Biotech Strategy Blog

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

Posts tagged ‘AACR 2019 annual meeting’

Henry Moore sculpture – looks like a protein binding pocket!

Cambridge, UK – It’s somewhat ironic that we headed across town today to chat with one of the world’s leading cell biologists on MYC and RAS with a post on KRASG12C inhibitors almost ready in the bag. More on that interview in a future mini-series.

There are a number of nuances and subtleties involved in this niche, which have been somewhat lost in the frantic hype over hope melêe of late.

This review is a long and thorough one and perhaps rather contrarian in nature.

That said, I do feel that it is very important to highlight a lot of issues that are being ignored in the rush to declare the latest expected winners and losers or even potential blockbusters, if the breathless signals are to be believed.

If nothing else, there are certainly several key issues that could have a bearing on the clinical results in patients that are worthwhile highlighting for discussion and adding to the watch list because some of these factors may well take time to develop.

This is one of those ‘Ground Control to Major Tom – take your protein pills and put your helmet on’ moments… Actually, I may well be needing the helmet as protection if the analysis and commentary turn out to be unpopular!!

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We’re continuing our series following the development of novel cutting edge strategies targeting gamma delta (𝞬𝝳) T cells, with a look at the two approaches Puretech Health are pursuing based on the research of Dr George Miller (NYU Langone).

Data was presented at #AACR19 for a first-in-class immunotherapy targeting immune-suppressive delta 1 containing 𝞬𝝳 T cells and one targeting Galectin–9.

Drs Panchenko and Filipovic at their AACR19 poster

We recently spoke with Dr Aleksandra Filipovic, therapeutic lead for oncology at Puretech Health, she’s pictured right with Dr Tatyana Panchenko from NYU Langone at their AACR poster.

Dr Filiopovic told BSB that Puretech are looking for the next big IO breakthrough:

“We looked at this landscape and the massive amount of trials going on. We said ok, if we’re going to go into the space of immuno-oncology, what is it that we need to do differently in order to, upfront, try and ensure that we’re going after targets which could be the next PD–1. Our thinking went along the lines that we would really need to identify those next checkpoints, those next foundational modulators of the immune system.”

This is the first of two interviews from #AACR19 on novel strategies to target 𝞬𝝳 T cells, an emerging area that companies are looking at with both antibody and adoptive cellular therapy approaches. Do check out our previous mini-series if you missed it.

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Continuing our in-depth oncology pathology interview with Dr David Rimm (Yale), we take a look at some of the new data his lab presented in Atlanta, where we are now with TMB as a biomarker, and what the future may hold for cancer immunotherapy biomarkers.

Early morning in Atlanta en route to the GWCC and AACR19

In an engaging discussion, Dr Rimm discussed many of the details behind PD-L1 and TMB in terms of what really matters when thinking about these tests and their practical applications. He also shared his candid thoughts on the lung cancer blood TMB data presented at AACR by Prof Solange Peters.

If you missed the first part of the interview with Dr David Rimm, a leading oncology pathologist at Yale, on the various challenges associated with PD-L1 as a biomarker on tumour and immune cells in triple negative breast cancer than you can catch up and read it here.

The second half of the interview with Dr Rimm focuses on TMB, with some more details on the challenges of reading PD-L1 on immune cells and why that is the case…

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Atlanta: There is no shortage of innovative and potentially ground-breaking science on display at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) that’s currently taking place in Atlanta.

AACR19 Poster Hall melee yesterday afternoon

What is noticeable this year is the large number of scheduling conflicts, i.e. interesting sessions or symposia all going on in parallel and that’s not including the poster sessions, where much of the early work is presented – you could spend much of the meeting in the poster hall alone!

It’s impossible for any outlet to do the meeting justice, so our selection of topics is subjective in nature.

We’ll be posting interviews and more in-depth pieces later, but in this post we take a look at what stood out for us in the Friday/Saturday education sessions we attended and in Sunday oral symposia.

As Frank Sinatra famously sang, “The best is yet to come,” with a tsunami of presentations and posters slated to be heard over the next few days.

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This is the first part of our latest mini-series, which takes a closer look at the potential of gamma delta (γδ) T cells for cancer immunotherapy.

Prof Adrian Hayday FRS

Prof Adrian Hayday FRS

In this post, we’re focusing at the voyage of discovery made by one of the pioneers in the field, Professor Adrian Hayday, FRS.

We’re living in a golden age of immunology. Basic research conducted over the past thirty years is beginning to pay dividends as it is translated into new cancer treatments that leverage the power of the immune system.

As things stand today, however, the majority of cancer patients do not respond to approved immunotherapies such as checkpoint blockade, either as single agents or in combination with chemotherapy. This means that we still have a long way to go to make these therapies an effective and widely available modality for the majority of cancer patients.

Despite the “hype and hope” surrounding the approval of two cell therapies based on CD19 directed CAR T cell therapies for certain types of blood cancers, there remain many challenges before more widespread use is likely. These include long term durability and persistence, overcoming antigen loss/immune escape, developing safe and effective allogeneic (off-the-shelf) treatments, as well as finding suitable targets for solid tumours.

The cellular therapy landscape is undoubtedly still emerging. While many companies have jumped on the CAR T cell bandwagon, others are looking at new and novel opportunities, one of which is the potential of unconventional lymphocytes, such as γδ T cells.

The Francis Crick Institute viewed from The British Library

The Francis Crick Institute viewed from The British Library

Someone who is a pioneer and leading researcher in the γδ T field is Professor Adrian Hayday. He’s a Senior Group Leader and Assistant Research Director at The Francis Crick Institute and has been the Kay Glendinning Professor of Immunobiology at King’s College London since 1998. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 2016.

Prof Hayday kindly spoke to BSB about his γδ T cell research and the voyage of discovery that have taken him from basic biology to translation into a novel cancer immunotherapy.

What is the potential of γδ T cells for cancer immunotherapy?

BSB readers will, hopefully, have a clearer idea after reading our latest four part mini-series.

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