National Harbor, MD. Today was a busy day with the ASH abstracts coming out this morning, and some ground-breaking data that demanded an immediate #ASH15 preview post.
At the same time we’re here at SITC, and keeping an eye on the AACR-NCI-EORTC Molecular Targets meeting – it’s like three buses come at once!
So what happened at SITC today? In this post we’ve put a quick summary of some of the presentations we heard on Day 2 that stood out. Sometimes what’s most important is what people don’t say.
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Immune checkpoint inhibitors that target CTLA4, PD1 and PDL1 can generate prolonged responses in a minority of patients, but the results so far in prostate cancer have been disappointing. Prostate cancer doctors have not been part of the excitement spreading through the cancer community like a “Mexican wave.”
Prostate cancer has not featured significantly in the cancer immunotherapy news recently, but that’s not to say there is not a lot going on. The phase 3 trial results of ipilimumab (a checkpoint inhibitor of CTLA-4) in the pre-chemotherapy setting of advanced prostate cancer (NCT01057810) are expected soon and there is also the eagerly awaited phase 3 trial of the PROSTVAC vaccine (NCT01322490).
At ASCO 2015, BSB interviewed Dr James L. Gulley, MD, PhD Chief of the Genitourinary Malignancies Branch and Director of the Medical Oncology Service at the National Cancer Institute (pictured above).
He talked about some of the cancer vaccine work he has done as part of the CRADA (Cooperative Research and Development Agreement) between the NCI and Bavarian Nordic, as well as strategies to help immunotherapy work in those tumors such as prostate cancer that are non-inflamed, where there may be an insufficient immune response for checkpoint inhibitors to work effectively.
Readers may recall we interviewed him at ASCO GU earlier year, “How to make non-immunogenic cancer sensitive to checkpoint inhibitors.” His outstanding work could shape the future of prostate cancer immunotherapy.
This post also includes additional ASCO 2015 commentary on from Dr Oliver Sartor, Professor of Cancer Research at Tulane University, who shared his perspective on the ipilimumab and PROSTVAC phase 3 prostate cancer trials that are due to readout soon.
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At the 2014 ESMO Congress in Madrid, Mary-Ellen Taplin, MD (Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston) presented the results of the Tokai Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ $TKAI) ARMOR2 clinical trial of galeterone in men with advanced prostate cancer.
Galeterone has a novel triple mechanism of action. In effect, it is a CYP17 lyase inhibitor (like abiraterone) that has additional anti-prostate cancer actions including androgen receptor (AR) inhibition (like enzalutamide). It also causes AR degradation that decreases AR levels.
Tokai’s IPO last month is reported by Renaissance Capital to have raised $98M for the company, with most of the funds going to prior investors including Novartis Bioventures which owned 28 percent.
Shares in $TKAI were initially priced at $15. They soared to a high of $30 thanks to high insider buying and a high trading volume. Novartis Bioventures were reported by Renaissance to have bought $20M.
As of publishing this post, the stock is now trading at $15.40, slightly above it’s IPO price. So have Novartis and others made a good investment?
The market cap of $TKAI, according to their Investor Relations page (screenshot pre-market Oct 3, 2014 shown above) is $336M – not high for a company about to enter phase III drug development.
Readers are no doubt aware of the Feuerstein-Ratain rule that predicts a phase III cancer trial will be a failure when undertaken by a company with a market cap less than $300M. As Adam noted in his May 6 story on The Street earlier this year, “For companies with market caps between $300 million and $1 billion, the oncology phase III success rate is 59%.”
The big questions now are did the data for galeterone from the ARMOR2 trial impress at ESMO 2014 in Madrid and what are the challenges and opportunities in the planned phase III ARMOR3-SV trial?
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DISCLAIMER: Please note this piece offers no stock advice, is not a solicitation to invest in $TKAI and makes no recommendation on whether to buy or sell. It merely offers commentary and analysis of the data presented at ESMO 2014. Readers should do their own due diligence prior to making any investment decision.
As 2013 comes to an end, rather than look back as many are doing, I’m looking forward to 2014. January is a busy month for cancer meetings with the ASCO organized gastrointestinal cancers symposium (ASCO GI) and genitourinary cancers symposium (ASCO GU) both taking place in San Francisco a few weeks apart.
In fact, looking at the calendar of forthcomings meetings, 2014 looks to have a West Coast focus, with the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) taking place in San Diego in April, and the American Society of Hematology (ASH) annual meeting also heading to San Francisco in December.
Transcontinental airfares are notoriously expensive at the last minute so if flying from the East Coast, do make travel plans early!
The ASCO GU symposium takes place at the San Francisco Marriott Marquis from Jan 20 – February 1, 2014. The abstracts for meeting go online at 5pm Eastern Time on Jan 28.
ASCO in a December 19 press release have already announced what will be highlighted on the January 28 press cast, and what many of the media can be anticipated to write about from the meeting.
Perhaps not surprisingly the Medivation PREVAIL trial data (LBA1) is top of the list; the abstract for this presentation has already been published online as Professor Tombal (@BertrandTOMBAL) kindly highlighted on Twitter.
This preview highlights some of the prostate cancer abstracts and presentations to watch out for at the meeting:
Drugs discussed in this post include: enzalutamide (Xtandi), abiraterone (Zytiga), ODM-201, ARN-509, ipilimumab (Yervoy).
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