It’s time for our new mini-series on a key topic of interest. In this post we take a look at interesting data we came across at ASCO relating to the innate immune system… what’s important here is exploring different ways of jumpstarting the immune system using various approaches. These can range from cytokines to Toll-like receptors (TLRs) and involve both small cap biotechs and big Pharma alike.

There were quite a few examples to be seen and heard in Chicago, something that researchers turned out to be quite enthusiastic and passionate about too, as we learned from numerous interviews.

Dr Adi Diab at the Idera TLR9 poster #ASCO18

This niche is both early, as well as up and coming for many outsiders, although some of the approaches described we first started covering and writing about back in 2015, so regular BSB readers will not be unfamiliar with the concepts.

It’s always good to follow targets and companies over time from preclinical to clinical development and see how the proof of concept stands up to scrutiny. Sometimes though, it’s about finding the right combination partner or patient subset and… boom.  Other times researchers need to do additional work to figure out the optimal approach or schedule.  There’s no formula for success and the path forward can be one that’s well worn or less well travelled.

Add on top of this ridiculous hype and expectations and you get a recipe for disasters and pratfalls pitfalls along the way. Oncology R&D is a roller coaster, after all.

In the first post of our series, we begin with TLR9 and some encouraging early data with this approach. We explore the data generated through the lens of an investigator in one of the trials and what he and his patients have experienced, which makes for interesting reading.

To be clear, this is quite different from the disappointing results seen in the past with motolimod (VTX–2337), a TLR8 molecule…

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