Biotech Strategy Blog

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

Posts tagged ‘ASCO 2019’

Is the dragon roaring back?

It’s a while since we last looked at new developments in a rare group of cancers called sarcoma so this is a good time to stake stock and explore the positive and negative trial results, as well as look at some of the emerging targets that are being investigated.

Not all of them will likely pan out given the nature of the disease, but some might turn out to be hidden gems.

We’ve had a few negative trial readouts in sarcomas and plenty of new trials with a variety of agents in early development – is the dragon roaring back or whimpering?

Aside from our top 10 review, we also have a thought leader interview to share with commentary from a sarcoma specialist…

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Continuing our bispecific mini-series, we now switch from small to large biotech with a look at what Amgen are doing in this niche. They have both regular bispecifics, as well as T cell bispecifics in their early pipeline.

Our latest company interview focuses on several early phase 1 new product developments.

Aside from the BiTEs, we also discuss the clinical program with one of their most promising small molecules, AMG 510, a KRAS selective inhibitor that has been drawing much attention since the chemical structure was unveiled at AACR earlier this year.

There was much ballyhoo and yet more garish headlines in the media at ASCO regarding ‘Amgen showed it had developed a medicine that shrank tumors in 50% of lung cancer patients’ – in 10 patients. Was it really 10 people or a much higher number if we consider intent to treat amongst evaluable patients? Then of course, taking a small sample size into consideration, the next 10 might produce quite different results. We might also see resistance set in down the road (e.g. at 9 to 12 months as we have with BRAFi), so these are really very early days, something we pointed out during the daily ASCO coverage.

To be clear, I can say that both companies included in yesterday’s (Neon Therapeutics) and today’s (Amgen) articles were sensible, thoughtful, and well measured in how they handled the data rollouts, but the media frenzy that occurred with each is quite something else.

Since we had quite a few BSB readers ask about both sets of data, having discussed Neon’s yesterday, today we offer an interview with an Amgen exec at the heart of their early stage programs…

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We’ve been covering cytokines and chemokines for several years now before they were hot cakes in the oncology space.

Fighting a way through the poster scrums or mosh pit is art in itself!

With a raft of new companies emerging in this area to challenge established players, things are getting much more interesting of late. That means it’s time for a new mini series exploring these opportunities through the eyes of the CEOs and CSOs.

We ask what’s different about their approaches and look at why should you be paying attention to them.

We begin with the first of a new three part series exploring novel and intriguing ways to activate cytokines and stimulate the immune system in various cancers.

This story begins with some new Gems from the Poster Halls that readers may well find fascinating…

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Corvus Pharmaceuticals LogoA biotech company we’ve been following for several years – on what has turned out to be a rollercoaster ride so far – is Corvus Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: CRVS).

They were pioneers in targeting the adenosine pathway with their adenosine A2A receptor antagonist,  CPI–444, now known as ciforadenant.

So what’s new at Corvus? It turns out quite a lot.

At ASCO 2019, BSB caught up with Richard A Miller MD, Co-Founder, President, and CEO of Corvus Pharmaceuticals to learn more about their progress and importantly, where they’re headed.

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Chicago – Having stayed until the last morning of the last day for a final expert interview and sessions on CAR-T therapy and metastatic breast cancer, there were certainly some interesting targets and findings to discuss in the post meeting analysis.

I particularly wanted to post some thoughts and commentary on the ongoing Macrogenics story around margetuximab, an anti-HER2 antibody that binds with elevated affinity to both the lower and higher affinity forms of CD16A, an Fc receptor.

In our last review in February, we noted that the company “could miss on PFS and have to wait for OS down the road,” which wasn’t far off given the rather weak PFS benefit of 0.9 months announced on May 15th.

We finally got to see the initial SOPHIA data presented at ASCO this morning by Dr Hope Rugo (UCSF), so what did we learn?

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Chicago – the 2019 ASCO annual meeting is in full swing and it’s plenary Sunday where the jewels in the crown are presented.

Noteworthy this year is the olaparib data being presented by Dr Hedy Kindler.

In this post, we’ve commentary on the data we’ve heard so far, highlights from yesterday’s sessions, and what you can expect to hear today if you’re in Chicago for Plenary Sunday.

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Chinatown Chicago

One of the things we try to do on BSB is tread paths that aren’t well travelled.

It’s a bit like coming to Chicago and visiting areas such as Chinatown that are beyond the common tourist sights. It can take a bit of effort, but often delivers a memorable experience in the process.

In this final preview of #ASCO19 before the educational sessions start tomorrow, we’re offering up 10 abstracts that we think are underrated and noteworthy of closer attention.

Like any guide book our recommendations are subjective, but if you’d like to read more then subscribers can login or you can purchase access.

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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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