It is becoming increasing obvious in these challenging times as the pandemic spreads globally that no corner of the earth (except perhaps the Antartica) is being left untouched. As lockdowns begin or continue depending the phase the spread is at, this also has numerous implications for clinical trials, both academic and company funded studies alike.
Which direction should we be considering for early anti-cancer therapeutics?
One of the broader effects of the coronavirus pandemic likely means we won’t see much new data on many of the clinical trials after the currently scheduled presentations for AACR, ASCO, ESMO and ASH for a while yet, perhaps well in to 2021, which in turn is a strong reminder if we want to see how much progress is being made then we need to look at what data is available now.
I can well imagine many folks are already completely Zoomed or WebExed out from constant online meetings dealing with the implications of the pandemic on research and clinical development, as well as what happens to new and existing trials, so the idea of listening to two days of a virtual meeting on top is probably a bit daunting for the time-challenged observers amongst you.
AACR’s virtual meeting is a wonderful opportunity for smart folks to take some careful snapshots of where we are now, and how some of the early pipeline agents are shaping up.
The good news is we while your online internal meetings continue apace, we will be posting many reviews, summaries, discussion and analysis of the data here on BSB, hopefully sparing many of the additional stress in busy times. We plan to make the process of analysis and commentary relatively easy so you can follow along with us.
For reference, you can access all of our ongoing AACR20 conference coverage here. Future posts will also be added to this magazine page as they are posted.
In our fourth AACR Preview series, we take a keen look at some additional early products in development of interest, as we continue our updates on the never ending oncology R&D journey.
We highlight 10 emerging agents in early stage development to watch out for…some are new and others we previously reviewed preclinically and have moved along in their R&D journey into the clinic, with good and bad results to think about.
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Oncology R&D is very much a tale of two cities. At one end you have all big pharmas and biotechs with significant resources in the form of very large budgets, (hopefully) an extensive pipeline, plus many hands on deck to efficiently spread the workload, while at the other end you have what I call the ‘baby’ biotechs with completely the opposite situation coupled with a much greater need for prudence in how those scarcer resources are managed.
A failed drug development may not affect big pharmas very much, it’s written in to the strategic plans after all, and a 90% failure rate is very much de rigeur so you’re looking for the rare gems that will shine and carry the rest. In small biotechland, such inherent risks are much more prominent – and drastic – because a failed program can wipe out the stock overnight such that future endeavours to raise money are greatly hampered, putting the very life of the company at risk of not only delisting (if publicly traded) from stock exchanges such as NASDAQ, but also the ultimate doom.
The constraint that both bookends have in common, however, is familiar to many readers – how to get the best shots on goal given the time, energy, and resources available?
At BSB we don’t write just about big Pharma – we also try to highlight the roller coaster experienced at the other end of the spectrum and showcase some cool science in the process. Given our interest in stapled proteins as well as the various challenges associated with both tumour suppressors and MDM2, it seemed like a good idea to catch up with the folks at Aileron Therapeutics (NASDAQ: ALRN) and learn more about their progress since they combine all three elements in one go…. it’s time for some gems from the ESMO19 poster hall.
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One of my favourite areas to follow in oncology research is Developmental Therapeutics, whether they be targeted, genomic, epigenetic or immune therapies. At some point, even currently approved products started off life in this category, either in preclinical research or in early phase 1 trials.
It’s almost like a primordial soup from which future pipelines spring.
Following these initial approaches over time can be useful in many ways – you can pick up new trends and emerging drugs earlier than most, and can also step back to see a broader picture of the landscape as it evolves.
While there are no formal developmental therapeutics sessions at the American Society for Hematology (ASH) annual meeting per se, that doesn’t stop the intrepid scientist from creating their own selection, in fact it’s a lot more fun this way!
That’s exactly what I’ve attempted here…
Be warned though, this year, the mix is much more complex and intriguing with a lot of interesting and, in some cases, novel targets to explore and consider, including the deeper and tricky protein-protein ones to hit, which are now receiving more attention as researchers find more creative and indirect ways to tackle the problem.
Our second ASH 2017 Preview goes deep into what for many BSB readers will be intriguing, yet for others… completely unknown.
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San Francisco – Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) is largely a disease of the elderly since it is uncommon before the age of 45. It generally has a much poorer prognosis compared to other leukemias such as CML and even ALL.
There are two main treatment options – high chemotherapy (ara-C is the main bedrock) or a stem cell transplant in those patients who are considered eligible. With the average age at diagnosis being ~66yo, many patients may be elderly and frail, making a SCT not a viable option.
Ara-C (cytarabine) has been around for many years and despite numerous clinical trials, it has yet to be displaced. There’s plenty of room for improvement though, and a high unmet medical need still exists. The good news is that despite the challenge of finding a highly effective yet well tolerated therapy, there’s a lot of R&D activity in this space.
In this preview of the data to be presented at the American Society of Hematology (ASH) annual meeting in San Francisco, I highlight my top 10 AML abstracts that are worth checking out.
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There are quite a few posters at the forthcoming AACR-NCI-EORTC Molecular Targets meeting this weekend that I wanted to highlight as potentially interesting and will additionally review in more depth once they have been published.
Please note: None of the embargoed abstracts are covered here in this preview to avoid any complications, but more detailed notes and reports will follow later on these from the conference as they are published.
Here some of the abstracts that caught my eye, in no particular order:
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