ASH19 Targeted Therapies Preview: This year’s ASH in Orlando is very much dominated by new developments on the immunotherapy front in terms of both T and NK cell therapies, with some passing interest in BTK inhibitors as well.
It’s not always sunny in Florida…
What about targeted therapies and the science behind those developments?
It was not that long ago that these were the main lifeblood of the meeting across many, if not most, hematologic malignancies. How times have changed!
That said, outside of the CARs (T and NK cells), as well as bispecific immunotherapies, and BTK inhibitors there are still some gems to be found amongst the rest of the ASH19 abstracts.
Here we highlight an additional 10 abstracts involving early pipeline areas that encompass some novel targets, new combination approaches, or emerging science.
Please note that the novel targets can take the form of classic targets or IO ones since they didn’t fit in the prior ASH Preview topics already reviewed under separate cover…
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Have you ever sat in a freezing cold scientific session and been so engrossed in the compelling presentations that followed, you simply forgot to take notes? Not one. That actually happened to me at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) in Philadelphia this year in one of the many fringe sessions that I attended.
Reading Terminal Clock, Philadelphia
Granted, the hot topic of the conference was undoubtedly checkpoint inhibition, but I was anxious to escape to the comfort of some meaty and familiar basic and translational science, namely MYC. MYC is largely thought to be a difficult to target, even undruggable protein, and along with RAS and p53, represents a formidable challenge for cancer researchers. These three oncogenic proteins alone are probably responsible for more drug resistance developing and even death from cancer than any other proteins in a patient with advanced disease.
For cancer patients with advanced disease, the clock is ticking on time they have left.
Solve these three problems (MYC, RAS and p53) and we may have a shot at dramatically improving outcomes. As Dr Gerard Evan (Cambridge) noted:
“I think it’s fair to say that we don’t really know why interruption of any oncogenic signal actually kills cancer cells, but one of the reasons that we’re interested in MYC is because it seems to be a common downstream effector of many, maybe all cancers.”
Sure, the road to success is paved with an enormous graveyard of failures, just as metastatic melanoma was before checkpoint blockade came along, ironically. What I heard at AACR both inspired and filled me with greater confidence… we’re finally getting somewhere.
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