Biotech Strategy Blog

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

Posts tagged ‘microbiome’

Sunrise over Sitges

Sitges – One of the noticeable things about Sitges, a former fishing village south of Barcelona, is the quality of the light. We could imagine it, like St Ives in Cornwall, as being home to artists in times past.

The sunrises and sunsets have been particularly impressive. When it comes to oncology new product development, we’re all chasing the light and the potential of a cure. That’s the promise of cancer immunotherapy.

Here at the 2nd European CAR T cell meeting, jointly organized by EHA and EBMT, we’ve heard about where we’re at with current cell therapies, some of the many challenges that have yet to be overcome and we’ve been offered insights into where some in the field are going.

2020 will be a landmark year for CAR T cell therapy with new regulatory approvals on the horizon, particularly in myeloma, but the journey to make these therapies effective in solid tumours is one where we still need to chase the light.

In this post you can read our notes and commentary on day 2 in Sitges and what caught our attention at the meeting.

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We’ve been eagerly following the story of the microbiome and how it affects the response of people undergoing an allogeneic transplant or cancer immunotherapy since Marcel van den Brink’s original presentation at SITC in 2014, followed by Tom Gajewski the following year.

Since then, it has been fascinating to watch how the commensal microbiota has evolved into a niche unto itself. It’s one thing to report differences academically, but clinically we want to know if the information gleaned can help impact patient care. van den Brink’s group demonstrated that both GvHD and antibiotics could influence outcomes in their patients undergoing a stem cell transplant for hematologic malignancies and limiting use of ‘bad antiobiotics’ could change the course of outcomes.

A packed Microbiome session at SITC 2018

The Chicago angle was quite different. They noticed differences in the microbiota of their lab mice could impact the responses of their experiments with immunotherapy. Could that also impact patients? The answer was yes and off they went on a journey probably none of them anticipated to look at responders and non-responders in their melanoma cohort.

That then begs the question of whether the microbiota can be influenced and the outcome changed?

Several other groups of relevance in this space are the Laurence Zitvogel and Guido Kroemer labs in Paris, as well as Jennifer Wargo’s lab at MD Anderson in Houston.

We continue following the microbiome story to learn where we are and where we are going…

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Orlando, Florida: It’s time for a review of emerging science and clinical concepts.  This post is the final one in our latest series from ASCO-SITC.

Here we take a step back and highlight six key emerging trends and ideas that were either presented in talks and posters, or are sentiments based on conversations with attendees in the poster halls or corridors.

Sometimes those discussions are pretty helpful in giving hints on new dirrections before the actual data eventually comes out.

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The Future of our (cancer research) Business

Happy New Year! No one really wants to spend too much time in the past dwelling on the negatives, what didn’t work, and in some spectacular cases, who’s to blame for it.

What we do want to know is what are the learnings from such endeavours and where are we going next.

Let’s look forward rather than backwards then and see what the Maverick’s crystal ball is showing in terms of fresh clarity and new trends we can learn from …

In today’s post I want to take a moment to look at some of the trends we can expect to see occuring in cancer research in 2017.

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ciml40-marseille-luminyThere is a lot of interest in manipulating the microbiota to improve clinical outcomes – there was a whole session dedicated to it earlier this week at the CRI-CIMT-EATI-AACR international cancer immunotherapy conference in New York.

At the recent scientific meeting to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Centre d’Immunologie de Marseille-Luminy (CIML40) in the South of France, Dr Eric Pamer spoke about his research into microbiota-mediated defense against intestinal infection.

Dr Eric Pamer presenting at CIML40

Photo Credit: ATGC Partners

Dr Pamer is an infectious diseases expert at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer in New York, where he runs a laboratory (The Eric Pamer Lab) focused on the role of the microbiota in immune system development and in defense against antibiotic resistant pathogens.

The gazillions of bugs in our gut, collectively the microbiota, interact with the innate immune system.

Researchers have shown that the effectiveness of antibiotics and the type of immune response we generate depends on the type of bacteria and their diversity in our gut.

ciml40Readers may recall the interview we did with Dr Marcel van Brink (@DrMvandenBrink) at the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) 2014 annual meeting, where he talked about his research into how gut bacteria can impact survival post allogeneic bone marrow transplant. See post: Can you reduce Graft Versus Host Disease GvHD by regulating gut bacteria?

Almost a year ago in November 2015, researchers and the pharmaceutical industry were both galvanized by work from Laurence Zitvogel and Tom Gajewski labs, published simultaneously in Science. See post: Gut Bacteria Impact Checkpoint Inhibitor Efficacy.

Not only could the results from mice experiments be influenced by the gut bacteria they had, but the microbiome could also impact the effectiveness of checkpoint inhibitors.

You can listen to Dr Gajewski on Novel Targets Podcast summarize the research from his lab published in Science. Link to Episode 9: Targeting the Microbiome.

ebmt17

Next year’s European Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation Congress (#EBMT17) will be held in Marseille.

Given the impact the microbiome has on post-transplant GvHD and survival, I expect we’ll hear more about this at the Congress. Marseille is well worth a visit if the opportunity presents.

Marseille Vieux Port

In case you missed them do check out our recent posts from the Marseille Immunopôle and #CIML40:

In the meantime, our latest expert interview with Dr Pamer covers his wide ranging thoughts on a number of issues, including the impact of the microbiota on the innate and adaptive immune systems and where he sees the field going in the future.

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Miami Beach

Miami Beach Lifeguard Tower

This week I’ve been at an American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) conference in Miami on “Targeting the Vulnerabilities of Cancer,” part of their Precision Medicine Series (Twitter #AACRpm16).

What’s interesting about AACR small specialist meetings is as well as listening to high quality talks, they create a relaxed atmosphere for networking and catching up with experts informally. The conference this week was relevant to anyone with an interest in cancer drug discovery.

Dr Bernie FoxAlthough cancer immunotherapy remains the hottest topic in cancer drug development, we shouldn’t forget that there are other therapeutic targets worth exploring; several potential new opportunities were highlighted in Miami.

As readers know we don’t share unpublished data on the blog, so what I’ve done is provide a top-line summary of some of the strategic themes and key take homes I took from several of the presentations.

As an aside, If you haven’t already done so, do listen to the latest episode of the Novel Targets podcast – Of Mice and Men – it features excerpts of interviews recorded at the recent AACR annual meeting in New Orleans. I was surprised by some of what I heard!

For more information on forthcoming AACR meetings and workshops, check out the events calendar on the AACR website.

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In the last of our American Society of Hematology (ASH) 2015 annual meeting previews, we take a broad look at a host of intriguing abstracts in a variety of different topics that haven’t been covered in the rest of the series.

We also take a look a drug that has had a chequered history in the past, namely venetoclax, from the folks at AbbVie and Genentech. Is this a dud destined for dog drug heaven, or will it make a roaring comeback, breathing fresh life into hematologic malignancies such as chronic and acute leukemias, lymphomas and even multiple myeloma?

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