Biotech Strategy Blog

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

Posts from the ‘Immunotherapy’ category

The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) is to be congratulated on turning their annual in-person meeting into a virtual meeting at short notice.

With over 60,000 registered attendees, the meeting is a success and has set the standard for others to follow this year. While we all miss the opportunity to meet and network in-person, a virtual meeting does democratize access to science for scientists and researchers who can’t afford to travel or attend every year and we hope that live-streaming will continue in 2021 and beyond.

Since the sessions are available to watch for free on demand, we’re not repeating the data but like a postcard are instead focusing on what stood out for us, adding some pertinent commentary or context, as well some of our key take homes from a cancer new product development perspective.

Whether you agree, disagree, or thought differently about the presentations, we’re here to provoke thinking and critical discussion.

In this latest postcard from AACR20, we’re focusing on highlights from the adoptive cell therapy session taking place earlier today.

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In the fourth part of our mini-series in novel targets and agents in development we turn to novel cell therapy approaches that are perhaps under the radar for many observers.

While these might seem bleak times during a pandemic, there’s always a silver lining somewhere

While much attention has been focused on antigen loss or downregulation of the target wih adoptive cell therapies, research continues to evaluate various solutions to the problem.

One obvious way is to develop dual CARs or target multiple antigen targets of relevance to the tumour type being investigated.

There are other potential solutions being looked at, both in preclinical animal models and in translational work using cells from people treated with HSCT or CAR T cell therapies.

Here, we look at an alternative immunotherapy approach, which with time may have utility in both hematologic malignancies, as well as solid tumours…

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There are multiple players in the Magic Roundabout, but are some more important than others and will different culprits turn out to have hidden meanings? You may never see Ermintrude in the same way again 😉

Without a doubt, there are multiple potential ways we can go about improving responses to cancer immunotherapy, not just in terms of targets, combination approaches, different modalities etc, but also by manipulating the tumour microenvironment or thinking about directing different immune cells in positive ways.

In our latest review, we look at one area where emerging work appears to bearing fruit as multiple groups suddenly get one of those, a-ha! moments.

It’s not just happening in one tumour type either, nor is it limited to one type of therapy or modality, which makes it all the more intriguing to think about.

We heard about one example of this mechanism last year and now it’s time to explore things in more detail. This also means companies quick on the uptake could well take advantage ahead of their competitors.

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In our latest expert interview, we depart from the usual focus on one of two particular or narrow topics and indulge in a more wide ranging discussion to explore a variety of issues facing the IO field and look at them from the perspective of a researcher who is experienced in working with antibodies in various forms.

We cover a lot of ground from CAR-T cells to bispecifics to NK cells – while many people in industry may see these approaches as separate modalities in different niches, in the future we may well see a greater convergent and opportunities for regimens and combinations rather than a more nihilistic either/or approach.

I have long been fascinated with design of molecules and how different tweaks or enhancements can change the way something works – for better or worse. Just as we have learned much from immune agonists and their biphasic curves that result from constant stimulation (and ways to fix that too), so too will we see CARs, T cell engagers, and NK cell therapies adapt and improve in terms of how they are constructed.

Who better to talk about these changes and the learnings to be had lately than someone who has built and tested many antibodies for a living and is now running his own company?

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Breathing fire into cancer immunotherapies with novel approaches

It would be all to easy an exercise to pick out our top 10 abstracts of any particular conference and share them, which tends to create a somewhat skewed perspective because there are often many pieces of research that we may wish to highlight for entirely different reasons, making the exercise rather limited in scope.

Instead, how about 10 cool or next generation approaches that could have an impact in oncology in the future?

This approach generated a quite different and really eclectic list that can also have existing approaches referenced in context, so that we can see where the puck is moving towards as opposed to merely following it.

Curious to find out more about these novel ideas or iterations and get a heads up on insights from our ASH19 commentary?Subscribers can log-in or you can click to gain access to BSB Premium Content.

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Welcome to SITC19!

National Harbor: It’s time for the first of our daily highlights and review of key data that was presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC).

The first day is usually taken up by some longer review sessions on key topics, intermingled with some rapid fire oral talks on emerging areas where we get to hear some young investigators talk about their ongoing projects.

This results in some broad updates, as well as some specific areas of early R&D in the IO space that often end up as key areas to watch out for over time. This year is no different in that respect…

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In the enlightened realm of phase 1 oncology trials there generally more unknown unknowns than there are known unknowns, especially with new target approaches.

Who knew it was so beautiful outside of the cold dark halls?!

You could say that makes for a more interesting world, but it also makes for more caution, especially when the FDA is considering agonists that induce stimulatory effects.  What it means is that you start off very low – in this latest example it was 50µg and going up to 1600µg to determine the safety profile of a combination.

We have covered the STING pathway quite extensively over the last four or five years now, so it’s time for a new update and a look at some of the much awaited combination data. What can we learn?

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Neon Therapeutics LogoAs we prepare for rolling out some additional expert interviews on a variety of topics together with another mini-series on a tricky target, I wanted to take a moment to explore the Neon Therapeutics data.

Most of the news reports yesterday seemed to be concentrated around a general theme of ’cancer vaccine assist beats immunotherapy drugs alone!’or ‘vaccine boosts Opdivo response in 3 cancers’ … but does the data live up to the breathless hype that ensued? What can we say about the latest clinical update?

As often is the case, the true story around the facts turns out to be much more nuanced and subtle in flavour than the garish headlines might have you believe…

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It’s time for an extended update on the neoantigen space now that we have new clinical data to look at and discuss. There are a variety of approaches being evaluated in the clinic now, from adenoviral vectors to cell therapies to vaccines.

Indeed, we haven’t covered Moderna Therapeutics before as they were rather quiet in preclinical mode, but now they have some initial clinical data in cancer patients, we thought it would be nice to explore the company’s progress, as well as look at where they’re headed with their mRNA platform.

In the hotseat today, we take a look at the latest developments in the neoantigen vaccine field in terms of oncology settings and have an engaging company interview in the spotlight as well.

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Chinese Pagoda in Hoxton

Yesterday on BSB we looked at the emerging landscape in western countries for cancer immunotherapies that target gamma delta T cells. Today we’re turning our attention to China.

There’s a lot of interest in cell therapies in China. Anyone who has seen one of Dr Carl June’s recent presentations will no doubt recall the slide he shows of how many CAR T trials are underway there.

What’s happening with gamma delta T cells in China, and in particular CAR γδ T cell therapies? Do the Chinese have a competitive advantage in this emerging field and what can we learn from some of the results that have been reported?

This is the fourth post in our mini-series on the potential of gamma delta T cells for cancer immunotherapy.

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