Biotech Strategy Blog

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

Posts tagged ‘CD39’

Making waves with new directions – there are many possible ways to go when considering targeting the adenosine axis

As we segue between our AACR and ASCO coverage, one topic that straddles both virtual meetings is targeting the adenosine axis.  At AACR19, this pathway was very much front and square with some intriguing and controversial data presented, which caught many people by surprise.

Since then, several companies have opened new trials, others are completing enrollment and waiting for their data to readout before deciding upon next steps.

It’s a good time to take a look at what’s new in this niche and also see things differently through the lens of one company involved in the field.  Yes, it’s time to share our latest expert interview from not one, but two, c-suite executives.

What are their perspectives (they are different), where do they see the field going and why?

In part one of the discussion we focus exclusively on adenosine targeting and how they see themselves differentiated from the crowd… it certainly makes for interesting reading!

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Corvus Pharmaceuticals LogoA biotech company we’ve been following for several years – on what has turned out to be a rollercoaster ride so far – is Corvus Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: CRVS).

They were pioneers in targeting the adenosine pathway with their adenosine A2A receptor antagonist,  CPI–444, now known as ciforadenant.

So what’s new at Corvus? It turns out quite a lot.

At ASCO 2019, BSB caught up with Richard A Miller MD, Co-Founder, President, and CEO of Corvus Pharmaceuticals to learn more about their progress and importantly, where they’re headed.

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River Rhine, Mainz

Mainz, Germany: We’re back for Day 2 highlights from the 2019 Association for Cancer Immunotherapy (CIMT) annual meeting with a look at some insights emerging from some academic and industry talks, as well as gems emerging from the poster halls.

Much attention is focused on cancer immunotherapy clinical data, yet it’s also important to watch out for new developments.

These can take many different forms such as what are companies doing to meet those challenges with novel therapeutics, as well as understanding more detail about immune mechanisms, including evasion and escape as well as defining phenotypes based on different immune cell populations.

As we head into ASCO, let’s not forget that there’s some important learnings to be had elsewhere in the world before we get there…

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The AACR19 ‘mosh pit’ where gems abound

It’s been a while since we looked at the adenosine pathway, where a fog of immunosuppression is thought to cloak the ability of the immune system to induce antitumour immunity.

When we first wrote about the A2A receptor-CD73-CD39 pathway in 2016 there really weren’t very many players in this niche.  Since then the field has expanded quite considerably and there are now more companies and molecules to consider.

As we straddle AACR and ASCO, it’s a great time to offer an update and look at what we learned…

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Over the years we’ve interviewed folks from numerous pharma and biotech companies here on BSB, including those with targeted therapies (small and large), as well as immunotherapies.

Some companies have small pipelines and may be forced by circumstances to explore what they have or seek collaborations with bigger partners.

For big pharmas with large pockets plus broad and deeper pipelines, the challenge is quite different – how do you prioritise potential combinations and tumour targets given it is impossible to evaluate them all in the clinic? How do you create differential advantage and value when you’re relatively later to market compared to your competitors?

In the BSB spotlight this week we have two researchers in clinical development and R&D from the same company, who happen to have both elements in their pipeline in areas of high competition.

Part one of our latest mini-series explores the IO side of the business as we look ‘Through the Keyhole’ at what’s going on in terms of biomarkers, monotherapy trials, combination studies (both IO-IO and IO-targeted) and what to expect in the near-term future later this year. It’s a wide ranging, candid, and fascinating discussion that highlights a lot of potential in terms of what could happen with a large pipeline.

In all, it makes for rather interesting reading and certainly changed how I perceived the company’s efforts in the IO sphere (for the better, I might add).  So what’s fascinating about their approach and what can we learn from their progress to date?

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New York – at the CRI-CIMT-EATI-AACR international cancer immunotherapy conference (Twitter #CICON16) that’s currently underway, one of the plenary oral presentations and posters that attracted my attention was for CPI-444, a small molecule inhibitor of the adenosine 2 A receptor (A2AR). It is in development by Corvus Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: CRVS).

Corvus Pharmaceuticals Logo

Stephen Willingham, PhD a Senior Scientist at Corvus presented data yesterday on CPI-444, “A potent & selective inhibitor of the A2AR that induces antitumor responses alone and in combination with anti PD-L1 in preclinical and biomarker studies.”  

Corvus announced a collaboration with Genentech back in October 2015. A phase 1 trial with CPI-444 alone and in combination with Genentech’s anti-PD-L1 checkpoint inhibitor atezolizumab (Tecentriq) is now underway.

Targeting the tumor microenvironment to lower the immunosuppressive adenosine and improve checkpoint point effectiveness could be a big win for both Corvus and Genentech if CPI-444 is able to significantly improve the response rates to atezolizumab.

Corvus Senior Scientist Stephen Willingham, PhD and Chief Business Officer Jason Coloma, PhD kindly spoke to BSB about what the data presented in New York means and the company’s clinical development strategy.

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After looking at one important poster yesterday on multiple myeloma, it’s time to explore other equally interesting targets in other tumour types.

Some years reflect the inertia that hit oncology R&D with a lot of old data rehashed or they can be flooded with many me-too compounds.  Not this year, there’s a lot to talk about and review… so much so that we may well have enough for three rounds of Gems from the Poster Halls, time permitting as ASCO is fast approaching!

Without much further ado, for round 1 we have explored eight posters spanning four companies with a variety of different targets including chemotherapy, targeted therapies and immunotherapies.  I will say though, that the lines are being blurred as all of these modalities can impact the immune system, sometimes in unexpected ways.

What’s in store for today?  A focus on biotech companies doing intriguing cancer research.

Companies mentioned: Infinity, Innate, Incyte, Agenus

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