Biotech Strategy Blog

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

Posts tagged ‘ABT-199 Deaths’

New Orleans – Saturday at the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology (ASH) is mainly focused on education and science, although there are also several hundred posters available for those in need of a data injection.

What I like about the ASH education and scientific program is the high quality of the presentations from thought leaders who not only share where things are at, but just as importantly, where they may be going.

Yesterday, I attended a scientific session on Targeting Apoptosis in Lymphoid MalignanciesT. Organized by the Scientific Committee on Lymphoid Neoplasia, it featured three world-class speakers:

  • Douglas Green, PhD (St Jude Children’s Research Hospital)
  • Andreas Strasser, PhD (Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research)
  • Anthony Letai, MD, PhD (Dana Farber Cancer Institute).

Regular readers of this blog will know that I have been following the development of ABT-199/GDC-0199 a novel Bcl-2 inhibitor in development by Abbvie & Genentech for a while now.

It’s a drug with a lot of promise, notwithstanding the tumor lysis syndrome (TLS) deaths seen in the phase 1 CLL dose escalation trial.

In the ASH 2013 scientific session, Dr Letai shared his insights on potential new drug development targets for a small molecule inhibitor of Bcl-2 such as ABT-199 that have come about as a result of BH3 profiling.

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THE data of the 2013 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) that starts later this week in Chicago is expected to be the early clinical trial results for new breakthrough immunotherapies that target PD-1/PD-L1.

However, I’m also excited about the data being presented for the treatment of Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL), a disease that kills 75,000 people a year around the world. ASCO typically does not have a strong focus on hematology and blood cancers, so it’s a reflection of the clinical significance of the data that it’s a hot topic at the meeting.

Several companies are in the race to bring promising new CLL drugs to market, and have presentations in Chicago.

Earlier this year, the FDA gave it’s new Breakthrough Designation to two CLL new products: ibrutinib, a bruton’s tyrosine kinase inhibitor from Pharmacyclics and obinutuzumab, an anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody from Roche Glycart. The breakthrough therapy designation recognizes the potential of these drugs to change the standard of care in CLL and meet unmet medical needs.

In many ways the changing CLL landscape reminds me of where prostate cancer was a few years ago just before new treatments such as enzalutamide and abiraterone came to market.

If you haven’t already done so I encourage you to watch the ASCO 2013 preview video from Sally Church (@MaverickNY) in which she highlights several of the key CLL oral presentations and posters. Update Sept 18: this video is now available on the Premium Content Video page.

A few of the CLL new products I’ll be looking out for at ASCO 2013 include:

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