This is part 2 of my interview with Dr Maha Hussain, Professor of Medical Oncology at the University
Maha Hussain MB ChB is Professor of Medical Oncology at the University of Michigan. She is an international
The recent AACR-NCI-EORTC Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics international conference in San Francisco was an informative meeting.
What I particularly liked was the strategic overview that took place in many of the plenary sessions.
As an example, Johann de Bono, Professor of Experimental Cancer Medicine at The Institute of Cancer Research/The Royal Marsden in London highlighted the potential drug development targets based on prostate cancer biology:
- Androgen Receptor (AR)
- Heat Shock Proteins (Hsp)
- Signaling: HER3, MET, IGF-1R, CCL2, IL-6, Src
- PI3K/AKT/TOR signaling
- PARP and BRCAness
- Estrogen receptor (ER)
- c-MYC & CHK1
His presentation discussed the possible therapeutic approaches, and complexity involved in developing novel targeted therapies for prostate cancer.
This is something that I expect we will hear more of at the AACR special conference on Advances in Prostate Cancer Research early next year.
In particular, de Bono discussed drug development strategies to target androgen receptor signaling, and some of the future challenges including:
- Proving to the regulatory authorities that circulating tumor cell (CTC) count falls are a robust immediate endpoint of overall survival
- Developing improved imaging for bone metastases
As a side note, there were several posters for cabozantinib (XL184) at the meeting (available on the Exelixis website), including preliminary research on computer-aided quantitative bone scan assessment.
However, as de Bono mentioned in his presentation, “diffusion weighted MRI shows hot spots not detected by bone scans.”
2010 and 2011 were good years for prostate cancer drugs, and with new approvals for MDV3100 and radium-223 (Alpharadin) expected, 2012 is set to be another “grand cru” year, to paraphase Bertrand Tombal.
If you were not able to make it to San Francisco for the Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics conference, webcasts of many sessions will be available on the AACR site.
The phase 3 ALSYMPCA prostate cancer trial results for radium-223 chloride (Alpharadin) were presented at the recent ECCO ESMO ESTRO 2011 European Multidisciplinary Cancer Congress in Stockholm. This was the highlight of the meeting for me.
There was also exciting data in Breast Cancer (BOLERO-2) that you can read more about on Pharma Strategy Blog.
Alpharadin from Norwegian company, Algeta, is the first new treatment for advanced prostate cancer that not only prolongs overall survival (OS) but delays time to first skeletal related event (SRE) in metastatic castration resistant prostate cancer patients.
Leading physicians at the meeting believe that it will be “practice changing.”
The Alpharadin data may also have an impact on other bone targeted agents in development for prostate cancer such as cabozantinib (XL184).
Sally Church, PhD (who writes the Pharma Strategy Blog) is quoted by “The Street” as saying that “Alpharadin raises the bar for Exelixis. They have to produce overall survival data now.” Overall Survival (OS) remains the primary regulatory endpoint in prostate cancer drug development.
Prostate cancer experts Johann de Bono and Cora Sternberg also mentioned, in presentations at the Stockholm meeting, that in the future it will be increasingly difficult to do placebo controlled trials in Prostate Cancer given the new treatment options available.
Chris Parker (Royal Marsden Hospital) presented the Alpharadin ALSYMPCA trial data as a late breaking abstract in the presidential session at ECCO ESMO 2011. He also conducted a media briefing that I was fortunate to video.
You can watch this below. In it he explains how radium-223 choloride works and why he (and others) believe this may change the standard of care for prostate cancer patients with bone metastases. It is well worth watching!
The market for prostate cancer therapies is set to expand from $1 billion currently to $5 billion by 2015, according to analysts reported by this morning’s Washington Post/Bloomberg news. This is perhaps no surprise given the recent approval of abiraterone acetate (Zytiga®) from Ortho Biotech (JNJ).
New clinical data on prostate cancer clinical trial results is expected at the 2011 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) in Chicago this weekend from many of the prostate cancer therapies in development such as MDV3100, TAK700, ARN-509, cabozantinib (XL184), ipilimumab, custirsen (OGX-11), BPX-101, alpharadin, denosumab (Xgeva®) and Prostvac-VF.
Indeed, one could argue that prostate cancer is becoming a competitive marketplace. Any emerging biotechnology company that is not already developing a prostate cancer drug is likely to find it a hard market in which to create a blockbuster. By the time any drug comes to market, there will be incumbents with effective products who have captured market share.
Prostate cancer is an exciting market to watch from a marketing strategy and patient perspective, as several companies potentially bring new products to market over the next few years.
However, the bottom line is that patients will live longer as a result of all the innovation that is taking place. Not only that but physician education and awareness of how to treat this disease is also likely to improve as they seek out knowledge on new therapies and treatments. This to many will make a major difference. At the recent American Urological Association (AUA) annual meeting, the sessions on treatment of prostate cancer were standing room only. There is clearly a demand for knowledge out there as the treatment paradigms change.
At the other end of the spectrum, there is also innovation taking place in terms of improved diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer. Whether we should screen all men for PSA remains a controversial topic, although use of risk calculators do appear to offer less false positives. Indeed, calculating risk is going to be one of the key areas that primary care physicians and urologists need to focus on, particularly in the light of the PIVOT trial data that was presented at AUA, showing radical prostatectomy (with risks including incontinence and erectile dysfunction) was not better than watchful waiting in low-risk, early stage disease.
However, a presentation I am looking forward to at ASCO 2011 is on circulating tumor cells (CTC) and whether these can be a prognostic or even a predictive biomarker. Both the phase III MDV3100 and abiraterone acetate clinical trials captured CTC data. It will be exciting news at ASCO 2011 if circulating tumor cells that require only a blood sample offer an improvement over PSA not only for detection of prostate cancer, but in monitoring the disease over time.
I will be at ASCO 2011 this weekend, and look forward to writing more on prostate cancer from the conference!