Biotech Strategy Blog

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

Posts tagged ‘ESMO 2014 Madrid’

Madrid – we’re here in Spain for the 2014 Congress of the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO). It’s proven to be a challenging and frustrating meeting on multiple levels so far, but hopefully it will redeem itself over the weekend as new data that changes the standard of care for cancer patients is presented.

At the end of the day it’s all about the data and making a difference to the lives of cancer patients.

The highlight of the meeting so far was yesterday’s Roche media briefing and the presentation by Dan Chen MD PhD on how the company is making advances in immunotherapy. We’ll be writing up the data he mentioned as it’s presented at the Congress. The quote he showed from Ira Mellman, PhD about the promise of Immunotherapy is one that resonates with us:

Roche Promise of Immunotherapy Quote

At prior ECCO/ESMO’s we’ve written about the industry satellite symposia that take place, many of which feature world-class experts talking about new drugs in development or the treatment landscape. It’s a big disappointment to be excluded from these events for the first time at #ESMO14, especially as many are educational in content or even organized by Continuing Medical Education (CME) companies.

That said, by dint of the fact ESMO can accept data several months after the ASCO abstracts have closed there is new data to talk about at this meeting and we have a very full schedule of sessions to attend today at the Congress.

If you would like to read more about which sessions we’ll be in and our initial impressions of data during the day, do sign-in if you’re a subscriber or sign up to keep abreast as the data rolls out.


The 2014 European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) Congress starts this weekend in Madrid, and it finally feels like it is starting to take off with the release today at lunch-time in Europe of the oral abstracts (with the exception of late breakers) to be presented at the meeting.

This blog post is a preview of some of the oral abstracts that caught my attention in a quick preview this afternoon while in Paris en-route to Madrid.

Air France Concorde CDGFollowing its success at ASCO (one subscriber told us it helped him schedule which sessions to attend, another that it enabled him to question his team on what was really hot at the meeting), we’ll be writing a daily blog on Saturday, Sunday and Monday from ESMO.

It’s going to be a live blog in the sense that we plan to regularly update it during the day, and it will include details of which sessions we are in and our initial impressions of data that catches our interest.

More in-depth posts will follow later.

Back to the oral abstracts, subscribers can login below to read about some of the abstracts that have caught my attention. If you are not yet a subscriber, we do hope you will consider joining what is an exclusive club.

If you can only afford to sign up for a quarter you’re in for a treat as in addition to ESMO we will be covering in person two other major medical meetings this fall, including ASH in San Francisco, and (for now) you still get to read all our previous coverage!!

PS: we’ve not mentioned the companies and products covered in this introduction, as that would make it too easy for non-subscribers, or those in the media who constantly ask us at conferences for story ideas… we all need an edge 🙂

Yesterday’s biotech and pharmaceutical industry news was dominated by the FDA approval of PD-1 inhibitor pembrolizumab (Keytruda) from Merck for the treatment of advanced or unresectable melanoma in patients who no longer respond to other drugs (FDA announcement). Approval was widely expected after the compelling data presented at ASCO 2014 for both pembrolizumab, and another PD-1 checkpoint inhibitor, nivolumab (Opdivo), which was was approved in July in Japan for sale by Ono Pharmaceuticals, a partner of Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS).

It was amusing to see some of the Academic thought leader reactions to the branding of these drugs:

Not sure if Master Yoda would approve of the names, but no one can doubt that the companies in this space are executing and getting it done expeditiously!   We’ve written extensively about the potential of PD-1/PD-L1 inhibitors from quite a few meeting over the last couple of years so it is good to see them market it market. Melanoma is certainly an area where there is a lot happening in immuno-oncology, and the standard of care will likely be changed by these new agents as they gain approval earlier in the disease and optimal combination strategies are developed that shift the survival curves not only to the right, but also upwards.

BMS recently announced that they had stopped their phase 3 clinical trial of nivolumab first-line clinical trial in untreated BRAF wild type melanoma early in June (press release).  It’s good news for patients with advanced melanoma that there are now new treatment options that will help them live considerably longer.  Skin cancer rates are going up unfortunately, with a third more hospital admissions in the UK over the past five years, which experts believe is down to foreign holidays and the use of sunbeds in tanning salons (BBC Health story).

I expect we’ll hear a lot of excitement at the forthcoming European Society of Medical Oncology (ESMO) meeting in Madrid about what’s happening in immuno-oncology, along with concerns about how countries will afford these new life-saving medicines.

Subscribers can login below to read the next in our ESMO 2014 preview series on what’s hot in melanoma? If you don’t already have access to Premium Content (available only to subscribers) you can purchase access by clicking on the blue button below. Not only does your purchase give you access to future content for the time period selected, but also (at the moment) the back library of all the posts we’ve written to date, so if you missed the data at ASCO 2014, there’s still time to catch up.

If you want to be among the first to hear about new blog posts and conference news do sign up for our free email alerts.

We continue our “pre-game” coverage of the 2014 ESMO Cancer Congress in Madrid with a look at what’s hot (or not) in prostate cancer at ESMO.

The treatment of advanced prostate cancer has been revolutionized in the recent years with the approval of new treatment options such as abiraterone acetate (Zytiga), enzalutamide (Xtandi) and radium-223 dichloride (Xofigo).  We’ve also seen some expensive flops in late stage development such as: dasatinib (Sprycel), TAK-700 (Orteronel), custirsen (OGX-011), lenalidomide (Revlimid) and cabozantinib (Cometriq) – all failed to show a significant overall survival benefit in large phase III trials.  In addition, sipuleucel-T (Provenge) although an approved new treatment, is considered by many to be a commercial failure, which highlights that it’s not just about obtaining regulatory approval as a key success factor.

The results of the accrued phase III trial with ipilimumab (Yervoy) in the pre-chemotherapy setting (recall that the ipilimumab post-docetaxel phase III trial was a failure) is eagerly awaited.

Next up in the pipeline we have next-generation androgen receptor (AR) inhibitors such as ODM-201 (Bayer/Orion) and ARN-509 (JNJ/Aragon). Phase III trials with these new AR inhibitors are recruiting for the treatment of non-metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC).

Other novel compounds of note earlier in development include galeterone for which a phase III trial is planned, and bromodomain inhibitors.

So what’s hot at ESMO 2014 in prostate cancer?

In the second of our preview series we take a critical look at some of the oral presentations in the preliminary ESMO program: what’s a rehash of ASCO 2014, and what new data are worth looking out for when the abstracts are published?

Subscribers can login in below or if not a subscriber you can purchase access by clicking on the blue icon.

ESMO 2014, the Congress of the European Society for Medical Oncology takes place in Madrid next month. Yesterday on Twitter, it was announced that the late breaking abstract titles had been added to the searchable online program.

Late breakers, by definition, provide an opportunity for the most recent data to be presented. Over the next few posts we’ll start to look at the forthcoming program and the late breakers that have been announced.

Obviously until the abstracts are published there’s no data to discuss, but nonetheless the titles give an indication of what may be hot news at the Congress.

For those going to the ESMO 2014 “searchable” online program, be warned it’s not the most user friendly of search engines.

At large scientific and medical meetings, a lot of sessions run in parallel, it’s the only way to get through the volume of data in a few days, and most clinicians tend to be sub-specialists. The plenary, or Presidential session, as its known at ESMO 2014 is the rare opportunity where all congress attendees get together to hear what the organizers think is the most noteworthy, compelling or practice-changing data at the meeting.

Unfortunately, the trend at recent meetings has to been to focus on data from large phase III trials, and indeed at ASCO the plenary featured negative breast cancer data. While we believe that negative data should be presented, since it is particularly informative to those in that specialist area, plenary sessions should ideally have data that make you sit up and think, ‘Wow!’

The American Society of Hematology (ASH) missed the opportunity at their 2013 annual meeting to provide a plenary on chimeric antigen receptor based T cell (CAR-T) therapy, which looks likely to revolutionize hematology. The Novartis/UPenn CTL019 data for the treatment of children with acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) was stunning. Readers may recall that Gleevec obtained a plenary at ASH back in 1999 on the basis of dramatic phase I data so a precedent has been set, even if it has not been followed much since then.

At ASCO this year, the compelling data in immuno-oncology, particularly for the treatment of metastatic melanoma by PD-1 inhibitors nivolumab and pembrolizumab and the anti-PD-L1, MPDL3280A, in bladder cancer were particularly noteworthy, and would not have been out of place in a plenary session.

It’s disappointing sometimes to see the committees that vote and decide on which abstracts merit a plenary seem to be traditionalists and not to be on top of immuno-oncology and immunotherapy, where the practice changing data is emerging.  At the current rate, some of these agents are highly likely to be approved by the FDA before they make it to prime time consideration at a cancer conference, which is very strange indeed.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at what ESMO chosen for their two Presidential sessions in Madrid. Subscribers can login to read more, or you can purchase access below.

The 2014 Congress of the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) will take place in Madrid from September 26 to 30th, and it’s exciting to see details of the meeting start to emerge.

The theme this year is “Precision Medicine in Cancer Care.”

ESMO 2014 Congress Madrid

This conference is the European equivalent of the ASCO annual meeting in Chicago and alternates annually between ESMO and the European CanCer Organization (ECCO) in terms of hosting and organisation.

ESMO Tweets

The Twitter hashtag this year is #ESMO14, one that’s easy to remember, instantly recognizable and short to use!

Do follow @myESMO for latest Congress news if you are not already doing so. A searchable program is now available online. Link to ESMO 2014 Congress Program.

ESMO has already highlighted some presentations and sessions of interest to the media, but we will be waiting until the abstracts to make our own independent selection and reviews will follow on these.

One of the advantages of the ESMO meeting is the August 20th late-breaking abstract deadline.

Given the ASCO deadline is early in the year, this means the meeting has the opportunity for some exciting late-breaking data to be presented. I’m hoping we will see some exciting new immuno-oncology data as the field is moving forward rapidly

Abstract Publication Dates 

In terms of dates for your diary when abstracts will be publicly available online:

Wed Sept 17: Poster Discussion and Posters

Wed Sept 24: Proffered Papers (oral presentations)

Late-breaking abstracts: beginning of session when they will be presented

Abstracts in Press Conference: at end of press conf or beginning of session in which they are presented, whichever comes first.

I think it’s right that late-breaking scientific data should not be made public until the same time as it’s presented at the Congress.

ESMO 2014 Live Blog

After it’s success at ASCO, we’ll be publishing a live blog for subscribers on the Saturday, Sunday and Monday of the Congress. You can find our coverage on the dedicated ESMO14 blog page.

ESMO 2014 already looks like it will be an exciting and interesting Congress. If any subscribers have plans to be in Madrid do let us know. We look forward to saying “hello” over a glass of jerez or two….

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