It’s time to launch a new mini-series where we explore some of the issues and concepts surronding a given topic and then look at how they are being tackled through the lens of different biotech companies.

Storm clouds gathering over immune agonists and bispecific antibodies?

The latest topic is bispecific antibodies, a development we have often covered since 2014/2015 here on BSB. Much has happened in that time and many compounds have fallen by the wayside. In my view, this is a normal part of oncology R&D attrition – it’s not that we encounter problems, it’s how companies handle the road blocks along the way that matters.

What can we learn from the first two waves of immuno-oncology that can be applied to bispecific developments?  There is no doubt that while some have been successful in making it to market, quite a few have encountered various challenges along the journey.  Why is that and how to we address the emerging or thorny issues?

Change is inevitable in the cancer immunotherapy revolution, we can hardly expect to get things right first time, every time. Some approaches will work well, some won’t, others will need tweaking and turn out to be useful tools down the road in future iterations. Learning from past experience to make the next wave better and more effective is an important part of this process rather than putting everything in one basket and then abandoning it if it doesn’t work first time.

One man who has experienced the first and second waves and is ideally placed to candidly discuss the learnings and future changes needed is Dr Dan Chen. He was global head of cancer immunotherapy while at Genentech/Roche and is now spearheading clinical development at IGM Biosciences, a biotech focused on next generation antibodies and bispecifics.

In order to think about what’s needed in the future rather than rush headlong into a different modality, we first have to take stock and then reflect on the learnings of the past clinical trial experiences in order to figure out how to fix them…

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