Biotech Strategy Blog

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

SITC 2014 National Harbor MD Fall ColorsNational Harbor, MD – The 2014 Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) annual meeting officially kicked off today, with a record-breaking 1,500 attendees. The organization has grown by 33% over the past year highlighting the explosive progress in the field, and the growing importance of SITC!

There was a lot of thought provoking science on display as researchers and translational scientists came from all around the world to share results and talk about the future.

What struck me at the meeting today was the collegiality and friendliness of all who are here. It’s exciting times in immunotherapy and immuno-oncology and everyone at the meeting is bound by a common goal of making a difference to the lives of cancer patients.

The President of SITC, Francesco Marincola (Sidra) quoted Winston Churchill in his introductory address:

“Now this is not the end.

It is not even the beginning of the end.

But, perhaps it is the end of the beginning.”

Dr Marincola’s choice of quote seemed to strike the right balance of where we are at today: there’s still a long way to go to optimize cancer immunotherapy treatments, but equally there’s been tremendous progress to reach the point we are at where there are durable long-term responses in many patients who would otherwise not be alive today.

What was the highlight of Day 1 of SITC 2014?

For me, this morning, it was the presentation by Marcel van den Brink (MSKCC) on the influence of the microbiome on graft-versus-host disease (GvHD) for which there’s been no effective new treatment for over 25 years:

In the afternoon, it was the presentation by Roy Herbst (Yale) on the top ten lessons learned about immunotherapy for NSCLC.

It’s unfair to single out two presenters when there were multiple presentations and posters of note, but they stood out for me. If you’d like to read our more detailed notes from the road after Day 1 of SITC 2014, do log-in if you are already a subscriber.

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2 Responses to “SITC 2014 Cancer Immunotherapy Day 1”

  1. MF

    Sally tweeted an article re CD47 and LVHF during SITC. How does this affect her and your views re SCTPF and the Stanford efforts?

    • maverickny

      Hi MF, for a moment I thought you meant you tweeted a link on that, then remembered I did in response to a conversation… it seems eons ago not last week, the conference was pretty tiring and left one’s brain in a fog 🙂

      Ok so my take on that issue is that the CD47 and LVHF risk is not entirely surprising. Irv Weissman (Stanford) did a big talk at AACR or ASCO earlier this year and conceded that CD47 is expressed on both normal tissues as well as cancer cells. As a result, CD47 targeting directly is not a great one as cancer targets go – what you really want is something expressed only on cancer cells or there is a risk of increased (and unwanted) off-target toxicities… in this case, increased heart complications such as LVHF, which would not be a good thing given that cancer is a disease associated with aging.

      Stanford were originally developing a traditional CD47 mAB, whereas SCTPF were looking to target it more indirectly via SIRPa, which hasn’t been shown to have the same cardiac risks in animals AFAIK. Stanford were ahead on the mAB front, SCTPF on SIRPa. Lately, I’m hearing that Stanford are also developing a SIRPa approach, which may or may not be related to the cardiac fox and may or may not validate SCTPF’s approach. However, if the cardiac tox is true for CD47 directly, then it could well validate SCTPF. That said, I would urge caution on this issue until there are clinical data available because from an immune perspective, mice are not a particularly good model for what happens in humans. They behave quite differently in many ways.

      Disclosure: I own SCTPF stock (long) and have no intention of selling it based on the current data.

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