As often happens in cancer research, a new class of compounds emerges every so often, fades out with various tricky clinical challenges then roars back again anew with target variations on a similar theme, as new data become available.
Most cancer signalling pathways veer towards the complex rather than simple, so can we learn from the past and try again by aiming at different compartments and cells?
Some recent translational data relating to IO and cancer immunotherapy can offer us fresh hope for potential novel combinations, especially with immunotherapies rather than chemotherapies.
The molecule designs have also moved on too thus offering additional opportunities and possibilities, which may not have the same difficulties with the therapeutic window limitations seen a decade ago.
There’s always something new to be hopeful about, so let’s take a look at what new ideas are emerging from the doldrums…
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Buried amongst the intense hurly burly of a major medical meeting such as the American Society of Hematology (ASH) are the unsung preclinical researchers whose work largely makes clinical development possible. After all, few sensible companies would bet on an expensive clinical trial program, especially in combination, without first knowing whether such an approach is rational or not and has a decent shot of working efficaciously.
At stake here is the potential for building a blockbuster cancer drug niche by niche.
Venetoclax (BCL-2 inhibitor) got off to a somewhat slow start compared to say, ibrutinib (BTK inhibitor), which had a much broader initial indication and a lower risk of tumour lysis syndrome (TLS), yet it may actually have a wider application across multiple hematologic malignancies. This could well end up as one of those classic tortoise versus hare stories in the long run.
Back in 2013, we posted five interviews conducted with a range of experts including:
- Dr Oliver Sartor (prostate cancer)
- Dr Susan O’Brien (CLL)
- Dr Deepak Sampath (BCL-2 and ABT-199)
- Dr John Jenkins (then deputy director at the FDA)
- Dr Renier Brentjens (CAR-T cell therapy)
To put this in context, consider that we just recorded 15 interviews at ASH this year alone!
As regular readers know, we like to follow people and R&D stories over time, so while in Atlanta at ASH17 we took the opportunity to move a particular story forward – we wanted to learn where Dr Sampath and his colleagues are now and also where they are headed next. This gives readers a head start on anticipating what future clinical developments might be mentioned at JPM18 by either Genentech/Roche or AbbVie.
In our latest expert interview, we pick up and continue the discussion with Deepak Sampath to find out what’s happening with venetoclax four years on… it turns out quite a lot and makes for very interesting reading indeed.
Dr Deepak Sampath (Genentech)
Curious to now more about what this scientist and his work in BCL-2 targeting is all about? Check out this short excerpt:
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