Boston: The 2019 AACR-NCI-EORTC International Conference on Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics is underway (#Targets19). It’s long been one of our favorite meetings, particularly when held in Boston, and this year there’s a raft of early ideas on offer as to where the targeted therapy field may be going.
Alison Schram, MD. Credit: MSKCC
The success of Ignyta’s entrectinib (acquired by Roche) and Loxo Oncology’s larotrectinib (acquired by Lilly) in targeting NTRK gene fusions has raised interest in targeting other gene fusions, even if they are rare. A new target in a similar vein that has attracted interest recently are fusions involving the neuregulin 1 gene (NRG1).
At this year’s Molecular Targets meeting, Dr Alison Schram, a medical oncologist in the Early Drug Development Service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) presented clinical proof of concept data for MCLA-128 (Merus), a bispecific HER2/3 antibody therapy in NRG1 fusion positive cancers.
What did we learn about MCLA-128 and NRG1 at Targets19?
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While many observers attentions have recently been focused on immuno-oncology of late, particularly with respect to checkpoint blockade and CAR T cell therapies, these are not the only class of drugs that are being investigated in the clinic.
Field of dreams or crowded marketplace?
We saw a lot of early preclinical data and especially got to see quite a few new targets at AACR, while next month ASCO offers a new opportunity to see inital phase 1 data presented in several developmental therapeutic sessions and in the poster halls.
There is no doubt that the oncology R&D niche is becoming increasingly competitive and crowded, which means that companies need to think carefully about how they can clearly differentiate themselves and position their platform much more assertively than before.
For small biotechs, this also means going beyond offering great preclinical packages to demonstrating proof of concept in the clinic, hence phase 1/2 trials are receiving a lot more attention these days, as potential collaborators and acquirers flock to the poster halls.
Today we have a CEO from one of these emerging biotech companies in the BSB hotseat with a candid discussion about their approach, why they are different, and importantly, where they are heading…
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One of the sessions that stood out for me at the recent European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) Congress in Madrid was a Special Symposium on “Advances in Precision Medicine of Metastatic Colorectal Cancer.”
This blog post focuses on two presentations in the symposium:
- “Emerging druggable targets in colorectal Cancer” by Federica Di Nicolantonio (Candiolo Cancer Institute, University of Torino, Italy).
- “Signal Transduction Inhibitors and Pipeline Drugs” by Josep Tabernero MD PhD (Vall d’Hebron University Hospital, Barcelona)
Dr Nicolantonio, pictured right, is active on Twitter (@fdinicolantonio) and well worth a follow!
Since the advent of VEGF (Avastin) and EGFR (Erbitux) inhibitors way back in 2004, there haven’t been any new developments in this cancer type other than more of the same (Zaltrap and Vectibix, respectively), so I was particularly excited to see progress in colorectal cancer, and the promise of new drug targets on the horizon that may change the treatment landscape.
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