Buried amongst the intense hurly burly of a major medical meeting such as the American Society of Hematology (ASH) are the unsung preclinical researchers whose work largely makes clinical development possible. After all, few sensible companies would bet on an expensive clinical trial program, especially in combination, without first knowing whether such an approach is rational or not and has a decent shot of working efficaciously.
At stake here is the potential for building a blockbuster cancer drug niche by niche.
Venetoclax (BCL-2 inhibitor) got off to a somewhat slow start compared to say, ibrutinib (BTK inhibitor), which had a much broader initial indication and a lower risk of tumour lysis syndrome (TLS), yet it may actually have a wider application across multiple hematologic malignancies. This could well end up as one of those classic tortoise versus hare stories in the long run.
Back in 2013, we posted five interviews conducted with a range of experts including:
- Dr Oliver Sartor (prostate cancer)
- Dr Susan O’Brien (CLL)
- Dr Deepak Sampath (BCL-2 and ABT-199)
- Dr John Jenkins (then deputy director at the FDA)
- Dr Renier Brentjens (CAR-T cell therapy)
To put this in context, consider that we just recorded 15 interviews at ASH this year alone!
As regular readers know, we like to follow people and R&D stories over time, so while in Atlanta at ASH17 we took the opportunity to move a particular story forward – we wanted to learn where Dr Sampath and his colleagues are now and also where they are headed next. This gives readers a head start on anticipating what future clinical developments might be mentioned at JPM18 by either Genentech/Roche or AbbVie.
In our latest expert interview, we pick up and continue the discussion with Deepak Sampath to find out what’s happening with venetoclax four years on… it turns out quite a lot and makes for very interesting reading indeed.
Dr Deepak Sampath (Genentech)
Curious to now more about what this scientist and his work in BCL-2 targeting is all about? Check out this short excerpt:
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In our latest thought leader interview from the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology (ASH) Dr John Leonard (Weill Cornell) provides a lesson on how to interpret key lymphoma data such as ECHELON–1, CAR T cells, and other topics at ASH, as well as what he’d like to see more of in lymphoma clinical trials.
In this hard-hitting interview, Dr Leonard reminds us that the media should not be a mere extension of the PR of companies. Instead he offers his real world insights into what may or may not be practice changing, and how we should interpret CAR T cell therapy data.
Dr John Leonard (Weill Cornell)
It’s a must read for anyone with an interest in lymphoma… here’s an excerpt to give you a flavour of the wide ranging discussion:
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As we continue rolling out our ASH coverage, we now move on to the in-depth analyses and thought leader interviews post meeting… What do experts really think about the critical questions that arise from new data? What is practice changing versus a nice to have in a small subset of people?
Someone said to me recently, “You seem very picky about who you interview. Why’s that?”
You betcha we are!
ASH17 in Atlanta
There are hem/oncs, thought leaders, and true experts whose opinions we value and know are solid and fair balanced in their commentary. There are also others who have major COI and will say whatever needs to be said about a particular individual study they are involved in, but are not reliable in a strategic perspective of the broader landscape or the impact of a study in terms of future trends.
I’d rather talk to people in the first category and learn from them – they don’t have to know everything or even agree with our own viewpoint, but they do need to be independent and fair balanced.
In the first of our ASH interview series, we posed some tough questions to a CLL expert and here’s a snippet on what he had to say:
Hah, at least we are thinking along the same lines!
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Atlanta – it’s day 2 of the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology (ASH) meeting here in a chilly and snowy Atlanta.
I have to confess snow is not something we normally associate with southern States such as Georgia, but a cold snap has taken it’s toll on the ASH meeting, with many presentations cancelled as a result of travel delays.
Sunday at ASH is well known for the plenary session that takes place in the afternoon, but what else is hot at the meeting today? We’ve been talking to thought leaders, spending time in the vast poster hall and hearing some oral abstracts. There’s been been a surprising amount going on today at ASH in Atlanta.
If you are at ASH then you’ll know that all the sessions end at the same time, resulting in a massive movement of people as they go to the next session, as we saw today:
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No ASH pre-conference coverage would be the same without a shout out to Dr John Leonard (Weill Cornell). For 10 days prior to the annual meeting he counts down each day with a lymphoma study that caught his attention and tags it #LeonardList. The first one went up yesterday:
Do follow Dr Leonard and his lymphoma selections on Twitter – there are usually surprising ones in the middle that are quirky or interesting that makes you stop and think more carefully. He also appeared on the #ASH16 Novel Targets podcast in Season 2 explaining his choices and why they mattered if you want to get a flavour.
Our #ASH17 series we have already covered aggressive lymphomas and also developmental therapeutics.
Atlantic Olympic Sculpture
Up next in our third ASH17 Preview, we take a broad look at the wealth of abstracts available and highlight ten key presentations, irrespective of tumour type, which readers should be watching out for.
Some of these ‘Champions’ may not be immediately obvious and include interesting preclinical findings, intriguing new products in development, as well as eagerly awaited mature data from recently approved therapies. It’s an eclectic mix, to be sure.
There are definitely some early trends and interesting new molecules emerging from company R&D pipelines that are worthy of further consideration in this year’s batch of abstracts.
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Although ASH and ASGCT are important meetings for CAR T cell therapies, there are still some intriguing data to be had at ASCO next month, including both oral and poster abstracts.
In our latest ASCO 2017 Preview, we take a look at what to expect from in the CAR T cell space.
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Over the last five years the face of the chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) landscape has changed quite dramatically with the advent of new approvals in several categories. These include anti-CD20 antibodies, BTK inhibitors, PI3K inhibitors and apoptotic Bcl–2 inhibitors.
In yesterday’s wide ranging interview we explored in-depth how these therapies are impacting the broader landscape, as well as emerging trends in how these regimens might be used.
In Part 2 of the ongoing series, we spoke with another CLL expert and explored promising new and earlier agents in development for a different perspective on how outcomes might be improved further.
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Targeted therapy and Chemo-Immunotherapy in CLL
At last December’s 2016 annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology, one of the areas that attracted attention was the latest clinical data on the treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL).
ASH 2016 in San Diego
In recent years, we’ve seen tremendous advances in the field with several new agents approved such as obintuzumab, ibrutinib, idelalisib, and venetoclax. There are also new treatment options available for CLL patients with high risk disease such as 17p deletions (Del17p).
Other new targeted therapies such as acalabrutinib are now in clinical development, plus we have CAR T cell therapies and combination strategies also being evaluated in the clinic.
So what was the hot news from #ASH16 in CLL?
- Does chemotherapy still have a role or is it a targeted therapy world?
- Are we further forward towards a cure?
- Have we worked out how to identify those at risk of relapse?
- Will CAR T cell therapy be a game changer in CLL?
- Is financial toxicity going to be an issue with combination strategies?
BSB interviewed two experts in CLL while in San Diego who kindly shared their thoughts on which CLL data impressed them at the ASH annual meeting and discussed some of the big strategic issues facing the field right now. These interviews are being posted in a two-part series.
Part 1 today answers some of the questions highlighted above and explores the changing face of the broader CLL landscape.
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San Diego – after “Flying Friday” where I flew from Munich to San Diego, Biotech Strategy Blog coverage of the 2016 annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology (ASH) is now done for another year.
With over 27,000 attendees – it’s the largest ASH annual meeting I’ve seen in 20 years of coming here! ASH is definitely the pre-eminent global meeting for hematology and blood cancers.
As you might expect, the thought leaders at this event are super-busy, but we’ve already managed to catch up with a few, and we’ll be rolling out interviews in the “post-game show.”
Subscribers have been asking what’s really hot at ASH this weekend, so reflecting my interests and the sessions I went to, here are my seven highlights/learnings of ASH 2016 (so far). There’s a lot more data to come!
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The abstracts (apart from the late-breakers) for the 2016 annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology (Twitter #ASH16) went live at 9am ET today. Link to 2016 ASH Abstracts.
ASH16 takes place in San Diego from December 3-6.
In this initial post, I’m sharing my first impressions of what may be some hotly contested trials at ASH16 in San Diego, as well as a few intriguing abstracts with combination data that caught my attention.
With over 3,000 oral and poster presentations, all typically of a high quality, this by post by definition, is a highly subjective one.
After we’ve had more time to process the data, further ASH16 Previews will roll out over the next few weeks highlighting more key abstracts to watch out for by tumour type or treatment modality.
In-depth commentary and analysis will follow after we’ve heard or seen the data presented at the meeting.
I’ll be flying to ASH from the EORTC-NCI-AACR Molecular Targets meeting. Do say “hello” if you have plans to be in Munich or San Diego.
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