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

Posts tagged ‘ESMO 2015 Congress’

ECC Vienna Highlights Day 3Vienna, Austria: Yesterday at the European Cancer Congress we heard the latest data on checkpoint inhibitors. If there was any doubt as to the paradigm shift that immunotherapy is causing in cancer care, one only had to look at the full meeting rooms, and throngs of people trying to get into the IO sessions.

They were frequently standing room only with many people frustrated at being locked out or having to resort to the tiny overflow room.  Traditionally breast cancer has always been allocated the largest room for oral sessions, but with Immuno-Oncology increasingly drawing the largest and most enthusiastic crowds, this situation may well have to change in future years. It will soon be time for a specialist track on this topic in the biggest hall, making it easier for people to learn more about new developments across tumour types, rather than scatter them all over the program by organ.

The melanoma session yesterday, for example, was full to overflowing with every single seat snatched up.  Given the noise and crowds outside, the session start was delayed slightly as Prof Eggermont warmly and graciously invited people in to stand along the aisles and “engage in the debate from the sides.”  In a small packed room (why so small?!) this certainly added to the buzz and atmosphere.

One session Chair joked you only had to put “immunotherapy” in the title to ensure a great turn out. There were even people there until 7pm to hear the immunotherapy proffered papers yesterday, for example.

If I have one plea to cancer conference organisers it is to be more aware of the changing trends and enthusiasm – immunotherapy is the hottest topic right now and people want to hear about these agents irrespective of tumour type.  Why not have a two hour session on IO trials in the largest hall, almost like a special session so everyone interested can attend?  It makes a lot more sense than scattering the presentations all over the place and forcing people to run about the centre like rabid rabbits on too much caffeine!  It’s easy to cover 15K steps and over 6 miles trying to catch these studies in various sessions.

ECC 2015 Crowd OverflowAs you can see from the photo to the right, this is the growing crowd outside the bladder cancer session yesterday (I was one of them). People rushed from the atezo data in the lung cancer session to the bladder session down the other end of the corridor and were locked out due to a packed hall. They were frantically taking photos of Dr Rosenberg’s slides from the tv screens on the wall.

We have added some commentary and thought leader perspectives on the atezo data in the Day 2 highlights, for those interested.

It’s a particularly poignant scene for those of us who attended bladder cancer sessions only a few years ago where there were literally 12 men and a dog present in the hall.  How things have changed – IO fever has caught on even in this distant universe!

Meanwhile, the Day 1 Highlights and Day 2 Highlights posts have looked at the atezolizumab data in bladder and lung, as well as the nivolumab data in renal cell carcinoma and pembrolizumab in several different cancer types. There’s also some topline commentary on where cabozantinib fits in RCC.  Today’s highlights will probably be lung cancer focused with the latest nivolumab CheckMate 017 and 057 data being presented this morning.

In addition to the latest clinical data, there has been some scientific symposia at the meetings that have attracted experts well worth listening to.  More in future blog posts.

So what’s happening on Day 3 at the European Cancer Congress? This post highlights some of the sessions that may be of interest.

LONDON – atezolizumab (Roche/Genentech) is expected to change the standard of care (SOC) for the treatment of metastatic urothelial bladder cancer. That’s the key message I took from a recent interview with Professor Tom Powles (Barts Cancer Institute) on the role checkpoint inhibitors and cancer immunotherapy will play in the treatment of bladder cancer.

Professor Tom Powles BartsReaders will recall the compelling early phase 1 clinical trial data for atezolizumab (formerly MPDL3280A) that Prof Powles (pictured right) presented just over a year ago at the 2014 ASCO annual meeting: “Making a difference in advanced bladder cancer

Although other checkpoint inhibitors are in bladder cancer trials, and we have written about the pembrolizumab (Merck) data first presented at ESMO 2014 (“Breathing New Life into Bladder Cancer Treatment), it is expected that atezolizumab will win the race to market in the US and be the first checkpoint inhibitor to gain FDA approval for the second-line treatment of advanced bladder cancer.

Atezolizumab received breakthrough therapy designation (BTD) in May 2014 from the US Food and Drug Administration for PD-L1 positive metastatic urothelial bladder cancer after progression or intolerance of platinum based chemotherapy.

Earlier this summer Genentech announced in a press release that the IMvigor 210 phase 2 study was positive and met it’s primary endpoint, with a greater response rate associated with higher levels of PD-L1 expression.

European Cancer Congress 2015This data will be presented on Sunday Sept 27 as a late-breaker at the forthcoming 2015 European Cancer Congress in Vienna (Twitter #ECC2015), the European equivalent of the ASCO annual meeting organized in alternate years by ECCO and ESMO:

Atezolizumab in patients (pts) with locally-advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma (mUC): Results from a pivotal multicenter phase II study (IMvigor 210)

Although we won’t know the trial results until they are presented in Vienna by Dr Jonathan Rosenberg (MSKCC), based on the recent press release it’s widely expected that the positive data from this trial will lead to rapid regulatory approval in the United States.

Subscribers can login below or you can purchase access to read Prof Powles’ opinion on the role checkpoint inhibitors will play in the treatment of bladder cancer, how this may play out in Europe as compared to the United States, and what the future may hold beyond checkpoint monotherapy.

This interview does not discuss the data to be presented at the 2015 European Cancer Congress, the results of which we will have to wait until Vienna to hear.

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