Biotech Strategy Blog

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

Posts tagged ‘Cancer Biology’

At the 2018 AACR annual meeting, one of the noteworthy talks given to the 22,000+ attendees in Chicago was a plenary lecture by Charles Swanton from the Francis Crick Institute in London. He’s a Professor of Personalized Cancer Medicine at University College London and chief clinician for Cancer Research UK (CRUK).

Professor Swanton is the leader of a landmark clinical study, TRACERx (TRAcking Cancer Evolution through therapy (Rx)) study, which involves analyzing how cancers and in particular, lung and renal cancers, evolve over time.

There’s a lot of heavy science and jargon inherent in this niche that often frightens off people, but that need not always be the case.

What is fascinating, though, is the very idea that tracking the development of early stage cancers might teach us new insights and lessons about alternative approaches to oncology R&D.

We have all seen the limitations of chemotherapy, targeted therapies and even immune checkpoint blockade, so what other approaches can be considered that link back to the biology of the disease and how it evolves over time?

What we wanted to achieve here was a clear and elegant story about what Prof Swanton and his colleagues are doing, as well as a simple grounding on the basics of disease progression and how that can translate clinically into new therapeutics that might make a real difference to the lives of people with cancer.

It’s a fascinating story and may well be one of the most underappreciated recent developments in cancer research…

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Today, my attention was caught by The New York Academy of Sciences forthcoming seminar on “Angiogenesis: Breakthroughs in Basic Science and Therapeutic Applications.”

Sponsored by Johnson & Johnson and the Dr Paul Janssen Award for Biomedical Research, the seminar (free registration) features some distinguished speakers including Napoleone Ferrara, MD who is giving a presentation on the “Discovery of Anti-Angiogenesis Therapies for Cancer and Ocular Disease.

I’m particularly interested in hearing the panel discussion in the afternoon on the “future of angiogenic medicine,” and the potential of gene transfer therapy as a treatment option.

Those following this area will already know that ocular gene therapy was a topic of discussion at the FDA Cellular, Tissue and Gene Therapies Advisory Committee meeting in June this year.

The briefing document for the meeting discusses how a number of inherited retinal diseases such as Leber Congenital Amaurosis, Stargardt Disease and Retinitis Pigmentosa might benefit from gene therapy.  Given the standard of care is largely supportive in many of these disorders, the potential benefits are huge.

Gene therapy may also offer benefits in the treatment of acquired retinal disorders such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of blindness in people aged 50 years of older in the developed world.

In a presentation to the meeting by Professor Peter Campochiaro of the Wimer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins, he noted the burden of regular introcular injections.

Potential gene therapy products for retinal disease, such as those using viral vectors and plasmid DNA vectors into which a transgene can be inserted, will be an interesting area to watch.

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