Biotech Strategy Blog

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

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A phoenix rises from the ashesResilience in purpose and openess in strategic direction are key dual features in the DNA of strong biotechs which succeed in the long run and live to survive the roller coaster ride that is oncology R&D.

Setbacks are to be expected, but what matters more is not that they happen, but the mettle and toughness to deal with them over time.

There is no doubt Clovis Oncology encountered a major setback with the abandonment of rociletinib in lung cancer, while the rise of PARP inhibitors meant they were well placed with the rucaparib development.

Beyond these events, what next?

It’s time to take a bigger picture look at what’s happening with the pipeline and where they might be heading since there could be some surprises in store…

To learn more from our oncology analysis and get a heads up on the latest insights and commentary pertaining to ESMO20 virtual congress, subscribers can log-in or you can click to gain access to BSB Premium Content.

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A typical scene from ESMO 2019

Not in Madrid – Is it really only a year ago many of us were frantically dashing around at ESMO last year navigating crowded corridors, long queues for coffee, hunting down the last empty seat in jam packed halls, not to mention feeling the anticipation build for key data being presented in the Presidential sessions?

There are undoubtedly many advantages to virtual digital meetings, aside from the broader access for more people it provides and being able to see the slides unimpeded, yet it must be confessed the things I miss the most are the social interactions and catching up with people and their lives, however brief a moment it may be amongst the hurly burly of 20,000 other souls.

The cultural things we take for granted are often the very essence of what we miss most when they’re no longer obtainable.

Who truly would have guessed our world could be completely upended by the unexpected events of a global pandemic since then? In some ways, it has changed our perception of both time and space.

We have also seen some surprising changes in the fortunes of various clinical trials; some completely rational and predictable, others quite the opposite, as we learned yesterday in a very topsy turvy kind of way.

It’s time to discuss and review the highlights – and lowlights – from ESMO20 Sunday in part 2 of our daily coverage…

To learn more from our oncology analysis and get a heads up on insights and commentary pertaining to ESMO 2020, subscribers can log-in or you can click to gain access to BSB Premium Content.

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Not in Madrid: Unlike the Tour de France, which finishes with the peloton procession in Paris today, we’re not yet at the ESMO20 finish line and there’s plenty of the data at Congress yet to come.

Macarons anyone?

As you can see, we’re hoping ESMO21 will actually take place in Paris next year, but it’s definitely too early to make travel plans the way COVID-19 infection rates are increasing in Europe.

If we think of cancer drugs as like macarons that come in many versions – which ones do you like at #ESMO20 so far? There are are also subtle gradations in colour and flavour, reflective of a few trial differences to consider.

In this latest post we’re continuing our coverage of highlights from Saturday at ESMO20 with the second part of our commentary and analysis around some of the oral presentations involving numerous solid tumours, excluding breast cancer (see separate highlights of the day post), which caught our attention.

To learn more from our oncology analysis and obtain insights and commentary around data being presented at ESMO20, subscribers can log-in or you can click to gain access to BSB Premium Content.

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Not in Madrid – with the global pandemic continuing to exert a significant effect on the cancer conference season, the annual meetings continue apace virtually.

Plaza de Cibeles, Madrid

For this year’s ESMO meeting we have already covered immunotherapies, both early and late stage pipeline highlights and now it’s time to explore what to watch out for over the weekend on the early to mid stage targeted therapy front.

The good news is there is some potentially practice changing data being presented, as well as some novel approaches in preclinical development emerging. These should be hitting the clinic in the near to medium term future.  On the other extreme is the more common problem whereby a few agents are showing signs of not holding up to their early promise/hype.

Let’s now take a look at what we can learn in the fourth and final ESMO Preview for 2020…

To learn more from our oncology analysis and get a heads up on insights and commentary pertaining to ESMO 2020, subscribers can log-in or you can click to gain access to BSB Premium Content.

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Remember the good old days at ESMO17 in Madrid? Sadly there’s no face to face networking at this year’s ESMO20 virtual meeting!

In this third ESMO 2020 Preview the focus is on early stage immunotherapies – we’ll cover targeted therapies in a separate review article.

As new regimens evolve involving multiple immune targets, this complexity brings with it a greater need to understand cell-cell interactions – not just immune cell relationships, but also oncogenic, metabolic, and even epigenetic ones. How do they all fit together and what happens when we interfere with those relationships therapeutically?

Often the simple answer is we don’t know until we head into the clinic, I’m afraid.

Beyond the obvious phase 3 IO readouts in the various Presidential symposia and Proffered oral sessions there are quite a few emerging ideas – old ones with a twist as well as entirely new ones – which we can consider and discuss.

Here, we highlight five key IO areas related to cancer immunotherapy and explore the various concepts as preparation for the upcoming meeting…

To learn more from our oncology analysis and get a heads up on insights and commentary pertaining to ESMO 2020, subscribers can log-in or you can click to gain access to BSB Premium Content.

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Sunset in Puerta del Sol, Madrid

Not in Madrido – In our latest ESMO20 Preview, we take a look at five emerging areas of cancer drug development involving early stage pipelines and highlight some important features and benefits to watch out for.

These topics won’t be on everyone’s radar, especially if the focus is on the big phase 3 trial readouts, yet they can teach us much about new combinations and future pipeline evolution.

Who’s actively moving novel approaches along and who’s sitting on their laurels?

After covering biomarkers to watch out for yesterday, we now take a dive into what’s looking interesting in terms of novel targets and the fresh new opportunities for the not faint of heart…

To learn more from our oncology analysis and get a heads up on insights and commentary pertaining to ESMO 2020, subscribers can log-in or you can click to gain access to BSB Premium Content.

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Scaling the ramparts in Real Madrido

It feels slightly surreal to be writing about this year’s annual ESMO confab instead of attending in person in Madrid, Spain.

While much of the time and attention at ESMO is usually focused on the major phase 3 readouts from various clinical trials, we will be covering these during the meeting as they are presented to avoid repetition since many of the topline company trial results have already been announced.

In this year’s conference Preview series, I wanted to take a step back and explore early new product development in several forms:

  • Biomarkers and potential new ways of predicting outcomes in development
  • Emerging novel targets of interest
  • Developmental therapeutics – trials and tribulations

This initial review will tackle some important developments pertaining to various biomarkers of interest.

To learn more from our oncology analysis and get a heads up on insights and commentary pertaining to ESMO 2020, subscribers can log-in or you can click to gain access to BSB Premium Content.

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For the final postcard in our 2020 summer mini-series on the potential of immunometabolism in oncology R&D, we’re taking an in-depth look at the ways in which metabolic programming can overcome immunosuppression in the tumour microenvironment (TME), as well as looking at additional novel ways in which the fitness of T cells can be impacted.

We’ve already covered glutaminase, arginine, p38 and others, yet there are other metabolic effects to consider too, as we discover in our latest expert interview.  In the penultimate postcard, we looked at mitochondrial phenotypes and how they can impact both mitochondrial and T cell fitness, which are important aspects in making adoptive cell therapy (ACT) based approaches such as TILs and CAR-T cell therapies more effective.

Deep thoughts on immunometabolism and how it can impact antitumour response

These themes show up yet again, but in a rather different context because T cell fitness can also impact immune checkpoint blockade, oncogenic targeting, as well as transcriptional and epigenetic approaches.

As much as we have been slowing building up the evidence during this series, in the finale it’s now time to kick up things up a notch or two and draw some unifying ideas together.

We accomplish this feat with a rising young star in this particular niche, Dr Ping-Chih Ho, who is at the University of Lausanne.

He kindly spoke to BSB about his pioneering and prolific research, some of the critical questions he has sought to answer, plus what he sees are important future directions to consider in metabolism research.

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

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Are new pillars emerging in DLBCL?

It’s time to take a short break from the immunometabolism mini-series and turn our attention to aggressive lymphomas such as diffuse large B cell lymphomas (DLBCL).

This week heralded the latest AACR virtual meeting on Advances in Lymphoma in conjunction with iCML.  There were plenty of science focused talks to listen to and learn from, including new developments in oncogenic targeting.

What if we can learn from what the patients underlying biology can teach us in terms of more rationally designed clinical trials?

We know these are diverse and heterogeneous tumours, but this doesn’t mean we can’t take a more precision medicine approach to treating patients.  What can we learn from early trial readouts and genetic analyses?

It turns out, the answer is quite a bit and more information might be available at the forthcoming ASH meeting, so let’s look at what we can piece together from the available data now…

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

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Can we build up a storm against hard to treat cancers?  The initial evidence suggests, yes we can!

Today’s focus is on an emerging new biotech company with potential to make an impact in difficult to treat solid tumours with a more selective and focused approach to oncology drug development.

We’ve talked about the so-called ‘drugging the undruggable’ targets in the past, but what if we could circle back and use a different approach in combination with existing selective inhibitors currently in the clinic?

These possibilities – and others – caught my attention and they may pique yours too, so what’s this all about?

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

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