One of my favourite sessions at any cancer conference is the science symposia, although they go under many different guises and names. At the European Society of Medical Oncology (ESMO) they are known as Special Symposia and conceptually are very similar to Clinical Science Symposia at ASCO.
Here at these sessions, top thought leaders in the space debate and lecture on key issues of the day. They’re usually packed with information and are well worth attending, even in a hectic schedule.
Interestingly, immuno-oncology has a dominant focus on the program for the first time since I’ve been attending ECCO/ESMO events over the last dozen years or so, demonstrating how quickly it is being assimilated into the scientific and clinical consciousness. Years ago, I attended a session on autologous cell therapies (ACT) and there were maybe a handful of us in the room. In Madrid, I doubt if there will be 12 empty seats in the theatre and it will probably be what Pharmaland calls SRO – standing room only.
So what can we learn from the announced sessions this year?
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To round off our series of post AACR reviews this week (there will be more coming next week as well, don’t worry), I wanted to look at some interesting non-immunotherapeutic agents that I found compelling and worth watching out for in the future.
A couple of things to remember or understand is that AACR is a very different conference from ASH and ASCO, aside from the presence of noticeably more science:
a) Much of the data presented at this meeting is either preclinical or phase I-II cinical data
b) Most of these studies are usually exploratory or preliminary in nature
Phase I trials are usually designed to evaluate dose finding in either a single agent or with an untested and untried combination. Investigators are interested in a number of key things here, which might include:
- Maximum tolerated dose (MTD)
- Dose limiting toxicities (DLT)
- A recomemmended phase II dose (RP2D)
- PK and PD
- General tolerability assessment.
Sometimes a different formulation is tested, in which case bioavailabity is also important. To be expressly clear though – any efficacy signals seen are a bonus. That’s the main purpose of phase II trials.
That said, one of the things I most like about AACR is the early phase I data in new targets or data that explains why resistance develops as an adaptive response to therapy. With these in mind, here are three excellent examples from well put together research from the meeting that we can learn a lot from.
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DEDN6526A, a novel ADC in melanoma; AG–221 in IDH2 mutant AML and MDS; a PI3K-α isomer-specific inhitor, BYL719, and the impact of PTEN alterations
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