Biotech Strategy Blog

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

Posts tagged ‘AACR Molecular Targets Boston’

Every year at AACR meetings there seems to be a new update on how researchers are doing with their work on overcoming resistance in metastatic melanoma. We’ve seen some stunning photos where targeting the BRAF V600E mutation with a specific kinase inhibitor such as vemurafenib (Zelboraf) or dabrafenib (Tafinlar) results in dramatic reduction, and sometimes even complete disappearance of the lesions, only for resistance to set in and the melanoma sadly comes back with a vengeance. Adding a MEK inhibitor such as trametinib (Mekinist) was originally thought to be a rather promising strategy, until it became clear that this only gave a few extra months with exactly the same result.

Over on Pharma Strategy Blog, I’ve written a lot about the fascinating research on various mechanisms of resistance in this disease. They range from specific mutations emerging to activation of COT or MEK and others in response to therapy. There are a number of questions we can ask that need to be addressed:

  • Do we need a better/more potent BRAF inhibitor?
  • Do we need a better/more potent MEK inhibitor?
  • What other combinations and targets can be explored?
  • Is timing and dosing important? (e.g. continuous vs. intermittent dosing)
  • And many others…

Bill Sellers VP Global Head Oncology Novartis Institutes for BioMedical ResearchAt the recent AACR Molecular Targets meeting in Boston I chatted with Dr Bill Sellers, who is the Global Head of Oncology Research at the Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research (NIBR) and oversees the drug discovery efforts in this space for Novartis.

Yesterday we highlighted NIBR’s work with CDK4/6 inhibition in breast cancer, but this compound may have surprising utility in metastatic melanoma.

Novartis also have several other melanoma agents in their pipeline in the clinic, including a BRAF inhibitor (LGX818), a MEK inhibitor (MEK162) and more recently, an Mdm2 inhibitor (CGM097) in preclinical development.

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Boston – at the AACR-NCI-EORTC Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics conference today, preclinical data was presented on a first-in-class antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) targeting guanylyl cyclase c (GCC) expression in pancreatic cancer.

Petter Veiby Ph.D presenting at Molecular Targets press briefing Petter Veiby, Ph.D, Global Head of BioTherapeutics, Oncology DDU at Takeda Pharmaceuticals International Co. in Boston, MA took the assembled press corps through data that showed MLN0264 demonstrated antitumor activity in GCC-pancreatic cancer xenograft models.

In drug development, as in life, timing is everything. The recent FDA approval of Celgene’s nab-paclitaxel (Abraxane) has changed the standard of care in pancreatic cancer.

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Scott Eliasof, Ph.D VP of Research at Cerulean presents at Molecular Targets press briefingBoston – at the AACR-NCI-EORTC Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics conference today we heard about CRLX101 (Cerulean Pharmaceuticals), a nanopharmaceutical in phase 2 development. The presentation highlighted the challenges and opportunities in cancer drug development.

This post is not intended to be a detailed review of the preclinical data presented, but offers a summary of the value proposition, the intended target and the insights we took away from a press briefing at the conference.

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Susan Galbraith MD PhD at Molecular Targets Press BriefingBoston – At the AACR-EORTC-NCI Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics conference, Susan Galbraith, M.D, Ph.D. Head of the Oncology Innovative Medicines Unit at AstraZeneca discussed the development of AZD9291, a potent and selective third-generation EGFR inhibitor of both activating and wild type T790M mutations in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

Dr Galbraith reviewed the three abstracts presented at Molecular Targets and answered questions on the AZD9291 clinical data presented at ECCO 2013 in Amsterdam.

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Boston – Preclinical data for PF-06463922 (Pfizer), a next generation ALK inhibitor, with potency for all known Crizotinib ALK resistant mutants and ability to cross the blood brain barrier was presented today at the 2013 International Conference on Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics co-hosted by the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC).

In addition to being a competitor to other next-generation ALK inhibitors in development such as AP26113 (Ariad), LDK378 (Novartis) and alectinib (Roche/Chugai), PF-06463922 shows activity in both crizotinib-naive and crizotinib-resistant cells, so could end up being a replacement for crizotinib (Xalkori) front-line if clinical results confirm preclinical efficacy.

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The 2013 Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics Conference (twitter #targets13) takes place in Boston from October 19-23 at the Hynes Convention Center. It’s a “must attend” meeting for anyone with an interest in cancer drug development and I’m really looking forward it. Boston is an exciting place for cancer research!

Molecular Targets Meeting AppJointly organized by the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) and National Cancer Institute (NCI), it alternates each year between Europe the United States.

The molecular targets meeting program and abstracts are now available online. There’s also a meeting App that’s well worth downloading if you plan to be there.

As for what’s interesting at the meeting – the three media briefings give a flavor of what to expect:

Sunday, Oct. 20, 10 a.m. “Emerging Therapeutics,” including research on investigational drugs AZD9291 and PF-06463922, which have the potential to overcome drug resistance in some lung cancers.

Monday, Oct. 21, 9 a.m. “Overcoming Resistance and Hard-to-Treat Cancers,” including research on a new antibody-drug conjugate MLN0264 for pancreatic cancer and a new nanopharmaceutical CRLX101 for cancers resistant to antiangiogenic drugs.

Tuesday, October 22, 9 a.m. “Guiding Treatment for BRAF- and BRCA-related Cancers,” including updated data on the clinical benefit of the PARP inhibitor BMN 673 and a new diagnostic platform to rapidly identify BRAF mutations.

The AACR press team led by Jeremy Moore have done a good job of identifying some of the exciting new drugs in development.

Readers of blog premium content have already read about the potential of AZD9291 in T790M resistant lung cancer from ECCO 2013 in Amsterdam.  While it looks like the ECCO late-breaker did steal some of the thunder from the molecular targets meeting, there’s going to be more granularity on the compound at AACR, and hopefully some updated clinical data.

There are three AZD9291 posters at the meeting, and I’ll be covering all of these while in Boston:

Sunday, Oct 20, 2013, 12:30 PM – 3:00 PM  A109: AZD9291: an irreversible, potent and selective third generation tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) targeting EGFR activating (EGFRm+) and resistance (T790M) mutations in advanced lung adenocarcinoma.

Monday, Oct 21, 2013, 12:30 PM – 3:00 PM  B212: Integrating the pre-clinical pharmacokinetic, pharmacodynamics, and efficacy data for AZD9291, an oral, irreversible inhibitor of EGFR activating (EGFRm+) and resistant (EGFRm+/T790M) mutations and an active metabolite to predict the human pharmacokinetics and potential efficacious dose in patients.

Monday, Oct 21, 2013, 12:30 PM – 3:00 PM B94 Discovery of and first disclosure of the clinical candidate AZD9291, a potent and selective third-generation EGFR inhibitor of both activating and T790M resistant mutations that spares the wild type form of the receptor.

Another compound that I have been following with data at Molecular Targets is ABT-199/GDC-199.

You’ll find me in the poster halls every afternoon, so if you are going to be in Boston for Molecular Targets, I look forward to seeing you there!

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