Biotech Strategy Blog

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

Posts tagged ‘biotech commercial development’

The fourteenth annual BIO CEO & Investor Conference takes place next week (February 13-14, 2012) in New York at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel. I will be commuting from New Jersey so will not be experiencing at first hand the charm of staying at this iconic hotel.

BIO-Investor-CEO-Conference-New-York-2012-Waldof-AstoriaThe focus of the meeting is on publicly-traded biotechnology companies, and provides an opportunity for investors, analysts and industry executives to hear company presentations, undertaken one-on-one partnering discussions and listen to pharmaceutical industry leaders present their vision of the future.

Wifi permitting I will be live tweeting from the sessions I attend (@3NT).  I expect others at the conference such as @adamfeurestein to be sharing news and insights.  You can follow the twitter conversation using the (rather long) hashtag #BIOCEO2012.

My focus at the meeting will be on some of the workshops, rather than the company presentations which typically are shared on investor relations websites of publicly traded companies,.  A few that caught my attention include:

Secrets of Oncology Success – Lessons and Trends in Phase II Clinical Trial Outomes

In my opinion, too many companies rush phase II drug development, particularly in oncology.  I recently saw a company go to phase III on the basis of a 14 patient trial.   I will be interested to see what insights the panel offer on what trial designs they liked and which they didn’t and what lessons others can learn from this for new product development.

Speakers in this session include Mohammad Azab, CMO of Astex Pharmaceuticals and Michael Morrissey, CEO of Exelixis.

Neurology: “Alz” Well that Ends Well – Settling the Beta-Amyloid Debate

I doubt very much that this program will settle the debate over the amyloid hypothesis of Alzheimer’s disease, and whether this presents a “real” drug development target.  The challenge in this area is that by the time amyloid deposits can be imaged in the brain, the damage has already been done.

The amyloid load seen in the brain is also only loosely related to cognitive decline, suggesting that even if a therapeutic were able to remove plaque from the brain, it might not alleviate the symptoms of cognitive decline.

Drugs may need to target earlier stages of the disease such as synaptic decline, before beta-amyloid buildup is suggested.  Synaptic proteins have been suggested as a target.

I look forward to hearing the panels views on the current state of Alzheimer’s drug development and what the emerging targets may be.

The 2012 BIO CEO & Investor conference looks to be an interesting meeting in New York next week. If you are attending do let me know as it would be good to meet up if the opportunity presents.

Earlier this month the Michael J Fox Foundation (MJFF) announced that Vancouver based Allon Therapeutics had been able to improve motor function and brain pathology in a mouse model of Parkinson’s disease (PD).

MJFF funded this research with Allon Therapeutics. The preclinical study results are published in the Journal of Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience.

What makes this data interesting is that it adds further support to the potential efficacy of the company’s lead product, davunetide, in a wide range of neurodegenerative disorders.

Davunetide (AL-108) is a microtubule-interacting peptide based on an eight amino acid sequence, Asn-Ala-Pro-Val-Ser-Ile-Pro-Gln, single letter code NAPVSIPQ (NAP) derived from activity-dependent neuroprotective protein (ADNP). It has been shown to have neuroprotective properties.

Davunetide can be administered by IV or intranasally and crosses the blood/brain barrier. It is effective at promoting neurite growth, restoring transmission between nerve cells and untangling some of the damage seen in neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. References to the scientific publications and mechanism of action can be found on the Allon Therapeutics website.

Currently it is being developed for Alzheimer’s disease (AD), schizophrenia cognitive impairment and frontotemporal dementia (FTD). Davunetide is in a phase 3 clinical trial for progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), a subtype of FTD.

The company’s strategy is to pursue a fast-track to market in a small indication such as PSP. This is makes a lot of sense for a small biotechnology company with limited funding.  Successful approval in PSP will significantly increase the value of the company and improve the terms of any future licensing/partnering deals.

The hope for davunetide is that it will prevent disease progression in disorders such as AD and provide neuroprotective prophylaxisis prior to surgery that carries a high risk of memory loss e.g. heart bypass and coronary artery graft surgery (CABG).

While davunetide may not be a cure for AD, being able to slow down disease progression is something that has considerable value.  Given that new imaging biomarkers are likely to provide the opportunity to detect AD much earlier, the market opportunity for early treatment is set to increase.

Many families and caregivers would welcome a drug that delays further cognitive decline and memory loss in their loved ones.

On the basis of the promising preclinical results, I think we can expect to see further clinical research on davenutide in Parkinson’s Disease.

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