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

Posts from the ‘Ovarian’ category

Dr Moore at ESMO18

At the recent European Society of Medical Oncology (ESMO18) Congress in Munich, arguably the data of the meeting – if the audience reaction is anything to go by – were the results from the phase 3 SOLO1 trial that were presented by Dr Kathleen Moore (right).

The results were simultaneously published in The New England Journal of Medicine in an article entitled: “Maintenance Olaparib in Patients with Newly Diagnosed Advanced Ovarian Cancer” (Link).

As Moore and colleagues note in the abstract:

“After a median follow-up of 41 months, the risk of disease progression or death was 70% lower with olaparib than with placebo (Kaplan–Meier estimate of the rate of freedom from disease progression and from death at 3 years, 60% vs. 27%; hazard ratio for disease progression or death, 0.30; 95% confidence interval, 0.23 to 0.41; P < 0.001).”

Dr Moore is an Associate Professor of gynecologic oncology and the Jim and Christy Everest Endowed Chair in Cancer Research at the University of Oklahoma Stephenson Cancer Center.  She kindly spoke to BSB after her presentation in the Presidential Symposium.

In addition to Dr Moore’s personal commentary on what these results mean for women with ovarian cancer, we also have some additional insights on what this data may mean for other players in the PARP space such as Tesaro and Clovis.

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Picking a PARPi – what can the biology tell us?

One of the really interesting questions I recently received from a BSB subscriber related to PARP inhibitors – they asked whether the therapies are all the same and can be considered interchangeable as a class?

Around the same time, another reader wrote in asking if there was any new information on what’s happening with PARPi combinations in breast or ovarian cancers?

This got me thinking as there has actually been some useful preclinical and clinical studies reported on both fronts that at least begin to open our eyes to new information based on research that has been reported in several places.

Thus I thought it would be useful to summarise the data and take a look at what we learned in the process.

Fair warning – some of the findings turned out to be a little bit more surprising than you might normally expect to see…

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One of the many challenges we have seen with cancer immunotherapy and immune checkpoint blockade in particular is the thorny issue of how long should patients be treated for?

To be fair there are some studies testing a limited time period, but most are open ended in that patients are treated until progression or severe toxicities prevent continuation, whichever comes first.

Ovarian cancer TME Source: NCI

Is this the optimal approach though, especially if people receive the benefit and any more is superfluous, thereby increasing the twin burdens of clinical and financial toxicity.

Are there indicators that predict early discontinuation?

After all, if oncologists were aware of those factors then careful monitoring will be helpful in looking out for the warning signs.

Without a doubt, this is going to be a long road ahead and the path may be paved with different indicators depending on the tumour type involved. It could also become more complex as we move from monotherapy to doublets to regimens, which also increases the risk of clinical and financial toxicities.

We have to start somewhere and I’m delighted to say that I came across some elegant research that explored this issue and came up with some prediction factors of relevance. As a bonus, they actually make sound and intuitive sense too.

Here we describe the important study and look at the prediction factors that emerge…

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2018 is likely to be the year of various immunotherapy combinations as we go beyond monotherapy approaches to see which doublets or triplets will yield improved outcomes. Originally, we had expected to see key data last year, but moving overall survival to a co-primary endpoint with PFS in many studies delayed the readouts by 12 or more months.

SGO 2018 – Who dat?

What’s happening now is that we have started to see some of the early data trickle out and there’s much more to come in the next few months as we head into ASCO and ESMO.

The last two months have seen much attention on lung cancer, but what about a less hyper-mutated tumour types such as ovarian or endometrial cancers? What’s happening in these women’s cancers?

Going beyond monotherapy with PARP inhibitors or checkpoint blockade is important if we truly want to start pushing the survival curves upwards and to the right.

It’s time for a new update on this hypercompetitive niche…

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Following the recent approval of Clovis’s rucaparib (Rubraca) by FDA under priority review as monotherapy for the treatment of women with certain types of advanced ovarian cancer, then impressive SOLO-2 maintenance data after initial chemotherapy at SGO earlier this month, PARP inhibitors continue to be in the news.

There’s always more though!

This afternoon saw the approval of Tesaro’s PARP inhibitor niraparib (Zejula) by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for maintenance treatment of women with ovarian cancer who are in a complete or partial response to platinum-based chemotherapy (Link to label).

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There’s no secret or surprise with our latest AACR Preview as this week the focus takes a slight turns or detour to the annual meeting of the Society for Gynecology Oncology being held in National Harbor, Maryland.

PARP inhibitors in ovarian cancer have been a hot topic since last autumn when the PARP inhibitor data dropped at ESMO in Copenhagen, and was not without controversy either.

We’ve been following the trials, tribulations and even machinations, of the clinical development of olaparib, rucaparib and niraparib for a while now so what’s in store in the latest round of salvoes?

And importantly, what else can we expect to see in DC at AACR next month?

For a tumour type that hasn’t received much attention over the last decade or two, things are distinctly picking up.  Is it all good though?

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esmo-poster-hallThis post started out as a look a one of the Gems from the Poster Halls at ESMO, including an interview with a thought leader in biomarkers, then morphed into a broader Op Ed that includes a strategic analysis of where we are, where we are going, and how we could get there more effectively and efficiently.

It’s time to turn tables to start challenging the status quo and slow pace of development if we really want to make a difference in advanced ovarian cancer.  I was recently challenged by a well respected GYN oncologist to delineate how we could do things differently so here are some ideas, along with the scientific rationale in my response to his gauntlet.

Is the ideal situation one where multiple companies randomly throw mud at the wall hoping something sticks the best approach? Or are there more effective ways to make a difference?

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One of the surprising things I learned over the summer was how many people misunderstand how advanced ovarian cancer is treated as a disease… it isn’t really one disease to start with, but is actually a series of subsets depending on the molecular underpinnings and also how women with the condition react to therapy.

Imagine then, when we see a series of press releases and abstracts emerge on PARP inhibitors followed by a rather indecent and sudden rush to judgment by Wall St and investors on the ‘Winner takes All’ out of the lot?

Except that real life doesn’t work that way in clinical practice.

A head/desk moment to be sure, and a frustrating one for those who understand what this is actually all about. To address this siituation, we had the pleasure of communicating with KOLs remotely or sitting down with several thought leaders in gynecologic cancer in Copenhagen to debate various aspects relating to current treatment paradigms, new clinical trial data with PARPs, and what they are most excited about going forward.

Copenhagen Waterfront

Copenhagen Waterfront

Today’s post highlights our latest thought leader interview with an experienced GYN oncologist and their perspectives on the rucaparib and niraparib data presented earlier this month at ESMO.

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One of the surprise controversies at ESMO16 was the fall-out between Myriad Genetics (NASDAQ: MYGN) and Tesaro (NASDAQ: TSRO) over whether the company’s PARP inhibitor, niraparib, should require a companion diagnostic for the treatment of women with platinum-sensitive ovarian cancer in the maintenance setting. We previously wrote about this from Copenhagen (Link).

christianhavn

Christianhavn

Tesaro were so keen on controlling their message, in the run-up to ESMO, they even went to the trouble of taking out a legal injunction against Myriad Genetics in an attempt to prevent them publishing their own press release discussing the niraparib data.

We knew about this “off the record” at ESMO, but it’s now a matter of public knowledge and John Carroll admirably reported the story on Endpoints last week (Link).

It is a sad reflection on any biotech partnership or pharma alliance if you can’t reach an agreement in private, and have to resort to an injunction in US Federal Court. Doubly unfortunate when you lose the injunction too!

As many readers are already aware, back in June 2014 AstraZeneca failed to convince an FDA ODAC about the merits of olaparib in the same indication that Tesaro are seeking. This is why the data for Tesaro and their regulatory/commercial approach justifies careful scrutiny.

What’s more, data from Myriad Genetics was key to AstraZeneca obtaining a subsequent indication for olaparib in more advanced ovarian cancer, so their experience in this space cannot be dismissed.

dr-johnathan-lancaster

Johnathan M. Lancaster MD PhD

At ESMO, the Myriad Genetics Laboratory Chief Medical Officer, Dr Johnathan Lancaster kindly spoke to BSB.

He shared his perspective on the niraparib data and why a companion diagnostic should be considered based on the NOVA trial data presented by Dr Mansoor Mirza. You can read more about the data in The NEJM paper that was published simultaneously (Link).

Dr Lancaster was formerly Director of the Center for Women’s Oncology, and Chair of the Department of Women’s Oncology at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa.

While he does bring a corporate bias based on his position at Myriad Genetics Laboratories – and Myriad clearly have a vested interest in selling diagnostic tests – his clinical perspective is worthy of consideration and it’s one that is shared by other GYN oncology thought leaders we have spoken to (see: earlier post, “what Tesaro aren’t telling you about niraparib”).

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