Biotech Strategy Blog

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

Posts tagged ‘NKTR–214’

NKTR-214 Cover on Cancer Discovery

In the third part of our mini-series on cytokines, we get down and dirty with another pegylated IL-2 approach, this time from Nektar Therapeutics, including an interview with the PI, Dr Adi Diab from MD Anderson Cancer Centre and CSO, Dr Jonathan Zalevsky.

We’ve certainly had many full ranging discussions and chats with the good gentlemen; here we continue our journey to understand more about the science and underlying biology, as well as key biomarkers of response.

We can also be provocative too and put them on the spot regarding their critics and some of the pointed questions that get bandied about, which certainly makes for interesting reading.  Are they justified?

What should we be looking for when analysing the data?  You can find out for yourselves in the latest expert interview.

Other pertinent topics are also covered including where they’re headed and future data readouts to expect.

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Continuing our cytokine series, we now switch horses from a creative new therapeutic utilising red blood cells that Rubius Therapeutics are pioneering to a very different technology involving synthetic amino acids, in what is known as a ‘Not Alpha’ IL–2 approach from Synthorx.

We have covered new developments in IL–2 based cytokines from Roche and Nektar previously, so what’s cool about the alternative early development that is THOR–707?

To find out, we conducted an expert interview with Synthorx’s Dr Laura Shawver and learned some fascinating details about their novel platform that is sending new molecules into the clinic in the very near future.

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Genito-urinary (GU) cancers are a diverse population of tumour types that run the gamut from prostate, bladder, penile, and renal cell carcinomas in the main, along with a variety of rare cancers thrown into the mix.

While much attention has tended to be focused on advanced and metastatic disease, for obvious reasons, there are plenty of new developments emerging in earlier stage disease.

This year things are looking up on several fronts, which is a great time to take a look at what to watch out for in GU malignancies…

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San Francisco

While much of the focus has been on the mergers and acquisitions at this year’s JP Morgan Healthcare conference, seeing what a few companies have up their sleeves is also intriguing.

In today’s round up we address reader Q&A as well as highlight some presentations and announcements of interest in the cancer research space.

2019 is going to turn out to be a rather critical year for some companies…

If you missed the first day’s highlights and lowlights – check them out here!

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Dr Adi Diab (MD Anderson) at SITC18

Washington DC – At the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) meeting on Friday evening, Dr Adi Diab (right) presented an update on the NKTR–214 plus nivolumab data from the phase 1b/2 dose escalation and RP2D expansion trial (PIVOT–02) in patients with 1L metastatic melanoma in the cytokine session chaired by Dr James Gulley (NCI) and Dr Darrell Irving (MIT).

Nektar also held an investor meeting over the weekend to discuss the data as well as where they are headed with their early pipeline compounds.

As we seek to find new and effective partners to add to immune checkpoint blockade, there are going to be some hits and misses in the mix.  This year alone April turned out to be a pivotal month in the calendar, as chemotherapy plus pembrolizumab was a big hit in 1L NSCLC from the KEYNOTE-189 trial at AACR, while Incyte’s IDO inhibitor, epacadostat, bombed as 1L treatment of unresectable or metastatic melanoma in the phase 3 ECHO-301 study.

Cytokines have definitely garnered a lot of interest of late, with some very creative molecules now emerging to address the systemic toxicities associated with traditional approaches. We’ve been covering the Nektar pegylation story for several years now with numerous updates, so how are the data looking this time around?

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At Biotech Strategy, we’re fans of science-driven companies, and one that we’ve been keen following for over three years now is Nektar Therapeutics (NASDAQ: NKTR).

Drs Jonathan Zalevsky and Adi Diab

We last spoke with the “dynamic duo” Nektar’s Dr Jonathan Zalevsky (CSO) and Principal Investigator, Dr Adi Diab (MD Anderson), back at SITC17.

Since then, much noise and attention has focused on cytokines and the potential they have to improve responses with checkpoint blockade. There are plenty of sceptics out there who don’t believe they add anything in combination, while others are equally adamant that they do.

It was a pleasure to catch up with them again at ASCO 2018, and in this post we take a closer look at what the NKTR–214 data presented in Chicago does in fact tell us.

Is it hype over hope, or is it the real deal?

What did we learn about NKTR–214 at ASCO18 and how should we interpret this data from a clinical and scientific perspective?

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We’re at a crossroads in the IO space, where much of the low hanging fruit has been already plucked and now we could be in limbo for the next 2–5 years while we wait to see which of the IO-IO or IO-other combos pan out as winners.

Part of the problem is that we don’t yet know all the potential mechanisms of resistance or immune escape involved, so imagine figuring out how best to optimally modulate the tumour microenvironment on top is going to be challenging – each tumour type is heterogeneous and highly complex.

In addition, the field has heavily skewed towards obsessing almost exclusively over T cells, which may or may not be a good thing.  There are alternative approaches that are starting to generate interest and results.

As Andrew Shepherd, the fictitious leader of the free world in the American President famously said:

“We have serious problems to solve, and we need serious people to solve them.”

One promising company in this space is Nektar Therapeutics.  At SITC this week they had some elegant and intriguing early data that combined an innate immunotherapy approach with checkpoint blockade.  We have been following their progress for a while now and it’s a great time for an update!

Dr Adi Diab NKTR-214 #SITC2017

Here we explore the data and have our latest expert interview that is not merely a couple of paragraphs long with a few platitudes or topline quotes… this is, quite frankly, a comprehensive review and strategic roadmap of what Nektar Therapeutics are doing in the IO space, why they are doing things a certain way, and where they are headed – in their own words…

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National Harbor, MD – Day 2 of #SITC17 brought some interesting highlights on a number of fronts, not all of which may be apparent at present, but there are a few readouts that will have a broader impact going forward.

SITC 2017 Stars?

As we move into an era where we see more combinations evolve in immuno-onology, things are likely to get more confusing rather than less so and it could well be another 3-5 years before things truly settle down and more concrete trends emerge.

Here, we reviewed 10 different areas of interest with a strong clinical relevance and explored the topics further.

Please note that some of these will also have follow-on posts with thought leader interviews and related poster reviews.

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With the annual meeting of Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) fast approaching this week, it’s time for a look at some of the final highlights to watch out for.

National Harbor from Gaylord HotelIn this latest conference preview, we have chosen a dozen key topics of interest that readers may find worth checking out plus an honourable mention for early compounds in development that we may well hear more about going forward.

Some of the early warning signs were offered up in the earlier Previews and with the abstracts now available, things are getting very interesting indeed…

How are things panning out so far with the abstract drop and are the new products in development living up to the hype and expectations?

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National Harbor Maryland

National Harbor, MD

The range of different types of cancer immunotherapies in the clinic now is fairly broad, with many promising approaches being evaluated.

Cytokines, despite their initial challenges with toxicities, are an essential pillar of this approach, along with checkpoint inhibitors and agonists, adoptive T cell therapy, and now even neoantigen approaches and cancer vaccines.

Nektar Therapeutics ($NKTR) are developing two intriguing immuno-oncology compounds based on cytokines, which are in early development called NKTR–214 and NKTR-255.

The idea behind this approach is that they are immuno-stimulatory therapies designed to expand T cells and Natural Killer (NK) cells directly in the tumour microenvironment, thereby increasing expression of PD-1 on these immune cells.  Subsequent checkpoint therapy could potentially be made more effective. We already know that those patients with few or no T cells are less likely to respond (cold or non-inflamed tumours) so the hunt is on finding ways to address this particular challenge.  Can it be done therapeutically?

Data was presented this past weekend at the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC).

Was the data encouraging enough to justify further clinical development or is this a compound headed to dog drug heaven?

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