Hubble Space Telescope, Spitzer Space Telescope

Hubble Space Telescope, Spitzer Space Telescope – Image credit: NASA/ESA/P. Jeffries

With the latest Nobel Prize in Physics being awarded to three scientists (Roger Penrose, Reinhard Genzel, and Andrea Ghez) for their work on black holes in the galaxy, it occurred to me there are some handy analogies for cancer research and development too.  As NASA aptly put it:

“Every second a star somewhere out in the universe explodes as a supernova. But some extremely massive stars go out with a whimper instead of a bang. When they do, they can collapse under the crushing tug of gravity and vanish out of sight, only to leave behind a black hole.”

Every Pharma company with an oncology pipeline is faced with the same fundamental challenge at some point in its life cycle – which ones are the rising stars that could explode as a blockbuster versus which compounds are doomed to vanish and be sucked back into the black hole (aka the screening library)?

Can we always tell from the basis of what are usually relatively simple allcomer trials in phase 1 with dose escalation in advanced solid tumours?

It’s fairly straightforward to tell when something is too toxic for patients to tolerate, as the number of grade 3+ serious events will quickly indicate, but activity isn’t so easy to determine.  This begs an important question to be answered – what are researchers and new product professionals actually looking for and how do they interpret the data?  Are they looking from a similar lens or are there differences in perception, much as a kaleidoscope changes even with the same elements included.

Here we take an in-depth look at a couple of early compounds against targets, which have garnered some attention this year and explore reactions from both sponsor and KOL angles.  As anyone involved in clinical trials knows, not everyone sings from the same hymn sheet every time!

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