Biotech Strategy Blog

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

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Stacking up the various modalities – what do we find?

It’s time to talk about an particular target in AML because there are now a variety of different modalities involved since we last covered it, which makes it rather more intriguing than most. There’s antibodies, ADCs, CAR-T cell therapies, stem cells, and various bispecifics to name a few such examples.

To be clear, we’re not talking about CD123 here either, but rather an entirely different protein that is receiving increasing attention from multiple companies.

How does the evidence stack up?  Will one particular approach stand out from all the others?

Next, perhaps what makes this post even more interesting is we have an engaging interview with one of the company CEO’s in this niche to share, so we can see how they view things from the lens of looking at things in a different way from many of the other competitors.

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The calm before the storm as the KRAS competition heats up and also gets more complex in the process

I was very tempted to tease everyone and say something along the lines of… ‘while you were all partying, there was some new KRAS clinical data being presented somewhere in the world’ but that would be rather naughty, I suspect.

Instead, I’ll simply point out that it’s time to take a look at the latest phase 1 data in the KRAS niche.

What more clinical data already?!

Yes there is and what’s more it doesn’t belong to the either of the leading two in the early race to market, aka Amgen and Mirati.  There’s a whole bigger world out there for those interested in following the broader slate runners and riders.  It pays to pay attention because this is not a race about single agent therapies, rather it’s about who figures out the optimal combinations and is able to finesse that better than their competitors.  Like real horse races, an unexpected runner can surprise a few folks by making a strong push on the rails or a bounding leap round the outside like Lester Piggott was famous for doing.

This highly specialised field is moving much faster than the BRAFV600E arena was a decade ago and there’s also more players involved too, plus multiple different approaches and targets to consider, which I expect we will be covering quite a few times during 2020.

Are you ready?

Get set, GO!

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A wet gloomy day in San Francisco was brightened up by some small biotech talks

San Francisco – The other day I mentioned that we could expect some cross pollination across several recent conferences and this latest post on Kura Oncology is one such example of that genre.

We’ve been following their story longitudinally for a while now and with a lot suddenly going on, 2020 could well turn out to be an crucial year for the company.

There is no doubt they have been pursuing a very focused precision medicine approach with tipifarnib and executing nicely on that strategy so far, but as more indications and additional pipeline agents move into the clinic do the same principles still apply?

To find out, we interviewed a couple of their senior executives and discussed both current progress as well as where they are headed…

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Downtown San Francisco

San Francisco — Amongst all the chaos and frenetic activity that abounds big Pharma at JPM each year, I always look forward to hearing what the smaller biotechs are up to on days 3 and 4, as well as seeing how far some of them have progressed since our previous update on their pipeline agents.

In this latest update, there are definitely some companies we have been following longitudinally who are either poised for future success and growth… or due for a correction if the promising science doesn’t pan out as expected in the clinic.

Indeed one of those companies has already hit success and disappointment in the last two months alone, such is the roller coaster that is oncology R&D.

Please note that this is a rolling blog, which means that numerous updates are added throughout the day as new information becomes available.

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San Francisco – the 2020 JP Morgan Healthcare conference is now in full swing, and we’re continuing our coverage with another rolling blog that provides review and analysis of company presentations, deals, and plans for the coming year.

Some of the companies featured in yesterday’s commentary were: BMS, Incyte, Novartis, Deciphera, Allogene, Nektar, Seattle Genetics, Mirati, and Clovis.

While our focus on BSB is mainly writing about the science driving innovation and new product development, especially in oncology and immunology, it’s good to hear what companies are looking to accomplish in the coming year and then put that in context.

Cancer drug development, whether it be with targeted therapies or immuno-oncology remains a fast moving and continually evolving field, and one you have to keep your finger on the pulse of if you don’t want to be left behind.

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January is inevitably a month where several worlds collide for us.

There might be initial data from SITC and solid data from ASH that bears the advantage of showcasing in the context of corporate presentations at JPM or company announcements of competitor trial progress.

That’s very much the case today.

Earlier this month, Incyte announced the phase 3 trial miss for their JAK1 inhibitor in acute graft versus host disease (GVHD), perhaps coming as a surprise to a few observers familiar with the positive ruxolitinib result, but not so much to clinicians.

In the latter case, one transplanter in the itacitinib study told me at ASCO that he hadn’t noticed any difference between the steroid only and steroid plus itacitinib arms in his SCT patients. Although admittedly that was a small sample of the whole, it did make me wonder if the trend was repeated then it wouldn’t augur well for the overall readout expected year end. Come January, his observation turned out to be rather prescient.

Incyte are presenting on the JPM20 slate in San Francisco today and we’ll be keen to learn if they have anything to add beyond the terse Jan 2nd announcement on the itacitinib miss.

More importantly though, there are still plenty of other agents in development are being investigated for the treatment of acute GVHD, one of which from Alpine Immune Sciences in Seattle we are particularly enthused about following discussions at the recent ASH meeting last month.

In our latest expert interview, we learn more about that development and explore the context for the evolution of a novel molecule likely not on many people’s radar. If the results turn out to be encouraging that situation could well change in the future.

To learn more from our oncology coverage and get a heads up on our latest insights from the ASH and JPM annual meeting, subscribers can log-in or you can click to gain access to BSB Premium Content.

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San Francisco – This week is mostly about business news as pharma and biotech companies congregate around the JP Morgan Healthcare conference.

It’s JPM time!

As of today (January 13th) I think a lot of investor and journalistic observers have probably been rather disappointed with no news of any major M&A activity, as this seen as setting the tone for the year ahead. I don’t personally see things that way because there’s always plenty of interesting small deals, new early funding, new science and even newco’s forming.

Indeed, Allogene already announced a new clinical collaboration with SpringWorks Therapeutics to evaluate their investigational anti-BCMA allogeneic CAR-T cell wherapy with their gamma secretase inhibitor in multiple myeloma.  They clearly see this as one way to address the shedding problems that have led to relapse with BCMA therapies.

As in previous years, we have a rolling live blog each day at JPM to highlight some of the scientific and company findings that emerge during the meeting…

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The start of a New Year is a good time to take stock of where we’ve come from and where we’re going in the fast-paced world of oncology new product development.

Upregulation doesn’t always mean a protein is a valid target, but in some cases it just might…

In this latest post, we’re revisiting T cell immunoglobulin and mucin domain-containing protein 3 – or TIM-3 in short – and taking a closer look at the evolving competitive landscape in this niche.

One company targeting it is Novartis, who have an anti-TIM–3 antibody MBG453 in development. In this post we have an expert interview with a scientist who is a pioneer in the emerging field of TIM-3 biology.

There’s also a review of some of the recent important scientific papers on TIM-3 biology, as well as commentary on data presented at ASH19 that we expect may feature in presentations at JPM20 next week, not to mention be the focus of future interim updates should the data turn out to show some promise in certain settings.

If you have an interest in targeting novel immune checkpoints and want to find out more about where the field is at with TIM-3, then this post is for you.

Curious to find out more about our latest oncology coverage and get a heads up on additional insights from our latest thought leader interview, analysis, and commentary? Subscribers can log-in or you can click to gain access to BSB Premium Content.

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Is the path to the future clear or paved with many obstacles?

With the 2020 JP Morgan Healthcare conference coming up next week, I thought this would be a great time to sit down and lay out some provocative concepts in terms of where we might be headed in oncology R&D for the next decade.

Every couple of years we tackle the critical topic of looking in the crystal ball on the future of cancer research to look at where oncology R&D pipelines are potentially headed.

Obviously it’s not an easy task compared to the value of hindsight in looking back at the last decade and describing what’s already occurred.

Here we highlight six key strategic elements that may need to be considered in terms of future R&D directions and considerations.

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Gems from the poster halls yielded some fascinating novel approaches and new twists on old targets

In this latest post ASH review, we explore some intriguing early developments from several small and large companies alike, explain why they matter and why we should be interested in them.

Sometimes the wisdom of the crowds isn’t always the best indicator of what’s coming down the pike in terms of oncology pipelines.

Part of our cunning plan this year involved going to ‘off Broadway’ sessions where we thought others would skip in favour of a more obviously popular session (the ones in the big halls) and merrily tweet them so you could easily follow along in parallel while the smaller rooms rapidly filled up and quietly closed to those desperately trying to get in late.

Our selections here include several gems from the poster halls (imagine trying to just pick a few highlights out of 4,000 poster options?!), as well as a couple of oral presentations that were missed by many – not surprising given how jam-packed the schedule was with double and even triple choices of selections in parallel to choose from!

Curious to find out more about our latest coverage and get a heads up on additional insights from our post ASH analysis and commentary?Subscribers can log-in or you can click to gain access to BSB Premium Content.

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