Biotech Strategy Blog

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

Posts tagged ‘olaparib’

One thing I really miss from attending live conferences – aside from catching up with people in person – is “the living like a local” experience. Last time I was in Madrid, for example, there was this fishmonger (pescaderia) just a block down from the rented apartment. They were only open in the mornings, so you could dash down the hill, quickly nab some fresh produce, refrigerate it and have something nice to look forward to for dinner with a glass of wine at the end of a tiring day while writing up the highlights…

The image also offers another analogy – do some data presented at a meeting end up, well, a bit fishy on closer examination or reflection despite much of the hype enthused or extolled by others?

At the ESMO20 virtual Congress, we covered a tremendous amount of details from the data during both the daily highlights as well as the previews exploring what to watch out in the run-up to the event.  You can find all those reviews here.

There are always some surprises in store, however, both good and bad.  There’s also layers of obfuscation going on to consider in the form of cheerleading from companies, investigators, or stock holders, which may add positive spin on what is essentially so-so data, cases where great data goes largely ignored for whatever reason, or important lessons to be learned from failure.

In this wrap-up post, we take a sharp look at the ESMO20 winners, losers, and risers from a contrarian’s perspective…

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A typical scene from ESMO 2019

Not in Madrid – Is it really only a year ago many of us were frantically dashing around at ESMO last year navigating crowded corridors, long queues for coffee, hunting down the last empty seat in jam packed halls, not to mention feeling the anticipation build for key data being presented in the Presidential sessions?

There are undoubtedly many advantages to virtual digital meetings, aside from the broader access for more people it provides and being able to see the slides unimpeded, yet it must be confessed the things I miss the most are the social interactions and catching up with people and their lives, however brief a moment it may be amongst the hurly burly of 20,000 other souls.

The cultural things we take for granted are often the very essence of what we miss most when they’re no longer obtainable.

Who truly would have guessed our world could be completely upended by the unexpected events of a global pandemic since then? In some ways, it has changed our perception of both time and space.

We have also seen some surprising changes in the fortunes of various clinical trials; some completely rational and predictable, others quite the opposite, as we learned yesterday in a very topsy turvy kind of way.

It’s time to discuss and review the highlights – and lowlights – from ESMO20 Sunday in part 2 of our daily coverage…

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Not in Madrid: The 2020 virtual congress of the European Society for Medical Oncology (#ESMO20) is underway and in this post we’re taking a look at some of the highlights from Friday at ESMO20, a day when we’ve seen a raft of posters and mini-orals released for on-demand viewing.

ESMO20 BannerWith COVID-19 rates rising across Europe, ESMO are to be congratulated for pivoting to a virtual meeting that allows the sharing of knowledge and advancement of the field. It was definitely the right decision in light of the ongoing travel challenges, quarantines, not to mention restrictions on large groups in many countries.

For our daily ESMO20 coverage – just as we would if we had been in Madrid – we’ve been listening to some of the on-demand mini-oral presentations and associated discussions, with a view to picking out and commenting on a few that stood out for us.

As always we’re approaching this from a cancer new product development perspective, and our choice is always a balance of emerging new targets and drugs, as well as following those we’ve previously written about.

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Not in Madrid – with the global pandemic continuing to exert a significant effect on the cancer conference season, the annual meetings continue apace virtually.

Plaza de Cibeles, Madrid

For this year’s ESMO meeting we have already covered immunotherapies, both early and late stage pipeline highlights and now it’s time to explore what to watch out for over the weekend on the early to mid stage targeted therapy front.

The good news is there is some potentially practice changing data being presented, as well as some novel approaches in preclinical development emerging. These should be hitting the clinic in the near to medium term future.  On the other extreme is the more common problem whereby a few agents are showing signs of not holding up to their early promise/hype.

Let’s now take a look at what we can learn in the fourth and final ESMO Preview for 2020…

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Recently, PARP inhibitors have been back in the news for several reasons, including the publication of the olaparib (AstraZenca/Merck) advanced mCRPC data in the New England Journal of Medicine from the phase 3 PROfound trial and the announcement regarding achievement of the key secondary endpoint of overall survival. As Dr José Baselga quite rightly noted, this is very good news indeed because:

“Overall survival in metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer has remained extremely challenging to achieve.”

We’ve rather more trial misses in this disease setting than successes from various therapies over the last few years including ipilimumab, PROSTVAC, alisertib, and atezolizumab, to name a few off the top of my head.

Related to mCRPC, let’s also not forget the upcoming PDUFA date later this month for Clovis’s rucaparib in the very same indication.

Not to be outdone on the PARP front, just a few days GSK received FDA approval for niraparib as first-line monotherapy maintenance therapy for women with platinum-responsive advanced ovarian cancer – regardless of biomarker status – based on the phase 3 PRIMA study presented at ESMO last year and simultaneously published in the NEJM. Recall that the majority of women (51%) had homologous-recombination deficiency (HRD) and this subset saw the greatest benefit.

Flying high in the DDR space?

We have now seen clinical benefit in the PARP inhibitors in four tumour types driven by DNA damage repair (DDR) deficiencies, namely ovarian, breast, pancreatic, and prostate cancers.

How do we go about extending the concept of DDR in terms of the biology of other tumour types?

A number of related pathway targets have been investigated, including ATM/ATR, Chk1, Wee–1 and others, with mixed success.

It’s not the nature of oncology R&D to stand still, however; what if we could turn things on their head and think creatively about the problems still to be addressed?

One particular new company to the PARP space is doing just that… so what are they doing and what’s different about their approach?

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Who’s King of the PARP castle?

After yesterday’s review and expert commentary on the phase 3 PROfound trial presented in the Presidential Session at ESMO 2019, we’re continuing our look at PARP inhibitors in advanced prostate cancer.

Perhaps surprisingly, there were a lot of insights to be found in the posters that were presented and discussed at the meeting for other PARPs in clinical development.

How do these stack up against olaparib? We’re not fans of cross-trial comparisons as they always come with a mandatory health warning, but if you want to consider the emerging landscape, it is important to be aware of the different patient populations, lines of therapy, and details of the trial designs.

For additional perspective at ESMO19, we spoke to a European prostate cancer expert who kindly talked about his clinical practice and also offered insights into a PARP clinical trial he and colleagues presented in Barcelona.

Who will be King of the PARP castle in advanced prostate cancer?

To learn more from our latest oncology conference insights and get a heads up on our latest post ESMO Coverage and reflections, including a specialist thought leader interview, subscribers can log-in or you can click to gain access to BSB Premium Content.

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We’ve heard much about the role of PARP inhibitors in ovarian and breast cancers where there is sensitivity to these agents in women with DNA damage repair defects, but what about advanced prostate cancer?

Following the publication of the phase 2 trial TOPARP in the NEJM in 2015, we’ve been eagerly awaiting the outcome of a series of phase 3 studies with these agents in metastatic prostate cancer in multiple different lines of therapy.

Dr Oliver Sartor at ESMO19

Following on from our daily coverage from ESMO in Barcelona last week where we looked at some of the pros and cons as they appeared during the presentation by Dr Maha Hussain (Chicago) from the PROfound trial, it’s time to share some expert opinions.

The study she presented evaluated the PARP inhibitor, olaparib, versus next generation AR anatgonists abiraterone or enzalutamide in refractory metastatic castrate-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC).  Interestingly, it soon became rapidly clear that many casual observers missed some important nuances from the myriad of top-line news articles and summaries.

The devil, as always, is in the details.

To further our readers education on this important topic, BSB interviewed a prostate cancer thought leader, Dr Oliver Sartor (right) for his personal perspectives and look at the take homes from the lens of an experienced triallist in this niche.

Let’s see what he had to say about PARP inhibitors in advanced prostate cancer, as well as the PROfound and TRITON studies…

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We’ve been writing about PARP inhibitors since 2006!  Who knew this target would have multiple legs over a dozen years on?

Barcelona

In this post we’re taking a look at some of the noteworthy presentations at ESMO19 around targeting DNA damage repair (DDR) and how they act through synthetic lethality and/or the generation of immune response to kill cancer cells in GU cancers.

It’s a fascinating area where we are seeing convergence between immunotherapy and genomic instability, one of the hallmarks of cancer.

The abstracts for ESMO19 are not yet available, so in this post we’re only providing context and setting the scene for some of the presentations we are looking forward to, as well as raising some key questions that we hope will be answered in Barcelona.

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It’s the dog days of summer and yet there’s a lot happening on the DDR front from multiple angles.

After a short break from science, this makes now a really good time to reflect and take stock in order to explore some of the key issues facing the field, especially in terms of future combination approaches.

Research that’s appearing now may influence future trial designs – always a nagging worry in Pharmaland that the standard of care can change before you even get your own phase 3 readout! No one likes to be pipped to the post, after all.

With the early WEE–1 news this week and a raft of new PARP readouts, there is much to discuss and also plenty of nuance and subtlety to consider carefully because what looks obvious at first blush may not actually be the case based on prior evidence that many will have forgotten about.

So grab a cup of iced coffee and shades and settle down under your sunbrellas for a pleasant and easy to read review of the various trials, settings, combinations and DDR pathway considerations…

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Chinatown Chicago

One of the things we try to do on BSB is tread paths that aren’t well travelled.

It’s a bit like coming to Chicago and visiting areas such as Chinatown that are beyond the common tourist sights. It can take a bit of effort, but often delivers a memorable experience in the process.

In this final preview of #ASCO19 before the educational sessions start tomorrow, we’re offering up 10 abstracts that we think are underrated and noteworthy of closer attention.

Like any guide book our recommendations are subjective, but if you’d like to read more then subscribers can login or you can purchase access.

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