Next week the Cancer Conference circuit moves on to a double-header with the AACR-NCI-EORTC Molecular Targets & Cancer Therapeutics meeting (Twitter #Targets15) taking place in Boston from November 5 – 9th, and the annual meeting of the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) taking place in National Harbor, MD from November 4 – 8th.
It is unfortunate that the two meetings clash, Molecular Targets is slightly later in the year than it was in 2013 when it was last in Boston. Both focus on the hottest topic in cancer drug development, which will come as no surprise… cancer immunotherapy.
In addition, in Boston there are some posters of note on other novel targets and approaches. Talking of which, Episode 7 of our Novel Targets podcast from the European Cancer Congress is now live. Do listen!
For this preview of #Targets15, we’ve taken a look at the abstracts that were published online yesterday afternoon (the late breakers and those in the press program are not available yet), and highlighted a few of interest, together with a few sessions of note. If you have plans to be in Boston for the conference, this post will be of interest to you.
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As a heads-up, we will be at the forthcoming American Society of Hematology (ASH) annual meeting in Orlando (Twitter #ASH15), so if you have been sitting on the fence about buying a quarterly subscription, now is a great time to take the leap and join all those folks who want the “real edge” in cancer research.
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There are quite a few posters at the forthcoming AACR-NCI-EORTC Molecular Targets meeting this weekend that I wanted to highlight as potentially interesting and will additionally review in more depth once they have been published.
Please note: None of the embargoed abstracts are covered here in this preview to avoid any complications, but more detailed notes and reports will follow later on these from the conference as they are published.
Here some of the abstracts that caught my eye, in no particular order:
Academic institutions are now bringing pharma/biotech companies together and facilitating rational combination trials that make solid scientific sense.
Combining at least two targeted drugs looks to be increasingly necessary in order to develop innovative new cancer treatments, where turning off one target may stimulate another, thus both need to be targeted for there to be an overall effect.
However, one company may not have all the pathways and drug targets covered by their portfolio. The result is that companies may have to work together in combination trials with each providing one drug from their portfolio.
That was one of the key messages I took from Gordan Mills (UT MD Anderson Cancer Center) in his recent video interview with Sally Church from Pharma Strategy Blog:
Sally Church’s video interview with Professor Mills is well worth watching if you have not already done so.
Not only are universities and research institutions well placed to judge the scientific merits, but as Mills points out they can facilitate things as an independent third party and actively help bring partnerships together. Given that combination therapies may be needed in order to turn off different parts of signaling pathways and cross-talk, I think we are likely to see more of this approach.
It’s going to be new territory for many companies – how to enter into a potential joint venture or alliance? However, if it results in a therapy that works, it is going to be win-win for all parties. It may also improve efficiency in drug development and lead to better use of patients in early stage development.
Some examples of where this is happening already in oncology include AstraZeneca and Merck with their MEK-AKT approach and GSK (MEK) with Novartis (PI3K), to name a couple. This is a new trend we are likely to see more of in the future.
I can see universities hiring alliance managers who have industry experience to ensure these collaborations run smoothly.
The topic of the industry/academia interface in rational cancer drug development will also be discussed in a plenary session at the forthcoming American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) meeting on Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics (November 12-16, 2011) in San Francisco.
How academia can better help the pharma/biotech industry bring innovative, rational drug combinations to market is a topic that I think we will be reading more about in coming months.