Downtown San Francisco
San Francisco — Amongst all the chaos and frenetic activity that abounds big Pharma at JPM each year, I always look forward to hearing what the smaller biotechs are up to on days 3 and 4, as well as seeing how far some of them have progressed since our previous update on their pipeline agents.
In this latest update, there are definitely some companies we have been following longitudinally who are either poised for future success and growth… or due for a correction if the promising science doesn’t pan out as expected in the clinic.
Indeed one of those companies has already hit success and disappointment in the last two months alone, such is the roller coaster that is oncology R&D.
Please note that this is a rolling blog, which means that numerous updates are added throughout the day as new information becomes available.
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Breathing fire into cancer immunotherapies with novel approaches
It would be all to easy an exercise to pick out our top 10 abstracts of any particular conference and share them, which tends to create a somewhat skewed perspective because there are often many pieces of research that we may wish to highlight for entirely different reasons, making the exercise rather limited in scope.
Instead, how about 10 cool or next generation approaches that could have an impact in oncology in the future?
This approach generated a quite different and really eclectic list that can also have existing approaches referenced in context, so that we can see where the puck is moving towards as opposed to merely following it.
Curious to find out more about these novel ideas or iterations and get a heads up on insights from our ASH19 commentary?Subscribers can log-in or you can click to gain access to BSB Premium Content.
Coney Island Roller Coaster
In the roller coaster of life that is oncology R&D, molecules come and molecules go… a rare few reach blockbuster heights while many others are quietly packed off to dog drug heaven, never to be seen or heard of again.
This is also very true of targets as well…
What about the in-between space?
Unfortunately, that’s where most molecules and cancer targets end up – into a deep black nothingness where we seek the high affinity targets with low grade side effects – and fall short in some way. It’s a frustrating place to be, to be sure.
One of these conundrums is compounds against CD123 (IL3Rα), which have been in the spotlight on and off this year and are turning out to be a rather mixed bag.
After our recent update on Cellectis and their CD123 direct CAR T cell therapy (UCART123), I wasn’t expecting to write any more on this until ASH in mid December. How wrong that prediction turned out to be!
Today we have quite a few things to discuss on this topic, so if interested in CD123 in hematologic malignancies and going beyond that to find better targets in AML then this is the poster for you…
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One of the partners of the Marseille Immunopôle cluster is an immuno-technology center focused on translational research called MI-mAbs (“MI” for Marseille Immunopole, and “mAbs” for monoclonal antibodies).
It aims to bridge the gap between industry and academia by accelerating the development of novel monoclonal antibodies for new targets.
MI-mAbs is based in the Parc Scientifique et Technologie de Luminy.
It’s a stone’s throw from the Centre d’Immunologie de Marseille-Luminy (CIML), which this year celebrated its 40th anniversary (1976-2016).
Panoramic view from CIML
Luminy is also the home to several companies focused on immuno-oncology, including Innate Pharma and HalioDx. Marseille has the ambition to become a world leader in the development of immune-based therapies
MI-mAbs is funded by a €19M award from the French Government, as part of their Investissments d’avenir/Investments for the Future program.
The Scientific Director of MI-mAbs is Professor François Romagné. He’s a co-founder of Innate Pharma and for 14 years was the company’s Chief Scientific Officer (CSO). He’s one of the inventors of lirilumab and monalizumab, both of which are in phase 2 clinical trials.
Professor Romagné kindly spoke to BSB about MI-mAbs and how it plans to accelerate innovation and develop new drug candidates for the treatment of cancer or inflammatory disease.
For our French speaking audience, here is a brief excerpt from the interview with Pr. Romagné, where he introduces himself and MI-mAbs.
It’s an incredible time for immunologists like Prof Romagné, where the clinical results we are seeing with new cancer immunotherapies have validated a lifetime of work.
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