Biotech Strategy Blog

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

About MaverickNY

Here are my most recent posts

Posts by MaverickNY

We first wrote about this innate pathway back in early 2015 – before it became famous and controversial – when things seemed much simpler then.

Imagine the basic concept… add an immune agonist – this targets the innate immune system to jumpstart or wake up the immune system in colder tumours – to an established adaptive immune therapy such as checkpoint blockade and see whether any magic happens. In practice, this turned out to be much easier said than done, because in reality mouse and man have quite different immune systems and do not react in the exactly same way, which makes extrapolation from one to the other challenging at the best of times.

Still, back in 2015 there were barely a handful of STING agonists that anyone could really put a name too, now there’s 18 compounds in early pipelines and counting.

Not all the players are small biotechs either, as big Pharma is certainly paying attention to the smaller biotechs (both private and public) generating molecules, especially now that early clinical data (alone and in combination) is beginning to dribble out.

Aside from collaborations and licensing deals, there’s also an increase in patents in this niche, which is often a sign of competitive activity.

Four years on, how has the landscape changed, what does the data look like and what sort of issues need to be addressed?

In the first of our latest three-part mini series, we look at the competitive landscape and how it has changed (quite drastically since 2015, I can assure you!). In parts two and three, we look at two different up and coming players in the STING space with very different approaches.

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

This content is restricted to subscribers

In the third part of our ASCO GU coverage from San Francisco, which includes previews and post-match commentary, it’s time to turn our attention to renal cancer. This isn’t one disease, but a broad tumour type with multiple subtypes, some based on histology, with perhaps others to emerge down the road as we learn more about the disease and immune profiling.

There’s quite a bit to discuss this year, some of it quite complex and nuanced.

In the old days, much of the focus was on sequencing single agent TKIs in clear cell carcinoma, now it’s getting much more complex as scientists and researchers figure out combinations and regimen approaches, never mind what to do with the various histologies.

We walk readers through the latest information as we await the data presentations coming out tomorrow…

 

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

This content is restricted to subscribers

Genito-urinary (GU) cancers are a diverse population of tumour types that run the gamut from prostate, bladder, penile, and renal cell carcinomas in the main, along with a variety of rare cancers thrown into the mix.

While much attention has tended to be focused on advanced and metastatic disease, for obvious reasons, there are plenty of new developments emerging in earlier stage disease.

This year things are looking up on several fronts, which is a great time to take a look at what to watch out for in GU malignancies…

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

This content is restricted to subscribers

At one point not too distant in the past, all the big news seemed to flow out of advanced prostate cancer with abiraterone and enzalutamide vying for attention, followed by occasional news on ARN–509, ODM–201, galeterone (remember that one from Tokai with all the AR-V7 kerfuffle?), radium Ra–223 dichloride, cabazitaxel, denosumab, ipilumumab, PROSTVAC, brachyury, and a few others. Predictably, not all were successful, and the count is still out on some.

San Francisco

In our latest conference coverage, we take a look at what we can learn from riding the prostate cancer train at ASCO GU ahead of the presentations in San Francisco tomorrow.

We will be updating this review as more data become available with the presentations, so do grab a cup of joe and settle down for some interesting reading ahead of time… this should get you all up to speed on the journey there!

To learn more from our latest conference and oncology insights, subscribers can log-in or you can click to gain access to BSB Premium Content.

This content is restricted to subscribers

We have been following the progress of various classes of molecules in the myeloma space here on BSB since 2010. These include traditional approaches (e.g. HSCT and proteasome inhibitors/IMiDs and various antibodies or ADCs), as well as immunotherapy (checkpoint blockade, CAR T cell therapy, oncolytic viruses etc).

Brick Lane Grafitti

There’s much going on in this space and it’s not only becoming extremely crowded and competitive (akin to 1L NSCLC), but there is a gradual trend towards convergence on many fronts, be they targets or modalities.

In our latest look at the myeloma space, we focus on several key areas of development – antibodies, CARs, and also highlight a new target that may be of interest…

To learn more from our latest biotech and oncology insights, subscribers can log-in or you can click to gain access to BSB Premium Content.

This content is restricted to subscribers

The Francis Crick Institute in London has an admirable program of engagement with the public and external researchers.

Attending a Crick Lecture recently presented by Cancer Research UK (CRUK) Chief Scientific Officer, Prof Karen Vousden CBE FRS, reminded me of my days as a PhD student at nearby King’s College London.

Regular BSB readers will recall that Prof Charles Swanton FRS is the Chief Clinician of CRUK.

In her Crick lecture, Prof Vousden elegantly explained to the audience why p53 mattered and how it might be targeted by small molecules.

What is the potential of this research for translational drug development? In this post, we take a look at new developments in the basic understanding of what p53 does, the current state of targeting p53 and Prof Vousden’s latest approaches.

To learn more from our latest biotech and oncology insights, subscribers can log-in or you can click to gain access to BSB Premium Content.

This content is restricted to subscribers

File under: intriguing binary events coming up of interest this quarter…

Source: BBC

There are a couple of phase 3 readouts likely due soon on two quite different oncology drugs in late stage development, namely Mirv and Marge, (aka mirvetuximab soravtansine and margetuximab).

For British readers, they remind me of Howard and Hilda Hughes (right) in the highly popular 1980’s comedy sitcom, lead by Richard Briers, Ever Decreasing Circles.

Aside from the fact that it’s an amusing historical analogy with more than a bit of whimsy, there are some strange parallels and hidden messages to be found here. For the record, the two characters had a penchance for wearing matching yet rather garish and ghastly jumpers.

You could either make a similar negative case for the rush from limited phase 2 data to pivotal registration study as for terribly ugly sweaters, with the reduced return on efficacy being alluded to from the show’s title.

The ripple effect – which way will it go?

Or on the other hand… the matchy matchy look could also play out the other way, in terms of positive forthcoming readouts validating phase 2 findings, so which case looks stronger overall for each agent?

To find out, we take a look at the history, what we know, and share our thoughts on how things might pan out – either way, major positive or negative outcomes can have a major ripple effect.

To learn more from our latest biotech and oncology insights, subscribers can log-in or you can click to gain access to BSB Premium Content.

This content is restricted to subscribers

T lymphocyte    Source: Dr Triche, NCI

It’s time for an update on cytokines as there is a lot going on here across both academia and industry.

While the clinical proof of concept has been demonstrated for IL-2 with FDA approval going back to 1992, there’s still much that we don’t know when it comes to the telephone directory containing many of the others.

There’s quite a few questions that can be asked:

  • Which ones might be best in which tumour types?
  • What about timing, dosing, and sequencing?
  • Which early combinations look promising in terms of unleashing the T lymphocytes?

After all, let’s not forget that some cytokines will induce negative immunosuppression, while others might induce variable effects depending on what they encounter in the tumour microenvironment.  It’s certainly a lot more complicated than many people truly realise.

There’s also the much under-rated potential to combine cytokines with other approaches such as immune agonists in order to jumpstart the colder tumours.

In this latest update, we take a look at five very different approaches and see how much progress is being made with alternative forms of immune modulation – the resulting conclusions might well surprise quite a few readers!

To learn more from our latest biotech and oncology insights, subscribers can log-in or you can click to gain access to BSB Premium Content.

This content is restricted to subscribers

Continuing our up and coming biotech series, we now switch our focus from small molecules to immuno-oncology.

While big Pharma has garnered the lion’s share of attention (and revenues) from checkpoint inhibitors and CAR-T cell therapies, if we want to make a serious impact on solid tumours, especially the colder ones, then we are going to need to devise ways of jumpstarting the immune system where there are far fewer immune cells around to help do this.

There are many ways to achieve this aim, although the count is still out on how best to optimise combinations.

We’ve looked at various approaches over the last couple of years including chemotherapy, immune agonists, cytokines, STING/PARP/TLRs, NK cell checkpoints, T and NK cell bispecifics, and many many more.

Fortunately, most small biotechs have been focused on alternative targets that mght be seen as complementary to existing established therapeutics.

As we move forward towards a more regimen-based approach some of these will succeed while many will not, such are the challenges of oncology R&D where 90% of compounds unfortunately fail.

One challenge that has long been obvious though is that once clinical proof of concept has been established, another 10 companies will wade in quickly and dust down old molecules lurking in screening libraries that have been languishing in darkness waiting for their call-up. In the old days, a lead time of 5+ years before a competitor caught up with a rival drug was not uncommon.

Increasingly, it now seems there are mere months rather than years between approvals in the same class, an astonishing feat in a highly competitive and cut-throat business driven by generic erosion, noticeable pipeline gaps and the urgent need for continued topline sales growth.

In today’s hot seat, we have a small biotech CEO discussing his company’s IO pipeline and progress…. they caught my attention at AACR last year and I’m delighted to have the opportunity to learn more about what they are doing and how they are different from the existing competition.

To learn more from our latest biotech CEO interview and get a heads up on our oncology insights, subscribers can log-in or you can click to gain access to BSB Premium Content.

This content is restricted to subscribers

Paths to success in cancer research

It’s time to pull together some notes, ideas, and clinical data on various biomarkers based on data available from clinical studies in oncology R&D and see how much progress we are making.

Are biomarkers a good path to success in cancer research or are they a gloomy red herring to the road less travelled?

Both answers can be equally true, but how do we tell the difference?  Are there any clues that we can use ahead of time to avoid later disappointment?

There have been several early studies that we’ve been following lately with readouts available from numerous cancer conferences, both positive and negative.

Can we learn from the failures and successes of the past to better interpret outcomes from future trials?

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

This content is restricted to subscribers

Sign Up for New Post Alerts
error: Content is protected !!