Biotech Strategy Blog

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

Posts tagged ‘GvHD Landscape’

Aloha! If you have plans to be in Honolulu next week for #BMTTandem16, then one of the “must do” sights is the walk to the top of Diamond Head. It towers over Waikiki and is a major landmark for anyone travelling in an easterly direction.

Waikiki from Diamond Head

One way to get there is to start early and take the #23 The Bus ($2.50 fare, exact change) from Ala Moana & Waikiki to the state park entrance. The path starts off deceptively easy, kicks in with some uneven surfaces and hits you with a pile of steps near the top. Sensible shoes, water and sunscreen recommended.

The spectacular views at the end are well worth it, especially if you catch the sunrise/early morning light and manage to avoid arriving at the summit at the same time as busloads of Japanese tourists with the same idea. It’s a popular attraction!

One of the reasons for going to the top of hills and mountains is to see the “big picture” of the landscape below. In writing and reporting on the latest innovations in biomedicine, we often focus on the results of one trial or news from one company; yet it’s also important to see how the pieces of the jigsaw fit together.

That’s why pharmaceutical marketers and new produce development specialists often commission custom reports that review the strategic landscape in a therapeutic area.

As part of our coverage of #BMTTandem16, we’re taking a look at some of the strategic trends and drivers in the Graft versus Host Disease (GvHD) space.

It’s an area of unmet medical need and market opportunity.

Anyone with an interest in allogeneic “off the shelf” CAR-T cell therapy should already appreciate the significance of GvHD as a potential complication. If you don’t, then you’ve not been reading BSB…

In case you missed it, do listen to Dr Marcel van den Brink talking about GvHD on the Novel Targets Podcast. (Episode 9: Targeting the Microbiome)

This post is not intended to be a substitute for a landscape report, but offers some top line thoughts on some of the strategic drivers to look out for.

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Marcel R.M. van den Brink, M.D., Ph.D.At the 2014 Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) annual meeting at National Harbor, MD, one of the presentations that caught my attention was by Marcel van den Brink MD PhD (@DrMvandenBrink), pictured right, from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. (picture courtesy of MSKCC with permission).

Dr van den Brink, who is Head of the Division of Hematologic Oncology and Alan.N. Houghton Chair, gave a fascinating talk entitled, “The role of the Intestinal Microbiome on GvHD” (Graft versus Host Disease).

Think of the yogurt pots and probiotic drinks we see in the supermarket with “beneficial” bacteria. We’re familiar with the idea that the make up of the millions of bacteria in our gut can make a difference to our digestion and health.

Well, it turns out it can make a difference to our immune system too. Research presented at the recent SITC meeting by Dr van den Brink showed that manipulating the bacteria in the gut could potentially help the thousands of patients around the world who receive a bone marrow transplant (BMT).  BMT is a gruelling procedure that many leukemia, myeloma and lymphoma patients have to face as part of their treatment protocol.

Sadly, about 20%* of people who receive an allogeneic bone marrow transplant from an unmatched donor die from Graft versus host disease (GvHD)

* According to 2010-2011 data from the Center for International Blood and Marrow Transport (CIBMTR), GvHD was the cause of death in 19-23% of people who received an allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplant.

After his informative and interesting presentation at SITC, Dr van den Brink spoke with BSB about his findings and what’s on the horizon for the treatment of GvHD.

Over the course of a half hour conversation, he covered some of the new treatment options, one of which may change the standard of care, and the rational some companies are pursuing by targeting the innate immune system.

For those interested in CAR-T cell therapy and the promise of allogeneic CAR-T cells, Dr van den Brink kindly talked about some unpublished data from MSKCC about why we have not seen GvHD in patients who receive allogeneic CAR-T cells.

GvHD is an important topic, and one that deserves more attention. I expect we will here a lot more about it at ASH this year so reading this interview will, hopefully, help you better put that data in context.

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