Biotech Strategy Blog

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

Posts tagged ‘CAR T cell therapy’

It occurred to me after several such events this year that virtual meetings create a very different pattern for spectators from live events where we all dash from one hall to another trying to optimise the viewing experience and catch as many key talks as we can.

Gems from the ASCO Poster Halls

Instead of the annual rugby scrum in the ASCO poster halls, we can imagine ourselves in an entirely different world with social distancing virtually

Many people will no doubt be eager to listen to the various oral presentations of phase 3 data come Friday morning, while the poor posters may well languish until some undetermined time later, so why not take a step back and highlight some of the early work in developmental therapeutics ahead of time?

In the final part of our ASCO Preview series, we offer our independent take and candid commentary on ten abstracts in developmental therapeutics to watch out for.

A word of warning – we don’t take a particular perspective through the lens of rose tinted glasses, so not all the analyses are positive and there are some firm words against some of the selections regarding continued development or the researchers conclusions/recommendations.

Some of these are agents in early development, some are biomarkers or even emerging trends, but all are intriguing in their own unique fashion.

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We get to chat with many leading oncologists and cancer researchers on Biotech Strategy Blog – it’s truly one of the perks of the job to meet experts and hear them discuss their early research.

Like a tutorial, we have the opportunity to ask questions and improve our own understanding, but where it becomes really interesting is when they talk about promising translational opportunities, because this is what we are about.

How do you translate basic research into oncology new products and figure out where are the viable opportunities?

In this post, we spoke with one of the world’s leading immunologists – someone we’ve never spoken to before – who a few weeks ago spun-out a company to commercialize one of their early research areas and while we were doing the interview told us about another commercial opportunity they had in mind. This was very much “under the radar” and in a relatively earlier stage of commercialization. Both targets have potential for synergy in our view, particularly in combination strategies and cancer immunotherapy regimens.

With one company in stealth mode and the other only incorporated a matter of weeks ago (at time of writing they don’t yet have a website), it’s exciting to see science translation in action.

This is one of the reasons why one of the many tribes that read BSB are those in business development and licensing (BD&L) or investment roles.

In this post we interviewed the delightful Prof. Akiko Iwasaki from Yale. We’ve also put together commentary on the opportunities and the science behind them, as well as some recent anecdotes gleaned from another expert in one of the fields discussed.

If you are part of a BD&L team then do consider purchasing a group or team license. We’d be happy to have our group sales department discuss this further with you.

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Whipping up the CAR-T cell niche

In the sixth and final part of the latest CAR-T cell therapy mini-series, we take a look at a really key factor that will need to be addressed if we want to move forward in both hematologic and solid tumours in terms of improved outcomes.

To be clear, this is not about the obvious – tackling immune suppression – but something entirely different!

Now, that might well mean incorporating new regimens in the process or it could lead to version 3.0 in terms of new constructs to be tested in the clinic in due course.

What’s not to like?

Added bonus in this review is that it’s not one voice expressed here, but rather the consolidated perspective of four different experts, so you can quickly see clarity and differences of opinion on several topics…

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When should someone receive CAR T cell therapy? How do we identify who will benefit most or who will be most likely to fail? Those are some of the questions we’re considering in our latest expert interview.

As we see the landscapes around aggressive lymphomas and multiple multiple evolve and change with more near-term CAR T cell therapy approvals coming, so too do the clinical questions surrounding the optimising of these novel approaches.

Prof John Gribben, President of EHA (right) at CART2020 in Sitges

At the EHA/EBMT 2nd European meeting on CAR T cell therapy, BSB spoke with Professor John Gribben. He’s the current President of the European Hematology Association (EHA) and holds the Gordon Hamilton Fairley Chair of Medical Oncology at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, Barts Cancer Institute, Queen Mary, University of London.

One of his messages was when considering CAR T cell therapy, it’s a delicate question of balance.

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Welcome to SITC19!

National Harbor: It’s time for the first of our daily highlights and review of key data that was presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC).

The first day is usually taken up by some longer review sessions on key topics, intermingled with some rapid fire oral talks on emerging areas where we get to hear some young investigators talk about their ongoing projects.

This results in some broad updates, as well as some specific areas of early R&D in the IO space that often end up as key areas to watch out for over time. This year is no different in that respect…

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One of the delights of going to a major medical/scientific meeting such as the recent European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) Congress in Barcelona is that there often meetings going on around it, which offer unique and novel perspectives.

For example, on the Thursday before ESMO19 there was a one-day workshop on “Breaking through emergent immunotherapy and immune targets in cancer.”

Dr Manel Juan Otero presenting at the FLS Science symposium

Organized by FLS Science, it took place at the Casa de Convalescència in Barcelona. The program featured a mix of Spanish immunologists and clinicians, along with some leading US researchers including Dr Tom Gajweski (Chicago) and Dr Antoni Ribas (UCLA).

It was definitely well worth attending and I encourage you to look out to see if the organizers run the again meeting before ESMO20 in Madrid next year.

One of the most interesting speakers at the meeting was Dr Manel Juan Otero (right) who heads up the section of immunotherapy at the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona.

In his talk, he spoke about the “Future Directions for CAR-T Therapy” in Spain, which turned out to be a dramatic one with unexpectedly broad European implications.

During a lunch break at the meeting, Dr Juan Otero kindly spoke to BSB about his plans, which could have an impact on commercial CAR T cell therapy companies such as Novartis and Gilead.

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We first wrote about this innate pathway back in early 2015 – before it became famous and controversial – when things seemed much simpler then.

Imagine the basic concept… add an immune agonist – this targets the innate immune system to jumpstart or wake up the immune system in colder tumours – to an established adaptive immune therapy such as checkpoint blockade and see whether any magic happens. In practice, this turned out to be much easier said than done, because in reality mouse and man have quite different immune systems and do not react in the exactly same way, which makes extrapolation from one to the other challenging at the best of times.

Still, back in 2015 there were barely a handful of STING agonists that anyone could really put a name too, now there’s 18 compounds in early pipelines and counting.

Not all the players are small biotechs either, as big Pharma is certainly paying attention to the smaller biotechs (both private and public) generating molecules, especially now that early clinical data (alone and in combination) is beginning to dribble out.

Aside from collaborations and licensing deals, there’s also an increase in patents in this niche, which is often a sign of competitive activity.

Four years on, how has the landscape changed, what does the data look like and what sort of issues need to be addressed?

In the first of our latest three-part mini series, we look at the competitive landscape and how it has changed (quite drastically since 2015, I can assure you!). In parts two and three, we look at two different up and coming players in the STING space with very different approaches.

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We have been following the progress of various classes of molecules in the myeloma space here on BSB since 2010. These include traditional approaches (e.g. HSCT and proteasome inhibitors/IMiDs and various antibodies or ADCs), as well as immunotherapy (checkpoint blockade, CAR T cell therapy, oncolytic viruses etc).

Brick Lane Grafitti

There’s much going on in this space and it’s not only becoming extremely crowded and competitive (akin to 1L NSCLC), but there is a gradual trend towards convergence on many fronts, be they targets or modalities.

In our latest look at the myeloma space, we focus on several key areas of development – antibodies, CARs, and also highlight a new target that may be of interest…

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What latest ASH18 data jumps to our attention?

San Diego – It’s time to put another dozen studies in the spotlight and review what we can learn from the existing data with a view on where we’re headed in the future.

Today’s list covers a whole gamut of targeted therapies, bispecific antibodies, CAR-T cell therapies and other immunotherapies, what’s more we have a range of targets in the list too, and not the obvious ones either.

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What a wet wet wet start to the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology (ASH) meeting being held in San Diego – quite a change from the snow in Atlanta at last year’s event!

Either way, does it precipitate a windfall of excellent data?

A lull between the rain – a soggy day in San Diego

Here are some of our early highlights, which include updates on neoantigen vaccines, novel approaches with CAR T cell therapies, NK cell therapies, targeted therapies and more…

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