Biotech Strategy Blog

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

Posts tagged ‘Adaptimmune’

San Francisco – the 2020 JP Morgan Healthcare conference is now in full swing, and we’re continuing our coverage with another rolling blog that provides review and analysis of company presentations, deals, and plans for the coming year.

Some of the companies featured in yesterday’s commentary were: BMS, Incyte, Novartis, Deciphera, Allogene, Nektar, Seattle Genetics, Mirati, and Clovis.

While our focus on BSB is mainly writing about the science driving innovation and new product development, especially in oncology and immunology, it’s good to hear what companies are looking to accomplish in the coming year and then put that in context.

Cancer drug development, whether it be with targeted therapies or immuno-oncology remains a fast moving and continually evolving field, and one you have to keep your finger on the pulse of if you don’t want to be left behind.

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San Francisco – This week is mostly about business news as pharma and biotech companies congregate around the JP Morgan Healthcare conference.

It’s JPM time!

As of today (January 13th) I think a lot of investor and journalistic observers have probably been rather disappointed with no news of any major M&A activity, as this seen as setting the tone for the year ahead. I don’t personally see things that way because there’s always plenty of interesting small deals, new early funding, new science and even newco’s forming.

Indeed, Allogene already announced a new clinical collaboration with SpringWorks Therapeutics to evaluate their investigational anti-BCMA allogeneic CAR-T cell wherapy with their gamma secretase inhibitor in multiple myeloma.  They clearly see this as one way to address the shedding problems that have led to relapse with BCMA therapies.

As in previous years, we have a rolling live blog each day at JPM to highlight some of the scientific and company findings that emerge during the meeting…

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We have heard much hullabaloo about adoptive T cell therapy approaches with tumour infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) and chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapies, but what about T cell receptor (TCR) therapy?

Over the last couple of years, various experts we have interviewed have alluded to TCR approaches in the pipeline that they have been involved in or come across, but this is not a topic we have covered in-depth as we, like many other observers, have been on the sidelines waiting for solid clinical data to mature.

Source: Adaptimmune

That time finally came around at ASCO last month, where we had the opportunity to discuss an NY-ESO–1 based TCR with one of the companies in this space, namely Adaptimmune.

We also covered several other constructs they have in their pipeline.

Inevitably there have been quite a few R&D setbacks with some of the TCR approaches evaluated, going back to Dr Steven Rosenberg and the NIH experiments back in the 1990’s with MART–1 as a target.

I was therefore really intrigued to find out more about how are Adaptimmune faring, what technical and clinical challenges remain, where are the programs going, and what have we learned so far?

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Sarcomas are a heterogeneous type of cancer that develop from certain tissues like bone or soft tissues such fat, muscle, nerves, fibrous tissues, blood vessels, or deep skin tissues.

Over the last two years, much has happened in this space so it’s an excellent time to revisit the niche and learn more about what experts think of the latest data that is emerging here.

We put a sarcoma expert in the spotlight and learned what their perspectives are on some of the emerging data in this niche as well as which ones offer hints of promise.

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Sarcoma is something we call one disease but actually represents 50-70 different histologies, which poses challenges for drug development.  Not only do you have to identify what’s the unique target, but it’s hard to accrue patients into trials, when a major center may only see a few of each sub-type.

Soft tissue sarcoma is an area of unmet medical need, and one I have been interested in since launching Gleevec in GIST (way back when) when I was fortunate to get to know many of the leading sarcoma experts.

Dr George Demetri

George D. Demetri, MD. Photo Credit: DFCI

One of these is Dr George Demetri, who is Director, Center for Sarcoma and Bone Oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and a Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

At the recent European Cancer Congress in Vienna, I had the privilege to talk with Dr Demetri about some of the latest research in soft tissue sarcoma.

We spoke about cancer immunotherapy, new small molecules and monoclonal antibodies, and the potential of targeting the epigenetic machinery.

A lot of what Dr Demetri is doing is currently “under the radar” and while he didn’t give any secrets away, he did give some sense of where some breakthroughs may occur in the not too distant future.  He also talked about how sarcomas with a specific target can be used for proof of concept clinical trials of novel agents.

Given the pressure that many companies are under to speed up their path to market strategies, accelerated approval in a rare tumour subset is one approach that can be considered.

It’s an exciting time in the field with the potential for several agents in development to move the needle and make a difference. I hope you enjoy this post, it was a real pleasure to talk with Dr Demetri again.

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Over the last year or two, we have covered a number of different pathways that are involved with the immune system including CD19 and 20, CTLA–4, PD–1 and PD-L1, IDO1, CD40, OX40, TIGIT, ICOS and others.

Today, it’s the turn of an oncoprotein called NY-ESO–1 that has been garnering quite a bit of attention of late and will also be highly relevant to some upcoming posts and thought leader interviews we have scheduled here on Biotech Strategy Blog. It’s always a good idea to cover the basics first, before exploring the more advanced concepts.

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