Biotech Strategy Blog

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

Posts tagged ‘neon therapeutics’

Neon Therapeutics LogoAs we prepare for rolling out some additional expert interviews on a variety of topics together with another mini-series on a tricky target, I wanted to take a moment to explore the Neon Therapeutics data.

Most of the news reports yesterday seemed to be concentrated around a general theme of ’cancer vaccine assist beats immunotherapy drugs alone!’or ‘vaccine boosts Opdivo response in 3 cancers’ … but does the data live up to the breathless hype that ensued? What can we say about the latest clinical update?

As often is the case, the true story around the facts turns out to be much more nuanced and subtle in flavour than the garish headlines might have you believe…

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It’s time for an extended update on the neoantigen space now that we have new clinical data to look at and discuss. There are a variety of approaches being evaluated in the clinic now, from adenoviral vectors to cell therapies to vaccines.

Indeed, we haven’t covered Moderna Therapeutics before as they were rather quiet in preclinical mode, but now they have some initial clinical data in cancer patients, we thought it would be nice to explore the company’s progress, as well as look at where they’re headed with their mRNA platform.

In the hotseat today, we take a look at the latest developments in the neoantigen vaccine field in terms of oncology settings and have an engaging company interview in the spotlight as well.

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As we follow the journey of various neoantigen and neoepitope approaches from start-up and preclinical research through to the clinic, it’s been interesting to see how different companies and academic research groups have chosen to consider their R&D strategies.

Some of the companies we’ve interviewed and highlighted in this space include Neon Therapeutics, BioNTech, Gritstone, and newcomer, Achilles Therapeutics, along with various academic programs such as George Coukos’s neoepitope vaccine approach in Lausanne.

After we first spoke with Gritstone a couple of years ago, things seemed to go a bit quiet on the western front while Neon, BioNTech, and Achilles all had news to talk about. It’s always hard to choose from rock-paper-scissors and this may well be another modern twist of that genre until clinical data proves otherwise.

That all changed with more data being presented by the California-based biotech recently, plus patients are also being enrolled into their first neoantigen clinical trial.

At a recent conference, we caught up with their CMO, Dr Raphael Rousseau, to find out more about where they are and importantly, where they’re headed…

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There’s a lot of excitement in the field of personalised neoantigen based vaccines and cellular therapies. One of the companies leading the way in this niche is Cambridge, MA based Neon Therapeutics.

Neon Therapeutics – Open for business

At the recent European Society of Medical Oncology Congress (ESMO18) in Munich, one of the much anticipated presentations was the preliminary clinical data for Neon’s personalised neoantigen cancer vaccine (NEO-PV-1).

This was the first data for Neon’s product, as opposed to the work done by Prof Cathy Wu and colleagues that used an academic version of the cancer vaccine (NeoVax).

We heard the initial results for the NT-001 trial that began in November 2016 to explore the combination of nivolumab plus NEO-PV-1 in people with certain metastatic cancers.

In this post, we take a closer look at what the trial told us, why the data failed to impress some, and asked was their commentary fair or should we look at the results differently?

The data was presented by Dr Patrick Ott, who is an Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Clinical Director of the Melanoma Center and the Center for Immuno-Oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. He kindly spoke to BSB and offered his candid perspectives on the data presented in Munich.

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One of the leaders in the field of neoantigen based cancer vaccine research is Dr Cathy Wu. She’s a medical oncologist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI) in Boston, Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and a scientific co-founder of Neon Therapeutics.

Mainz Cathedral

Personalised cancer vaccines are showing exciting promise, and are at the vanguard of what many think of as a renaissance in the field, one that is now attracting the interest of many companies and researchers.

We posted on Neon Therapeutics approach and progress at the JP Morgan Healthcare conference in January, followed by an update on the clinical data from Dr Wu at AACR.

Much has happened since then, however, so it’s a timely juncture to continue the story.

At the recent CRI-CIMT-EATI-AACR international cancer immunotherapy conference in Mainz, Dr Wu kindly spoke to BSB about her research, where it’s at, progress to date, and importantly, where things are heading.

This is the first part in our latest mini-series on the future of cancer vaccines.

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La Tour Eiffel par nuit

Paris, France:  It’s the dog days of summer and my reading stack of interesting science and cancer research papers is particularly high at the moment despite reading voraciously over the last few weeks…

So much excellent research keeps on piling up as fast as one can get through it.

It’s beginning to feel like Ravel’s Bolero…

Still, there’s one particular batch of important papers that draws together some interesting findings in an area we have been following for a little while now and these data most certainly advance the field in more ways than one.

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Gritstone Oncology hit the ground running with a $102M Series A financing round back in October 2015. Any company that raises that amount of initial funding is on the radar as a company to watch, especially one in the cancer immunotherapy space.

Since the AACR meeting in DC, Gritstone have also hired Genentech’s Dr Raphael Rousseau as CMO (Link) and appear to be an exciting young company going places.

As attention on neoantigens increases, what is Gritstone’s strategy and where could they fit into the cancer immunotherapy landcaspe?

At AACR17 in DC last month, Dr Andrew Allen, President and CEO of Gritstone Oncology kindly spoke to BSB about his vision for the company.

This post is part of expert interview series (Link) and also forms part of our ongoing series on neonatigen based immuno-oncology.

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View of Cambridge and Charles River

Neon Therapeutics is based in Cambridge, MA

One of the much anticipated cancer immunotherapy presentations at the 2017 JP Morgan Healthcare conference was by Neon Therapeutics CEO Hugh O’Dowd.

As readers know we’re riding the Immuno-Oncology wave on Biotech Strategy Blog, and one of the exciting new topics to emerge is whether we can target neoantigens to create personalized immunotherapy.

Our mini-series last year on neonatigens received a lot of attention. It included a primer and three interviews. We were very much of the opinion that Neon Therapeutics is a company to watch out for.

In case you missed them, here are the links:

I highly recommending reading these articles as background on the science and new product development as a prelude to the latest commercialisation update we will cover in today’s post.

What did we learn from the 2017 JP Morgan presentation of the Neon Therapeutics corporate strategy?

If you didn’t make it to the presentation at JPM17 in San Francisco (it wasn’t webcast), you may be interested in this post. This is the latest update in our on-going series on neoantigens and why they matter in cancer immunotherapy.

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At the recent scientific meeting to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Centre d’Immunologie de Marseille-Luminy (#CIML40), Professor Ton Schumacher from the Netherlands Cancer Institute gave an informative presentation on “T cell recognition and tumor resistance in human cancer.”

Professor Ton Schumacher at CIML40

Picture Credit: ATGC Partners

Schumacher started his talk at CIML by saying, “I guess by now I should consider myself a cancer immunologist…”

Cancer immunologist ‘wannabes’ should take note of the level of expertise required to be considered one!

Neon Therapeutics LogoHe is one of the co-founders of Neon Therapeutics and a leading researcher into antigen-specific T cell immunity.

Several companies are seeking to develop personalized cancer vaccines against patient-specific neoantigens.

We previously wrote about the approach Neon Therapeutics is following based on expert interviews with the interim CEO Cary Pfeffer and scientific co-founder Dr Cathy Wu.

BioNTech LogoYesterday the field heated up when it was announced that German biotech BioNTech AG had entered a strategic collaboration with Genentech to develop individualized mRNA cancer therapies (Sept 20, 2016 press release).

This post continues the BSB mini-series on targeting neoantigens that we started last month. Do check out previous posts if you missed them:

After his #CIML40 presentation, Prof Schumacher kindly spoke to BSB.

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As we continue our journey exploring neoantigens in the context of novel cancer research in Part 3 of our latest mini-series, today we focus on the commercialisation side of the business through an interview with a leading investor, Dr Cary Pfeffer, who is a partner in Third Rock Ventures, as well as being ad interim CEO of Neon Therapeutics.  We’ve written about other Third Rock companies in the past; Agios, Foundation Medicine and bluebird bio come to mind, for example.

neonlogoHow does an exciting early product in development move from academia to industry? There are many ways to do this, so here is the story through the eyes of one young company with strong academic connections, as a way to illustrate what can be done. It isn’t the only way, by any means.

To be sure, there are other competitor companies in the neoantigen space – Gritstone and Moderna come to mind as examples – we will cover companies in the broader landscape in a future post. There is also an incredible amount of promising research going on in academia right now, which may lead to more companies or products being licensed and developed.

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