scientists, clinicians or CSOs.
Recently, we’ve posted some interviews with Roche and Genentech scientists/physicians about their IO platform that were well received. Today, it’s the turn of AstraZeneca and MedImmune, who are also developing checkpoint inhibitors and immune agonists against various cancers.
With the anti-PD1 antibodies i.e. Merck’s pembrlizumab (Keytruda) and BMS’s nivolumab (Opdivo) already approved by the FDA, and Roche/Genentech’s atezolizmuab well on the way to filing in advanced urothelial bladder cancer with the announcement this week that the IMvigor 210 trial in relapsed/refractory disease met its primary endpoint, the big question now remains is what’s happening with the fourth element of the quartet? How well is progress coming along there and what is the main focus we can expect in the near future?
Like most Brits, when AstraZeneca noted back in 2013 that they expect to establish their global R&D hub in Cambridge, I assumed they meant in the Golden Triangle and not Massachusetts. This is a burgeoning area for European biotech research, which is somewhat ironic after the KuDos scientists working on olaparib (Lynparza) moved to Alderley Park in Cheshire with the acquisition and will likely face moving back again!
At ASCO, we had the pleasure of a chat with Dr Rob Iannone, the head of the AstraZeneca Immuno-oncology development program. The company also published a number of interesting abstracts and posters that were on show in Chicago, as well as a burgeoning pipeline in this area beyond their lead compounds, the anti-PDL1 inhibitor, durvalumab (MEDI4736) and tremelimumab (anti-CTLA4).
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With the sheer breadth and depth of immuno-oncology data being presented at even the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), several readers were prompted to write in and ask:
“Is this the end of the road for TKI therapies? Should we even bother to continue working on these agents?”
There was actually quite a bit of interesting data on regular novel targeted therapy to discuss, although I do concede that much of the mass media news focusing on the immuno-oncology tsunami in Philadelphia effectively drowned out targeted therapies and the results coming out in that space.
To maintain the balance between novel targeted agents and immunotherapy, here’s a review of some of the interesting new developments that I came across at AACR, from both the poster halls, as well as some of the thought leaders in this space.
When you stack up the emerging evidence in several tumour subsets, there are quite a few tasty morsels that are worthy of further discussion!
I’d like to take this opportunity to extend a warm welcome to all the new subscribers who took advantage of the AACR Special Offer to continue their education and learning about the exciting new developments in cancer research. Thank you for joining our conference coverage service, we really appreciate it.
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The potential of Clovis Oncology’s EGFR inhibitor rociletinib (formerly CO-1686) to treat T790M negative non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) was one of the interesting talking points of the recent JP Morgan Healthcare conference in San Francisco (JPM15).
At the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference (JPM15), Clovis presented updated data that shows some efficacy in those NSCLC patients who no longer respond to an EGFR inhibitor, but don’t have a T790M mutation (T790M negative). Both AstraZeneca’s competitor compound, AZD9291, and rociletinib shown considerable activity in those EFGR resistant patients who develop a T790M mutation and it’s likely they will both soon be approved in this indication, based on the encouraging data seen to date.
However, what is surprising and could be a key differentiation factor for Clovis, is if there is sufficient efficacy in T790M negative patients for use of the drug in this indication.
In this post, we discuss the potential of rociletinib in NSCLC T790M negative patients, whether thought leaders might use the drug in this indication, and delve deeper into the science behind the efficacy seen.
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The embargoed press release and abstract for Clovis’s CO–1686 (rociletinib) in advanced lung cancer patients with and without the T790M mutation, originally scheduled for Friday morning in Barcelona, was released last night. The actual presentation is slated for Friday, November 21 during the Plenary session from 11:00 to 13:00 CET.
Thus the ongoing race to market in this segment continues apace, as do the fairly robust and determined discussions on the topic. Without much further ado to read more about our quick insights and reactions to the data, you can sign up or sign in below.
One of my favourite sessions at any cancer conference is the science symposia, although they go under many different guises and names. At the European Society of Medical Oncology (ESMO) they are known as Special Symposia and conceptually are very similar to Clinical Science Symposia at ASCO.
Here at these sessions, top thought leaders in the space debate and lecture on key issues of the day. They’re usually packed with information and are well worth attending, even in a hectic schedule.
Interestingly, immuno-oncology has a dominant focus on the program for the first time since I’ve been attending ECCO/ESMO events over the last dozen years or so, demonstrating how quickly it is being assimilated into the scientific and clinical consciousness. Years ago, I attended a session on autologous cell therapies (ACT) and there were maybe a handful of us in the room. In Madrid, I doubt if there will be 12 empty seats in the theatre and it will probably be what Pharmaland calls SRO – standing room only.
So what can we learn from the announced sessions this year?
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We hope that everyone had a relaxing holiday break and now it’s time to get back to work. Tomorrow I will review some more of my thoughts in the immuno-oncology space, since that area had a tremendous amount of progress in San Diego with lots of new ideas to process and summarise.
In the meantime, a few people have written in and asked about what was happening with overcoming resistance in various tumour types, was there anything new to say in that space that was in addition to the the detailed previews we covered before the conference?
Actually, there was a quite a few posters and presentations that caught my eye, so I thought this would be a good idea to review them here:
Lung Cancer: HER2, VEGF, T790M, EGFR, erlotinib, gefitinib, trastuzumab, bevacizumab, CO-1686, AZD9291
Prostate Cancer: mTOR, PI3K, Androgen Receptor, enzalutamide, abiraterone, CC214–2, ARN–509, BET Bromodomian inhibition, ODM–201, GDC–0980, GDC-0068, PF–04691502, BKM120, BEZ235
For the third part of the series on the AACR Previews, I wanted to switch directions and take a broad look at five completely different approaches in cancer research that we haven’t discussed on Biotech Strategy before and look at how they are doing and which ones might be promising going forward. Some of these scientific developments could potentially impact existing compounds in development.
Companies mentioned: Exelixis, Roche/Genentech, GSK, Clovis, AstraZeneca, Oncoethix
Compounds discussed: cobimetinib, DEDN6526A, ipatasertib, dabrafenib, trametinib, OTX015, JQ1, CO–1686, AZD9291
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