Biotech Strategy Blog

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

Posts tagged ‘Checkpoint Combination Strategy’

The twin effects of rapid development and increasing complexity in cancer research can be seen as both a good and a bad thing because while both negative and positive results might be a helpful window into where current research might be (or should be currently headed), it also means that for industry project teams, clinical development plans are much more challenging to put together.

Rising or setting of key targets and molecules?

This is also a reflection of the current state of research in immuno-oncology – things are much more complicated than many people realised even just a decade ago – as we slowly peel off the layers of the onion to reveal yet more layers and unknowns.

In short, we still don’t know what we don’t know on many key issues, never mind how various cells might interact and communicate in both health and disease.

With this in mind, I wanted to take a moment and offer a top-line review of six key areas to watch out for as we head towards the Fall conference season…

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Dr Holbrook Kohrt StanfordHolbrook Kohrt MD PhD (pictured right) is a Stanford medical oncologist and clinical researcher who is leading the way in cancer immunotherapy combination strategies targeting CD137 (4-1BB).In

He’s a speaker we greatly enjoy listening to at meetings. Earlier this year at The American Association of Immunologists (AAI) annual meeting (Immunology 2015) in New Orleans, he gave a noteworthy presentation on combination monoclonal antibody therapy.

The potential of a combination of an anti-CD137 monoclonal antibody such as urelumab plus an anti-CD20 such as rituximab, was one that he appeared to be particularly excited about.

At Immunology 2015, Dr Kohrt kindly spoke with BSB and shared his thoughts on the potential of immune modulators, which instead of acting as inhibitors to “release the brake,” like checkpoint inhibitors, act as agonists to “step on the gas” and rev up the immune system. This is a concept that many Pharma companies are currently looking to explore for new drug development opportunities, for example:

Roche ESMO Media Briefing Immunotherapy Approach

Source: Roche Media Briefing at ESMO 2014 in Madrid

When it comes to combination strategies, the big unanswered questions are which ones will produce big gains in response rates and survival outcomes, and which ones will be duds?  

After all, much like targeted therapies, not all targets will be relevant in all tumour types – it will depend on the underlying immune system.

In New Orleans, Dr Kohrt talked about the potential advantages and concerns around combination strategies and why he’s particularly interested in CD137 as a novel target for immunotherapy.

In-Memorium Holbrook Kohrt 

It is with great sadness that we must report that Holbrook Kohrt is no longer with us. He died, aged 38, on February 24, 2016.

You can listen to excerpts from Dr Kohrt’s BSB interview on Episode 6 of the Novel Targets Podcast, “Stepping on the Gas.” We had no idea at the time this might be one of his last interviews…

You can hear a tribute to Holbrook Kohrt from Ron Levy (Stanford) at the start of Episode 11 of Novel Targets. Do listen!

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